Owner asks: Where do we go from here?
TWO MORE dogs have failed the high-profile breed veterinary checks – the Neapolitan Mastiff and the Chow Chow – this time at Welsh Kennel Club ch show.
The Neapolitan Mastiff – who was failed on ‘eye conformation which means tears drain laterally’ and ‘scarring and hair loss to jowl’ – was Doowneerg Usi, who belongs to breed health co-ordinator Kim Slater and Mateaki Mafi. The Chow was Bob Williamson’s Ch Dejoh Dior, who failed because she had ‘slight conjunctivitis’.
This was confirmed by Mr Williamson’s vet the following day.
The Neapolitan Mastiff had passed his checks at Leeds – going on to group 4 – and Paignton, and the Chow hers at Bath and Southern Counties.
Ms Slater told DOG WORLD she is demanding from the KC an apology, an enquiry and reinstatement of the BOB award.
‘Killing dog game’
They were failed by vet Mark Gordon of Bush House Veterinary Group, a practice used regularly by WKC. Mr Gordon, who has attended the KC’s health-check seminars, declined to comment, saying he did not want to discuss private information.
Ms Slater said the health checks were ‘killing the dog game in this country’.
"This isn’t just about my feelings – it’s about the future of the Neapolitan Mastiff in the UK. He is a healthy dog – hip scored, heart and thyroid tested etc.
"I want the world to know that nothing about this process is right. Show are being affected because people are nervous and not turning up.
"If even the best of the best isn’t good enough where do we go from here? I told the vet I have worked my guts out for this breed and that he was judging him on the wrong criteria. He passed a health check less than a fortnight ago.”
Ms Slater said she asked KC chairman Steve Dean to come to the veterinary centre to clarify what Mr Gordon needed to look for.
"But I received a message saying he was unavailable,” she said. "I was barking mad.
"I think the vet began to realise I knew what I was talking about. I told him I wasn’t a bog standard exhibitor and this wasn’t a bog standard dog.
"It’s vital to me that my dogs pass otherwise my line is doomed. I’m the breed health co-ordinator – I don’t breed unhealthy dogs and I don’t show unhealthy dogs. I only bring the best of the best to shows.”
She said her dog had been failed on conformation and not welfare issues.
"He has ectropion – a vet has said that before – but that is because of his eye conformation; he isn’t suffering because of it. Vets are being asked to say whether they think a dog is suffering.
"And the mark on his face is where he was stitched after a fight with his father. He’s a working dog, out and about in the countryside, not a house dog.”
In a letter to KC secretary Caroline Kisko Ms Slater said WKC Neapolitan Mastiff judge Jackie Critoph peeled back her dog’s eyelids, exposing the eye in its entirety, ‘confirming to herself as to the eye health and condition of my dog’.
She wrote: "I feel totally let down. After all my years of study, engagement, hard work, supportive stance to the KC throughout a difficult and high pressure period of time for all involved in the high-profile breeds, the very time I required the KC’s support during an unfair and incorrect vet check assessment.
"Steve Dean could not walk 20 yards when I have travelled hundreds of miles to attend Clarges Street to support the launch of the KC film in my own time, with my own money.
"I demand a full enquiry into the vet-checking process and the level of understanding of the vets selected to undertake the checks laid down under the KC’s directive. I insist on a full apology for the distress caused and damage to my personal reputation and that of my dog. I request reinstatement of my dog Doowneerg Usi’s BOB award on the grounds it was removed due to incorrect interpretation of the directives laid down by the KC.
"I will not hesitate to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure my rights and those of my fellow exhibitors to compete equally at the highest level of dogs shows is not compromised or impaired by inconsistent veterinary health assessments. If you do not support that right, then you are failing the community of pedigree dog owners who elect to compete at UK Kennel Club sponsored dog shows which is fast becoming a farce in the eyes of the world of dogs.”
A KC spokesman said on Tuesday: "It is too early to comment in this particular case, but as in all cases, while the vet’s decision is final, all vet reports are reviewed.”
Mr Williamson said that he had taken his Chow to the vet on Monday morning who had confirmed she had a ‘touch of conjunctivitis’.
"I was seething at first, but at the end of the day it has been confirmed, even though both vets said it was slight and negligible,” he said.
Mary Robbins, whose husband David handled the bitch, said the long journey and air flowing through the car window into the bitch’s eyes could have caused the condition.
"Her eyes were slightly wet, but the seven-hour journey and conditions on the way could have been the culprit,” she said.
"My husband was in tears at the show. We love this little bitch, she’s beautiful. It’s just so upsetting.”
The Chow who took the DCC, Olive Taylor’s Ir Ch Hiswin Captivating Star, also underwent a veterinary check at the show because he had won his third CC, and passed.
The Canine Alliance said it was astonished that the KC had called on everyone to become a member one day – Prof Dean in his ‘state of the nation’ speech at the WKC annual dinner – and the next ‘allow a decision to be made to exclude a dog on grounds that do not tally with their directives to vets’.
"It is only a matter of days since the Alliance wrote to Prof Dean warning him of the inconsistent manner in which these tests were being applied, but this must bring little comfort to yet another breeder who sees a life’s work shattered in an instant,” said the group’s secretary Robert Harlow.
"It’s time for the KC to suspend these tests immediately and to go through a genuine period of consultation. We do not accept the standard response of the KC that the AGM instructed the General Committee to continue the checks. A total of 95 members were in the room by the time a well-choreographed KC AGM reached that decision – after a re-working of the order of the agenda on the day.
"The General Committee must take responsibility and deal with this matter in the interests of the wider world of pedigree dogs. We regret that the continued inept performance of the KC, in failing to tackle its own errors which started at Crufts, are now making a laughing stock of the KC, exhibitors and breeders of pedigree dogs in this country. It is the easiest thing in the world to make a wrong decision – it takes immense courage to admit and correct it. We call on ‘our Kennel Club’ – as Steve Dean urged people to think of the club at the WKC dinner – to show that courage now.”
Mr Harlow added that Prof Dean had been given the ideal opportunity to appease someone who had co-operated totally with the KC and its strategy on one of the high-profile breeds – Ms Slater – but he had failed to do so.
Not really wanting to offend you Ms Slater but your lovely dog has a lot of wrinkle on its head. I could examine my own and my dogs eyes without peeling anything back. My answer to your question where do we go from here is obviously towards less wrinkle. I appreciate that you have a wonderful dog but clearly what is needed going forward is some work towards dogs that do not have so much skin.
I appreciate that established breeders must feel as if the goal-posts have been moved, but for the overall welfare of dogs we need to move towards traits that allow the dogs to enjoy a life that isn't marred by excessive and pointless traits. Just my opinion.
Why are dogs with horrendously excessive skin being rewarded in the first place? Are these judges even looking at the standard?
' Some loose fitting skin over body and head permitted, not to be excessive.'
'Nose large with well open nostrils.'
'head has loose skin permitted but without excess.'
'Rims tight without haw.'
See the words 'without excess'? Clearly these judges and breeders can't.
If I was looking at your eyeball in its entireity, it would be necessary to peel back your eyelids. Thank you for your comments. Kim Slater
If you have to "peel the dogs eyelid back" to check that the eye is healthy then i think you have a clue right there. Dog people are still insistant that traits which are debilitating to a dog are acceptable. Where do you go from here? The answer is pretty obvious.