From the letters page of Dog World (5th April 2013)

In the spring of 1991 (aged seventeen) I ‘bunked off’ from a long and boring day of A-Level Economic History lectures and caught the train to Earls Court to the very last Crufts to be held in London. This year (twenty-two years later) I made my belated return to Crufts and, although vastly different to the show I remembered all those years ago (now with its myriad of trade stalls and all its associated glitz and razzmatazz), one thing clearly hadn’t changed and that was the sheer dedication and passion of those people supporting their respective breeds.

Walking around and sitting ringside I was hugely impressed by the changes in various breeds. Watching the Bulldogs, for example, powering around their ring in what (even for me) was a hot and somewhat stuffy hall. The snorting and rasping noises that I had noticed back in 1991 was almost non-existent. Gone also were the tongues lolling out of their heads and a similar improvement could be seen with most of the brachycephalic breeds. Another breed (that was present at the 1991 show) that had greatly improved was the Shar-Pei. The eyes of the dogs shown now looked (to me) healthier and there was far less wrinkle than the dogs of old. Now I know that not everything in the garden is rosy but breeders are definitely moving in the right direction and I think they should be congratulated for what they are achieving.

Week in week out through Dog World’s breed notes one reads the announcements for health checks, screening days and seminars organised by the unsung heroes. All these things cost money and for most of us that is in very short supply right now but somehow (for the sake of the dogs) the money is found for testing our stock. All because we care for what we have now and what we leave for the future. This is all in stark contrast to the ruthless operation in smuggled puppies coming into our country. Watching the excellent ‘Dispatches’ documentary last week puts what our breeders are facing into clear perspective.

I am not a breeder but I can well imagine just how frustrating it must be to do ‘everything by the book’ and then see your breed swamped with these poorly produced pups. What is the point of having your stock tested, complying with amendment after amendment and then see these people flagrantly breaching all our rules and (as a final insult) making profit from their actions! Surely sooner or later breeders are going to ask themselves the question (if economics don’t force their hand) ‘what’s the point?’

What is the point of paying for the health checks, jumping through the various hoops asked of you and receiving nothing in the way of praise and then (to top it all) having your hard work torn to shreds because our government is so inept at manning and protecting our borders. The same government who then wants to take a high handed approach to our affairs and issues all kinds of warnings of ‘get your house in order, or we’ll do it for you.’

We see a different approach to the actions of our Eastern European cousins. The lady from Dogs Trust viewing the footage of boxes and boxes of puppies being transported across our borders mumbled something mildly along the lines of ‘it’s not ideal.’ Not ideal? The way these puppies were being transported was shameful and disgusting. Imagine for one moment the reaction of the tabloids if British breeders had been discovered acting in this kind of way. By now we’d all have a raft of initiatives and rules and regulations imposed upon us. It makes the ‘findings’ of EFRA a few weeks ago almost laughable.

Uncharacteristically, the RSPCA have also remained strangely tight lipped over this whole subject.

Why doesn’t the Kennel Club grasp the nettle, take action and listen to its members concerns. For months now, various column writers have warned of the ‘strange coloured’ dogs popping up in the records. A simple trace found the majority of these also originated in the Eastern European countries. Wouldn’t it be a positive first small step to simply refuse to register such puppies? What good is a blue pug going to be to our breeding programmes? The KC should nip the problem in the bud now. If it is true that many of these dogs can’t be traced back beyond five generations what genetic horrors could be lurking in their background? What is their Inbreeding coefficient (COI)?

What will be the point of all the hard work done by our breeders if in a couple of years time a terrible condition akin to syringomyelia was to arise in one of these popular breeds. If it arose in one of these dogs it would be totally untraceable. Imagine if you will the outcome if such an afflicted dog was then taken by its distressed owner onto a popular daytime show such as the Alan Titchmarsh show.

People wouldn’t see a smuggled pup or one originating from an uncheckable dubious background… they’d see a ‘pedigree’ dog and once again the blame would be laid at our door once again opening the Pandora’s box and accusations of ‘this is what happens with inbreeding ‘ and other such nonsense. I don’t think the pedigree world would get a second reprieve.

I pray the Kennel Club listens to the fears and concerns of the Boston people, Anne and Joanne Kennedy and Pug columnist, Alison Mount (people who are passionate and truly love their breeds) and responds decisively, hopefully also forcing the government to have a drastic rethink on its policies before it’s too late.


Remember to sign the petition to put a stop to puppy farming in the UK if you haven’t already: