Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Dalmatian Club of America kills dogs

Armstrong: 21/11/2003 - 30/11/2010

Armstrong the Dalmatian who I blogged about two weeks ago was put to sleep on Tuesday, his quality of life no longer tolerable. He was just seven years old.

Armstrong died because he suffered, horribly, from a breed-specific problem (urinary stone disease) that could have been bred out of the breed by now if idiots who believe that purity is more important than health were not over-represented in the Dalmatian Club of America .

It is not too late for future Armstrongs.  If you'd like to let the Dalmatian Club of America know how you feel, please email their president, Meg Hennessey

Armstrong's owner Shelley Gallagher is determined that her beloved dog's death won't be in vain.

"He loved visiting his cancer kids every week (below), so I had him wearing his therapy dog collar and hospital ID badge when we went to the vet to end his suffering.  His whole life was based in helping others, and now his passing will continue that. 

"Armstrong's legacy is that he will be the face of the stone issue and why it is so important to breed the NUA dals.  It is incomprehensible to me how someone can hear his story and watch the videos of his surgery and still claim that stones are not a real issue in the breed. "

For more information on the efforts to rid Dalmatians of this painful, debiliating and - at times - lethal disease, click here


  1. Was the fact that this dog breed is a health care mess a complete surprise to the owner?

    Did this dog actually perform ANY action that could not be done, just as well, by a mutt?

    Or was this ONE MORE dog owner buying a dog based on a PICTURE and then being SHOCKED to discover that a well-known health problem was sitting in her lap with the expense and misery that follows?

    At what point are we going to admit that the people who BUY these Kennel Club breeds are COMPLICIT in the misery that they bemoan?

    And it's not just Dals, is it? A Cavalier has no function, a Sharpei has no function, etc.

    Maybe the cure is TOUGH LOVE??

  2. Except that one of the toy breeds may be much more suitable (for example) as a companion for an elderly lady than a hyperactive cross-bred terrier. (Not knocking terriers, but they are not exactly cut out to be lap dogs).

    I don't think the problem is pedigree dogs so much as pedigree dog breeders who don't accept either the kind of rule of thumb know-how the Victorians had or modern genetics and won't accept any kind of test that would show the dog's general fitness.

    There's no reason why it wouldn't be possible to include an agility test and an obedience test as part of the process of qualifying as a champion if there was the will to do it.

  3. I don't know why everyone thinks a dog is a dog and any ole mutt will do. Many people have a specific breed of dog because of specific traits that come with that breed - good and bad. Mutts have as many, if not more problems than many purebred dogs.

    Maybe what people need is a little compassion for others and the ability to let everyone make a decision for themselves what breed of dog is right for them, if any dog at all.

    The suffering is never necessary, no matter what the breed. Many breeders are working to eliminate this problem in Dalmatians by breeding dalmatians that have the normal gene (referred to as normal uric acid dalmatians).

    And for what it is worth, Eva Berg is not the president of DCA. Meg Hennessey is the current president. Eva Berg is a supporter of the Normal Uric Acid dalmatians.

  4. Have corrected... Eva Berg is still listed as President on one page of the DCA website, hence the mistake.

  5. Having owned Dals all most all my life (since I was 11 years old)
    over 40 years! I can tell you they most definitely love their work
    here at Tyrodal! we have 5 working champion titles!
    They certainly have a purpose here and excel at doing it.
    The showring is not my favourite place, but Dalmatians are my breed of choice!
    infact the ONLY type of dog that fits my life and other interests - equine.
    My dogs ARE bred for purpose. My first criteria for breeding is health then for a dog that
    is built right for work!

  6. I am Armstrong's mom. I did choose the breed for how they look, but also because their personalities fit perfectly for me. When you walk into a child's hospital room with a dalmatian their eyes just light up. I have gone with friends who have other breeds, and it just isn't the same reaction. I also did my research before getting dals. I did know that stones are an issue, but according to all of the information the DCA has available it is a preventable problem with special diets and plenty of water. That obviously isn't true I have now learned, but how can you fault a dog buyer when they are purposely misled about the severity of the issue by the club that is supposed to be there to give honest answers to the public? I now know that everything the DCA has posted is misleading, if not downright lies. Because of that I will never own another dal that is not an NUA, but I also won't own another breed.

  7. Why doesn't someone affected by the DCA's false and misleading statements actually bring suit against the DCA (and AKC) for harm done and damages.

  8. Mutts may be for some people but they are not for me. I like to know the characteristics of the dog I am going to get before I make the plunge. With Dals, I know I can always get an active, fun, loving dog that will go with me where ever I want to go. No brush and fuss and always the comedian. I will continue to sing the praises of pure bred dogs even though I am Armstrong's breeder. I raise LUA Dals now and Armstrong will always be my guiding light.

  9. I'm an objective third party in all this...not a dal owner, not even a dog owner, I have a cat that I wish was eaten by a dog to say the least.

    @Pburns What armstrong did for those cancer patients was indescribable and immeasurable. He was special, so yes, the work he did was work only he could do. Was it because he was a dal? To a child, dals go hand in hand with firefighters. Firefighters to kids symbolize safety and security, that's what armstrong brought to these kids. So, no, nod any dog could so what armstrong could for these kids.

    I saw firsthand the things that Armstrong went through, and no animal should ever have to go through what he went through for something that the DCA claims to be curable and preventable, which is absurd. His mom did everything that the DCA recommends to "prevent" the stones from forming, changing food to a special food, more water, more trips outside etc... Armstrong even went through a very painful and extensive replumbing surgery which helped but ultimately did nothing. Yet the DCA says this is curable and preventable.

    @PBurns the fact that you recognize the dog breed as a "health care mess", tells all, yet the DCA says its curable and preventable. That's the issue here. And to challenge the owners intentions on owning the dog without knowing anything about her or her background shows your level of ignorancy. The owner of armstrong, I know was a previous dal owner and was and is very well educated about the breed. The owner did her research and did all she could for armstrong, and nothing worked. Yet the DCA says its curable and preventable. That's the issue here...wake up DCA

  10. Although Pete's comments come as a smack in the face, at the end of the day he is absolutely right.
    Shelley, I am so very sorry that you and Armstrong went through such a terrible time.
    I too chose a breed that just to look at screams problems. I still went ahead and got her only to spend the last 7 years in and out of vets. I too researched the breed, knew the potential problems and still went ahead despite two veterinary colleagues also warning me that the breed (pug) were full of problems.
    I hold my hands up, I was stupid, and I will never ever get another pedigree pure bred dog. I have learnt an awful lot about pedigree dog health in the last 15 months, maybe information I should have found out 7 years ago. I also know that having a mutt doesn't guarantee a problem free dog, but that would be my next choice, oh and a rescue.
    We learn from our mistakes Shelley, but by sharing Armstrong's experience, as I have tried to share my Olive's experience, hopefully others considering the breeds will take notice.

  11. At least with a purebreed dog you can do your best to research the breed. Having had 3 mutts and 2 purebreeds the score so far is all 3 mutts = health problems.

    Mongrel = SLO
    JRT = Cancer
    JRTx = Hip Dysplasia

    Greyhound (ex-racing not show) = showing some arthritis at 9. No other problems.
    Miniature Dachshund = only 2, no problems so far.

    I don't think I could face getting another mutt where I have no idea of their past. It's too painful.

  12. Kate I am sorry about the problems you had with your pug! Maybe you should start breeding pugs yourself and breed a healthier pug? The pug world needs you! Purebred dogs NEED help from people who understand how bad things are...people who aren't burying their heads in the sand and going along as they always have, like many breeders. Of course there may not be two healthy pugs left in the world for you to start off with... :(

  13. PBurns obviously has never been around a Dalmatian or he would never have made those comments. I have had Dalmatians for 20 years now and I cannot imagine ever having another breed regardless of their health issues. The DCA and Meg Hennessee don't care about the health issues. They say they do but if they did they would stop fighting the LUA program and welcome them with open arms. Currently we have 7 Dalmatians and 2 of them are deaf. The DCA would also have them euthanized, however one of my deaf Dalmatians is a Therapy dog also. Shelley is absolutely right. When a Dalmatian walks into the room of a sick child or an older person in a nursing home, the looks on their faces is unmistakable. There is no breed that is more recognizable. They are a wonderful working breed of dog and shame on anyone that would say the vast majority of Dal owners aren't well aware of the health issues of our beloved breed. However I might offer a suggestion that PBurns would be a welcome addition to the DCA. Another ignorant person is just what they need to sit on their BOD.

  14. It was a tough comment by Patrick Burns, but until people start voting with their feet ("Yes, we love Dalmatians/Shar-peis/Bulldgs but until you've sorted out the health probs, we're just not buying them") dogs with health problems will continue to be bred. That is the point he's making.

    Patrick has blogged about the LUA/NUA dals - including a great article by Ron Zimmerman:

  15. sorry I meant "Patrick" not "Pete"!

  16. Jemima, actually the popularity of Dals has gone down quite a bit in recent years, and it didn't seem to influence the core breeders of the DCA to do something about health. If anything they became more entrenched in their position. (And a lot of the reduction in popularity had to do with health - as indicated in "the petition".) And when I tried to argue with them (DCA) and confront them, they just became more entrenched, and blamed me making it that way by being obnoxious.

    I think Patrick does mean that breeds without a purpose should be eliminated. Patrick prides himself in working his dogs, but I have not heard him address how or whether we should maintain breeds in a world where relatively few dogs' conformation is determined by function, and most are "merely" pets.

    I agree with most if not all of Patrick's criticism of the AKC, and of closed registries. But I would like to hear from Patrick or from you how you envision the system of dog breeds working in an ideal future. Can the definition of breeds be fixed? Is it enough to address health issues within breeds? Should there be shows? Should there even be distinct breeds? Are there enough working dogs relative to demand, for form to be determined by function? How would non-closed registries work? Should there be registries? How important are pedigrees?

  17. What is a breed's purpose exactly? What would happen to the "so called" primitive breeds, that were, at least in theory, not bred for any specific purpose? And what about hunting breeds that are not used for hunting anymore? Or Livestock guarding dogs, not used for guarding livestok? What is their purpose? To be a companion dog? If so, which breed would then be considered to be serving no purpose at all and should therefore be eliminated, since some breeds are "just" companion dogs?
    Where does one draw the line; "this breed has a function and should be preserved, this one does not and should be eliminated."?

  18. My personal opinion is that breeders (of non working dogs) should focus on breeding healthy, smart dogs that make good pets, and should stop fretting about conforming to random show ring trends of physical appearance. They should also stop fretting about keeping bloodlines "pure"...!!! Talk about something that is unimportant in the grand scheme of things...!!!

    Another pet peeve: show breeders claiming "my dogs can still do what they were bred to do." No one but you believes this. Anyone who wants a working dog is going to go to a working dog breeder, not a show breeder.

  19. Ron Zimmerman asked: "I would like to hear from Patrick or from you how you envision the system of dog breeds working in an ideal future. Can the definition of breeds be fixed? Is it enough to address health issues within breeds? Should there be shows? Should there even be distinct breeds? Are there enough working dogs relative to demand, for form to be determined by function? How would non-closed registries work? Should there be registries? How important are pedigrees?"

    Ron, I can obviously only answer for myself. But I believe strongly that dog breeds are something to be treasured, celebrated, even. But something's got to give. Too many are blighted by conformation problems, inherited/genetc disorders and inbreeding issues. This is as a result of the kennel club/closed registry system and the show-ring's pernicious influence. But I totally believe that we can fix it and still have distinct breeds. I also think the show-ring has the potential to be a positive force - it is, after all, a wonderful place to meet/swap info and advice with others who also passionate about your breed. But the focus needs to change pretty radically. A way needs to be found to truly reward health and, more than that, for breeders to see health as great and as exciting a challenge as delivering a dog to the ring with the correct ear-set/spots.

    The closed registry system is pretty-much poison to dogs. We need to find another way. But given that you can cross a greyhound with a bulldog and be back to type within four to five generations of backrossing, we should not be so scared of bringing in new blood.

    I would like to see coherent, well-thought out conservation plans for every breed. (It might be that there are several approaches within a single breed, of course,) And then on my wish-list is a hitherto unseen level of openness/transparency/honesty and the collective awareness that this should be about the DOGS. Not politics. Not prizes. Not ego. Not money. The dogs.

  20. There is no reason for breeds, but there is a reason for types.

    Types perform functions (even lap dog types), while breeds are for dog dealers and ribbon chasers.

    The world of tEh dog was fine with type up to 1900, and after that we had true breeds with closed registries (the KC did not start with a closed registry).


  21. I think a mixed breed could do the therapy work just as easily as a purebred whatever (and in fact I prefer mutts myself). But if people prefer to breed/buy dogs that look a certain way, let 'em. The problem is the breed registries need to loosen up a bit, let new blood in, encourage breeding for looks AND health, then there won't be a conflict anymore.

    People can have their cake and eat it too, there just needs to be a culture shift for that to happen. We don't need to let entire breeds die out just because they don't have a working 'function'. Breeding just for companions that have spots really is OK, as long as they're healthy, too.

  22. How do you define a breed and how do you define a type, what is the difference?

  23. The word "breed" means different things to different people. But in the current breeding world, a "breed" is most often defined by a closed studbook and a certain level of inbreeding to set physical type. A "type" as Patrick used it is probably along the lines of a landrace - it doesn't have to be inbred (though pockets of it can be), or even fit a given look with the tight consistency required by most breed clubs. These dogs are bred to do something, not look a certain way. Look at Altdeutscher Huetehunden or the dogs registered with the American Farmcollie Association for a good example of a type or landrace. There's no reason to think pet dogs couldn't be bred the same way.

    Talk of breeds and types aside, the dog breeding world could learn a LOT from certain livestock breed clubs. Their criteria include ways to bring in new blood, grades for the resulting offspring for a few generations, etc. It's not a perfect system by any means (especially when people don't take advantage of it), but it certainly works better than a closed registry!

  24. So, basically, there is no clear definition and the terms can mean very different things. For me, a breed is just a group of dogs that look and act similarly. Types are "subsections" within a breed, "show type", "working type", "traditional type", and are generally the ones that are more exaggerated and inbred.
    Thanks for the explanation, I think I now understand better what PBurns was trying to say.
    Whether be breed or type, there should be no closed registries at all (IMO anyway).

  25. imagine if we had this same philosophy for humans. Better not breed with Mr A he has glasses (inherited fault) and heart disease in his family. Oh Mr B has diabetes and asthma in his better not choose him either. Like most inherited traits lifestyle has a big option in how things play out. Feeding Dalmatians a correct diet ensures a long life. So how perfect are you?