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The Dogs Trust, the RSPCA, the BBC, K9 magazine, Our Dogs and THAT programme!

OUR DOGS recently saw a response to our views on the RSPCA, Dogs Trust and the BBC on K9 magazine web site/ blog. We have the Editor’s permission to publish his views in full,
and the reply from our own Managing Director


Ryan O’Meara writes:

‘Kennel blindness is a term used to describe a particular type of breeder who can’t see past certain canine traits that they find personally desirable. For instance, a Springer Spaniel breeder might have a personal penchant for dogs that have predominantly more white markings than liver (or black) – vice versa a breeder may be drawn to Springers with solid liver heads. We’re all human, we all have our preferences. But true kennel blindness is when a breeder takes an absolute unswerving position: “I’d never have a liver headed dog in my kennel” or “I’d never use such and such on one of my bitches, “he’s so white he looks more like an English Setter than a Spaniel”.

Such entrenched views are very real and they exist in the dog world. The ostrich effect, if you will. Stick the head in the sand and ignore the real world; raise your head to see that things have changed but continue to insist that you’re right and everyone else is wrong.

Step forward Our Dogs, the canine newspaper.

Let’s get one thing out in the open right away shall we. It’s bad form for one canine publication to criticise another as there is an obvious conflict of interest that could question the validity and motive for any such claim.

So it’s bad form. OK, that’s a given. Here’s some bad form for you then.

The following is from Our Dogs:

OUR DOGS is calling on all breeders to stand up and be counted under this attack from people who do not seem to appreciate the many thousands of dedicated breeders who have health and good temperament at the heart of their breeding programme.

Make your views known: email letters to the Editor and also email the Dogs Trust and RSPCA with your views.

This call to defend against ‘attack’ is headlined: ‘Show world under attack from RSPCA’. The piece then goes on to ask: “Do you feel the RSPCA should be the ones to overhaul rules and registrations or dogs shows?”

Let’s get straight to the point. The RSPCA hasn’t, as far as we’re aware, put itself forward as the ones to overhaul the rules and registrations of dog shows. In fact from the discussions we’ve heard, the RSPCA have been pretty clear in their position of telling the KENNEL CLUB and the show world in general to sort those issues out themselves. The RSPCA has withdrawn from Crufts out of frustration that those changes are not quick enough in coming. They haven’t nominated themselves as the people to get involved in dog show rules. They’ve made a stand on moral grounds, animal welfare grounds, lack of reform grounds.

And for that stand they find themselves being rounded on by the very people whom they aimed their concerns about. How very, very, very predictable. Sad but predictable. Way to miss the point guys!

Let’s tackle the other issue. “this attack from people who do not seem to appreciate the many thousands of dedicated breeders who have health and good temperament at the heart of their breeding programme.” - what utter, utter tosh! Personally I haven’t seen the RSPCA aim a single, solitary word of criticism against GOOD BREEDERS. Not one.

When will these people understand what the problem is? When will they finally get the message that the man in the street, the average dog owner looks at certain things they see happening via the medium of shows like Crufts and they find it highly unpalatable. Like little Danny, the Pekignese who won Crufts best in show in 2003. The poor little chap could hardly get across the ring and when he was having his winner’s photos taken he had to sit on a bed of ice for fear of overheating. Let me send this message loud and clear: The average dog owner sees that and they flinch.

Nobody is attacking good breeders. Shooting the messenger is absolutely not going to fix the problems that are staring people in the face. The Kennel Club are doing their best to shoot the messenger and now the canine press is hitting out at the RSPCA and accusing them of something they haven’t even done or said.

While people continue to try and defend the indefensible and argue the toss about whether it was the Victorians who are ultimately to blame for the fact that some modern Cavalier King Charles spaniels end up in screaming agony as their brains are pressing against their skulls or whether the RSPCA is trying to muscle in on territory (dog show regulation) where they are clearly not welcome by ‘the locals’ - dogs will go on suffering and certain people will perpetuate the stereotype of some dog folk as weirdos with obsessions that don’t take account of the real world, science or some very, very basic health related fundamentals.

Ask yourself this, who’s side are you on: The right for dogs to live long, happy, healthy lives regardless of what they happen to look like or the right to carry on with outdated ideals that HAVE lead to hundreds of thousands of dogs suffering as a DIRECT result of actions that SOME breeders have taken?

Oh, and accepting that it is bad form to criticise another dog publication I’d better redress the balance somewhat - We have no problems with Dogs Today, in fact you should go out and buy it. There’s room for more than one dog magazine on your shelves.

K9 Magazine is calling on all good breeders to keep doing what you’re doing. And the bad ones, let’s hope you find it harder to have your dogs registered and endorsed by the Kennel Club as you have been doing for too many years.

Ryan O'Meara is editor of K9 Magazine
and chairman of the Pet Owners Parliament

OUR DOGS responds:

Dear Ryan,
Your article merits a reply, which you are at liberty to print in full (this included) and unedited next to your article, if you are a fair person.

Your readers need to be aware that there is another perspective.

re the article on:

http://www.dogmagazine.net/archives/840/our-dogs-newspaper-attacks-rspca-dogs-trust-over-crufts-withdrawal/

What a shame you have decided to take a pot shot at OUR DOGS on your web site, without having the courtesy of ringing us in advance to find out why we have taken the stance we have, when all we are trying to do is redress the balance of a very biased TV programme stoked by the comments of the now very public figure of Mark Evans. (RSPCA Chief Veterinary Advisor)

What is so bad about this?

It’s all true. . .Ryan, what’s your problem with the truth?

You have quoted one part of an email recently sent out from OUR DOGS.

“OUR DOGS is calling on all breeders to stand up and be counted under this attack from people who do not seem to appreciate the many thousands of dedicated breeders who have health and good temperament at the heart of their breeding programme.

Make your views known…email letters to the Editor and also email the Dogs Trust and RSPCA with your views.”

Do you not think there are many thousands of breeders who are not dedicated and care deeply about the health of their puppies?

Do you not think these people have a right to stand up for themselves?

We did not say attack the Dogs Trust or RSPCA, we simply asked for people to make their views known. Do you have a problem with that?

The point you have clearly missed is that pedigree dog breeders, and show organisers appear to have been tarred with the same brush. Mark Evans is talking about ‘hundreds of thousands’ of dogs being affected and he has NO EVIDENCE for this exaggerated figure.

The RSPCA statement says: “We know that hundreds of thousands of dogs are vulnerable to illness, pain, disability and behavioural problems because they’re primarily bred for how they look rather than with health, welfare and temperament in mind,” Mr Evans said.

Why would reliable breeders, breed unhealthy dogs which would then not be sold as puppies, or perhaps sold but then returned?

There is no logic to that statement.

The vast majority of true breeders (not puppy farmers) breed primarily for health and temperament, and if the dogs look to be show quality, then they may go into the show ring, which in truth is a very small percentage of pedigree dogs bred in this country.

Get the stats for yourself Ryan before commenting.

You also say: “Let’s get straight to the point. The RSPCA hasn’t, as far as we’re aware, put itself forward as the ones to overhaul the rules and registrations of dog shows”

However, the RSPCA says:

The RSPCA has commissioned an independent review of the science in this field, and will be discussing its findings with relevant experts and stakeholders later this year. Amongst a raft of specific recommendations, the following themes have been identified as possible ways forward:
An overhaul of the rules and requirements for pedigree dog registration and competitive dog showing (including breed standards). Health, welfare and temperament should be prioritised over appearance.

Well it seems pretty clear to us that the Kennel Club is not mentioned here, so who is doing the overhauling? YOU TELL US RYAN!

RSPCA chief veterinary adviser Mark Evans said: “Dog shows using current breed standards as the main judging criteria actively encourage both the intentional breeding of deformed and disabled dogs and the inbreeding of closely related animals.

Would you not consider that as ‘dog shows under attack’? It’s certainly not supportive.
Are we reading a different press release to you?

Have you spoken to the Kennel Club to find out their views, or are you being one sided as well? Practice what you preach Ryan.

I suspect you have not contacted the relevant people at the Kennel Club, just like you chose not to contact me.

Also if you are so clearly allied to Beverley Cuddy and Dogs Today, and just wishing to follow her very polarized position,(as an ex KC employee) then you are just as guilty of some form of kennel blindness as well. As you say in a very biased way:

........, and accepting that it is bad form to criticise another dog publication I’d better redress the balance somewhat - We have no problems with Dogs Today, in fact you should go out and buy it. There’s room for more than one dog magazine on your shelves.

How does that redress any balance at all? You clearly have failed to even read OUR DOGS paper before making your attack on us as in the last few weeks, we have given Beverley space to make her case as well in OUR PAPER...we were even handed in a way that the TV programme, and now your article, was not.

We have no problem with Beverly, she has her views, and we have no problem with the truth.
Beverley would be the first to admit that she came from a family of dog breeders and show people, and worked in the whole show scene...the show scene that is being attacked by Mark Evans as RSPCA spokesman..read his statements. Did Beverly not breed Bearded Collies for good health and temperament?

DOGS TRUST

OUR DOGS have had long discussions with the top people at Dogs Trust and asked them for their side for next week’s issue and we are in the process of doing the same for the RSPCA. But be clear, there are many breeders who are deeply offended at this barrage of criticism which MAY APPLY TO SOME but not all, and at the moment ALL in pedigree dogs feel under attack.
We certainly have taken issue with some of DOGS Trust’s comments, and quote item 4 of their recent release which is illogical:

4. Purchasers of dogs should first consider a rescue dog. If it is a pedigree, they must understand the importance of determining and questioning its genetic heritage.
Logical question...if it is not a pedigree, how do you check the genetic heritage of a cross breed?
We believe they have now changed that press release.

As a newspaper covering shows, we have a duty to defend the good people whilst agreeing that there is work to be done in many health areas.......
IN FACT YOU WILL FIND THE KENNEL CLUB SHARES THE SAME VIEW..if you take the trouble to ask them.

I’ll help you out on that one.. I’ll copy this reply to their Secretary..hope you don’t mind.
I have tried to speak to you today but was met with a wall of resistance at your switchboard, and they would not give me your mobile.

I say again, what a shame you did not ring me to clarify a few things as your article contains many errors and omissions, just like the TV programme and just like Mark Evans ; he has stated that they are carrying out their own ‘independent’ review, so I suspect there may be another agenda here. It seems strange that none of this was raised prior to the BBC programme........do we smell the whiff of a publicity opportunity here post BBC show; RSPCA and DOGS TRUST were happy to attend Crufts year after year, collecting money from many people, including the dog breeders prior to the TV show with not a word.

LET’S CLARIFY YOUR ARTICLE

There were so many aspects of your article that need real clarification; you appear to writing in the same ‘sound bite’ manner as the RSPCA.

Ryan says: Ask yourself this, who’s side are you on: The right for dogs to live long, happy, healthy lives regardless of what they happen to look like or the right to carry on with outdated ideals that HAVE lead to hundreds of thousands of dogs suffering as a DIRECT result of actions that SOME breeders have taken?

Can you please quantify how many of these breeders (you say SOME) have bred these hundreds of thousands (your words)dogs that are suffering. We think you need to keep a sense of perspective in all this, and your words are just as inflammatory as Mr Evans.

Ryan says: Personally I haven’t seen the RSPCA aim a single, solitary word of criticism against GOOD BREEDERS. Not one.

OUR DOGS SAYS: Have they yet acknowledged the good work that most reputable breeders do? (I don’t think so) But then, that would not make a good story for Mr Evans and the press department of the RSPCA.

There is no question this debate will go on, but you are sadly misguided if you think that the Kennel Club, OUR DOGS, and the many thousands of dedicated breeders do not care about health, temperament and welfare. Things need to be done, most thinking people accept that, and they will only be achieved if people get to grips with the problems (see the Kennel Club’s plans) and stop all this aggression. Keep reading OUR DOGS as we will fairly report on both sides and like you, look forward to positive action from the Kennel Club, within its position as a voluntary governing body. Remember, whatever changes come in, if people decide not to register with the KC, then they are out with any form of control at all.

We need to move forward Ryan, what are you going to do to help?

Kind Regards,
VINCENT HOGAN
MANAGING DIRECTOR
OUR DOGS Newspaper est. 1895


In addition to their original statement, DOGS TRUST have sent the following message to OUR DOGS, through their spokesperson, Clarissa Baldwin:

‘Dogs Trust does not want to be sensationalist, we recognise that not all breeds have genetic problems but we also recognise that there is indisputable evidence that some pedigree dogs are suffering. We also know that the Kennel Club has done some excellent work but it isn’t yet enough. We sincerely hope, and believe, that with the recent national awareness of the issues facing pedigree dogs, that the Kennel Club has the muscle and impetus to move faster.

‘I do hope that we can now stop pointing the finger, having recriminations and becoming divisive, instead let’s move forward together to ensure that all dogs have a better life. Surely we all want to be able to get behind the statement “fit for purpose fit for life.’