Saturday, February 28, 2009

Scared Puppies at the Kennel Club

It seems the U.K. and American Kennel Clubs are terrified.

And what are they terrified of?

  • Pictures.

  • Knowledge.

  • Science.

  • History.

The U.K. Kennel Club is so terrified that people might actually find out about the dogs and their defects, diseases and deformities, that it is refusing to give press credentials to people who actually write about dogs.

Beverley Cuddy, the editor and publisher of Dogs Today, the finest dog magazine in the U.K. has been turned down for a press pass to Crufts this year - for the first time in ages.


Simple: She was willing to speak up on behalf of the dogs.

Ms. Cuddy has concerns about the fantastic Coefficients of Inbreeding found in some breeds, and she would like to see some health tests made mandatory. She thinks a dog should be able to walk and run without passing out from lack of oxygen or slipping a hip. She thinks a ban on incestuous matings is a good idea, and she wonders whether it is really a good idea that dachshunds are being weighed and starved before being shown.

But The Kennel Club will have no questions. And so they denied press credentials to Ms. Cuddy, and they have also rejected Jemima Harrison's film crew as well. No independent video! No questions!

Instead, they have decided to employ a vanity film crew to put what they want folks to see on Youtube. That way they can guarantee there will be no tough questions about inbreeding, no mention of dogs that cannot breathe, dogs that cannot mate, dogs with wrecked hips and jaw-dropping rates of cancer.

And, of course no one (not even Ms. Harrison or Ms. Cuddy) are talking too much about the fact that dogs once bred for a purpose are no longer doing their jobs. The Fox Terrier cannot fit down a hole; the Irish Setter cannot find a bird in a hen house. No one who actually works a dog seriously -- whether it is sled dog, bird dog, rabbit runner, or police dog -- turns to the Kennel Club expecting to find a working example of a breed.

It seems that full-on panic has set in at The Kennel Club as the lead-up to Crufts begins.

David Cavill, a professional Kennel Club brown-noser, is already banging on the jungle drums warning everyone to talk to no one. Did you hear that someone is coming up from somewhere, he ask?. This person is not a reporter, and it's all rumor, but (GASP!) this mysterious person might ask someone a question about something. Ahhhhhh!!!! Pictures are being posted! Talk to no one! Spies are all around! Loose lips sink ships!

And what is it that they think might be said?

What is it that they think might be seen?

What story do they want no one to hear about?

Shhhhhhh!! Tell no one!

It is our little secret that selecting dogs for deformities like brachycephalism and achondroplasia has negative health consequences.

Tell no one that some coat colors and patterns are strongly associated with deafness, and that screw tails and ridges come with back disorders.

"Mum's the word" that inbreeding causes problems. Cancer? Cataracts? Skin disease? Liver failure? Epilepsy?

Repeat after me: "They are not in my lines!" "No, I have never had a dog with any health problems at all." All those dead dogs back there were "just bad luck" and "these things happen."

As part of this Chinese Fire Drill the Kennel Club is busy banging on Crufts judges in order to "retrain" them overnight.

As Valerie Elliott, Countryside Editor at The London Times notes:

Judges at Crufts next week are under orders to remove unhealthy animals as part of a campaign by the Kennel Club to save pedigree dog showing from extinction.

Read that sentence again.

The Kennel Club is not trying to save dogs, they are trying to save dog SHOWS.

Surely that is a slip up in writing by the reporter?

But no, there it is again, and this time straight from the mouth of Kennel Club spokesperson Caroline Kisko:

“We all think dog shows are under threat. There is a view among some animal welfare groups like the RSPCA that dog shows are bad. But if you don’t have dog shows what is the incentive for people to change the way they breed dogs?


There is no incentive to have healthy dogs if there are no shows? What?? Kennel Club shows are not about health! After 130 years of shows, the dogs in the Kennel Club are less healthy than cross-breeds.

Does Ms. Kisko really think so little of dog breeders that she counts their ethics and integrity and desire for healthy dogs at ZERO? Because that's what she said. They will do nothing without a ribbon attached to it!

The lynch pin to all this, of course, is that the economic wheels are coming off the bus for both the U.K. and American Kennel Clubs.

Pedigree dog food has already walked away from Crufts, as well as the BBC, PDSA, and the RSPCA.

Where The Kennel Club used to get paid for allowing TV crews into Crufts, they are now having to pay to get a film crew to shoot anything at all.

Instead of the glories of major television, The Kennel Club has had to fall back on Youtube, where they are in competition with people playing the Ukulele and humorous pet food commercials.

And, of course walking into the center ring at Crufts this year is another huge embarrassment: the Dogue de Bordeaux.

This is the latest Kennel Club breed, and it is such a genetic basket case that the breed club's own data shows the average Dogue de Bordeaux is dead from disease or veterinary intervention at the age of 5.29 years. Oh yes, let's celebrate the Dogue de Bordeaux and what The Kennel Club's closed registry can do for it!

So what's the latest?

Well two things. It seems Dog World may be on the road to getting itself banned. A representative from the Kennel Club, writing an anonymous column, has taken to paper-rattling at Sheila Atter about a column she wrote for that same publication just a week or two ago.

Is Dog World on our side? When will those in charge at Dog World get on the same wavelength as the rest of us and start talking loudly and positively for those of us who are actually in the world of dogs and buy the paper?

And there you have it again! The idea that Dog World might be on the side of the DOGS is completely lost. For the likes of Ms. Kisko (who is, no doubt, the anonymous author of this squib) it's not about DOGS; it's about people. And to be specific, it's about the people in The Kennel Club.

And so what is happening over here in the U.S.?

Well, apparently the American Kennel Club is beginning to freak out as well.

It seems there was no problem with AKC Chairman Ron Menaker putting out, on AKC letter head, his desire to rope in more puppy mills dogs.

Puppy mill dogs are the future of the American Kennel Club says Menaker, just as they have been its past.

Kennel Club registrations are down 53% in the last 15 years, and not enough money is coming in from the veterinary and insurance referral business. It seems their suggested new marketing slogan: "We don't just breed defective dogs, we fix them too!" did not go over quite as well as hoped.

No, there is no concern about registering puppy mill dogs. The more the merrier! They just don't want anyone filming that!

And so they are terrified that ABC Television is poking about and asking questions. What? Of whom? What for? The bastards!!

Apparentrly its a news crew affiliated with the award-winning "Nightline" program. What? Who allowed them? By what right?

And rumor has it that they have even been talking to veterinarians. What? Why? What do they know about canine health?

And so the American Kennel Club has swung into action to prevent the truth from getting out.

All hands on deck!

Job One was to issue a "Be On the Look Out" notice to all AKC breed clubs warning them that ABC television was about. And so they issued a blast email which, ironically, is sure to make this ABC Nightline program required viewing by all thinking dog owners. The email missive reads:

American Kennel Club
***Please cross-post to your breed, club and dog show lists***

The American Kennel Club would like to correct some misinformation that is circulating within the fancy. We would appreciate your assistance in spreading the word about the facts on this issue.

The AKC is aware that NIGHTLINE, which airs on ABC, is pursuing a story on canine health, including breeding. The AKC welcomes all constructive dialogue about the sport and on ways to improve the health of dogs. However, all indications are that the story will not be a fair and balanced look at the issues. With the guidance of our advisors, the AKC declined to participate but instead provided NIGHTLINE with an official statement:
_ _ _ _ _ _

"The American Kennel Club is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization devoted to canine health, breeding and responsible dog ownership. The AKC's breeding policies and high ethical standards have made us the most widely respected registry in the world. Each year, the AKC performs approximately 5,000 kennel and breeder inspections to ensure the proper care and conditions of dogs and has led the charge in regards to advancing canine health, including founding the AKC Canine Health Foundation in 1995. Since that time, $22 million has been given to more than 500 research projects at 74 vet schools and research institutes worldwide to improve the health of all dogs."
_ _ _ _ _ _

It has also come to our attention that some individual AKC constituents have been approached for interviews or may be approached at dog shows. In this event we recommend politely declining the interview and referring their requests to the AKC's Communications dept at or 212-696-8343.

Right. Whatever you do, do not think for yourself! And remember, if you do, the Kennel Club will be watching. They might put a little check note in your file. And if they do, you might never win at a dog show again. "The fancy" will not brook anyone questioning their "sport." No threats of course, but you do know that dogs are judged up the leash and not down? You do know that's why there are professional handlers, right? So heads up!!

The email missive ends by noting that "You may also direct those interested in this topic to for pertinent information."


So we went to that link.
And guess what? There's no information there on canine health!


Instead, there's a link to AKC Pet Healthcare which is a link to ... (wait for it) ... a pet health insurance policy.

So we are back full circle.

The AKC's response to the charge that they are promoting unhealthy dogs, is that they also sell pet health insurance, and that will be happy to steer you to a kickback-paying veterinarian who will fix your dog.

"We don't just sell the disease, we sell the cure."

Anyone else see the irony, humor and horror here?

I assure you it has escaped the American Kennel Club!

And so the American Kennel Club, mired in its eugenics past, terrified of science, and praying that kickbacks from the pet health insurance industry will be enough to float its economic boat in the future, is now banking on quick cash from puppy mills operators, even as it bunkers down from the press.

This is the America Kennel Club; in a jamb and absolutely clueless as to how to get itself out.

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Miki said...

I've spent far too much time today foolishly trying to re-direct folks on one of my poodle lists away from PETA/HSUS-as-the-power-behind-this-possibly-in-the-future-Nightline-show and toward a good, intelligent dialogue about canine health and breeding, but they're like lemmings (or a movie version of lemmings anyway).

On Wednesday my genetic-wreck-of-a-standard poodle had his teeth cleaned again (he forms cement) and I spoke briefly with my vet about the poodle who took the breed and group at Westminster who was sired by old frozen semen from a seriously inbred dog known to produce affected Addisonians and get that produced affected Addisonians and the possibility that her owners might use that popsicle with her. His response: Good. For. Business.

Thank you, Patrick, for your blog.

Anonymous said...

The notion of an all-breed registry system has always bothered me. How can any registry that registers only puppies of all sorts of breeds and strains? How could a single registry know or even grasp the vagaries and nuances that really measure quality in a dog? Working ability, temperament, health, and working conformation are the measures of true quality in a dog. These cannot be assessed until the dog is at least 1 to 2 years old. Further, a judge that has to know dozens of breeds isn't going to be able really "know" exactly what a good specimen is.

This leads me to a simple conclusion: the AKC and other all breed closed registries really aren't about ensuring the quality of dogs. About the only registry in the whole country that follows a sane plan is the JRTCA. And I'm not just saying it because I know the owner of this blog is a Jack Russell fanatic. That registry uses a system that conserves the Jack Russell as it is supposed to be, not what the whims and caprices of the show ring say it should be.

YesBiscuit! said...

First AKC says they won't talk to Nightline, then they say, if anyone from Nightline approaches you, direct them to AKC. How symbolic of what's wrong in their little impoverished world.
I too have seen the inevitable "PETA is behind this" on the e-lists. I guess it's easier to blame a group of wackos than to examine the situation honestly.