Thursday, January 14, 2016

Bateson Report Six Years On

It was six years ago today that the Bateson Report on pedigree dogs came out in the U.K.  As I said before the report came out:

Maybe this is not a simple job of window dressing as public relations. You will pardon me, however, if I keep my expectations low. Does Bateson have a mandate to do something other than look busy? What is the goal? What does success look like? How will anyone know if it is ever achieved? No word on any of that.

And so a report was written by an old man with a title, wheels spun, gravel flew, the machine shuddered, and nothing moved.

Or not much. 

The Low Uric Acid (LUA) Dalmatian was allowed to be registered. Some heads changed at the top. The Kennel Club boldly decided to take a page from the Bible and ban father-daughter and mother-son matings. A few words were shoehorned into the standards, but the dogs did not change, nor the judges.

To be clear, there was nothing wrong with the Bateson report. It's just that the Kennel Club did as little as it could get away with, in terms of change.

Or, to put it another way, if the Kennel Club wants to produce better, healthier dogs by opening up the registries and shit-canning whole breeds that have been selected for deformity, there is nothing anyone in the can do to stop them.

Conversely, if the Kennel Club does NOT want to produce better, healthier dogs, there is nothing anyone can say to get them to change.

And so we come down to it:  the only thing that really works is consumers walking away.

That's exactly what we have done here in the U.S.  Of the 7.5 million dogs a year acquired in this country, only 400,000 or so are AKC-registered -- just over 5 percent. The rest are crossbreeds of pedigree unknown (about 4 million dogs), or registered with some other no-account registry, or are unregistered field dogs (retrievers, setters, pointers, spaniels), or unregistered pedigree pets that have long-ago fallen away from the confines of a closed registry.

In the UK., where the sniffing pretensions of class still matter, most dog owner still cling to their pedigree papers.

This is a country that is run over with fox hound packs, working beagle packs, working terriers, working lurchers, and working sheep dogs, but no one at the BBC is interested in actually doing a TV show about those people and their success with dogs.

Talk to men with elaborate tattoos and interesting scars, who have well-sharpened boning knives and special recipes for removing blood stains their pants legs?

Good Lord no!  

The folks who buy their meat on cellophane-covered foam trays, with a napkin folded underneath, are not interested in learning anything from those people!  What do they know?  They are not even titled!

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