KC chairman demands action - now!
LAST WEEK’S airing of the much publicised Pedigree Dogs Exposed has left most dog breeders and exhibitors incredulous and angry and others feeling that it may have served as a timely reminder that there are issues that need addressing by the KC and breeders before it becomes too late.
KC Chairman, Ronnie Irving, has been clear and concise in his reaction to the programme, as have Caroline Kisko and Bill lambert, who both acquitted themselves extremely well in radio and TV interviews following last Tuesday’s prime time slot.
OUR DOGS have recived hundreds of e-mails and letters regarding the programme and we will air some of these in next week’s issue. In the meantime we are delighted to publish Ronnie Irving’s From the Chairman, due to be published in the September edition of the KC own Kennel Gazette out next week:-‘The recent TV show (I refuse to call it a programme as that word gives it more credibility than it deserves) on the subject of pedigree dogs was just as bad as we had expected. We had begun to fear it would be so when we realised the biased line of questioning and investigation that its producers were pursuing. That was confirmed when we saw the eventual title “Pedigree Dogs Exposed”. The programme makers had started off by saying that the show “intended to be a hopeful one, showing how science and breeders can combine to preserve our purebreds for the future.” That ties in exactly with our view and is precisely why the Kennel Club agreed to take part.
‘Sadly only certain aspects of the information we supplied to the producers of this biased show, were eventually included and only very restricted and carefully selected comments from Dr Sampson and me were used – some of them, at times, out of context. Had our entire interviews been aired and had the views of more of those experts we had suggested been sought – the message could have been portrayed very differently. It could have been the helpful and hopeful programme we thought had been planned. Instead it was a travesty using expressions like ‘dark secrets’, drawing comparisons with Nazi eugenics and showing distressed and ill dogs in a totally sickening fashion. I guess that is the problem with the modern journalistic trend which demands sensationalism and bias – even from the BBC.
‘I derived three main critical messages from the show against pedigree dogs and their supporters.
‘The first was the alleged ill effects of in-breeding – they actually meant line breeding. The positive issues flowing from judicious line breeding were given scant coverage. The fact that breeders spend a great deal of time using line breeding to select for positives rather than negatives was grossly underplayed. The programme gave little credit to the point that it was in fact line breeding which created most of our highly desired pedigree breeds in the first place and it is still line breeding which dominates almost the entire success of the British meat, milk and egg production in today’s agricultural scene. The Kennel Club’s view is that – yes science must play an important role in breeding dogs – yes relevant testing must proceed and the results be publicly available. But no - science must not be the sole controlling issue and must not be used in a mechanical or unthinking way. Breeders must be able to make their own choices. Science must be used to help breeders to make their decisions – not to control these decisions.
‘The second criticism was that the show ring was responsible for the majority of problems in pedigree dogs today. That may well be justifiable in some exaggerated breeds but, in the majority of breeds, it is patently untrue. Less than 1% of purebred dogs ever go into the show ring in any case. And besides, the show ring demands high standards of temperament and healthiness these days – none of which was mentioned. It is also a travesty to ignore the fact that, in most cases, show breeders are THE most responsible breeders of all. You just need to look at the long list of positive actions taken by the Cavalier clubs over the last twenty years or so to tackle that breed’s problems, to see how responsible most show breeders are. Again the BBC show chose to ignore these actions, pursue sensationalism, and focus on the extreme views of a minority of people.
‘The final important criticism was that the KC is not doing enough and needs to control breeders rather than persuade them in carrying out the task of breeding healthier dogs. Of course the first point here is correct. When it comes to health you can never do enough – you can always do more. Goodness knows the National Health Service faces that problem daily. But on the second point – namely that the Kennel Club should control breeders more tightly – this show paid scant attention to our contention that the KC does not have legal or statutory powers but can in the first instance be much more effective by working with breeders and clubs to achieve a consensus approach to acknowledged problems. Unless we are somehow given the legal power to do so, we simply cannot and will not as a first resort, dictate things to breeders. We must first try to achieve consensus before taking other action.
‘Having said all of that, if this programme teaches us anything – I hope it will teach the ‘purists’ in some breeds that they simply must get a move on and realise that in these politically correct and well informed days – some old attitudes are simply no longer sustainable. If they won’t sort things out voluntarily the Kennel Club is going, in the end, to have to step in with both feet or others will do it for us. For example the Peke clubs must start to work together and must stop pretending to deal with the many issues that face their breed. They simply must start to work together to take real action. The Bloodhound people, some of whom thankfully seem to be beginning to see sense – must also get a move on. All Shar Pei breeders – not just some - have to waken up or their breed will end up ostracised by KCs all over the world. Clubs such as the Rhodesian Ridgeback club which insisted - in what it called its code of ethics - that otherwise healthy puppies had to be culled because they have no ridge – simply have to move out of the 19th century into the 21st. And the roughly 90% of us who thankfully have healthy breeds, must continue to guard against exaggeration and must bring pressure to bear on the laggards - otherwise we will – all of us – continue to be tarred with the same brush.’