Monday, 27 June 2011

PDSA - Pedigree Dogs Sod-All?

I don't know how current the above poster is, but if the PDSA wants to avoid a charge of hypocrisy, it will have to remove pictures of purebred dogs from its begging literature. From next month, this lovely-looking Labrador may not get the injury to its paw treated by a PDSA vet.

The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) is a charity that helps those who can't afford veterinary treatment. It will currently register and treat up to three pets per eligible owner.  But, from next month, only one of these can be a pedigree dog or cat.

The move, claims the charity, is because treating pedigree pets consumes what it says is a "disproportionate" amount of its funds (currently around £50 million a year). "Sadly, pedigree pets often need high levels of veterinary care due to inherited illnesses and breed related conditions as a result of irresponsible breeding associated with certain pedigree matings," explains the charity on its website.

The charity has seen an astonising 50 per cent increase in demand for its veterinary services in the past five years alone, so no wonder something had to give.  It believes that the new rules will allow it to treat more dogs overall.

But is this fair?

The PDSA's Facebook page has been inundated with complaints from angry breeders and owners and they are also howling big-time on the dog fora.  Some are even calling the move "racist" - more than a little ironic given that it is essentially racist breeding practices (the segregation of breeds genetically and a disdain for mixed breeds) that have resulted in the serious disease burden in pedigree dogs.

And as if it is the PDSA's fault that they're sick, eh? As if it was the PDSA that bred them with life-impairing flat faces or blithely ignored the evidence in front of their own eyes and let things get to the stage where the very dogs that may be in the most need may have to suffer even more.

That pedigree dogs run up bigger vet bills than their crossbreed cousins is pretty well-documented. However, also pretty well-documented is that although this is true on average, there are a number of (mostly) small breeds that are healthier and live longer than the average crossbreed eg Border Terriers.

So perhaps the PDSA should  allow some breeds and not others?  The answer is that for every organisation it's easier and cheaper to operate on the bigger law of averages  - in much the same way as insurance premiums are set. You might be the best 18-year-old Ferrari driver in the world, but it ain't gonna cut much ice with a car insurance company. They know that, on average, if you're 18 and drive a Ferrari, the chances of making it from one January to the next without incident are slim.

I do not believe there is PDSA conspiracy here; the charity is not being driven by some purebred-dog-hating agenda. It is simply saying that in a world where money is tight that it has to make the most of its resources.

So do I support the move?

Nope. I think it stinks. And for the following reasons:

• if we accept that pedigree dogs are sicker than mutts, the PDSA is turning away the dogs most in need

• dogs present to vets for all kinds of reasons entirely unrelated to their breeding. 

• the new policy could mean that a responsibly-bred Labrador that has been hit by a car won't be treated (beyond the emergency care that all vets are duty-bound to provide); whereas the poorly-bred designer crossbreed with an inherited disease that could have been prevented if its get-quick-merchant breeder had bothered to do the necessary tests will qualify for care.

• the PDSA says that it will be the arbiter of whether or not a dog is a particular breed-type and therefore ineligible. Woe betide, then,  if you have a cross that looks very like one of its parent breeds.

On Friday, I asked the PDSA some questions. They included:

• How good/strong is your data that pedigrees cost more?

• Can you be more specific about this data? How much are pedigree dogs and cats costing the PDSA compared to crossbreeds/moggies?

 • you are the largest private employer of vet surgeons and nurses in the UK – are they 100%  supportive of this move?

• not all breeds are unhealthy - indeed the scientific data shows that some breeds are, on average, healthier than crossbreeds. Surely this is unfair discrimination?

• you say that "91% of PDSA donors and supporters said that we are right to be concerned about the numbers and types of pets some people are acquiring and presenting for charitable treatment, of which 88% said they would support the change in our policy." 

How many were polled and how was the poll worded? 

And here is their reply, in full:

PDSA’s eligibility criteria needed to change in response to a shift in ownership behaviour with regard to the number and types of pets being presented at our hospitals and our concern for their wellbeing.  By ignoring the type and number of pets that owners acquire, we are in conflict with our own Pet Health messages in which we actively promote careful consideration before taking on a pet because of the responsibilities involved. Limiting the number of pedigree pets that can be registered, ensures a fair and appropriate allocation of the charity’s finite resources.

We are not discriminating against pedigrees, however we have to address the increasing numbers of multiple pedigree pets being presented at our hospitals.  Sadly, pedigree pets often need higher levels of veterinary care due to inherited illnesses and breed related conditions. This inevitably puts an increased pressure on our resources as our experience shows that on average pedigree dogs and pedigree cats do cost more than their crossbreed counterparts, for veterinary care and for them to remain healthy.

However, in some cases, owners with multiple pedigree pets that are in need of long–term treatment will still receive care for their second or third pedigree pets as long as they continue to be eligible. We have ensured that there is as much support for the small number of affected owners as possible; this includes a transitional period meaning some of those affected clients will have up to two years before the policy takes full effect.

Our policy change has been carefully considered based on fact and evidence gathered from our network of 49 hospitals, views of the veterinary profession, PDSA staff, clients and supporters. The change has been communicated to key partner organisations.

Any change in policy invariably gives rise to differences in opinion. However, we welcome any debate around animal welfare whether that involves pedigree breeds or crossbreeds. Reaction to the policy change has shown a balance of opinions.

While we recognise that there is activity by many organisations to help improve the health and welfare of companion pets, be they pedigree or crossbreed, we feel PDSA has an integral and fundamental role to play in educating owners and prospective pet owners in responsible pet care.  We want to see more positive action to address the wellbeing of all UK pets. Indeed, the groundbreaking PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report launched earlier this year, the biggest survey ever undertaken into pet health and welfare, highlighted that millions of UK pets could be suffering mentally and physically because their five key wellbeing needs are not being properly met. (

Hmm. So, as you can see, the PDSA is either unable or unwilling to provide hard data to back up their change in policy - and it completely ignored my last question asking for the polling data.

I asked the Kennel Club what it thought of the PDSA's new policy and back came this reply:

Whilst we do not like to think of any dog going untreated, we fully understand the PDSA's desire to discourage multiple dog ownership if the owner cannot afford veterinary fees. However, if this is the principle on which the PDSA policy decision is based it makes no sense to discriminate between different types of dog, as of course cross breeds, mongrels and pure bred dogs can all get sick and require veterinary care.

In order to minimise the possibility of needing prolonged veterinary care throughout a pure bred dog's life, the Kennel Club encourages people to always buy from a Kennel Club Accredited Breeder, who will ensure that they give their dogs the appropriate health checks for their breed, so that they and their offspring stand the best chance of leading a healthy life. There are too many dogs that are being bought from back street breeders who put profit above the health and welfare of their dogs and this translates into expensive veterinary fees further down the line. We urge people to think carefully about whether they can afford a dog, of any type, before they buy.

I will not be remembered for agreeing with the Kennel Club on very much and the advice to always buy from a Kennel Club accredited breeder is, of course, a matter for debate given the continued failings of the Accredited Breeder Scheme.  But I agree with the KC that it makes no sense for the PDSA to discriminate between different types of dog - and particularly given that the PDSA says it wants to encourage responsible pet ownership and care.

How on earth does this policy do that when it penalises the owners of responsibly-bred purebred dogs while doing nothing to stem the tide of designer crossbreeds being bred for profit with no care?

It might mean that the PDSA could treat fewer pets overall but much fairer, surely, would be an across-the-board maximum of two pets per eligible owner (as opposed to the current three), whether pedigree or mutt?

I urge the PDSA to reconsider. But in the meantime, please don't stop supporting the charity (as some pedigree dog breeders are threatening).  I know there will be those that argue that refusing to donate might provoke a change in policy, but remember that the PDSA really does offer an absolute lifeline to dogs in desperate need and a drop in donations will mean that more will suffer.


  1. I had to join the PDSA when I had to give up work in 2006, I finally got back on my feet enough to register back with a private vet, but I was devastated to hear this. My two pedigrees need LESS attention than my JRT cross who has hip dysplasia, yet he would be the one they choose to keep.

    PDSA were there for me when I needed them (and I'll never forget that) with my ADULT dogs, yet I constantly saw people in the waiting room booked in for puppy and kitten vaccinations. Why are these people, the ones who KNOW they cannot afford treatment when they get their pet more acceptable than people who fall on hard times temporarily? They may have to get rid of one or more of the pets they've had for a long time, when refusing to register new pets for current clients would be a better way forward, so people don't keep taking on pets when they can't afford to look after them.

  2. Its funny how the 5 times I've took a friend when she is fostering and the main dogs in the waiting room was staffie crosses plus 1 rottwiller. However if the pdsa would like to take this stance then that will be another so called dog charity that will be recieving no more money from me.

  3. I would be interested to see their data. Number of dogs or cats registered, and the average cost to pedigree/non pedigree (assuming they decided correctly if it was a pedigree as I saw 2 mutts recently only to be told that one was a pondengo and one was a pyrenean sheepdog long haired). I would also like to see the cost to age profile. What will then next step be No old dogs?

  4. Hear, hear Jemima, for once we are in total agreement! You have raised many of the concerns I have about this developement.

    I do think this is a very broad brush approach to be making. Considering how many people will have perhaps several pedigree dogs and recently lost their jobs, is it fair to tell these people that they can treat one dog for a ear infection but when another one has an injury they have to go elewhere? Some comments I have read suggest that it is beause pedigrees cost more to buy but considering some cross breeds are selling for almost £1000, this is no longer the case. These owners may have to face terrible heart wrenching desicions through no fault of their own.

    As anonymous has said above, what will the next step be?
    I would be equally concerned if this statement had read 'designer crossbreeds'. A dog in need is a dog in need no matter what its parentage. As Linda Ward said, far better to dissuade people from buying/aquiring new animals when they are already in financial difficulties.

    I would find it worrying if any charity set up to help those in need (animals or people) started to become selective about who could receive the help. Can you imagine the British Heart Foundation or Cancer Research announcing that heavy smokers were costing too much so anyone who smoked more than 20 a week was ineligible for their assistance?

  5. I've had people with the sheer cheek to tell me the reason they need to ask the RSPCA for help with the cost of veterinary treatment is the amount they spent buying the puppy in the first place and I suspect it's that kind of attitude which has sparked off the change of policy. It is very annoying to look at charity clinic patients and think to yourself that you couldn't afford a couple of obviously expensive pedigree dogs like the ones sitting in the waiting room.

    The RSPCA gets quite a lot of flack for spending donors' money on veterinary treatment for animals owned by people who are seen as scroungers and I would not be surprised if the PDSA were also worried about this.

    There's also a lot of uncertainty about what really does happen when people are turned away. Some of them may in fact have the money, or be able to borrow it and will get treatment. Some may get private vets to arrange a payment plan. Some will get the animal to a vet, but not be able to afford anything other than euthanasia. Some will be refused by private vets, and some won't even try.

    It is an absolute nightmare.

    The trouble is that there's no easy rule that could be used to make a fair distinction between the person with several pedigree dogs who's now fallen on hard times and the one who thinks free veterinary treatment is an entitlement.

    I suppose one option would be to fix a lower age limit for multiple animals, regardless of breed, on the basis that the aim is to deter people from acquiring more animals at the charity's expense, not to penalise existing ones. That would still leave the person who "rescues" an ex breeding bitch and expects the cost of her dental treatment to be funded by charity. (I actually don't mind doing this except that it annoys me when it's seen as an entitlement).

  6. Also, it is very disheartening to run a low-cost vet clinic and wonder in your heart of hearts whether you are simply enabling people to get more and more animals until they overwhelm your ability to help and eventually just as many animals go without treatment as if you hadn't bothered.

  7. Cambstreasurer, on what grounds can people come to your clinic for help? What proof of low income etc do they need to show?

  8. I had heard that in the UK (unlike in the U.S.) that that large majority of owned dogs were purebred. If so, wouldn't that fact mean that, just based on plain demographics, a clinic would see more pedigree dogs than mixes?

  9. I have no idea how these charity animal hospitals and clinics work these days, but having spent 6 years in a very busy animal charity hospital between 1995 and 2001, never once did I see more than a signing on book (if we were lucky) as proof of low income/benefits.

    Out of hours we were obliged to see any emergency. If the people had their own private vet, depending on the case we would ask them to take their pet to their own vets. Many refused so we would offer emergency treatment. Many with private vets turned up out of ours with true emergencies that had to be dealt with then and there for the animals welfare.

    We didn't work on a "donation" system but a very much reduced rates system. However, I was disgusted many times how people would donate a fiver for what would cost five hundred pounds, never to be seen again.

    It was always the elderly that would pay as much as they could.

    If the young couple with the latest mobile phone, clad in gold rings and pulling up in a rather nice car, three kids in tow (I couldn't afford a car myself despite working full time and on no benefits), turned up, with their second rotti pup for vaccinations, what could we do? They were on benefits. Normally they only brought one proof of ID.
    I would rather make sure that pup got the protection it needed than turn it away.

    I really do not know what the answer is when EVERYBODY is hitting hard times financially, owners and charities. Maybe proper means testing. Maybe just a limit on the number of animals (not type).

    It does make me wonder what will happen to these non eligible dog "types". Who will pick up the pieces? Will this roll over to the other charities, leading to them also having to change their policies?

    Will we see more dumped pets?

    Yes, educating about responsible pet ownership is part of the answer but I do think the PDSA's new policy needs amending.

  10. Kate, we accept virtually any means-tested state benefits (including working tax credit provided it's not the child tax credit on its own). Owners have to bring their proof of benefit every time they visit the clinic (although we would give first aid and send the owner away to get their proof in a real emergency). They have to bring something that demonstrates their benefit is current, such as a bank statement showing it being paid in during the past month.

    We don't currently have restrictions on the number of animals per owner and would be reluctant to go down that route because it probably wouldn't stop people getting animals and would deter people who are borderline hoarders from getting treatment for their animals.

    PDSA are a bit different in only accepting Housing benefit and Council tax benefit (presumably in order to prevent animals being shared out between members of a household), and requiring animals to be registered for 6 month periods. That probably means they really can tell whether certain types of animal are more or less likely to have repeat visits over the 6 month stretch once they are registered.

    Simply recording the percentages of different types of animal that use a charity clinic doesn't necessarily tell you much because you don't have any way to tell if the difference is due to the numbers of that type of animal in the community, the competence of their owners, or health differences between the animals.

    For example, our clinic sees twice as many dogs as cats and very few rabbits. My guess is that the dog/cat difference really does mean the dogs have more problems than the cats, but also that dog owners are more likely to be unemployed or retired (because cats don't mind being left alone). I'm afraid the rabbit difference is because rabbits are generally poorly cared for, including not being vaccinated or treated for parasites when they ought to be. But without more evidence the figures don't prove that.

    Pai, it depends what you mean by "purebred" (and it's part of the reason for the agitation over what the PDSA policy actually means). Most dogs probably do belong to a breed the owner can name (e.g. Staffordshire Bull Terrier), but that doesn't necessarily mean they are pedigree in the sense of being able to trace the dog's parentage or being registered with the Kennel Club.

  11. Isnt this just a round about way of saying if you can afford a pedigree you can pay your own vet bills ?
    I've been to the PDSA with relatives dogs and they certainly have an attitude.

    Perhaps it would be better for them to review who is entitled to their service , I earn only 6000 per year but as I recieve no benefits I dont qualify. Someone who has never worked will qualify if they get council tax benefit or housing benefit and will most likely be on a considerably higher income overall than I.

  12. The dog or owner should not suffer as a result of bad breeders bad decisions. As vets they have no right to pick and choose who they treat, and I don't think many vets would be able to say no to a pedigree in need of help. I understand the PDSA's frustration at the plight of so many pedigree dogs and the amount of money they must spend fixing problems we've created, but cutting the funding to these issues won't solve them. I don't think this is a workable idea.

  13. I am very much afraid it's likely the current situation will mean animals dying rather than being dumped (or possibly dumped in a condition that means they will have to be put to sleep when found).

    Part of the problem is that private vets are understandably not happy to broadcast the fact that they will put treatable animals down if the owner cannot pay because of the potential effects on their relationship with the paying owners.

    Mrs Smith who always pays even if she has to go without herself is likely to have her trust shattered if she becomes aware that dogs just as loveable as her own are being killed by her vet for (as she would see it) purely financial reasons.

    Ultimately I think the only solution would be to raise enough money to ensure that it's possible to offer rehoming as an alternative to euthanasia. That way owners would be prevented from abusing the system, by not being allowed to keep animals they can't/won't pay for, but it wouldn't be the animals paying the ultimate price.

    That would be difficult for the PDSA to implement because they're not a rehoming charity.

  14. What about things like Labradoodles and Sprollies? People pay a lot of money for these "breeds" but they are not technically recognised by any authority.

    1. I went to the pdsa today and got told after 8 months of them having my staff cross dalmation on there books they are now saying she is full staff i told them she was crossed but the pdsa nurse got very rude with me she has just had a major knee surjery my family joined forces to pay the 100 pound even though my mum is disabled so i dont understend this i have another staff cross whippet and am scared to take her to the pdsa just in case they say shes full when they have got her mum and dad on the forms has well

  15. It's an interesting discussion - I'm still eligible for the PDSA because I still get £2 a month council tax benefit. They've told me to go back any time I need to. I personally felt that when I have to check my work diary to fit in a vet visit that always takes two hours (30 mins drive each way, then always an hour wait) that really I shouldn't be there, which is why I left.

    As they are using 'pedigree' to mean 'recognisable' rather than 'family tree' then labradoodles and other popular crosses such as 'jugs' 'puggles' etc would also be banned if the vet could tell what they were.

  16. Question: Those who boast about having the hybred vigour of a Labradoodle, Puggle, etc, they too must come off the list as did they not only pay a price far higher than your average pedigree, but also did so as they were sold they were healthy and never get sick!!!

  17. As a benefits specilaist I know I have retired clients with a benefits income of £600 p.w. and that is for 2 people. i don't pretend the system is fair when widowed mother's allowance puts her outside means tested benefits but a widowed parent whose spouse has never worked gets means tested benefits and all the add ons like PDSA and is better off!!

  18. this is what happens when we have a nanny state..Britain has long since "gone to the dogs" in so many ways.... pet insurance? what a joke..PDSA should be run out of business. They won't get a dime from me. Dependence on the government and charity for so many things is what has made us the sorry sops we are

  19. Cambtreasure, I dont think I would want the RSPCA's own record on animal treatment to be looked at too closely as they refuse to deal with any rescue dog despite the image on their advertising campaigns that what they do yet they dont!!, yet find enough money to fund a PETA "style" meeting in the States, now if ever an organisation need a investgation into waste, I think a Royal Commission is long overdue

  20. Anonymous - it simply is not true that we won't treat rescue dogs - provided the current owner satisfies our benefits criteria.

    If you mean that you expect the RSPCA to provide free or cheap treatment for the use of any owner who claims to have "rescued" a dog, regardless of that owner's ability to pay a private vet, then I think anyone with an open mind can see that this would be a complete nonsense.

    If you are complaining that we don't normally directly collect stray dogs, the answer is that this is the responsibility of the local authority. Many branches do take in strays for rehoming after their 7 days are up in order to prevent them being put down by the LA and many (including my own branch) take dogs before the 7 days if they are sick or injured and would otherwise go without treatment.

  21. Even if what the PDSA claim is true, and ignoring for a moment that their new policy stinks, I can't understand why they're penalising all breeds. Surely the drain on their resources is limited to certain breeds (I would imagine Pugs are high on the list). Therefore, rather than penalise everybody, why not just penalise those who have purchased a breed that's highly likely to be unhealthy?

    Otherwise, as Jemima pointed out, those people who have purchased/rescued healthy breeds (Border Terriers, retired Greyhounds) are being penalised for their otherwise responsible choice of breed.

    I would imagine that even a Pug cross would be far less healthy many pedigrees.

  22. "I would imagine that even a Pug cross would be far less healthy many pedigrees."

    depends on the cross :)

    Possibly more healthy than a peke, japanese chin, CKC born to untested parents, many untested giant breeds......could go on

  23. I would like to know who is going to arbitrate which dogs are 'pedigree' and which are not. I often see dogs which to my eye are greyhounds only to be infomed by the owner that acatually they are lurchers. There are a great many labrador crosses which also closely resemble labradors, never mind the minefield which are staffy type/crosses - probably the most likely 'breed' to be seen. Unless the owner proudly waves around a pedigree or KC registration, who is going to dictate which dogs are pedigree and which are not?

    Is it really fair to turn away someone needing treatement for their two pugs which they bought when they had a job/financial security/pet insurance and yet willingly aid someone who has three crossbreeds, two of which were obtained while the person was already on benefits? Who is the more responsible owner?

    Some of the comments here give interesting insights about the workings of the system. My cousin uses a local (independant) charity clinic. They do require some limited payment but to my knowledge, don't find the need to restrict treatement to either the number or type of animals an owner has. Nor, as far as I'm aware, do they need ongoing proof that the owner is continuing to claim benefits. I'd like to think people are honest enough not to be a drain on the limited resources of a charity when they have the means to pay for veterinary treatement themselves, but doubt this is always the case.

    I also wonder what the desicion would be in the case of someone who is claiming benefits but has 'rescued' a (crossbreed) dog which is going to require ongoing medication for the rest of it's life because it has arthritis. Should the PDSA/charity refuse treatement because the owner has knowingly adopted a 'burden' or should they pass no comment and simply provide the treatement?

    This is not a question of crossbreeds vs pedigrees but an ethical dilema on how to most fairly distribute aid to the needy.

  24. Nice to see that Jemima Harrison doesn`t agree with the new PDSA policy.It will cause a lot of worry and heartache.Why doesn`t the charity allow the present pedigrees owned by people who use the PDSA to pass on and then bring in the one pedigree policy.Telling them to register with a private practice or buy insurance(and what a minefield that is.)isn`t practical for some clients in real need. Not everyone wants these designer breeds and seeing what THEY cost is a real eye opener.The excuse is pedigree dogs are not as healthy(where have I heard that before?) and are using up vital funds.Surely a cross between two unscreened dogs will not suddenly be a healthy hybrid,It can carry the genes from both parents for HD or Cataract etc. I think a lot of this has been brought about by MS Harrison`s complete hatred of pedigree dogs.

  25. I would like to know who is going to arbitrate which dogs are 'pedigree' and which are not. I often see dogs which to my eye are greyhounds only to be infomed by the owner that acatually they are lurchers. There are a great many labrador crosses which also closely resemble labradors, never mind the minefield which are staffy type/crosses - probably the most likely 'breed' to be seen. Unless the owner proudly waves around a pedigree or KC registration, who is going to dictate which dogs are pedigree and which are not?
    Is it really fair to turn away someone needing treatement for their two pugs which they bought when they had a job/financial security/pet insurance and yet willingly aid someone who has three crossbreeds, two of which were obtained while the person was already on benefits? Who is the more responsible owner?
    Some of the comments here give interesting insights about the workings of the system. My cousin uses a local (independant) charity clinic. They do require some limited payment but to my knowledge, don't find the need to restrict treatement to either the number or type of animals an owner has. Nor, as far as I'm aware, do they need ongoing proof that the owner is continuing to claim benefits. I'd like to think people are honest enough not to be a drain on the limited resources of a charity when they have the means to pay for veterinary treatement themselves, but doubt this is always the case.
    I also wonder what the desicion would be in the case of someone who is claiming benefits but has 'rescued' a (crossbreed) dog which is going to require ongoing medication for the rest of it's life because it has arthritis. Should the PDSA/charity refuse treatement because the owner has knowingly adopted a 'burden' or should they pass no comment and simply provide the treatement?
    This is not a question of crossbreeds vs pedigrees but an ethical dilema on how to most fairly distribute aid to the needy.

    PS Anonymous 17.28, while I agree with what you are saying generally and frequently have my disagreements with Jemima, I think you are crediting her with having rather too much inflence over the PDSA! She has also stated more than once that she dosn't hate pedigree dogs (but not sure if the same can be said for those who breed and show them!)Please give credit where it's due and recognise that she isn't backing this policy.

  26. Jemima, are you in contact with David Sargan of the Cambridge University Vet School?
    I saw he was one of the speakers at the US pedigree dogs conference.

    The vet school keep records of animals seen at our clinic from way back and there's an enormous amount of data that could potentially be used to investigate how the types of animals seen and their medical problems have changed over the years.

    It seems to me that it's really very important to try to discover what's actually going on in terms of breeding practices causing knock-on effects for people's ability to get veterinary care for their dogs.

  27. Here's an example

  28. Julia.I wasn`t implying that Ms Harrison personally influenced the PDSA! Let`s be honest. the "pedigree bashing" that started with THAT programme last year caused a lot of upset. PDSA and other charities withdrawing from Crufts as did Pedigree Petfoods.
    Now we have these so called Designer crossbreeds being sold for extortionate prices because people are being convinced "they must be healthier" than pedigrees!
    In my opinion the PDSA saw it as a way of saving money.If I have 3 expensive Labradoodles I could register them with the PDSA but not 3 expensive pedigrees?
    The last straw was the comment"the PDSA shouldn`t fund a lifestyle choice of owners who keep one breed of pedigree dog."I feel sorry for those who had a job and always worked then because of ill health have to rely on a charity for help with their dogs.Heaven help them if they own pedigrees!Let`s hope the poor dogs don`t end up in Rescues that are already stretched to breaking point.I don`t know what sort of people you think own show dogs but I have met many wonderful people over the years.Yes, there are Bad Apples as there are in every walk of life,sadly this clouds the judgement of many people!

  29. Please will people get it right Pedigree Petfoods did not with draw from Crufts due to PDE, they ghad been withdrawing from all dog shows over the 2 years prior as the brand has been failing here and in Europe, ther reason was just based on finance. Unless Miss Harrison want to make a claim for this too?!

  30. Actually, Anonymous person, Mars refused to divulge why they ended their sponsorship of Crufts.

    I don't think the PDSA have handled this well. I think there should have been some sort of tapering, as others have suggested. However I do support the principle of what they're doing, as it sends a clear signal to the public that closed-breed dogs are, on average, less healthy that open-breed dogs. And that's a fact that needs to be said, again and again, until it becomes common knowledge. And judging by some of the cretinous, anonymous comments on this blog, we've a long way to go on that score.

  31. retromodernist, No MArs didt refuse to divulge why the stopped sponsording Crufts they made a statement 2 years in advance that thye were refocasing ALL their show sponsorship andt hat is why their Breeder Service was cailed back and then stopped. Unless you can back up your claim dont try and make up such things, as for you claim about the health of close bred dogs as opposed to open bred dogs , Ithink show just how little you really do now about breeding of any type of animal. Unless you have qualification of experience to back up such claims that you are making you seem to be as well informed as the PDSA does on this subject!! The very fact mongerals dont have ANY health test before irresponsible owner allow them to breed and then take less care in homing them (afterall have you ever heard of a mongeral having a puppy contract) shows how caring such breeders/owners really are

  32. Good try Anon, but Pedigree did not announce they were pulling out of Crufts until October 2008 - two months after PDE and just five months before Crufts 2009. And I know it was a sudden decision because I have a letter from them dated September 2008 in which they said they were committed to sponsoring the show.

    What changed their mind? Now that I can't prove.. But it's very hard to believe that the unrelentingly negative media coverage that continued for months after PDE did not play a role.

  33. "as for you claim about the health of close bred dogs as opposed to open bred dogs , Ithink show just how little you really do now about breeding of any type of animal. Unless you have qualification of experience to back up such claims that you are making you seem to be as well informed as the PDSA does on this subject!!"

    two words..........oh dear

  34. "The very fact mongerals dont have ANY health test before irresponsible owner allow them to breed and then take less care in homing them (afterall have you ever heard of a mongeral having a puppy contract) shows how caring such breeders/owners really are"

    Just how useful are these contracts? Most allow you to return your broken down puppy within 7 days, and if your "lucky" and haven't emotionally bonded within 7 days, you can swap it for a new model.

  35. "Unless you have qualification of experience to back up such claims that you are making you seem to be as well informed as the PDSA does on this subject!!"

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. A lot of the anonymous people use this argument, and it's a laughably weak one.

    If I'm on an aeroplane, and it's hurtling vertically to the sea, I don't need a degree in aviation technology to know that I'm probably about to crash into the sea, do I?

    Do you breed dogs, anonymous person? Good for you! Been doing it for twenty years? You're amazing! Your considerable experience qualifies you not one jot in determining whether closed-breed or open-breed dogs live longer. All you have is anecdotes, which for the purpose of this debate are worthless.

    I don't breed dogs, and I probably never will. I do read a lot of research though, and study after study backs me up. Open breed dogs are, on average, healthier than closed-breed dogs. If you like, I'll hunt out the papers, though I'm sure there are others on here who have them to hand. If you disagree, show me your evidence. And don't give me a load of twaddle like "my vets tells me..." or "my collie cross died aged two of cancer." That sort of evidence is worthless.

    Really, you need to try a lot harder.

    As for puppy contracts - my most recent dog, a white, terrier-like thing from a pound in Retford, came with a contract. I've scanned and uploaded it. Would you like to see it?

  36. Oh, and another point, anonymous person, "mongerels" don't generally have health tests, because they don't generally suffer from the inbreeding depression that closed-breed dogs are often blighted with.

    These health tests you talk of are a result of inbreeding and other shoddy practices. If you didn't inbreed, you wouldn't end up with such a prevalence of genetic conditions that you need to guard against and test for. To mark yourself out as a 'responsible' breeder because you screen your dogs, actually demonstrates that you still don't get this fundamental point, which is why, as I said earlier, the point needs making again, and again.

  37. Inbreeding depression is different from the spread of genetic disease caused by inbreeding. Crossbreeds are, by their very nature, unlikely to suffer from inbreeding depression but they can and do suffer from a multitude of health problems - including genetic ones. Yep, they are that bit healthier overall - but one needs to be careful re overstating the case for cross and mixed breeds.

  38. Fair points, Jemima. Thanks for the clarification.

  39. It may be that the PDSA had no choice but to do something dramatic fast.

    Their latest filed accounts are for 2009 (nothing wrong with that as the due date for filing with the charity commission isn't until October this year). It may very well be that 2010 and the first 6 months of 2011 were very poor in terms of income - if you look at their 2009 summary you'll see that their charity shops were already struggling.

    It is very noticeable that no-one seems to have reacted to the changes by asking them, "Is there any way we can help raise enough funds to avoid doing this?"

  40. Maybe they should get rid of their "make a donation" and replace it with an actual bill. This could be much reduced and the clients could pay what they could when they could, but it might just highlight to the client how much the treatments cost the PDSA.

  41. It DOESN'T mean that a well bred lab or any other pedigree won't get treated when hit by a car, emergency treatment will ALWAYS be given. People can still register one pedigree pet, they are not discriminating, they are being forced to put limits on it's FREE SERVICE. How about the PDSA just close and stop treating ALL animals, how about that? no free help, just be grateful that a CHARITY that gets NO GOVERNMENT FUNDING is trying it's best and may, like a lot of people and companies just have fallen on hard times.

  42. I agree with the previous anonymous statement 5th July..... People could try being grateful for any help not demanding more, it's all me me me what can I get for free, what does the world owe me just for existing? The PDSA have always tried to promote responsible pet ownership that means taking responsibility for your own pet rather than expecting others to....if you can't afford it don't get it! If you've fallen on hard times then pull your socks up and do something about it. Get insurance, ask friends and family, find a private vet that will take payments in installments, find another charity that you can get all the help and free treatment you can then moan about them. Stop being selfish and start helping.

  43. Anon 5th and Anon 6th

    I think you are both missing the point here. Most who have commented are concerned with the PDSA's statement about more than one pedigree "type". They are not moaning about losing out on free treatment.

    Everyone understands that charities are having to make cut backs financially.

    The PDSA should be there for GENUINE cases of low income since they run a donation for treatment policy. But sadly, like the OTHER charities that offer veterinary care, who ALSO receive no state aid, their system gets abused by the minority.

    If there is way of vetting people on their incomes then this would help.

    As I said before, maybe if the PDSA started charging very low rates for their treatments it "may" prevent them making a loss from the few bad eggs that abuse their kind system.

    Anon 6th said...

    "The PDSA have always tried to promote responsible pet ownership that means taking responsibility for your own pet rather than expecting others to....if you can't afford it don't get it! "

    Ever heard of circumstances suddenly changing?

    what about 90 year old Mrs Jones and her two elderly yorkies both rescue dogs and both registered with the PDSA in her area. Up to now they have been relatively OK health wise. Within just one month, one needs half its teeth taken out, and the other gets a heart problem.

    What, anonandanon shall poor Mrs Jones do?

    1. Pull her socks up?..........she has now pulled her stockings up but it hasn't really helped her.

    2. Get insurance?.......on her state pension she really cannot afford, and no insurance company will touch two 12 year old yorkies. In hindsight she wishes she had got insurance when they were younger, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

    3. Ask friends?..........Most genuine friends have passed away

    4. Ask family?.........Her husband is dead and she out lived her son. She hasn't spoken to her distant relatives since they emigrated to Australia in the 1970's.

    5. Find a private vet that lets you pay in instalments?......she genuinely cannot afford this, plus the closest one is a long way away, given her age.

    6. Find another charity that you can get all the help and free treatment you can then moan about them?.........she is outside other charity catchment areas. Mrs Jones has never moaned about the PDSA, she has been with them for7 years, always made donations for vaccines and flea treatment.

    How SELFISH of Mrs Jones to be saddened and UPSET that she can now only take ONE of her dogs to the PDSA.

    You see anonandanon, there are certain things about their change in policy that will affect GENUINE people who support them and care for their pets, whilst still allowing Jo Bloggs with three designer dogs etc etc to continue getting treatment.

  44. A call I received last month from someone who had just brought home a pedigree puppy of 8 weeks. There is an existing 2 year-old dog of the same pedigree. "My husband is out of work, we only got the second puppy because we get free vet care from the RSPCA".

    Let's hope there is some degree of flexibility at the PDSA when implementing the rules for genuine cases of hardship and responsible owners.

  45. I feel this is a wrong move by the PDSA and it will affect those who need this the most...

    I have an 11 year old Westie and an 8 Year old Scottie, both have always been fit and healthy dogs. My husband had a good job and we had a high income so always paid a private vet. Just before Christmas my Husband was made redundant.

    Our income went down to zero and then the Scottie fell ill. There was no way we could afford our usual vets so were incredibly grateful when the PDSA began to treat him.

    I am now worried sick that should our Westie fall ill before we can find work we simply cannot afford to get him treated.

    Hubby and I have worked all our lives and never needed to use the system, now we do it looks likely to let us down.

  46. If Mrs Jones reads the policy correctly, The PDSA will treat some 2nd pedigree pets 'special circumstances' Not sure what that means but worth a look into it. Maybe they put that rule in so genuine people can still be helped while weasling out the badduns.

    You know the people I do feel a bit sorry for, is the PDSA staff who are getting all kinds of abuse hurled at them, they're just doing their job. I was in my local PDSA and the client was so violent I left the waiting room terrified and I'm assuming they had to call the police because they arrived shortly after. The staff do what they can to help but have to abide by rules

    I think I do agree that the word discriminating is being thrown around a bit when perhaps it should be replaced with restricting. I would like to assume that the PDSA have looked at all their facts and figures and seen that pedigrees do cost them more.

    And for the ones it DOES apply to (not the Mrs Jones on hard times) if you can't afford it.....don't get it.

  47. Special circumstances are ongoing treatments (as I read it), in other words the dog is already on ongoing treatment for conditions like diabetes, auto immune conditions, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

    Sadly when working for any well known charity, no matter what your position within that charity, when there is a change in policy many will not like it and it is the front line ground staff that take the flack. Trust me I've received it and witnessed it.

    Many of these policy changes are done for good reasons based on evidence and experience.

    The PDSA's message to encourage people to take responsibility and care for their pets is an excellent one.

    Discouraging people from going out willy nilly and buying their second cutsie pedigree pup when they cannot really fully afford potential veterinary costs if something goes wrong, is another good message.

    However there is a well know flurry of people getting designer cross breeds, many combinations probably disastrous when it comes to health. Shar pei x basset hound, peke x pug. I'd say a border terrier would visit the vet less times that these two combinations. And if you have one of each the PDSA will treat both.

    That might explain why it is cheaper to insure a border terrier than a small cross breed with the PDSA ( all doggy factors like age etc equal).

    But it does kind of go against their policy statement.

    There are too many factors involved.

  48. My family and i have been considering having our first family dog for some time now.We have studied the fors and againsts of owning a pedigree versus a non pedigree.We have seen since viewing this very useful and informative blog the mention of Border terriers and their health.Doing a google search about the breeds health has thrown up various links to this problem
    it seems the breed may not be as healthy as it has been suggested!?
    Sam Woodward

  49. Sam I am not stating that pedigrees are healthier from crossbreeds, I am highlighting that there are many new designer crossbreeds that may well be more likely to get health problems due to poor conformation, compared to one of the "healthier" known pedigrees.

    My comment on insurance was highlighting the irony of the PDSA's statement versus it's insurance quotes.

  50. Im totally disgusted with the change to pdsa policy. I have 2 staffies and a jack russell and have been with the pdsa since 2003 and have had both bitches spade by them and left a large donation each time, and the only other reason I take my dogs is when they need their annual booster, and again never leave less than £10 donation. I feel they are discriminating against people on housing benefit from having pedigree dogs, thought we were surpossed to be animal lovers. And this is going to stop people rehoming pedigrees. totally wrong...

  51. I am currently in corrospondance with the PDSA over the wording of the letter we were sent by them. It quite clearly states 'it is true to say that a large proportion of our staff and visitors to our PetAid hospitals are dismayed and disappointed by the number of pedigree pets being presented for treatment at PDSA, especially as a large proportion of these pets are purchased at considerable expense. I didn't buy either of my dogs, I have mental heath difficulties and they were given to me as a source of help, which they do, however, I don't see what this has to do with them, the PDSA can choose not to treat my dogs, but should they be judging us by what pets we have, when we come to visit, I don't think so!

  52. I'm just trying to say that I agree with Kate peoples lives can change. My life was private, both my wife and I worked for many years, then almost over night things changed. I lost my mum through breast cancer, my wife is very unwell with secondary progressive MS, and I have been left with mental health difficulties. Though, if it helps some people we don't claim benefits as I get a very small works pension. However, we do get just under £2 a month council tax benefit that just helped with our two dogs care. It makes no difference to us, I willgo without to get my dogs health care, I just don't like it that it has got up someones nose that I have two so called pedigree dogs and I am supposed to be living in poverty, we don't go out, no holidays, shopping sprees, meals out nothing, however, perhaps I should be eating their food instead of spending the money on them. Stop viewing people on low incomes as living it up, too much sun reading, it isn't that much fun and could happen to any one. Why shouldn't someone on a low income have the comfort of a dog, my dogs help me so much, their better than a lot of people believe me.

  53. i,m an oap,and have just been given a Yorkshire terrier,i also have a 12 year old jack Russell,now i,m really worried,been with pdsa for all that time,don't need to go that often,but my worry is do they class j-Russell's as pedigrees,because if they do,what am i supposed to do,i cant part with my pets as they are my reason for getting out of bed,get me out walking,and are the the ones i can trust,and always there with cuddles,i love my animals,and could not bear to part with them,maureen,

  54. I know this is old, but sad how suddenly is dropped, there should be an investugation into it somewhere... for instance he pdsa is govened by parliment acts (which i can not find), is ot supposed to be a proffit organisation yet make proffits (according to annual review), supposed to be uk charity oly - is not, and states that its mision is to help ALL sick and injured animals, aim is provide treatment to those whom live with financial difficalties, it does not state anything about predudice to pedigree animals, however did change the reasons for the policy change to... Pedigree animals require alot more medical treatment than x breed pets and therefor feel that it is only fair that they spend their budget evenly amoungst clents, eabling them to see more clients, basicly the fewer pedigree pets per client means that they can see more clients which seems, to me, to be a bit of a contridiction. The Excuse that they are trying to promote responsable pet ownership is hilairious (please excuse my dyslexic speling), in that you can own 3 huge x crossbreed pets (dogs will likely suffer hip diplasiya as is commen in ALL large dogs), to buy some x breeds will cost 3xmore than a pedigree as they unfortunately have fallen victim to 'fashion pet of the moment'. In all the PDSA are turning away the very pets who they claim to be there for!

  55. I had no knowledge of this new rule, I've been regsitered with the pdsa for my labrador for years as I am disabled and on benefit.

    A few weeks ago I took in a cat who need a loving home, she was described as a siamese x ragdoll.
    I contacted the pdsa today in an emeregency as her breathing has become very laboured and she hasnt eaten or drunk anything for two days. they asked for her previous vet records and i got them faxed over. The previous vet had written her down as simply 'siamese' - the pdsa refused ALL treatment. (I have a labrador also registered as mentioned)

    They did however say I could bring her in and a vet would put her to sleep if need be.

    I am now sitting her with my daughter watching the cat struggle for breath, she could have a serious condition, or simply treatable cat asthma.. to find out she will need xrays and blood work, I cannot afford this. I expect if she doesnt improve or drink, we will watch her die tonight or tomorrow. I think its disgusting that our loving, beautiful cat is possibly in pain and severe discomfort, her life worth nothing to the pdsa.

    Granted, it is irresponsible to take in an animal if you cannot afford vet care, however I have space on my account for another animal, I was told she was a cross ragdoll (cant see why her previous owner would lie about that) and I had no knowledge nor was i informed by the pdsa of this new rule. I had absolutly no idea she would be refused vet care should she ever get sick.

    I feel terrible that by giving this cat a loving, family, forever home, I have possibly condemed her to death through lack of vet care.

    I understand many pedigrees are bought for a lot of money from a breeder, but many more are rescued or rehomed after being abandoned. Yes they can have more instances of heritary conditions that cost the pdsa more funds, however they are animals in need of a home and vet care. They do not deserve to be turned away and suffer like this. Which is exactly what the pdsa was there to prevent.

  56. This sounds horrific. You say: "They did however say I could bring her in and a vet would put her to sleep if need be." So they are willing at least to examine her to find out what the problem is?

    If not, please email me privately:


  57. As far as i am aware the PDSA offers treatment to anyone in receipt of benefit for example council tax benefit, whether it is £1.50 off your council tax or the full lot the PDSA will still see you.... so people in work with an income coming in are still using the PDSA to get free treatment when they can afford to insure! they should set a higher criteria to achieve to be eligible for help.

    Why any thin that i have been there are SOOOOO many dogs un-neutered dogs been treated!?
    i once went up near Christmas time as my friends dog took seriously ill, While i was there i saw 7 (yes that's SEVEN!) staffies witch had just had litters that were there for follow ups for all the puppies and after care for the bitch, But the stinger was listening to the owners talking for selling them for Christmas for hundreds of pounds and just looking for buyers not caring whee they went so they could have money for Christmas!
    this brings me back to my earlier point of why isn't the PDSAs policy that all animals have to be spayed or neutered to be eligible for treatment?


  58. Hi Jemima
    It was a point blank no to begin with and when I asked what on earth I should do now as the cat is suffering and it is an emergency, the receptionist said "well if you think you need to bring her in and a senior vet will look at her to see if she needs to be euthanised thats up to you". I was then left with a situation whereby I had to guess her condition myself, if I took her up there knowing they would only agree to euthanise and she has something treatable like cat asthma what would they have done? let her die on the table with a severe asthma attack because they wouldnt treat her? or euthanise her on the spot to stop her discomfort? This is a life, a beautiful, loving cat, all she wants is love, she was abused previously and was a rescue cat, she follows us around constantly wanting cuddles. Her life means nothing to the pdsa obviously? The biggest issue I have with them is not that they are refusing general treatment, for that I could get insurance or pay a private vet in installments possibly, my issue is that I phoned as an emergency case, she was gasping her breath, I needed to get her up there immediately, but the receptionist refused emergency treatment. According to their policy they will never turn down an animal who needs emergency treatment.

  59. Hi I have one pedigree dog with pdsa.My bull mastiff got bloat. I phone them and they said cause it was a emergency bring her straight down.Got there they made me wait half a hour.They then took her for xray I waited a hour before vet call me.He then said her gut had started to twist.He said he cannot treat her because it was the policy only one pedigree.He them said he was going to compress her stomach to get it to go down.If that did not work he would refern me private which would cost 1500.I them waited ages he came out ask me to sign a form.Them went off not long after he call me in the room and said my dog had pass away and he had not done no treatment.I nearly pass out the shock that my lovely dog had die.I ask them before they were going to compress her stomach if I could see her he said yes.The only time I see her was when she had die.I am heart broken cause if she had been a mongrel she would still be here.I have now took insurance out cause I will never use them again.

  60. I had two cocker spaniels, was married my husband worked and I donated money to the pdsa each month. Unfortunately I then became very ill with mental health problems after my son was born and lost my son my marraige and house but kept the dogs. I kept up with their insurance for about 5 years then stopped it and went to the lacal rspca clinic which is juat an end terrace house, very scruffy and charges £15 before u r even seen. It does no operarions or jabs like the pdsa does. Since then I have lost my cockers and have adopted 4bassets over the last 51/2 years. Oone I got was an ex breeding bitch canme to me pregnant and I only found out weeks after I got her. The rspca then closed down and im not eligible to go to the pdsa as I live in the wrong area! I think everyone should be eligible if they qualify for help and I think the idea of charging a set price is an excellent idea with a higher charge for operations etc.maybe if the pdsa had their own dog insurance or if u h a d dog ins u could go there and not have to pay the higher excess but the pdsa could claim back the rest if the fee. I also think there shud be more looking into who really is eligible and in need rather than people qualifying when on lesser benefits. Its only human nature for someone to claim wheb entitled, the barriers need to be moved.

  61. I havent read all this article but commenting as the dog in this image was mine. this is the gods honest truth. My dear old Ben, whose parents were a retriever and a smooth coat lab. His paw had been badly cut and required stitches. He was a sickly dog from the start, the runt of the litter and told he would never survive. He was a fighter. Special diets and care and ten years back and forward to pdsa, who helped us help Ben live his life to the fullest and where his good life sadly had to come to an end. I couldnt fault them. We wouldnt of had ten wonderful years with our Ben without the pdsa in Aberdeen. Sorry comment not actually relevent to topic, i was just pleasantly surprised to see that image still being used. A psda van round the corner from my old house has his face on it too. I find it a comfort, Ben is still around us :)

  62. god not read anything yet just typed in pdsa rude and trying to get rid of pedigrees based on one sided research will read this blog when have time carnt believe I found this thanks, had a rotten day today at the pds with bull mastiff with kidney disease' will write again soon thanks again.

  63. hi there my response to all this is I have two Lhasa apso girls and they are happy to treat both and they are very good in helping and considering taking my second dog they don't have pedigree papers but they are full Lhasa apso so im pleased with this out come I also am on benefits but I choose to pay half of what the vet bill is this could be the reason of acceptance

  64. You are very lucky,Anonymous. I have two Dachshunds but PDSA will now only treat one. One argument I heard was that people were bringing in Pugs and Bulldogs that cost way in excess of £1,000 to buy,so the owners should be able to afford to have them treated by a private vet.Although they will treat 3 Labradoodles that cost £600 plus each belonging to the same owner.