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KC requests statutory powers from Government
Kennel Club begins complete breed review


THE KC this week said that it would be launching a complete review of every pedigree dog breed in the UK in a move that will have far-reaching benefits for the health of many breeds. It has also called on the government to give it the statutory powers to clamp down on breeders who fail to make a dog’s health their top priority.

A breed health plan will be coordinated for each of the UK’s 209 pedigree breeds and will benefit from the extensive research that has been funded by the Kennel Club in conjunction with renowned veterinary research centres over the past 40+ years. This will include updated breed standards to ensure that no dog is bred for features that might prevent it from seeing, walking and breathing freely. Judges will be fully briefed on the new breed standards so that only the healthiest dogs are rewarded in the show ring.

The Kennel Club is released the first of these new breed standards on Tuesday, for the Pekingese, after recently taking a tough line with the breed following extensive and abortive consultations. This is set to radically improve the health of the Pekingese.

The breed health plans, which are scheduled to be completed by early next year, will also incorporate the results of a thorough, ongoing analysis of the health status and genetic diversity of each breed, drawing on results from the world’s largest dog health survey, conducted by the Animal Health Trust and funded by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust in 2004. This will ensure that breeders and buyers are aware of the health tests that should be carried out for each breed. The final part of the plans will look at ways breeders can expand the gene pool of the breed.

In order to ensure that the plans are effective and reach all dogs, the Kennel Club has called on the government to give it statutory powers to make its established Accredited Breeder Scheme compulsory throughout the country. If successful, this would mean that all breeders who are not part of the scheme and who have not officially confirmed their willingness to follow the health standards set by the Kennel Club would be unable to produce or sell puppies within the law.

Tougher line

To complement these steps the Kennel Club is developing plans for a new Canine Genetics Centre. This will be run in conjunction with the Animal Health Trust, confirming the Kennel Club’s commitment to research into inherited diseases and the provision of DNA testing programmes which identify the genes underlying inherited health problems.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “The groundswell of public attention on the very important matters surrounding dog breeding is a welcomed momentum that will enable us to drive through, with added urgency, new and extended initiatives that will help to safeguard the health of our pedigree dogs. We have been listening and agree with the general public’s view that more needs to be done.

“Steps such as our breed health plans will enable us to ensure that the health of every dog is the number one priority and we are taking a tougher line with breed clubs by adjusting those breed standards that fail to promote good health. By asking the government for statutory powers we will be able to take a tougher line with all breeders and breed clubs that fail to abide by our high standards. This in turn will enable us to extend the reach of our Accredited Breeder Scheme, which is the quality control mechanism within our registration process, so that all dogs will be bred by people who abide by our stringent rules and regulations for the breeding of healthy, happy dogs.

“We have been working hard in recent years to identify and address health problems that exist in dogs, and we are taking advantage of the opportunities that advances in science have given us to improve dog health. We look forward to continuing our work with various institutions and organisations that share the same objective: to protect the health and welfare of all dogs.”
this week also saw the KC yet again urge breeders and exhibitors to work with them to bring about ‘tangible changes’ to underline the fact the pedigree owners and exhibitors care deeply about the health and welfare of their dogs, and has asked the government to give it statuary powers

In a letter sent out to all breeds clubs, KC Secretary, Caroline Kisko, urges clubs and their members to immediately adopt the KC’s new Code of Ethics as their own. It also advises clubs that the new document replaces all previous documents published. Failure to comply with this request may, it states, result in serious consideration of de-registration of the club.
A form is included in the letter which must be signed and dated by the secretary to confirm that the new Code of Ethics has been adopted. Additional clauses imposed by Clubs must be applied for separately and permission to use them must be granted.

Changes to the Code of Ethics document include item 3, which states that members must ‘agree that no healthy puppy will be culled. Puppies which do not conform to the Breed standard should be placed in suitable homes’ and also item 6, will ‘agree not to breed from a dog or bitch which could be in any way harmful to the dog or to the breed.’

Additionally the letter urges all Clubs which don’t already have a breed health committee or representative to give ‘urgent consideration’ to ensuring that one or the other is put in place. This committee/representative should then be responsible for ensuring that breed health matters are monitered and that any areas of concern be identified and relayed to the kc via the Club’s annual return. Specific issues will be dealt with by Jeff Sampson or Diana Brooks-Ward.

ABS

The Accredited Breeder Scheme is also mentioned, with the reccomendation that members be encouraged to consider this as another way of makming it clear that health is at the top of their agenda when breeding dogs. clubs will be encouraged to ‘tailor the scheme’ to suit the needs of their breed. As mentioned earlier, the KC feels that having statutary power would enable them to get tough on errant breeders.

Clubs are finally reminded that they must ensure that they have a committee meeting set up for the early part of december, by which time the new health plans for their particular breeds will be available for ‘urgent consideration.’