CANINE Alliance has criticised the Kennel Club’s registration system, saying
that as long as it continues to register puppies from commercial breeders,
people will continue to buy them.
The words ‘KC-registered’ should stand for something, it said.
The comments came in the wake of the KC announcing its Puppy Awareness Week, saying ‘thousands of puppies are suffering ‘because of our ignorance’.
The week, which runs from September 8-14, aims to help people find ‘a healthy, happy puppy who is right for their lifestyle’, while raising awareness about the plight of puppies and breeding bitches born into ‘cruel puppy farms’.
"We have never before had such instant access to so much information, yet time and time again people are making the wrong decisions when buying a puppy,” said KC spokesman Caroline Kisko.
"Too many people do not know that there are vast differences between the 210 breeds of dog in this country and so end up abandoning their dogs because they discover that they don’t fit their lifestyle. Many more are buying puppies from irresponsible and cruel breeders, not realising that these pups will probably end up with health and behavioural problems.
"Sadly, tens of thousands of puppies born each year are suffering because of our ignorance. Puppy farms churn out litter after litter of undernourished and badly-cared-for puppies and then sell them on to unsuspecting owners, through pet shops, newspaper and online adverts and various other means.”
The KC says it has conducted research which shows that one in four people ‘may have bought a puppy-farmed dog’.
"We hope that its Puppy Awareness Week will encourage people to buy responsibly, from KC Assured Breeders, and put puppy farmers out of business,” Mrs Kisko said.
The Alliance said that it applauded the KC’s sentiments, and that the club should be doing ‘everything in its power’ to direct puppy buyers to responsible, dedicated breeders and away from commercial breeders, often referred to as ‘puppy farmers’.
But, the Alliance said, the KC ‘could help the situation considerably’ by insisting that all puppies it registers came from parents who have been health checked and confirmed to be of an acceptable level of health and fitness.
"We are encouraged by the KC’s concerns over puppies who are not bred by caring, responsible breeders and support all its efforts in this area,” said secretary Robert Harlow. "However, it is vital that the KC does everything in its power to ensure that ‘KC-registered’ actually stands for something.
"It is extremely difficult to define ‘puppy farmer’, but as long as the KC continues to register puppies from commercial establishments whose welfare standards are well below par, puppy buyers will continue to obtain puppies from such places, assuming that their puppy’s KC registration is some kind of guarantee of quality.”
Meanwhile, the Alliance has welcomed the KC’s revision to its high-profile veterinary check guidelines, particularly as it believes the checks carried out at Crufts were ‘somewhat over-zealous’.
It said it had noted that, as reported in this week’s DOG WORLD, the KC wants ‘to reassure all involved that we have been listening and from feedback received from club officials, judges, exhibitors and vets we have reviewed the advice and guidance given to the vets appointed to undertake the examination of the dogs.
"For example, the guidelines now clearly state that the vet is not expected to use any diagnostic aids,” said secretary Robert Harlow. "We also note that of 95 vet checks so far only eight dogs have failed, and of these six did so at Crufts.
"In our opinion this proves that the initial vet checks held at the KC’s own show must have been somewhat over-zealous, especially as the judges at this show are by definition some of the most experienced in the world.”
The Alliance said it is concerned that most of the failures have been put down to eye-related problems, and that in the most recent guide sent to vets it lists ‘scarring or pigmentation indicating previous conformation-related damage to the cornea (the transparent front of the eyeball)’ as a problem.
"Responsible exhibitors allow their dogs to lead as normal a life as possible,” the Alliance spokesman said. "This means playing with other dogs and free exercise in all manner of environments. Consequently, eyes do occasionally sustain mild injury resulting in permanent scarring.
"We are further concerned that some dogs with minor scarring on the eye caused by injury have allegedly initially failed the vet checks, only to have the failure overturned when the vet involved has been challenged by the owner/handler. Those who have not challenged the vet’s decision may have had their dogs failed unfairly.”
The Alliance said it believes that, ‘just as no judge would penalise a dog for the result of an external injury that does not affect its ability to function’, the vets involved should be equally understanding in their deliberations’.
The KC responded by saying that a vet’s decision to pass or fail a dog was based on a ‘rational and professional’ assessment of whether there was any visual evidence that a dog was suffering from low level pain or discomfort.
"If in the opinion of the vet scarring on the eye is causing this, then the dog should fail the examination,” a spokesman said. "Scarring or pigmentation causing damage to the cornea is one of a number of visible signs that the veterinary guidance says should be looked for, which also includes inflammation of the white of the eye, evidence of surgery, eyelashes rubbing on the eyeball, discharge, significant overflow of tears, excessive blinking or eyelids that are half closed or tightly closed.
"We have had no feedback that vets’ decisions have been influenced by owners or handlers and we have confidence that they act in an entirely professional manner.
"We are heartened to see that the vast majority of dogs have passed their vet checks since Crufts, which demonstrates that the dogs being selected as best of breed are being carefully selected as healthy examples of their breed.”
The British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) past president, Harvey Locke, said: "The KC introduced the veterinary checks for the best of breed winners of the 15 high-profile breeds with the full support of the BVA. The vets carrying out these checks are working to strict protocols to identify any health consequences in a dog caused as a result of its conformation.
"The six dogs that failed at Crufts all exhibited clinical signs of health problems relating to their conformation. A dog with a corneal scar is not, in itself, a reason for failure. The dog would only fail if there was evidence of clinical disease associated with the corneal scarring.
"The BVA has seen no evidence that any vet performing these health checks has been influenced in their clinical judgment as a result of being challenged by an owner or handler.”
Farmers (and some breeders) have been getting away with this for too long now. When a bitch of theirs reaches the 4 litter in a lifetime mark, then they simply continue and register with DLRS instead. This is a service for farmers and the more people that know about it the better. I for one would welcome this and even pay extra in my own registrations to keep the KC register clean and safe. Businesses that sell dogs, (we all know who they are) should not be allowed to register on the KC either. Breeders who register with DLRS should be banned too. About time the keyboard activists got in touch and instead of nodding and agreeing, GET INVOLVED. The more voices the better all round for everyone. Don't just sit at home and nod and agree - GET BEHIND THIS NOW. ADD YOUR VOICE IN THIS DEMOCRACY