Crufts shock withdrawal
THE WORLD of dogs has been left open-mouthed again this week, a week of announcements and press releases culminating in two leading charities announcing that they will no longer be attending Crufts 2009.
Additionally, the KC confirmed its intention to lodge a formal complaint with OFCOM and review its contract with the BBC.
The succession of events started on Monday with a statement from the RSPCA which told of the Society’s plans to ‘suspend plans for a stand at crufts.’ Its claims that this decision was necessary owing to its concerns over the health and welfare of pedigree dogs - including ‘animals entered into best of breed classes at shows like Crufts’ appeared to be a move to back its chief veterinary officer, Mark evans, who has been increasingly vocal against pedigree dogs, exhibitors and breeders in the last few weeks.
The RSPCA also claimed that it wanted to see an overhaul of the rules and requirements for pedigree dog registration and competitive dog showing (including breed standards), and that health, welfare and temperament should take priority over appearance. The RSPCA also said it would cancel its plans to attend Discover Dogs in November.
The KC was swift in its response to the RSPCA’s announcement. In a statement to the press on Tuesday morning, KC Secretary Caroline Kisko said that dogs shows such as Crufts gave the KC and other organisations a ‘great opportunity to educate the dog loving public about the over riding importance of health and welfare. Caroline also pointed out that the RSPCA was fully aware of the amount of time and money that the KC has invested in areas of pedigree health in the small percentage of breeds which needed help. She also pointed out that the RSPCA itself had been the beneficiary of a sizeable donation (£48,000) from the KC’s Charitable Trust.
Caroline told OUR DOGS: ‘The fact that the RSPCA continues to make such unhelpful statements with regard to the health of pedigree dogs is extremely regrettable, but we will continue to endeavor to work with them - despite their stated position - for the benefit of dogs.’
On Tuesday afternoon Dogs Trust, the UK welfare and rehoming charity, also issued a statement announcing that it would be withdrawing from crufts and Discover Dogs, as well as Westminster Dog of the year show. It also claimed that its decision was ‘the strongest signal it can give to the kennel Club and breeders to achieve immediate action to ensure the health and wellbeing of pedigree dogs is ranked over appearance.’
Interestingly, point four of the Dogs Trust statement urged purchasers of dogs to first consider a rescue dog!
The decision taken by the Dogs Trust was an about turn for them, as earlier in the week it had made a statement to OUR DOGS stating that it was ‘not planning to follow the RSPCA and pull out of Crufts’ as it felt that ‘Crufts is a good place to promote to members of the public responsible ownership and advise them on buying a pedigree puppy and what health schemes the parent dog should go through before breeding.’
A statement issued by the Dogs Trust after the RSPCA announced their decision to pull out of Crufts stated that “Dogs Trust believes that the welfare of all dogs should be highlighted at Crufts and we have a long and successful history of celebrating and highlighting rescue dogs at the show.
The recent BBC documentary raised some important issues about the breeding of pedigree dogs and Dogs Trust has passed on our recommendations to both Defra and The Kennel Club and we are liaising with them about future plans.
We hope that the BBC programme has provided the impetus and muscle to bring about the necessary changes but we will be listening to our supporters and monitoring the situation very closely over the next six months”.
The cause of all of this was, and still is, the programme aired last month on the BBC. Passionate Productions’ Pedigree Dogs Exposed proved a sensational hit with many who were perhaps unaware of just how much clever editing had been used in the production process.
On Tuesday the KC issued a statement indicating its decision to lodge a complaint to Ofcom (The independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries) in respect of the programme. The KC also indicated that it would also be reviewing its contract with the BBC.