Sunday, January 11, 2009

"Responsible Breeding" - I Think Not

This came to me and they are asking it be crossposted everywhere.


Someone has kindly posted the entire BBC documentary "Pedigree Dogs Exposed" on his MySpace page enabling those of us not living the UK to finally view it online.

This amazing documentary made by the BBC and aired in the UK in October 2008 is a devastating indictment of pedigree dog breeding in the UK.
It led to the withdrawal by Pedigree dog food from the sponsorship of Crufts, the world's oldest and most famous dog show.
Also, for the first time in more than 40 years, Crufts will not be televised by the BBC. Attempts by the Kennel Club to persuade other UK channels to air the competition have met with failure.
The breeders shown in the program are the kind we talk about in the US as "respectable" and "responsible." They are high-end breeders who breed and show champion dogs.
So if their US "good breeder" counterparts are equally at fault, imagine the kinds of genetic problems developed in dogs bred in the US by backyard breeders and in puppy mills.
Pedigree should withdraw its sponsorship of the Westminster Dog Show, and USA Network should not cover the show.This is from the Guardian newspaper of December 12th, 2008"The Kennel Club, which organises Crufts, said it has made changes to breed standards that will take effect in 2009 and continues to hold discussions with the BBC to monitor the effect of the changes.In a strongly-worded statement today, the club said it had "refused to comply with the unreasonable demand insisted on by the BBC to exclude certain breeds of dog from the competition".The BBC had asked that the 12 types of dog identified as "at risk" out of the total 209 registered UK breeds be excluded from the two categories that are broadcast in itsCrufts coverage - the group competition and best in show. However, the Kennel Club refused."We are unable to agree to these demands, as it would compromise both contractual obligations and our general responsibility to dog exhibitors and our audience," said the Kennel Club chairman, Ronnie Irving."We believe it would be inappropriate and counterproductive to exclude any recognised breed from Crufts."We are obviously disappointed and confused with this outcome as we hoped the broadcast would have supported our focus on health and welfare issues, given advice about caring for and training dogs and showcased the charitable work that we support."In September the Kennel Club formally logged a complaint with Ofcom over the documentary's "unfair treatment and editing and failure to fairly and properly reflect the Kennel Club's deep commitment to the health and welfare of dogs and responsible dog ownership".The club introduced an ethics code for breeders in October and has also started an education scheme for judges.Since the dispute with the BBC flared up, the Kennel Club has reportedly tried to offer the show, which pulls an average 3 million viewers for each of the four shows during the annual championship on BBC2, to ITV and Sky without success. The BBC has broadcast Crufts every year since 1966.

Press Releases
BBC One reveals shocking truth about pedigree dog breeding in UK Category: Factual & Arts TV; BBC One Date: 19.08.2008 Printable version A pug gasps for breath, his face so flat he damages his eyes if he bumps into things; a cavalier King Charles spaniel writhes in agony and must be put to sleep to end its pain; a distraught owner holds his beloved boxer who is fitting uncontrollably... Two years in the making, Pedigree Dogs Exposed (Tuesday 19 August 2008, 9pm, BBC One) lifts the lid on the true extent of health and welfare problems in pedigree dogs in the UK. Seventy-five per cent of the seven million dogs in the UK are pedigrees, and they cost their owners over £10m in vet fees every week. This in-depth investigation suggests they are in serious trouble, plagued by genetic disease due to decades of inbreeding. They are also suffering acute problems because of the showring's emphasis on looks over and above function and health. Some physical traits required by the Kennel Club's breed standards have inherent health problems (short faces, wrinkling, screw-tails, dwarfism) while other problems occur because of exaggerations bred into dogs by breeders trying to win rosettes. Deliberate mating of dogs that are close relatives is common practice and the Kennel Club continues to register dogs bred from mother-to-son and brother-to-sister matings. Scientists at Imperial College, London, recently found that pugs in the UK are so inbred that, although there are 10,000 of them, it is the equivalent of just 50 distinct individuals – making them more genetically compromised than the giant panda. Steve Jones, Professor of Genetics, UCL, says: "People are carrying out breeding which would be, first of all, be entirely illegal in humans and secondly is absolutely insane from the point of view of the health of the animals." He adds: "In some breeds they are paying a terrible, terrible price in genetic disease." The film exposes the devastating consequences of such genetic disease for dogs and the distress it causes their owners. Disturbing footage is shown of a cavalier King Charles spaniel writhing in agony due to syringomyelia, estimated to affect up to a third of the breed. They have been bred with skulls too small for their brains, explains veterinary neurologist Clare Rusbridge: "The cavalier's brain is like a size 10 foot that has been shoved into a size six shoe – it doesn't fit." Boxers suffer from several life-threatening health issues – including heart disease and a very high rate of cancer, especially brain tumours. There are no official figures to say how many boxers suffer from epilepsy but in some breeds it is 20 times the rate found in humans. Two-year-old Zak is filmed while fitting and the distress the disease causes for him and his owners is obvious. The film also demonstrates how some breeders produce dogs with pronounced physical attributes – "exaggerations" – in their efforts to attract a dog show judge's eye. The breed standards are set by the Kennel Club but are open to interpretation and the film shows how, as fashion changes, so do the dogs, leading to serious health and welfare problems in some breeds. Bulldogs, for example, have been bred to be such an unnatural shape that most can no longer mate or give birth unassisted. The RSPCA's Chief Vet Mark Evans says: "The show world is about an obsession, about beauty, and there is a ridiculous concept that that is how we should judge dogs… "It takes no account of your temperament, your fitness for purpose potentially as a pet animal – and that to me just makes absolutely no sense at all." The film also exposes famous show champions that continue to father puppies despite having serious inherited disease, and demonstrates that some breeders cull perfectly healthy puppies on purely cosmetic grounds. As the filmmaker Jemima becomes increasingly concerned with what she uncovers, she challenges the Kennel Club. The Kennel Club, however, robustly defends its position as the guardian of dog health, pointing out the initiatives it has taken to improve pedigree dog health – including their accredited breeder scheme which sets a code of conduct for breeders and asks them to make use of health screening schemes. It also insists that "the vast majority of dog breeds are healthy". Ultimately, the film concludes that far from enough is being done. As Professor Jones says: "If the dog breeders insist on going further down that road, I can say with confidence really that there is a universe of suffering waiting for many of these breeds – and many if not most of these breeds will not survive. "They will get so inbred that they will be unable to reproduce and their genes will come to a dead end." Notes to Editors Pedigree Dogs Exposed will be shown on Tuesday 19 August at 9pm on BBC One. It will be available on BBC iPlayer for seven days after transmission: The Kennel Club's two main functions are to administer the registry that records the lineage of pedigree dogs, divided by breed, and to license the majority of dog shows in the UK, including Crufts. It also owns The Kennel Club Breed Standard, which lays down the characteristics and physical attributes necessary for each breed and it is involved in many different canine activities from agility competitions to obedience training to funding scientific research into dogs via its charitable trust.


Anonymous said...

That video is painful to watch. How very sad. I couldn't watch that much of it. Breeders ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Channel 4 has taken up Crufts and has a whole team of people thought to be caring and responsible, doing all the commentating. I think they sort of ignore the GSD ring, though. Tests for Syringomyelia are still not mandatory in CKC the KC as usual has done NOTHING- oh I stand corrected they have taken a great deal of money and no doubt helped Crufts get it's deal with C4