This morning, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) say they are "very disappointed that the KC has not gone further. Both organisations lobbied strongly for KC to stop registering puppies from a bitch that has undergone one caesarean operation, with no exceptions, and will continue to push for this rule change.
"The BVA and BSAVA are also concerned about the get-out clause in the KC rules which will allow exceptions for “scientifically proven welfare reasons”. The organisations believe that this is an ill-defined term that could be open to abuse and that there should be no exceptions.
Commenting on the changes, Harvey Locke, President of the BVA, said: “We remain disappointed that the rule changes do not yet go far enough and that they are not being brought in earlier. The sooner we can start to tackle these major health and welfare problems, the better.”
Grant Petrie, President of BSAVA, added:
“No bitch should be expected to go through the trauma of a caesarean operation more than once. These rule changes are not perfect but they are a step in the right direction and we will continue to lobby the Kennel Club to tighten up its registration rules further."
Two days ago, I emailed RCVS President Peter Jinman for a statement in response to the KC's wriggling on this issue. He replies: "This is a ‘first step’ and while it may not go as far as we may like, it is to be applauded as a step in the right direction.
"Clearly it is for the KC, hopefully with guidance from the new Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding and the veterinary profession, to continue to address dog breeding issues. The KC does write and interpret its own rules, it equally will have to say how it sees those rules being used to fulfil its obligation to improve the outcome of the breeding of dogs.
"The College has, in discussion with the Kennel Club, cleared the way for veterinary surgeons to report the undertaking of a caesarean section without falling foul of any rules on confidentiality. We will continue to give advice to veterinary surgeons on how to respond to any new rules that the KC puts in place.
"As Professor Bateson pointed out ‘The health and welfare problems of dog breeding were first identified more than 40 years ago’. Like you, I do not wish to see another 40 years go by, and trust that this opening measure is but the first of many designed rapidly to address the welfare issues of dog breeding. "
It's nearer 50 years actually. As I write in a forthcoming issue of Dogs Today (Jan issue, on sale in a couple of weeks' time):
In 1963, former BSAVA president Graham Oliver-Jones addressed the profession’s annual congress with these words: "We have recently been to the House of Commons on your behalf and met many members of both Houses. We told them of our tremendous interest in the abnormalities of some of the dogs that we are called upon to treat; and explaine that our concern is that dogs are being bred and born into this world to suffer throughout their lives from certain conditions which probably could be prevented."
In fact, the BSAVA organised an entire symposium in 1963 on "Abnormalities and Defects in Pedigree Dogs" and six accompanying papers were published, one by Dalmatian breeder, Eleanor Frankling, who wrote: “…the tendency among breeders today is to adopt an attitude of “the more the better” over any desired point. If, for instance, small eyes are demanded as they are in the Chow standard, then “the smaller the better’’ and the foundations of entropion are there. The Alsatian stifles are described as “well turned”. I love the Alsatian and owned one when it was a noble upstanding animal. The angulation in hock and stifle is now so extreme that the hocks are practically non-existent and the animal walks almost on its metatarsals. It is short-legged and slinking.”
And it has got a whole heap worse since then.
It is more than time for the veterinary profession to take a strong stand again on this issue.