Random vet checks on KC agenda
RANDOM veterinary checks on any breed may be carried out at shows next year.
It is understood that the General Committee is to receive a recommendation shortly that the controversial checks should no longer be confined to the 14 high-profile breeds and instead be undertaken on others.
If the General Committee agrees the move the proposal will go to next year’s AGM when a decision will be made.
The random check idea was revealed at a meeting of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee which is looking into welfare issues related to dog breeding and dog control.
Present at the House of Commons to answer questions from MPs were Dog Advisory Council chairman Sheila Crispin, Sir Patrick Bateson who conducted the independent enquiry into breeding, KC chairman Steve Dean, and Dachshund breed council chairman Ian Seath.
Sir Patrick was asked by Neil Parish, who is chairman of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare, if the veterinary checks were ‘gradually weeding out’ health problems and whether more needed to be done to prevent ‘the wrong type of dog winning’.
"A lot has been done,” Sir Patrick said as he gave evidence. "At Crufts the checks did not go down well, but they were the right thing to do and have now been accepted.
"I think they will be extended to regular checks on other breeds, not just the high-profile ones. I think this would help because the dog that wins is looked at by people and assumed to be a wonderful example of the breed.”
This was echoed by Prof Crispin a little while later in her evidence. She said she also believed the checks were improving canine health.
"I think it is an evolving situation and the idea is to include non-high-profile breeds,” she said.
She said there had been resistance to the checks but while that had not ‘crumbled’ there was a lot less.
Speaking to DOG WORLD later, Prof Crispin said she understood the checks were to be extended to breeds which were not high-profile, and undertaken randomly, that this idea had been discussed by the KC’s Dog Health Group and might be introduced ‘before Crufts’.
She said she approved of the move and that one of the reasons this was being considered was that the high-profile breeds had felt discriminated against.
Prof Dean told the committee: "The fact that the vast majority of dogs since Crufts have passed the checks is very encouraging sign, with the occasional dog failing suggesting that work still needs to be done – and the breeds are aware of that.
"But some problems have been around since the 1800s so we are asking them to do a lot of work in a short time. I regard (the checks) as a success.”
Mr Seath, pointing out that his breed was not high profile, said he perceived the checks as a piece in the jigsaw. "They won’t change things overnight,” he said.
Some breed clubs were discussing whether every dog should be looked at before the show starts, Prof Dean told the committee, ‘a form of pre-checking’.
"But with 21,000 plus dogs at Crufts we would need an army of vets,” he said.
The KC responded: "A specific vet check review group has been set up to look at all aspects of the checks and will be considering all the feedback we have received to date – both at the AGM and since.
"There are a number of ideas on the table (including extension of the checks to randomly selected breeds) but no decision has been or will be made to change the current format until the group’s recommendations have been considered both by the General Committee and then by the AGM.
"The high-profile breed checks will remain in place until the AGM has made its decision as to how they wish to go forward.”
Also scheduled to give evidence to the committee was British Veterinary Association president Peter Jones and British Small Animal Veterinary Association president Mark Johnston. However, due to voting taking place that afternoon there was no time to question them and their evidence will be heard next week.
The EFRA committee comprises chairman Anne McIntosh, Thomas Docherty, Richard Drax, George Eustice, Barry Gardiner, Mary Glindon, Iain McKenzie, Mr Parish, Margaret Ritchie, Dan Rogerson and Amber Rudd.