The Kennel Club: What Did They Think Would Happen?

by Susi on April 18, 2013

in Animal Rights, Animal Welfare, Art Critic, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, The Kennel Club

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“Back in the day,” I was the art critic for my college newspaper and wrote under a by-line. Because no one knew the face that went with my name, I was able to enjoy an anonymity that allowed me to study unharassed and slip in and out of art galleries without notice. This was important to me because I sometimes reviewed the work of artists who were also my professors. Risky business, that.

On the occasion that I reviewed a particularly disappointing show, I didn’t pull any punches. The paintings lacked clarity and fell short of the artist’s stated goals, a pet peeve of mine in a visual medium. I concluded my article with a flourish (I thought) by opining that the artist’s craftsmanship was shoddy, and that if he insisted on leaving the edges of his canvases unprimed, he would do well to wash his hands before lifting his paintings. It was an unvarnished review that reflected my opinion, and once I submitted it to my editor, I thought nothing more of it.

The artist, by the way, was the Chairman of the Art Department. 

The next morning, the entire art department was buzzing over the article. Some had agreed with my assessment, others didn’t, but seemingly no one ignored it. Amidst this fuss, I entered the department office to collect a grade and realized that here, too, the staff was talking about the review. All I wanted was to get my grade and leave in a hurry, and when the secretary asked for my name in order to retrieve my grade, I gave it to her before thinking.

A crypt-like silence fell over the office.

I’d “blown my cover” and had instantly made my life more difficult.

Days later, I whined about this to a friend who listened patiently, blinked his eyes, and then said dryly, “What did you think was going to happen after trashing someone you might need?”

The other day, the on-line edition of the UK’s The Telegraph published an article in which The Kennel Club (the British version of the AKC) warned that dogs are being increasingly “marginalized” in British society and treated as a “nuisance” that must be controlled and restricted. The Kennel Club statement went on to lament that dogs are being “ghettoized” as they’re pushed out of neighborhoods and are “no longer accepted as they once were.”

And all I could think after reading the piece was this: “What did the Kennel Club think was going to happen after they responded as they did in the aftermath of the “documentary,” Pedigree Dog Exposed?

For those just tuning in, Pedigree Dogs Exposed was a piece of “shock journalism” that purported to expose the appalling health and welfare of purebred dogs in the United Kingdom. The filmmakers showed videos of selected dogs to underscore their assertion that pedigreed dogs suffered from diseases bred into them by breeders who had little regard for the dog’s soundness or comfort – all to pursue an exaggerated sense of beauty that would win them a ribbon at a dog show.

Four million people watched that highly biased film when it aired on the BBC in 2008, and the public outcry was seismic. Disgust of epic proportions was leveled at purebred dogs in general, their breeders in particular, and the Kennel Club especially. The RSPCA withdrew from Crufts along with various sponsors and trade exhibitors, and the BBC, which had broadcast Crufts for 42 years, withdrew its coverage in 2009 never to renew it again.

Scarcely heard were the voices of the outraged responsible and ethical owners and breeders whose protests over misrepresentation were minimized and attributed to self-interest. Instead of standing by them, the Kennel Club shifted blame to the breed clubs and all but suggested their collusion with inhumane breeding practices. Instead of aggressively responding point by point to the filmmakers’ misleading, if not sweeping generalizations of the dog fancy, the Kennel Club tacitly seemed to agree with them when they chose to review breed standards for every breed, request regulatory powers from the Government that would empower them to take action against breeders who failed to comply with health standards, and by mandating compulsory health checks at Crufts for all Best of Breed winners in fifteen “high profile breeds.”

In light of such a reaction, what was the general public to think but “guilty as charged?”

Some people saw the fingerprints of animal rights activists all over the documentary and the Kennel Club’s response to it. Of that, I have no certain knowledge, but of this I’m pretty sure. The dog fancy is not without flaws, but neither is it as villainous as the documentary painted. Sadly, viewers were never treated to a rebuttal with any teeth.

In over 100 years of selective breeding, most ethical and caring breeders have done the best they could with what they had in the days before the canine genome was mapped. Wouldn’t it have been a more positive tact for the Kennel Club to use The Telegraph article to show how far we’ve come, and that in 2013, breeding and science are merging as advances are made in identifying genetic markers? Corrections don’t happen overnight, but we are heading in a positive direction, and faster than once would have been thought possible.

Instead, the Kennel Club voices its vexation over dogs being marginalized in their county. If the Kennel Club is now distressed by the current climate facing dog ownership, I can’t help but think that they were complicit, if not unwitting accomplices, in bringing it about. Did the club think that by appearing to be sensitive to the documentary’s charges, they would continue to “feel the love” of a country that had always loved its dogs? Had it never occurred to them that by acting as if monsters existed, they were creating a real one, instead?

What did they think was going to happen when they failed to go to bat for the responsible owners and breeders in their country with passion? What did they think was going to happen when the mud that was slung at purebreds would trickle down and eventually stick to all dogs? Was there not one person who realized that while you can’t please all the people all the time, you can never please any of them enough if they have an animal rights agenda?

If dogs are being marginalized, I would want my kennel club to go on the offensive with a media blitz of stories, videos and photographs featuring the dog/human bond. I’d want them to take back my sport and my reputation.

Purebred dog fanciers have the best PR in the world at their side – their dogs, but there is strength in numbers united under a common banner.  Sadly, the Kennel Club lost the battle for its responsible constituents and may well have lost the war. We in this country, however, still have our dukes up and more and more of us are catching on.

What do we think will happen when children meet our friendly dog who’s only too happy to plant a kiss on their nose? What do we think will happen when our dog reminds someone of a terrific dog they knew as a kid?  What do we think will happen if we get engaged, become proactive, “get in the game” and never give up?

We’ll win.

**Update: In a vigorous debate over this issue, my opponent called me a “sock puppet.”  I’m rather fond of sock puppets and proudly display one at the top.

 

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Julia April 18, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Good. Really really good. Show off your well bred dogs IN the community. Take them with you . Walk in the park, Run errands with them. Pick your kids up from school with them. Offer to do demonstrations at public events. The more H$U$ and its kind parade the pathetic abandoned ill bred and untrained in front of us as the only acceptable option, that to ” rescue” something rather than choose it, own it, celebrate and enjoy it, the more marginalized all dogs will become.

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Susi April 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Now you’re talk’n, Julia! That’s precisely what we need to do because while our gorgeous show dogs or purebred pets are sitting at home, the mixed breed rescues are making serious headway into the consciousness of the public as the only morally right dog to own. Many, many people I know have both and it needn’t be a one-or-the other proposition, but for those who do chose to have strictly purebreds (our family includes a purebred rescue), they have my full support. I appreciate your comment!

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Lenna S. Hanna-O'Neill April 18, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Spot on. The Kennel Club did far worse than just drop the ball; they dropped an anvil on the Fancy, and now they are complaining about the mess. Boo hoo. You are dead right; they ONLY way that we can take back our lives and protect the dogs we all love is to push back HARD against these extremists, EXPOSE their hidden agendas, and stop apologist rhetoric wherever we find it. The sad fact is, the Kennel Club is not the only place where such apologists can be found. They can be found at the local dog clubs in the US, too. Listen to the soft-AR rhetoric that goes on all around us. Listen to people who should KNOW better, who are backing and even *writing* restrictive legislation aimed at dog breeders. Look at how many are happy to defend litter limits, pet limits, mandatory spay/neuter, etc. Look at the reverence for rescue, even in kennel club meetings; some of the rescue chairs actually sneer at people who are still breeding and ‘making more work for them’, believing rescue is a higher calling at the expense of producing high quality, healthy puppies for good homes. Look at the backbiting and shaming and blaming that so many engage in, calling everyone but themselves a ‘puppy mill’ and declaring everyone who has more puppies than they do is ‘flooding the market with substandard dreck’ etc? How can we be stewards of our breeds when we are constantly running down EVERY other breeder but ourselves, and maybe a handful of friends (usually people in ANOTHER breed…) It’s not just the Kennel Club. And we all need to call each other on it when ever it raises its ugly head.

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Susi April 18, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Yup, Lenna. What you said. We do have to call each other out in a positive and firm way. We all want to be universally beloved. No one wants to look like a schmuck, let alone a heartless one, but political correctness rears its head in our sport and what you described is exactly what it looks like. Thanks for saying it so perfectly.

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bestuvall April 19, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Totally agree with you on this one. I have a very good friend at the KC. When PDE hit I advised him.. do NOTHING or be proactive. My thoughts were this.. any print that had Jemima Harrison ( producer of PDE )and pedigreed dogs in the same article should be used to line your birdcage. PDE was a clever creation of what is known as a “folk devil” as the breeder of pedigreed dogs and set about to create a moral panic in the mind of the public
to wit:
Moral panics have several distinct features. According to Goode and Ben-Yehuda, moral panic consists of the following characteristics:

Concern – There must be awareness that the behaviour of the group or category in question is likely to have a negative impact on society.
Hostility – Hostility towards the group in question increases, and they become “folk devils”. A clear division forms between “them” and “us”.
Consensus – Though concern does not have to be nationwide, there must be widespread acceptance that the group in question poses a very real threat to society. It is important at this stage that the “moral entrepreneurs” are vocal and the “folk devils” appear weak and disorganized.
Disproportionality – The action taken is disproportionate to the actual threat posed by the accused group.
Volatility – Moral panics are highly volatile and tend to disappear as quickly as they appeared due to a wane in public interest or news reports changing to another topic.[1]
from wiki

instead of letting the moral panic run its natural course to the end result ( the lining of the bird cage) the KC became actual accomplices with the enemy in order to attempt to make themselves seen as a “moral entrepreneurs”" Lie down with dogs .. get up with fleas.
Although I think the KC is trying hard to back pedal much damage has been done but then Brts do not think like Americans in many ways. They seem to prefer to be “nannied” and as i posted on your FB page i do wonder.. how in the heck did they keep all of those colonies for so long?

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Susi April 19, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Moral panic – now that’s really interesting, and very descriptive of how the PDE worked. One of my prouder moments was having my web site mentioned on Ms. Jemima’s blog – negatively. That’s when I knew I’d gotten it right (grin).

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bestuvall April 19, 2013 at 4:44 pm

oh you can almost sure you be on there agsin very soon!

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Susi April 19, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Well, I’ll start knitting little things!

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Tricia April 19, 2013 at 5:37 pm

I wonder if the marginalized dogs has more to do with too many dogs, people obtaining dogs that shouldn’t have them, rescue dogs that exhibit anti-social behavior in the hands of those unable or unwilling to address?

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Susi April 19, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Tricia, it’s probably a perfect storm of individual “storm cells” that got final momentum by a favorable wind: the Pedigree Dogs Exposed video, and coupled with your suggestions, it was probably inevitable that we got outcome we got. Any one of those by itself was damaging enough, but together???

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O. Massey April 19, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Great article, so true. Also in the UK it’s not just the dogs. I just heard a report that a law was just passed that prohibits the exhibition of “wild” animals at circuses. As of 2015 they will no longer be allowed. Only animals considered “normally domesticated” will be allowed to be used in the circus ( and then how long will that be allowed? ) . Makes you wonder if eventually the circus will be the only place we see dogs, that or zoos if they are not destroyed by radicals too. It is a possibility if we don’t get better at standing up for our rights to keep, breed and enjoy our dogs, cats, horses and so on. It’s not just dog breeders and owners who are threatened by activists. I hope AKC and UKC and others see the mistakes the Kennel Club has made and that they and we can learn how to stand up for responsible animal owners of any kind. It helps when people like you post great blogs like this. Thank you for expressing your thoughts.

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Susi April 20, 2013 at 10:48 am

Thank you, O.! It’s a staggering thought that we might have to go to zoos to see house pets and barnyard animals and yet it seems as if that’s what AR activists want, except I don’t think it’s that either because, as you say, they’ll go after zoos when they’ve dismantled everything else. To what end, I keep wondering. Animals roaming in the streets? Or no animals at all?

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bestuvall April 21, 2013 at 6:32 pm

I have a bumper stickers on my car that reads:
Animal Rights Means No Animals left

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Susi April 21, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Spot on. Have you gotten any reactions or questions from other people about it?

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julie April 19, 2013 at 11:27 pm

julia, i agree about showing off your well bred, dog in the community, with a provision. the dog has to also be well behaved. just because a dog can hold a stack while being examined, gait on a lead that is little more than dental floss, and stop in a stunning self stack at the mere whiff of a piece of liver doesn’t mean that they’re polite and well mannered at petco, or can stroll on a loose lead in an outdoor mall.

the crust of the earth was still cooling when i was last in the show ring. but i do still make the effort to put a show groom on my dogs and have them clean and presentable as they are often out in public with me. i enjoy my dogs company and they’re often with me when i’m out and about. that said, even though they are both obedience trained and do agility, it still required some training effort to have them be good canine citizens (i’m not talking the cgc test). my male had to be taught that he isn’t allowed to raise his leg in an urban setting and no peeing at the local farmers market……….

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CathyM April 20, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Susi – When PDC came out, I threw a fit with friends over in the UK. They shrugged and said it was no big deal. Were they wrong! The Kennel Club threw all the breeders under the bus and then went after specific breeds to back up and run over them again. Now they wonder why things are falling apart over there?
I always wanted to go to Crufts. Now, you couldn’t pay me to go to Crufts or support The Kennel Club in anything.
You did forget to mention the move of HSUS to bring the PDC over to the USA as the Breeding Paradox and had a huge conference with many AR people attending (April 7, 2012). Thankfully we had some on our side attending also and had a full report (I can’t find the direct link at this time but researching it; maybe you know where it is?). It was a bit scary, daunting but very eye opening that the HSUS/ASPCA are pulling no punches.
We need to stay vigilant over here also and keep up the Good Fight.

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Susi April 20, 2013 at 12:13 pm

I hear you, Cathy. I knew that the PDC crowd met with the HSUS crowd and rumors abounded that they were hoping to do to Westminster what had been done with Crufts. I didn’t mention it because I’d STILL be writing the article and half of it would be a rant! If you ever do find the report, I’d really like to see it, and I’ll do a bit of digging, too. You’re so right. We can’t let up.

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CathyM April 20, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Found the website with the report (had to write to Sharyn to do so…oh, how our memories go downhill with age!): http://got50.blogspot.com/2011/11/first-four-parts-of-my-purebred-paradox.html Don’t let the date fool you of Nov 2011 for the first part – Sharyn did her research and started writing about the conference before she attended.
So now, you don’t have to write about it! Fixed that one for all of us. People just have to go and read about it.
BTW – We are wondering if you know where the Organizational Fairy is? Sharyn and I are on the lookout for him/her.

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Susi April 21, 2013 at 7:00 pm

It’s a great piece, just as I knew it would be since Sharon wrote it. I’ll have to share that one. Thanks for finding it, Cathy!

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Michele April 24, 2013 at 12:01 am

Thirty years ago I worked for someone who was also a dog breeder and a Kennel Club Judge. She was bringing a breed of dog into the UK from the US for which there was no standard for breeding and showing. She asked me if I would type up her notes for submission to the Kennel Club to establish this breed. As a dog lover I agreed. She then dictated her requirements, short legs, barrel chested, high forehead, flat nose. When I queried if this was what they looked like she said no, she had imported six for breeding, but this is how they would look after selective breeding, i.e. interbreeding. I remarked that this was the cause of dogs trouble, look at Bulldogs breathing problems etc. She said that was immaterial the end cause was to get the dog to look as the standard. No wonder pedigree dogs have problems with arrogance like this.

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Susi April 24, 2013 at 10:07 am

And on this one case, Michele, we’re to conclude that all pedigree dogs are unsound? That’s a rather sweeping generalization painted with a very broad brush. Using that as our model, then, a few baseball players take steroids, so all baseball players are cheating. An businessman embezzles, so all businessmen are crooks. You can see where this is going. There are good breeders and then there are those like your boss who got it wrong. Are there breeds with problems? Sure. As there are with mixed breed mutts. Are there arrogant breeders? I daresay there are many. But from where I sit, the real arrogance is when people who’ve never set foot in a show ring, don’t know any ethical, responsible breeders personally, and/or harbor resentment at purebred dogs and their owners dictate to the rest of us how to make things all better.

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chienblanc4csi April 24, 2013 at 6:20 pm

To avoid echoing Susi’s response, I will not get into the many analogies that I can come up with to apply to your faulty logic. But I will say that people like your employer do not represent anyone that I know in the dog world, and I will wager that there are plenty of other ‘faults’ in her temperament besides arrogance and short-sightedness. I got involved in the KC disaster from my association with UK people in my breed. When I heard what was going on I was appalled at the weakness of the KC, the pandering to fools who are so blind and ignorant that they can’t see how they have been manipulated by the animal rights movement. The producers and fans of PDE are quite a collection of these fools, and I speak from the perspective not as a breeder, but as legislative liaison for my breed club, where there is much to be learned about the deadly effects on purebred dogs via that “shock-umentary”. Wayne Pacelle must think Jemima Harrison is Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy rolled into one. The Kennel Club wrote their own execution orders, and I can’t imagine that, with friends like the KC, the British dog fancy needs any enemies at all. The problem is the collateral damage to so many dedicated, honest and passionate people who really DO care deeply about their chosen breeds and the future of those breeds. These people far outnumber the people like your boss. The classic Animal Rights answer to any animal problem is the throw charges at everyone, the bigger and louder the better, and to heck with any help or guidance. This is what we know about HSUS, but the KC hasn’t figured out yet. Or maybe there isn’t any motivation within the club to make any improvements, no avenue to help anyone?

Slapdash garbage like PDE is not journalism, not ‘education’ – it is opinion, half truths, meant to shock, and create disgust, fear and anger, and therefore has no more place setting standards for dog breeds and breeding than a Disney movie. Especially when even a novice dog person knows that creating great dogs does not happen overnight. Dog breeding is risky business, something that is way over my head, and I am very glad that people really know what they are doing, so that I can have wonderful dogs to train, dogs who make great companions and live long healthy lives, do great work and look beautiful besides.

Did anyone at the KC think of the real dog lovers in the nation, the hundreds of thousands of people who have purebred dogs as beloved family pets? Did they realize at all how ruinous this pandering would be to the public’s trust? It doesn’t seem as if the average dog owner was even considered in this whole thing. Average people really don’t know the connection between looks, temperament, behavior and function designed into each of the KC breeds. How did those people see this thing? I’ll bet the demand for shelter dogs went up, while the market for purebred dogs took a dive, just sayin’.

Our American Kennel Club is not a perfect institution, but there would be no such betrayal of breeders, and in fact, the AKC is an exceptionally powerful advocate for our dogs and their breeders, thank goodness for that. The Crufts fiasco will never happen in the US. The vet checks are truly ridiculous, a complete joke, a perfect example of appeasement similar to the appeasement of the Nazis before WWII. There is no integrity within an organization that would turn on its own like that. But, as with the Nazi collaborators, there is plenty of rationalization. I fully support the fine people in my breed who led the charge to correct this devastation, this shameful betrayal.

Is there any indication of any positive change in breeding practices in the UK as a result of this “expose”? I’ll bet not. Was it some kind of political statement? Of course it was. That’s what Americans have tried to explain since anyone gave the tiniest bit of credibility to PDE. “Be very careful of motives” we said. All I see from my perspective as an observer from across the ocean, was a bunch of very angry people who will never show at Crufts again, and enough embarrassment to make red faces for a hundred years.

Nice job. “What did they think would happen . . . “ indeed.

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Jemima Harrison April 24, 2013 at 10:34 am

Of course there is another way of looking at this, Susi… and that is that there WAS/IS a problem that needed to be highlighted; and that the Kennel Club has responded appropriately to the criticism (which of course didn’t just come from me but from the *three* independent reports that followed – one commissioned by the Kennel Club itself).

You’re mixing up two things here. The KC wasn’t referring to the pedigree dogs issue in its statement; it’s referring to the fall-out from poor quality ownership/media stories about attacks etc.

In fact, ere in the UK we do still mostly love our dogs and the registration numbers for purebred dogs are still strong. Indeed, pug registrations have increased six-fold in recent years despite the breed being highlighted in PDE (although there has been quite a drop in the number of Cavaliers being registered – down to around 8,000 from 11,000 before PDE).

As for the film being AR-fuelled or sponsored – it is a common accusation but not true. The Washington conference was co-sponsored by HSUS (and the University of Pennsylvania) but the vast majority of attendees/speakers – including me – had no AR connections.

I have had purebred dogs all my life and am passionate about them; just believe that many suffer from problems that are avoidable and preventable and that this needs to change.

You might want to read Sharyn’s in-depth report on the conference – which shows that her preconceived views were challenged by the reality of it.

http://got50.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/purebred-paradox-conference.html

As for Sharyn’s round-up post (linked to above), I’d be interested in hearing what she thinks now. I think I’m right in saying that HSUS has been awfully quiet on the purebred dogs issue?

The reason for that, I think, is that HSUS hit a problem preventing them from fully embracing the campaign – and that is that part of the issue is clearly one of genetic diversity… incompatible with an organisation that promotes blanket spay/neutering.

Actually, I asked HSUS if they would change their policy given the mounting evidence that there is a health cost (to individual dogs) of spay/neutering (particularly early spay/neutering). The answer: “That would be very difficult to do.”

It was the evidence for me that despite HSUS’s stated aim of approaching the issue scientifically, that their philosophy would win over the science. I had kept an open mind until that point – and would still say that most of the HSUS staffers I met do really care about animals. But that was the point of no return for me.

I blogged about it:

http://pedigreedogsexposed.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/hate-hope-and-hsus.html

I think others there felt the same, another reason why no real follow-up from HSUS (although HSUS did make a late and very brief appearance at the Genetics Workshop in Stockholm last year).

Jemima

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Betsy April 24, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Sorry Jemima. H$U$ (and their terrorist arm PETA), were blowing smoke up your skirts. Oh I don’t doubt there was good information presented from the speakers, but it was a PR stunt by H$U$ so they could say “See, we really are reasonable people.” I don’t buy it. Their proven, verifiable track record is easily evident in the legislation they promote (and probably write wholesale) that makes breeders into criminals. ALL breeders. Their stated aim is “One generation and out” and they are working very hard to make that happen. There is no doubt in my mind, and probably that of many others, that we are at war. And your little horror flick, despite all your claims to the contrary, added fuel to their fire. Science wasn’t providing answers fast enough for you, change wasn’t happening fast enough for you, and you helped to vilify ALL breeders. And in the UK, the Kennel Club caved after the hue and cry generated by your little horror flick, and your professed love of the pure bred dog is in more danger than ever. So now I have to wonder…What did you THINK was going to happen????

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Jemima Harrison April 25, 2013 at 1:05 am

Betsy, I *agree* with you over HSUS. (They didn’t select the speakers, btw).

As for “science wasn’t providing answers fast enough for you” – er, no. The science was providing the answers, it was that no one was listening – or rather that “responsible” breeders had (and continue to be) sidetracked down the DNA testing route without looking at the bigger picture that, long-term, inbreeding within small gene pools is unsustainable (particularly in the way that it’s done currently). Ultimately, I believe this is a much bigger threat to the purebred dog than HSUS or crackpots like PETA.

After the conference, btw, HSUS made a stab at embracing “good” breeders – issuing statements that appeared to recognise that they understood the difference between them and a puppy mill. Of course, no on trusted them so this failed. Since then? I haven’t heard anything from them on this issue and it is not listed as a campaign or an issue on the HSUS website.

Jemima

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Lenna S. Hanna-O'Neill June 13, 2013 at 5:55 pm

“No one was listening?” Or, they weren’t doing it to your schedule and your satisfaction? WHICH ‘science’ were we embracing this week, by the way? Or were you unaware that the conclusions that were reached by some of these ‘studies’ you cite are contentious and not exactly accepted whole cloth even within the scientific community? I could tell you about a little ‘scientific’ journey one breed embarked on, starry eyed and with the best of intentions: To eradicate this ‘terrible genetic problem’ in their breed. They had ‘science’ to help them, and a ‘study’ by a well respected university, and a real Dr. to sign off on it. He even had these nifty little charts, and could show you the percentage probability that your dog would produce this dreaded malady, based on its pedigree. Some of the top breeders in the country, people who had been in the breed during its foundation, sadly walked away and never looked back because their own dogs were implicated and they did not want to spread the ‘bad genes.’ Many dogs were neutered on the strength of this ‘research,’ despite the small size of the gene pool. It was considered a small price to pay for healthier dogs in the long run. Only one problem: The so-scientific study was FLAWED, and in retrospect, turns out there never was a ‘genetic’ malady to begin with, and now, 20 yrs later, it is broadly suspected that the symptoms that were being seen were from a bad batch of vaccine. You see, families share a lot of things BESIDES genes… they share feed, water, exposure to local toxins, parasite treatments, vaccine regimens… So you will excuse me if seeing the words ‘study’ or ‘research’ or even ‘Dr. So-and-so’ don’t give me pause. I actually LIKE the guy who made this flawed research by the way, he’s a smart guy and he has done a lot of other GOOD things in his life… just not this.

Are you aware that if you go back to school after time away, you may keep your credits from every field of study EXCEPT science? Those credits are only good for about 8 yrs, depending on the state or the institution. Well, why is that, if ‘science’ is so right, and so immutable? BECAUSE IT ISN’T. Quite often, what we ‘know for a fact’ due to ‘research’ today, is tossed into a cocked hat tomorrow. But the problem is, when someone announces some grand new discovery and tries to apply it to dog breeding, somehow it *always* ends up that more dogs, and more dogs, and yet more dogs, must be removed from the gene pool ‘for the good of us all.’ And by the time it is finally discovered that the ‘new, improved’ breeding criterion is a farce, valuable genes and sometimes critical lines have been FOREVER removed from the game. (Oops! heh heh heh, sorry folks, I must have moved a decimal the wrong way… turns out the sky is NOT falling, so punching your boss in the mouth and gassing all your children to save them from the agony might not have been the best idea. My bad!)

So, you had a theory you liked, but other people just were not giving it the same weight you felt it deserved, eh? And you believe that the BEST way to deal with this was to offer such a blow to these people that they would never forget it, and never leave YOU out of their plans again… and as for the ‘friendly fire;’ the collateral damage to many who were doing nothing wrong? The fact that many of the people you paint with such a tarry brush as ‘uncaring’ and ‘unable to see the “big picture”‘ were often people who HAD been extremely responsible, and whose efforts were now in ashes due to your machinations… is any of that relevant to you, Jemima? Or the damage to others who don’t even HAVE breeds with these issues, but who nevertheless suffered fallout because ALL purebreds were given a black eye by that piece of journalistic dreck? No, of course not; you got to see your pound of flesh and nothing else matters to you.

PDE was nothing short of shock journalism; a very one-sided, carefully edited presentation long in implications but VERY short on any real credentials, or anything other than lovingly cameo’ed anecdotal references masquerading as ‘science.’ To support PDE as any kind of ‘service’ to the dog community in the first place is unconscionable. To do so while opining that you ‘love purebred dogs’ is delusional and self-aggrandizing to a disgusting degree. Not that I expected much else, but at least you should be called out for it.

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Albert Ross April 24, 2013 at 12:10 pm

The major problem with the ‘shock journalism’ of PDE was that 99% of it was accurate. The Kennel Club is a private company that makes a lot of money from pedigree dog registrations and by effectively running the whole of the pedigree dog world in the UK. They also make a lot of noise about how they are doing things to improve health and welfare.

But, baldly put, it’s all hot air. I’ll give one example. PDE showed German Shepherd dogs with chronically bad hocks – the phrase used was ‘half dog, half frog’. The following reports into dog health in the UK were equally scathing. One, the Bateson report, once again cited the German Shepherd, specifically the ‘banana backs’ as have serious conformation problems. The KC had to be seen to act. So, they made the GSD a ‘high profile breed’. That means ONLY that, at a Championship show, any GSD must be examined by a vet to see if there are any obvious conformational problems. Given the space the vet operates in and the unbelievably loose wording of the check that has to be carried out no GSD has failed the test.

The KC then tried to get the GSD bred clubs to sign up to an undertaking that they would do something about trying to improve the conformation. The Breed Council, which represents most (but not all) GSD clubs, flatly refused. So, the KC took away the ability of GSDs to win Championship Certificates. Result, about half the clubs acquiesced. The others still refuse. Since then what have the KC done?

Absolutely nothing. They could insist that parents MUST be health checked before a puppy is registered. But they don’t. Indeed, rather than forcing the issue the KC have now signed an agreement with the WUSV, which promotes dogs with the inherent fault that the KC claim to be fighting! The reason – money. The GSD is the 3rd most popular breed in the UK. Losing the registration revenue from GSDs would cost the KC a huge amount of income -and the Breed Council have already threatened to take their toys and affiliate elsewhere.

So, should the blame be laid at the Kennel Club’s door? Yes. It should. Not because the PR was wrong. But because they simply have not done a single, practical thing to improve the situation. And, if that means upsetting breeders who think their distorted idea of a healthy dog is correct then they should upset them. Because the welfare of the animal is of far greater importance than any campaign to make everything look all right.

It has to BE all right.

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Jemima Harrison April 25, 2013 at 1:34 am

Albert, if you look at GSDs in the ring in the UK today, they *are* a bit better. There’s a long way to go of course, but you are much less likely to see dogs with really loose hocks.

Despite what Bestuvall claims, we filmed dog after dog with dreadful back-ends. Here’s an extended cut of the dogs we filmed at Manchester Champ Dog Show:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GU1IZyUv6Yk

And here’s a download link to an extended cut of the dogs we filmed at Crufts 2008 (23Mb file)

http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?3lt3uoyknmk

DOG 1 + 2: (3rd Open Bitch)
DOG 3: (2nd Vet Dog)
DOG 4: (1st Vet Dog)
DOG 5 + 6: (Res Special Puppy Dog)
DOG 7: (3rd Special Puppy Dog) ‘

Albert, behind the scenes, the KC was quite tough with the GSD clubs – told them in no uncertain terms that the dogs were bringing the KC into disrepute. Privately, if you talk to GSD breeders ( as I have done), they will admit there was a problem. They won’t admit it was as big a problem as I think it was (and still is) but I do think that recognition has resulted in sounder dogs in the ring.

As for the WUSV tie-up, I think behind it is that the WUSV also recognises that there’s a problem with the dogs and that they want to work on it together. I am sceptical of course, but it needs to be given a bit of time.

In the US, of course, they’re breeding a different type of GSD deformity – ski-slope backs and dogs that walk on their pasterns (not, of course, that dogs have pasterns, but you know what I mean).

Jemima

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Karen April 24, 2013 at 2:04 pm

The KC did nothing and the sad thing is, everyone, not just purebred dog fanciers will suffer.

Think outside the box – what happens to the local economy if dog shows drop off in numbers?

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Charlee April 24, 2013 at 3:45 pm

At best Jemima, you are misinformed. HSUS has a long reach, and their eventual goal is the ending of all human/animal relationships. They HAVE been going after the purebred dog owner/breeder, and going after us hard, usually on the state level, but also on the Federal level. This is being done by their lawyers and lobbyists who are trying to make it impossible for those who truly care about their dogs to breed. Think about it, you take away the breeder who DOES do health testing, study pedigrees and take every step for a healthy puppy and dog, and what’s left? The true commercial breeders and the backyarders. THEY are the true menace, breeding for profit. After WE are gone, then it will be a damn sight easier to take the commercial operations down, and bingo, no more purebreds. Are all of us white as snow? Of course not, we have bad apples just like everything else, but the problem w/ the broad brush you paint in, is that EVERYone gets colored the same, deserved or not.

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bestuvall April 24, 2013 at 10:37 pm

one thing Jemima is not is misinformed. She knows full well what the goals of the HSUS/ASPCA/PETA are as she and her cohorts at the RSPCA have almost the same goals..as much as Jemima says she “loves the pedigreed dog’ she does not breed or show or exhibit any dogs. This is not a prerequisite for any dog lovers however when it comes to making statements about how and when the breed owners should “change their ways:”Jemima has no reservations about telling them what they should do.. as in do as I say.. not as I do.. or Those who can do.. those who cannot preach
In my own breed ( bull terriers) Jemima has taken a few stabs at trying to say we are somehow doing wrong by our dogs..she holds up a photo of a “working bullterrier” ( use your imaginations when you use the word “working”) as the epitome of correctness in our breed and chastises us for breeding dogs with a roman finish Do you know what most of us do?? We laugh at her. But she has used the “folk devil” ( see my above post) to paint all dog breeders with the same brush and as the HSUS does she “created a crisis” where there was none
Mr Rose.. there was exactly three seconds of footage ( more or less) in PDE showing the GSD. showing dog on a short leash being poorly handled .. I suggest you actually go to a GSD show and see the agile fast and incredibly talented dog go thorough their paces.. I watched Jimmy Moses show a GSD last week .. it was stunning..I have no reason to think that the GSD people would give a fig about KC registration.. they do just fine on their own as would many of the breeds
Charlee.. I hear what you are writing but there is no shame isn making a prof=it when breeding dogs..as for being a “backyarder” I am one.. I always breed my dogs in the backyard.. as for commercial breeders.. we ned them too., as long as the dogs are kept in good conditions we need commercial breeders.. hobby breeders do not breed enough dogs to meet the needs of people who want a pet. if only hobby breeders were breeding dogs.. dogs would not only be extraordinarily expensive.. they would also be very rare..
I will continue to linebreed my dogs because I think it is the best way to preserve my line.. the KC may “ban” line breeding.. they may ban certain breeding, they may restrict how many litters a bitch may have or how many medical procedures may happen to a dog.. BUT they will not stop me.
What drives Jemima.. self interest and money and some sort of sense of power, plus hubris that is practically unmatched in the UK dog world as you can plainly see by her commit here
What drives me?? breeding the best Bull Terriers I can breed, improving my breed and fighting bad dogs laws everywhere..

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bestuvall April 24, 2013 at 10:56 pm

OH DAWG.. excuse my lousy typing and spelling .. when i was in high school I thought I would never need to learn to use a typewriter as quill pens were the norm.. LOL.. even spell check cannot save me..

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Susi April 19, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I’m surprised – and blown away – by your article, Billy! Thank you so very much for the shout out, but especially for confirming my sentiments about the Kennel Club’s curious handling of the whole situation.

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