The chairman’s comments
I am pleased to report, on behalf of the General Committee, on the activities of the Kennel Club since its Bi-Annual General Meeting in November 2006.
By now, you should have all received, and hopefully had the time to read through, the Kennel Club’s Annual Report for 2006/2007. I am sure that you will agree that the report provides a very thorough and interesting account of what has been another extremely busy but successful year for the Club.
As always, there are some significant aspects of the report that deserve further attention here, so I hope that you will bear with me whilst I reiterate their importance and provide an update on any matters that have arisen since the report was put together.
The growth in the number of puppy registrations that we have seen in recent years continued in 2006, with an increase of 2.7% on the previous year. Transfers also increased even more, showing a rise of 6.3% in comparison to the figure for 2005. I have to say, as a note of caution however, that we now appear to be seeing a slowing of this growth so far in 2007. Increases did, none-the-less, also occur in 2006 across several other key areas of the Kennel Club’s activities, including Kennel Names, Imports, Authorities to Compete, Enhanced Pedigree Services and use of the Puppy Sales Register.
These increases are a large part of the reason that our telephone system experienced its busiest ever year, with over half a million calls being received at the London and Aylesbury offices. The call times experienced by our customers have been reduced thanks to a streamlining of the telephone system, and I am pleased to report that despite the increased demand, the Club has managed to reduce the number of calls abandoned yet further over the past year.
There are several other activities and achievements during the past twelve months which warrant further mention.
The Online Litter Registration service has developed rapidly from being a promising small-scale pilot scheme to becoming a major success. The number of dogs being registered on line is now running at about 15% of total registrations.
The Accredited Breeder Scheme continues to develop well with about 1,500 people now participating in the scheme. The scheme’s reputation and standing have been significantly strengthened by the appointment of an Accredited Breeder Advisor, who visits members’ establishments to ensure that they are upholding the aims and requirements of the scheme through their breeding and welfare practices. We have no qualms about suspending or removing any members from the scheme who do not meet its objectives. The addition of new health screening requirements and recommendations help to ensure that the scheme continues to fulfil its remit of recognising the importance of canine health and welfare - and the accolade system now highlights those who have breed club support, and those who have dogs entered in the Stud Book. If the Accredited Breeder Scheme is, however, to gain the recognition of DEFRA and the Government as being the way they regulate dog breeding, then we must see an even higher percentage of dog breeders taking part. As I said in the letter I sent to all Crufts exhibitors this year - not everyone needs to join the scheme but the scheme itself needs as many responsible breeders as it can possibly muster if it is to gain the recognition of the public at large. We as dog breeders need to succeed in fending off those in other dog areas, who would like the law to regulate dog breeding rather than allow dog breeders to regulate themselves.
I believe that the year under review, like previous recent years, has shown that the Kennel Club is operating from a sound financial position, with a reasonable surplus once again being made in 2006. This financial strength gives the Club the opportunity to re-invest money confidently back into dogs through a range of projects, one of which we will discuss later in this meeting.
The past year has seen the further development of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust in its work to ‘make a difference for dogs’. The Kennel Club donated £300,000 to the Trust during 2006, in addition to meeting all the administration costs of the charity. This has enabled the Trust to distribute grants totalling over £450,000 to good causes last year, the highest ever amount it has awarded in a single year.
It is vital that such positive messages about dogs are spread as widely as possible, given the current climate. The past year has seen dogs being represented in an increasingly negative light in the media, due to a number of unfortunate biting incidents, coupled with attacks on the health and wellbeing of pedigree dogs.
Rest assured that the Kennel Club will be doing its utmost to redress the balance on both of these issues during the year ahead, with significant campaigns to promote the benefits of pedigree dogs and the pleasure to be derived from dog ownership in general.
Another area of attack on dog owners across the country can be seen with the recent spate of local councils that have proposed to introduce dog control orders. These orders often include complete bans on dogs being taken to certain areas such as parks and beaches and represent a major threat to the rights and freedoms of dog owners everywhere. The Kennel Club’s dedicated group for owners, ‘KC Dog’ provides information on proposed orders and how to oppose them at a local level. The group welcomed its 1,000th member at Crufts this year and it is vital that the message is spread as widely as possible if we are to fight this growing threat. It is free to join and if you have not already joined, I would urge you all strongly to do so.
That summary, ladies and gentlemen, taken along with the written report already circulated to you, forms the General Committee’s account of the activities of the Club since we met in November of last year. Thank you.