This week's Comment...
FIVE YEARS ago, in his speech at the Welsh Kennel Club dinner, the then Kennel Club chairman expressed his apprehension about a television programme due to be broadcast the following Tuesday.
How right he was to be worried, for the programme showed ‘dog people’ in the worst possible light.
Much of it was anything but fair, as Ofcom later agreed. But there was sufficient basis of fact and justification to its general slant that the pedigree dog world has never been the same again.
The broadcast duly set in motion a whole chain of events and actions from which it took a considerable time to bounce back, and with a continuing fall in participation at shows, and now a distinct decline in registrations, one wonders if permanent damage was done, if not on the scale we all feared at the time.
But what matters most is the welfare of the dogs themselves, and here the programme, however painful it was, may have in the long run done good in focusing breeders and judges’ attention on health and freedom from harmful exaggeration. For many caring breeders these had been the priority for decades before 2008. But now no one claiming to be a responsible breeder can ignore them.
In future columns we will look at this anniversary in more details; meantime there remains much to be done. One of the issues raised in Pedigree Dogs Exposed was syringomyelia in Cavaliers. It is only now, five years on, that test results are published in the record supplements. No one, surely, could deny that these give enormous cause for concern, and not only in the one breed. As many suspected there is clearly a major problem to be dealt with. Breeders can no longer bury their heads in the sand.
CONGRATULATIONS to the American Kennel Club for taking an early, firm stance on the topic of Russia hosting the 2016 World Show, in the light of the country’s recent laws which enshrine in their constitution discrimination against the gay community and which could just as easily affect overseas visitors to the show as the Russian people themselves. We hope that the entire international dog-showing world will show similar solidarity, especially of course the FCI which decides which country hosts the annual flagship show.
The AKC’s letter is well worth reading as it spells out one of the most laudable aspects of the purebred dog breeding and showing world, that it remains classless and non-discriminatory. The gay community has historically contributed hugely to the sport, individuals being assured that the dog world at large treats people of all races, religions and sexual orientation equally.
In view of the fact that the AKC is not a member of FCI but, like our own Kennel Club, enjoys a ‘relationship’ with the federation, the writing of the letter indicates the strength of feeling in the US.
Were the FCI to allow the 2016 show to go ahead, it would be knowingly putting the safety of many of its participants at risk. This would be unforgivable.
It will be interesting to see if our Kennel Club takes a stance on this matter and communicates its feelings to the FCI, or whether it will simply sit on the fence.
This is not a question of politics; it is a question of human rights and affects a significant percentage of those most active in the sport.