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The Chairman’s speech

‘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 2007.

‘By now, you should all have received, and hopefully had the time to read through, the Kennel Club’s Annual Report for 2007/2008. I’m sure that you will agree that the report once again demonstrates what a busy and successful year the Kennel Club has had, in many different areas of its work.

‘As always, there are some significant aspects of the report that deserve further attention here. I hope that you’ll bear with me whilst I reiterate their importance and provide an update on any matters that have arisen since the report was put together.

‘You will have noticed that this year’s Annual Report came with a special supplement, highlighting the Kennel Club’s work to improve the health and welfare of dogs, included as its centrepiece. This positioning was quite deliberate, as this subject is very much at the heart of what we are setting out to achieve each year.

This year in particular, the Kennel Club is launching a major new campaign under the title of ‘Fit for function, fit for life’. This campaign is aimed at tackling the trend towards unnecessary over-exaggeration in some breeds, whether it be an exaggeration of coat, weight, skin, angulation, eye formation or shortness of muzzle. All dogs deserve to be able to walk, see and breathe in comfort.

‘With positive promotion and peer pressure from breeders and exhibitors of what we might call ‘normal’ breeds, we must hope to have a significant influence on breeds which are facing problems or potential problems, because of exaggeration. The process of altering our Breed Standards began over 20 years ago, but they are largely not at fault here – it is the interpretation which is the problem. By promoting the message and working together with judges, breeders and exhibitors alike, we can hopefully make a real difference for dogs.
‘One of the other key initiatives aimed at improving canine health and welfare remains the Kennel Club Accredited Breeder Scheme. The past year has seen the scheme grow in terms of its numbers and its reputation; though the reputation aspect has been divided between some positive endorsement on the one hand, along with other negative or apathetic coverage in the dog press on the other. The proof of the pudding will, in the end, be in the eating. More and more breeders of repute, are joining the plan. I make no apologies for reiterating the Kennel Club’s belief in this programme as being the right way forward in the interest of dogs. I believe also that it represents the best way for us dog owners to maintain a position whereby we can ‘self-regulate’ and retain to ourselves some degree of control over how we breed dogs.
‘To help debunk the myths about the scheme, the Kennel Club’s Health and Breeder Services Manager, Mr Bill Lambert has been meeting many breed clubs to discuss the plan and he will continue to do so, as well as attending shows on the Kennel Club Stand and being an active participant at our future Question Time events.

‘Moving on to our more day-to-day work, it is pleasing to note that so far puppy registrations continue to hold their own - despite the current economic climate in which we live. There was a slight decrease of just 0.4% over the course of 2007 in comparison to the previous year, but the figures for the first quarter of this year have shown a slight increase. This is particularly encouraging when it is noted that the comparative quarter last year was a time before the docking ban came into force. Whilst the number of puppy registrations in those breeds which were traditionally docked before the ban has fallen, this percentage decrease is already lowering month by month.

‘Transfer numbers have continued to perform well over the past year, and the current figure for this year to date stands at a very impressive 70% of all puppies registered. If this figure were to be maintained over the full year, then it would be the first time that this level had been achieved. One factor which will hopefully encourage the continued growth in transfer levels is the launch of our online transfer system which will be available to everyone very shortly. This will allow new puppy owners to transfer the ownership of a dog into their own name without needing to leave the house, and will speed up the whole process even further.

It is hoped that this development will prove to be as successful as the online puppy registration system, which allows Kennel Name holders and Accredited Breeders - to register their litters via the internet. The target of over 20% of all litters being registered by this method was once again met last month.

‘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 2007. This financial strength gives the Club the opportunity to re-invest money confidently back into dogs through a range of projects, such as Stoneleigh.

‘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 2007, in addition to meeting all the administration costs of the charity. This has enabled the Trust to distribute grants totalling almost £450,000 to good causes last year.

‘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.’