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European Convention: KC warns breeds ‘timely action of the essence’

THE KENNEL Club is urging enthusiasts of those breeds likely to be affected by findings of the European Convention on Protection of Pet Animals Working Party to become more proactive in addressing the health and welfare issues raised, in light of the Government’s intent to revisit the convention’s position following the implementation of the Animal Welfare Bill later this year.
In a press release issued this week, the Kennel Club announced:

‘In March 2006, the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals working party met at Clarges Street to review the work that had been undertaken in the previous year. Also discussed were proposals for further work in 2006 to maintain the current momentum and to obviate the need for Government to sign up to the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals.
‘Objectives achieved throughout 2005 included:

‘The open seminar on the convention held at the Kennel Club in November 2005. This event, which was attended by representatives of external organisations, such as DEFRA and various canine welfare organisations, had engendered positive publicity and raised important issues; most notably the need to increase the awareness of judges of the need for sound health in show specimens.

‘KC Accredited Trainers continued to highlight the importance of breed health and welfare as part of their seminars for potential Championship Show judges and the Kennel Club now expects societies providing breed specific seminars to cover such issues in their judges training programmes.

‘Meetings with Breed Representatives

‘Follow-up meetings were held with representatives of the Bulldog and the Shar Pei breeds during the past year, at which ways further to emphasise health and welfare issues had been discussed.

Further, applications for amendments to both the St Bernard and Neapolitan Mastiff Breed Standards had been received for consideration by the Breed Standards & Stud Book Sub Committee. It was noted at the meeting that the Chow Chow Breed Council had achieved much to counteract detrimental health conditions within the breed and the Clumber Spaniel Breed Club was similarly applauded for actively pursuing a number of health issues. Information on the progress in implementing the alterations to the Pekingese breed standard was awaited.

‘The French Bulldog clubs were praised for spontaneously submitting proposals for amplifications to the breed’s standard. It was hoped that other breed clubs would follow their example and review their breed standard without prompting by the Kennel Club.

‘In the cases of the Bloodhound, and Shar Pei, it was felt that the relevant breed clubs were not acting with adequate speed, in view of Government’s indication that it would reconsider the position of the convention once the Animal Welfare Bill had been finalised, likely to be in the autumn of 2006. In the light of this, various clubs will again be written to and information requested as a priority with further meetings sought where necessary.

‘Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: ‘Now is the time for breed enthusiasts to demonstrate resolve and become proactive in their health and welfare work. Make no mistake - Defra are of the view that progress by breeders in addressing health issues is slow and Government will be having another look at the Convention shortly. The Kennel Club would have to agree that while some breeds have been proactive and acted very responsibly, other breeds that will be directly affected by the Convention have been too slow in accepting the Kennel Club’s offer of assistance and then implementing the necessary work as a result.’

‘Caroline concluded, ‘If work on some of the various breed initiatives does not commence with haste and commitment, there may come a time in those cases when the Kennel Club has to arrive at its own conclusions for the good of these breeds, independently of the Breed Club concerned.

If not, the Government may act independently and it will be an extremely sad day if we haven’t exercised all of our efforts to ensure that the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals is not signed and ratified.’

‘Further updates and press releases will be issued as the study group work develops over the coming months.’