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Spectre at the feast: European Convention ‘under review’

GOVERNMENT MINISTERS are said to be considering plans to clamp down on ‘rogue’ dog breeders who put their pets at risk in order to show them at competitions.

Discussions are taking place to ratify the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph.

Experts and animal welfare charities claim there are dogs, including members of breeds such as some Bulldogs, that are suffering malformation, leading to ill health and shorter life expectancy, following breeding to meet standards required for shows.

The move to bring in the treaty would represent a significant about-turn as only two years ago the Government ruled out its implementation, claiming it was ‘flawed’.

However, a spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told the newspaper that the position was’ under review’ and was also being discussed with the devolved authorities.

Ross Minnett, a spokesman for the Edinburgh-based charity Advocates for Animals, said: ‘We are well aware of the damaging effects of pedigree dog breeding and are delighted that ministers are looking at it.’

Concerns have been raised in some quarters for some time about possible health defects caused to animals bred to meet Kennel Club standards. In some cases, critics claim, dogs are expected to have exaggerated features which are alleged to cause breathing problems in some dogs.

Club standards have been modified on certain breeds in recent years amid health concerns, whilst the KC/Animal Health Trust genetic screening programme has made significant progress in eradicating hereditary \disease

Twenty countries have signed the convention, as well as totally ‘outlawing’ some breeds, incl Merle Collies, the UK Government did not sign.

The Kennel Club said initiatives were devised to obviate the need to sign up to the convention, including changing the breed standards ‘to safeguard health and welfare’, as well as a diktat passed to judges to consider health aspects of dogs.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club secretary, said: ‘One of our primary concerns is the welfare of dogs. We have invested in genetic research, DNA profiling, hereditary disease and specialist studies.

Much has been achieved and we are committed to continuing this work.’