The Crufts Conundrum
Crufts is on again, are you watching, have you visited? I’m not able to go this year but I’ve been dipping in and out of the TV program.
I have, however, been closely following #crufts2015 closely on Twitter and what is clear are the strong feelings the worlds largest dog show can stir up. From those who absolutely loathe it; believing it promotes extreme conformations, in-breeding and animal suffering; to those who love it and the celebration of man’s best friend.
The Kennel Club and it’s breeders take a real beating at this time of year from those who believe they aren’t doing enough to decrease the exaggerated features and close crosses in some pedigrees. However, things are changing and personally I can’t tell you how pleased I am that the Kennel Club is persuading, cajoling, charming or forcing their registered breeders into making improvements. These moves are vital to improve the health and welfare of dogs and over time will pay dividends. Of course, there is always more that can be done and this pressure must be kept up, but at least it is happening.
The bigger problem, which is very often overlooked, is that vast, vast majority of dogs in this country come from hobby breeders, accidental litters or the dreaded puppy farms, none of whom will have ever had a sniff of a Kennel Club certificate and so are completely beyond the organisations control.
It is THESE people we also need to tackle. Who, through ignorance or malice, don’t know or care about pre-breeding screening or the suffering caused by extreme features.
Those who think producing dogs with such extreme features that surgery later in life is inevitable is not only ‘normal’ but desirable; who don’t know or care about any sort of testing and so produce dogs destined to go blind or be crippled; who give not a hoot about worming, vaccinating or socialising their cash cows and who send them off with their new owners without a word of advice or back-up support.
The changes the Kennel Club are making will have a trickle down effect but we also need to work from the bottom up. Which is going to be much, much harder.
We need to harness the passion and interest generated by Crufts and send this message further than the rarified world of registered breeders. To those people who fancy ‘just one litter’ from their bitch, who think breeding is an easy way of making a buck and, of course, to anyone who is thinking of buying a dog.
We must work together; the Kennel Club and their breeders, vets, charities and animal lovers to improve the lives and reduce the suffering of ALL dogs, not just those with a shiny certificate and posh name!