Last week, I wrote a post entitled For Veterinarians, Silence Has Been Golden in which I noted that:
The American Kennel Club is moving to co-opt the veterinary trade by forming alliances between themselves and the pet insurance industry.
The goal of this cross-marketing: To make the AKC a veterinary referral and insurance service.
By doing this it is hoped that veterinarians will be beholden to the AKC, both collectively and individually, and continue to "whistle pass the graveyard" as far as the impact of Kennel Club policies that result in diseased, defective and deformed dogs.
Gina Spadafori at Pet Connection (who is also a syndicated columnist for Universal Press Syndicate) weighed in on the comments to say:
Honestly, Patrick, I talk to a great many different veterinarians all the time, and I don't know any who give a rat's ass about the AKC and not many who hold the group in high regard. Their trade group may be involved in some work there, but if you follow anything, you know that the AVMA has a membership that's not marching in lockstep by any means.
She then goes on to explain that real-world veterinary silence is due to vets being "trained to work reactively, not proactively."
Of course, I think this is absolute nonsense, as I pointed out. (I still love 'ya Gina)
The medical profession is taught to be a proactive.
If you smoke cigarettes, pipes or cigars, your doctor lectures you.
If you are fat your doctor lectures you about that.
If you are a teenage boy or girl, and you go to my family's pediatrician, you will get "the talk" from the doctor (whether or not if you had it with your your parents).
And yes, if you are an Ashkenazi Jew who is marrying another Ashkenazi Jew, you will also get the lecture about genetic testing to avoid Tay Sachs.
And, as I pointed out, the veterinarians are pro-active as hell when it comes to suggesting you get year-round heartworm medication (even when it's snowing outside and medically unnecessary), and medically unnecessary and dangerous teeth cleaning, and medically unnecessary vaccinations.
In fact, there is an entire magazine -- Veterinary Economics -- devoted to pro-active billing by veterinarians. Gina's co-author on a number of books, Dr. Marty Becker, is an Advisory Board member.
Want another example?
Here it is: Joan C. Hendricks, the Dean of the University of Pennsylvania's veterinary school who seems to be edging close to pimping for pain in dogs.
And why is Joan C. Hendricks edging close to pimping for pain in dogs?
Well here's a clue: She's the "Gilbert S. Kahn" Dean of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
And who is Gilbert S. Kahn?
Well, it turns out he is a wealthy AKC judge living in Newport, Rhode Island (contact information here), who is also a breeder of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (his 2008 Westminster dog is here at #10) and a retired board member of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
It seems Mr. Kahn might have got a wee bit upset that the breed he judges and which he breeds himself (under the "Charing Cross" prefix) has taken the center ring (along with the English Bulldog) for canine dysfunction.
Upset? I would think he would want to take a bow.
You see, without apologist breeders and judges like him, the American Kennel Club could not continue to salute the inbreeding of dogs or the extreme kinds of morphological exaggerations that leave dogs crippled, barely breathing, with serious heart ailments, and with neurological damage that leaves them howling in pain.
It's not like Gilbert S. Kahn is a man to be ignored in the AKC, is it? No. In fact, the gentleman is the "Chairman" of the AKC's "Museum of the Dog," and a Westminster Judge to boot, which means he is at the center of it all, and is a man they would have to listen to.
Take a bow Gilbert S. Kahn; the disease, dysfunction and deformity we see in the world of pedigree dogs today is part of your legacy. Those ribbons? No one will remember. They will vanish into the wind, tossed out into the trash upon your death, same as your old underwear. But the pain and suffering in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels will last forever so long as people like you wink, nod, and look the other way.
Of course Gilbert S. Kahn will say he is doing something.
After all, he is a founder and "Grand Benefactor" of $10,000 or more to the "American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club's Charitable Trust."
I went to the IRS to see what kind of magnificent work the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club's Charitable Trust was up to in 2008. Here's the answer: they paid $45,970 to support the "Ohio State University Rescue Education Survey." This was 100% of what the Charitable Trust did in 2008. And what was this Rescue Education Survey? I have no idea, but it sounds a bit removed from the very serious and pressing health concerns that face Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. There were, it should be said, three more expenses: two checks totaling $27,500 to the "AKC Health Foundation" and one $3,000 check going to the "Rabies Challenge Fund." How any of these donations help solve the very pressing health problems facing Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is beyond me, but perhaps that $27,500 check is for some bit of good.
So what does Joan C. Hendricks, the "Gilbert S. Kahn" Dean of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, have to say?
She writes in a letter posted on the web site of the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club that someone at the University of Pennsylvania veterinary school had the temerity to actually discuss dog health to the media and what was said might have reflected poorly on the Cavlier King Charles Spaniel and the wreckage that Kennel Club breeders and show judges (like Gilbert S. Kahn) have left the dogs in.
Well actually, the film footage and the statistics did that, Dr. Hendricks. But never mind....
Now to her credit, Dr. Hendricks does not say the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is not a genetic basketcase. She does not lie.
Instead, she writes to let everyone know that "There was no mention of the efforts by breed clubs and the Kennel Club (UK) to support studies of these health problems in order to find ways to eliminate them."
OK, I'll bite.
Name one thing the Kennel Club has done to suggest eliminating them?
You see, it does not take a rocket scientist to understand the problems in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
This is a breed that was created wholecloth at the the Crufts dog show out of a gene pool of one, and it is so inbred that more than 80 percent of all dogs now have heart problems, and one-third appear to have some form or other of Syringomyelia.
Has the American Kennel Club suggested outcrossing to breed away from these problems?
Has University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School Dean Joan C. Hendricks suggested outcrossing?
No, she has not.
And, to tell the truth, since she is the "Gilbert S. Kahn" Dean of the veterinary school, I am pretty sure she never will. I suspect she knows where her bread is buttered.
Dr. Hendricks goes on to say that "high-quality scientific studies of mixed breed dogs in comparison to purebred dogs are sorely lacking."
Well maybe she needs to read the literature a little more.
You see the veterinary insurance companies are doing this kind of work all the time, and in fact their business depends on it. For example, here's a pretty nice paper on the relative health of various breeds done by the Swedish pet insurance company Agria which now underwrites the British Kennel Club's pet insurance plan.
Over at Embrace Pet Insurance they specifically want you to know that they cover the wreckage of diseases and deformities created by the American Kennel Club's breeding practices. Just tell them your breed, and they will tell you how high your premiums are going to be!
And, of course, if you want to do a study on inbreeding in dogs, it's not hard, as Imperial College in London has shown.
Has the University of Pennsylvania done a similar study using the AKC's pedigree records? No, of course not. The AKC would never let them.
What the AKC wants is not action to improve the health of dogs -- it wants "paralysis through analysis."
And the University of Pennsylvania is playing along.
The way this works is that academics are paid to "study" a problem for decades at a time. Obvious solutions (like outcrossing or changing breed standards) are not to be considered. Instead the goal is to find a for-profit medication which will allow the disease or defect to be maintained without allowing outcrossing and without changing the breed standard.
Look at the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, for example. Heart problems? No problem at all -- just give these little pills to your dog every day, twice a day, for the rest of its life and make sure it does not stray too far from the couch. Whatever you do, do not do an outcross to produce a healthier dog!
You want another example? Fine, here it is. It turns out that University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School Dean Joan C. Hendricks has herself studied English Bulldogs and even co-authored a paper entitled English Bulldog: a Natural Model of Sleep-disordered Breathing.
But has she come out and suggested a change to the AKC's breed standard which is the cause of all that troubled Bulldog breathing? Nope. Not that I can find.
How can a veterinarian spend time studying canine hypoxia in English Bulldogs and still stands silent, hands in pocket, while millions of dogs all over the world gasp for air?
It is beyond me.
Did a solution not come to her mind?
Or was this another case where her bread was buttered on the other side?
ABC News Nightline on the American Kennel Club
- Related Links:
** Basketcase: The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
** Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a Mess