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KC comes out fighting
Calls to get tough in new statement


THE KENNEL Club has this week unveiled extensive plans to dispel any implications that it is complacent, following the screening last month by the BBC of Pedigree Dogs exposed.

At a meeting held last week, the General Committee agreed to take a number of actions, believing that the production company, Passionate Productions, had been following an agenda and had relied totally on sensationalism in the making of the programme, dubbed ‘extremely biased’ by the KC and hundreds of pedigree dog breeders and owners.

Whilst the KC is clear in its message that the vast majority of pedigree dogs are healthy and long-living, it also is happy to accept that some breeds do have problems and have again this week re-iterated their commitment to providing ongoing help and advice wherever it is needed. Caroline Kisko told OUR DOGS, “The KC is far from complacent: where health is concerned more can always be done - and is being done.”

In its ongoing move to improve canine health and welfare (which was sadly glossed over in the programme), the KC can name the development of the KC/BVA health screening programmes, DNA testing development, the introduction of working stock to widen gene pools, its health survey of 52,000 dogs, its Charitable Trust and the introduction of its Fit for function: fit for life campaign earlier this year as just a few examples of its progression.

The Kennel Club has also confirmed that it now intends to use all measures it has within its authority to ensure that all breeds clubs and councils encourage members to undertake health screening ‘appropriate to each breed; and that individual breeders reach the highest possible standards in both the health and welfare of their breed. It has also confirmed that it intends to ‘get tough’ with breeders and breed organisations who may have been unwilling to co-operate with the KC on health matters, possibly taking action to enforce its demands should this become necessary.

The KC has confirmed that there are already plans to deal with issues in the coming weeks concerning the following breeds: German Shepherd Dogs, Basset hounds, Bloodhounds, Neapolitan mastiffs, Dogues de Bordeaux, as well a joint meeting of representatives of a number of brachicephalic breeds. a special meeting will be held to deal with the Pekingese Standard. It will also investigate all measures that may be taken in the event of breeders or judges refusing requests from the KC.

Senior judges to ‘lead the way’

Judges will be urged to become more aware of health and welfare issues, and a conference of group and Best in show judges will be held in the near future, ensuring those judges in senior positions are able to ‘lead the way’, and to stress the actions which will be taken against judges who fail to take these issues seriously when judging. In addition to this judges will also be monitored regularly.

Members of the General Committee have also confirmed that CC allocation to each breed will be the subject of a review. This allocation may well take into account the willingness or otherwise of clubs, breeders and judges to deal with any health and welfare issues within their particular breed.

With regards to its Accredited Breeder scheme, it seems that support from breeders will be the order of the day. To further develop this popular - and in the main successful - venture, the KC will ask for ‘support by all responsible dog breeders if it is to be taken seriously by government and the puppy buying public.’ Caroline Kisko told OUR DOGS: ‘While the ABS is not the complete answer, it does give the breeders a way of demonstrating their commitment to dog health and welfare...it is hoped that breeders will see the importance of having such a scheme and the necessity of everyone working together is vital.’

In a parting shot, the KC asks that UK breeders recognise the implications of an alternative to the KC, which would almost certainly be legislation by government or a government supported organisation. Taking into account the quote from the RSPCA’s Chief Vet, which blamed the ‘cause of very high levels of disability, deformity and disease in pedigree dogs as being competitive dog showing’ it would appear that the KC will give breeders and exhibitors a far more understanding platform than any other, non canine, regulatory body.

All future work with the BBC will be discussed in full, and perhaps allow the other side of the coin to be televised, giving - certainly the general public - the chance to make a more informed decision.

These actions and many more have been outlined in an extensive letter which the KC will deliver to members, associates, registered societies, YKC members over 18, breed clubs and breeders this week.