High-profile vet checks: KC has ‘shot itself in the foot’ says top judge

Created: 13/03/2012

IF PEDIGREE Dogs Exposed made the purebred dog world feel isolated and shunned, the Kennel Club’s high-profile veterinary checks at Crufts seem to have caused it to implode.

Top breeders and exhibitors, sometimes with top-winning and champion dogs from the UK and abroad, and respected and experienced judges all feel saddened, furious and slighted in equal measure that their dogs or choices were deemed unworthy choices as bests of breed.

In the end, six of the 15 breeds failed, and although the exhibitors were allowed to keep the CCs or best of sex awards they were not allowed to take their dogs through to the group and be judged in the main ring.

Afterwards, Zena Thorn Andrews, who judged Basset Hounds, said the KC had ‘shot itself in the foot’.

"It has done more harm than good,” she said, "and has brought to the public’s attention six breeds and said they are all unhealthy – even the best specimens.”

One exhibitor said the KC had ‘sacrificed its top breeders to the whim of Jemima Harrison’ and that she would never show or judge again as long as the ‘current regime’ was in place.

One of the exhibitors’ main beefs was that a light in the eyes of at least two of the breeds he checked despite the fact that the KC had assured everyone ahead of the show that no apparatus would be used and the dog would be assessed in exactly the same way as the judge in the ring.

The vets said the Bulldog and Peke had marks in their eyes, and the Clumber, Mastiff, Neapolitan and Basset were deemed to have ectropion and secondary conjunctivitis. Basset BOB was Ch Buzz Lightyear at Dereheath, owned by Accredited Breeders Heather and Derek Storton who now say they are throwing in the towel.

"I feel completely gutted and shellshocked,” Mrs Storton said. "I have been in dogs and trying to breed healthy dogs for 20 years, and now my life’s work appears to be worthless.

"It’s the arrogance of the KC. They have sacrificed their top breeders to the whim of Jemima Harrison. Someone from the KC said that in two years’ time we would be pleased they had done this – but we have been trying to breed the right dogs for years. How dare you!

"I feel the KC treated us as sacrificial lambs.”

Mrs Storton has made up 16 British champions and this was Buzz’s eighth CC.

"He’s never had a day’s illness and is one of the best dogs we’ve had,” she said. "He was top male in the breed in 2010.

"Unless this is changed we won’t be entering any more shows – seriously. I won’t take another dog to a show as I have no intention of going through this again with any dog. Why would I do this as a hobby and then risk more embarrassment? I’m not going to another show under the current regime.”

Mrs Thorn Andrews said that if the KC continued with the checks they should be carried out by vets involved with the dog world.

"They are not going to ruin their reputation but putting through unhealthy dogs,” she said. "Nit-picking about tiny bit of red or a scratch is untenable and doesn’t help to improve health.

"I think KC has shot itself in the foot once again. I will continue to judge – it will all blow over – but it has done the dog world more harm than good and brought to the public’s attention six breeds and said they are all unhealthy – even the best specimens.”

The Peke, judged by Bert Easdon, who failed on Thursday was Jim and Jean Smith’s Palacegarden Bianca. The next day they took her to their own vet to be assessed.

"We feel we have been thrown to the wolves,” Mr Smith said. "We didn’t think the examination was carried out fairly because they shone a light in Bianca’s eyes and the judge doesn’t do that.

"The vet said he could see a mark that he thought was the beginning of an ulcer. But my vet has given her a clean bill of health and said she was suffering from no ocular discomfort at all.”

The Bulldog, judged by Pat Perkins, was Mark Lee’s Ch Mellowmood One In A Million, one of the year’s top-winning bitches. DW was unable to get hold of him but established that the breed council was supporting Mr Lee and Mrs Perkins.

The Clumber from Croatia was Lana Levai’s Multi Ch Chervood Snowsun, judged by Mrs Somerfield.

"It’s a very big shame for the KC,” she said. "My bitch has had every health check done – eye, hips, elbow, everything is clear. I come from a little country and Crufts was the number one show for me, but not any more. This is my last entry in the UK. The whole of Europe and the US know this bitch but apparently on the KC knows what a healthy Clumber is. I will tell people in Europe not to come to Crufts.”

Mrs Levai took her Clumber to her own vet on Sunday who reported that both eyes were normal ‘without any discomfort or inflammation and cornea transparent and oval. No pathological or degenerative change’.

The dogs who failed their vet test on Saturday were the Mastiff, Diana Yemm’s Ch Secret Charm Avec Dibest, who was BOB at Crufts two years ago, and the Neapolitan Mastiff, Sonja Smidova's Lux/Slo Ch Ithani from Belgium, judged by Jeff Horswell. Similarly to the Clumber Spaniel on Friday, the Mastiff, judged by Sarah Windham, and the Neapolitan, judged by Jeff Horswell, were failed for showing signs of ectropion with secondary conjunctivitis, according to vet Alison Skipper.

"I’ve never had to take her to the vet and she’s ever had anything wrong with her eyes,” said Mrs Yemm. "They’ve never caused her problem.

"The vet at Crufts said her eyes were slightly inflamed but I don’t see how she is not fit for function. The vet said the problem was very slight.

"She was BOB at Crufts two years ago. I agree with improving things but not way KC going about it. I’m very disappointed.”

In the meantime, exhibitors and breeders unhappy with the way the checks were handled were due to attend a meeting in the Midlands on Thursday at 6pm in the Britannia Suite of the National Motorcycle Museum near the NEC. As a result of a Facebook campaign called Exhibitors Voice and Choice, which was launched on Sunday evening, the meeting will give exhibitors a chance to air their views.The Facebook group says the meeting will ‘discuss the implications of the health checks carried out at Crufts and arrive at some conclusions which would be forwarded to the KC’.

Andrew Brace says on the group: "Everyone who is passionate about our sport is requested to attend – regardless of what breed you have. This affects everyone.”

For the full story see DOG WORLD this week.


jeanie, 15/03/2012

I thought this years Crufts was a shambles.pulling out those best of breed winners and not allowing them through into the group was terrible,embarassing and shameful. The KC were trying to put them selves in a good light to show the public we are doing something about these breeds. WELL SHAME ON YOU KC FOR THE WAY YOU HANDLED THIS SHOW !!!!!!!!!!

cuilean, 15/03/2012

Well, of course, one would have expected an out-cry, especially from the owners of the dogs who were pulled out. BUT things have gone too far, it is time to reconsider what we have been doing to the dogs we profess to love.
Many can hardly walk, hardly breathe, hardly see, and hardly breed. Is this loving your dog? Loving your breed?

ALL the breeds that show excessive and over-exaggerated features need to be saved from the fate that so obviously awaits them, EXTINCTION. As has been pointed out so many times, look at these breeds 80-100 years ago, they may hardly be recognized. Shame on all of you who have had an hand in that. One breed I watched as he went past in side view had a back shaped like a banana and his hind legs were barely visible they were so close to the ground and so far beneath him. This was once a glorious and majestic animal, how DARE you breeders allow this to happen, I say again, SHAME ON YOU.

And THANK YOU Jemima Harrison, who, because of your love and care for these wonderful companions who have been so abused, for bringing all that has and is going on in the show dog world out into the public arena. And thank you to our Government who is also taking such an interest, not before time one must say and last of all, thank you to the Kennel Club (belatedly) and Crufts (in particular) who have at last seen the writing on the wall. Too little too late may be said, but it is a start, there is a lot more to be done.

ekim, 15/03/2012

I agree with with the article entirely, except that the KC has not shot itself in the foot. The KC has shot the Judges and Exhibitors in the foot in a terrible Knee jerk reaction to PDE.
As usual not enough thought was put into introducing Vet checks & health improvements into Pedigree Dog showing. With a little fore thought & sympathetic handing this could & should have been achieved a whole lot better. The Vets involved should have been "Specialists" not only in dogs but in the field required for the appropriate checks. My heart goes out to the Judges, breeders & exhibitors who reputations were put into question by a half baked system of checks!
Mike Hughes

Brenmoors, 15/03/2012

It is a shame that the independant vets appear to have gone too far, the eyes of most show dogs have already been passed by an eye specialist every year, No dog is perfect but we need healthy dogs this is not perfection we must not confuse the two. I am not a show person i am an assured breeder who cares about dogs, i thought the Idea had merrit but know I am not so sure.

Jan, 15/03/2012

I do not have one of the high profile breeds, but I cannot believe the KC has without much thought (my opinion) given to the devastation this testing has caused to the owners/breeders of these dogs, play into JH hands, KC that's exactly what you have done! most of us go along with all the health tests the KC ask for in our breeds quite happily after all the health of our dogs in very important to us. what happened at Crufts was a farce, a case of 'we will find fault somewhere' & no way to appeal at the time, it is disgusting! I feel for those involved, this could mean the end of years of hard work, when they throw the towel in & stop showing/judging, a loss all round, what is happening to our hobby? also entries will obviously be down at Ch shows, already seeing depleted entries, will the KC loose revenue (heaven forbid) because these breeds will not be breed as readily?

eyeyeye, 15/03/2012

Once again the KC havegot it so wrong.

Since PDE the KC have been running scared and Kow- toed to Jemima Harrison and her cronies instead of standing up for the world of dogs.

She must laughing her socks off at the KC. As there actions will be seen by the the world at large as a complete endorsement of her campaign.

Typical KC on all counts: Bully-boy tactics, incorrect procedure, the 'we know best' attitude', no forward thinking.

The days when breeds organise their own shows and award their own Prizes comes ever so closer

The FCI will also be rubbing their hands as more and more will choose their shows and perhaps ask to run shows under their Rules.

No-one doubts that we should strive to have healthy stock. I have been trying for 40 years to improve and never had an unhealthy do yet. Most serious breeders do the same. So well done the KC for kicking all these dedicated people inthe teeth AGAIN and at the same time shooting yourself in the foot - big time.

rip, 15/03/2012

The Facebook group has enlisted 4,800 members since Sunday!

BillyBunter, 14/03/2012

Look. The KC hasn't shot itself in the foot and nor is it siding with Jemima Harrison either. These are the rules by which every entrant agree's to be bound by. If you don't understand that then stop showing: And as for someones "life's work" being compared to a hobby, then I would say "get a life". It's about time the exhibiting world embraced the science behind the breeding otherwise there will be no point whatsoever and the breeding fraternity will be the ones left out on the line to dry. If this is what it takes to make breeders sit up and "think" then I am right behind the KC on this one whereas in the past I have been against the,. Move with the times people, protect the breeds, don't endanger them further. Listen, read and educate yourselves - FINALLY!

neutral, 14/03/2012

Hell what did they expect they knew the checks were coming. The looks they have bred for have these ailments attached and judges and breeders have caused their own downfall. This had to come for the betterment of dog health. They were lucky to still have CC's which if the dogs were not at full health should also have been withdrawn. Paul.

jac02, 13/03/2012

this is only my veiw but I think all best of breeds should be vet checked