THE KENNEL Club has been comparing its own Assured Breeder Scheme with the Dog Advisory Council’s (DAC) proposed standard for breeders.
And it has found numerous differences, some of about which it is in consultation with the DAC.
A number of provisions in the standard would make breeders’ lives very hard, such as the fact it says dogs and bitches should not be bred from until they are two, and that there should be maximum coefficients of inbreeding.
‘What is the KC doing to ensure these are not put into practice, and what can ordinary dog people do to make sure our voices are heard on issues like this?’ the KC panel was asked at a question time last week.
Health and breeder services manager Bill Lambert said the KC sets its own standards under the ABS, for which there was a six-page application form.
"We have been doing this for nine years, so we tend to think the DAC is doing work we’ve already done and are continuing to do,” he said.
"It would be easy to say we had a good laugh (at the DAC’s standard) because we didn’t think it made a lot of common sense. But we didn’t because we take it seriously.”
Mr Lambert said the KC had analysed and compared the DAC’s and the ABS’ standard and had initially found 200 differences, although many clauses were the same.
"We thought some things were so obvious that we didn’t put them in,” he said.
The 200 were whittled down to 60 which the KC could not agree with, and these have been discussed with DAC chairman Sheila Crispin.
"She accepted that the standard was not completed, even though it has been released to ministers and the public, and 30 of those 60 points are going to go back to the council for more discussion,” Mr Lambert said.
"Sheila has also accepted that the standard needs work and that some parts are based on no evidence.”
The whole world was looking at breeders, he continued: "And there are a lot of people out there who would like to regulate us. Our ABS standard is produced by breeders for breeders – we understand – and if I am critical of the DAC I would say they have not had the same input as us.”
The KC believes that much of the standard should be part of guidance given with it, not as regulations which must be adhered to.
"It says that all dogs must be able to sit, stay and so on on command,” Mr Lambert said. "And I have to say that if this was an ABS rule I would have to give up my membership because not all my dogs do that.
"Of course, we want dogs who are reasonably well-behaved and have some sort of training, but a clause like that would mean a lot of people would have to come off the ABS.
"However, we work with all organisations, and talk to them, and there will always be points we don’t agree with.”
Prof Dean asked how many people in the audience – of 40 plus – had read the DAC standard, and only two raised their hands. He urged people to read it and give their views to the DAC, sending a copy to the KC.
"We can support you,” he said. "The DAC needs to know you are looking at what they’re doing and we need to be heard. You don’t have to do this through the KC – try to get together with breed clubs as they have strength of force that individuals sometimes don’t.
"We have close relationship with DEFRA and we have made our views felt. They are well aware of the concern and will be even more aware shortly, as we have made sure we have raised issues with them. Be assured that the KC very firmly allied to these people.”
Mr Lambert added: "There are people who want to regulate you, and if we don’t give our response and come together as a body united and as one voice someone will.”
He encouraged people to join the ABS.
KC secretary Caroline Kisko said there was a great deal of interest in pedigree dogs from the outside world, and that various bodies were looking at dog health, including the DAC and the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare.
"Both have produced work based on breeding and we need to take it very, very seriously,” she said.
"I’m not saying that the Government will make health testing compulsory but we have to take it seriously, and if someone listens to the DAC and what they come out with I’m sure you would rather we decide how to breed dogs rather than other people who don’t understand our world at all but think they know it all.”
Prof Crispin declined to comment.
See A Vet’s View page 56.