"...the main concern which members feel the Alliance should be addressing is the issue of 'puppy farming' and how puppies so produced continue to tarnish the whole profile of pedigree dogs.'It is astonishing how concerned show breeders become about puppy farms when they feel their hobby is under threat - and yet how few can stretch to making any real effort when it comes to actions beyond keyboard ranting. A conference on puppy farming planned for last month had to be cancelled in part because only 20 or so people had actually signed up to attend it.
Anyway, the Canine Alliance's proposed solution?
"The committee felt that this was a problem that the Kennel Club should be addressing at source and resolved that it would recommend that the KC should only accept for registration puppies that have been produced from parents that have undergone – and passed - a universal basic veterinary examination once they have reached one year of age. This test would not be in any way breed-specific, but would ensure that the dog is fundamentally fit and healthy."
Of course it "ensures" no such thing and the idea is full of holes. Many conditions don't manifest until dogs are older than one; certificates would be incredibly easy to fake; checking them impossible given the sheer number of dogs the KC registers - and, frankly, not worth the effort given how little proof they would be of a dog's real fitness to breed.
Basic veterinary exams are just that - basic, and valid only for the day they're done (as indeed, many breeders' sales contracts make very clear when they're selling their vet-checked puppies).
And what's with the vet-check being "in no way breed-specific"? Doubtless the CA fretting about "canine discrimination", as if Pugs would mind if specific attention was paid to their ability to breathe.
The Canine Alliance seems to have forgotten that it was set up in the wake of vet checks at shows to check their dogs, not puppy farmers', and because it is their dogs, not puppy farmers', that have been found to be suffering because of exaggerations and deterimental breeding practices.
The old diversionary tactic of blaming puppy farmers simply won't wash. Sure, puppy farming is an issue -a huge issue. Sure there are phenotypical and genetic problems in puppy-farmed dogs, too.
But it's not what we're talking about here, is it?
I suspect the proposal was cobbled together in the knowledge that the KC will stick to its guns re providing a register for dogs regardless of their provenance (ergo no point in asking the KC to stop registering puppy farmed dogs). It sounds like the CA has also accepted that the KC won't make registration of all KC dogs conditional on passing the health-checks currently only demanded of ABS breeders.
A pity. Because one could take the CA much more seriously if it threw its weight behind that call.
Meanwhile, the CA's Andrew Brace takes a bizarre turn in a paranoia-fueled article he's written for the April 6 issue of US magazine Dog News in which he reveals his Saul-Paul moment at this year's Crufts. And, according to Brace, it's vets and animal welfare campaigners who are eugenicists, not dog breeders.
"This year at Crufts show, as the well documented DQ dramas unfolded, I had a Damascus moment," writes Brace. "The reality of what was actually happening around me hit me like a thunderbolt... dark forces were at work trying to destroy the world I hold dear and for which I have limitless passion. it was time to smell the coffee and acknowledge what was going on.Boy oh boy...
"There are individuals who see the very concept of breeding and showing purebred dogs as unacceptable because of principles that we find hard to understand. They have a message and a goal, and long-term their idea of Utopia is seeing every domestic animal struggling to exist in the wild with no human intervention. For 'Utopia' read 'Choas'.
"Through subtle means, people who hold very extreme views where the canine species is concerned preach their gospel and, with the efficiency of a dripping tap, eventually manage to permeate so many important areas of our lives none more so than the veterinary profession."
"It is a fact of life that the traditional stockman veterinarian who also fostered the interests of small animals, listening to the advice offered by long-established dog breeders before coming to a meaningful conclusion, no longer exists... well not in any numbers, that's for sure. Instead we see a steady flow of fresher vets who leave school convinced that all purebred dogs are genetic time bombs rather than living breathing individuals that may, or mau not, hve some form of imperfection. The concept of eugenics has been used to discredit the sport; in my opinion nowhere is it practised more blatantly than in the veterinary and welfare cricles where is it advocated that certain breeds should become extinct because of "physical exaggeration".
"As the realisation dawned on me at our National Exhbition Centre, I felt a sense of acute frustration that my world was actually now being destroyed from within. These were not campaigning outsiders waving banners and inciting the public to hate us for what they thought we were doing to our purebreds. This was actually our own governing body that had succumbed to public opinion and political correctness, being led by a chairman who - in the opinion of many - was demonstrating far more loyalty to his former profession than he was to the members he claimed to represent....
"There is little acknowledgement of the fact that extremists do not meet people half way - its not in their nature. Well-meaning advocates of political correctness may see trying to appease the enemy as a smart move. It isn't. It simply shows weakness, and if you give them an inch they will not rest until they get the full mile.
"For too long the world of purebred dogs has been influenced by smoke and mirrors. It is now time to wake up, smell the coffee and stand firm... before it is too late and we have no sport to fight for.
"Enough is enough."
It's hard to know where to start with this level of misplaced indignation.
But I'll have a go.
Mr Brace, there is a threat to your hobby - and dog breeding generally - from animal rights extremists, but that threat is mainly in the US. For now.
Sure, there are a few ARs among the UK animal welfare lobbyists and probably even in the veterinary profession - but none in the Kennnel Club. To accuse Chairman Steve Dean of batting for the "dark forces" is... well, stupid.
Additionally, Mr Brace, and although you don't seem to be aware of it - there are many animal welfarists (and that includes me) who are passionate about purebred dogs and will fight tooth and nail alongside breeders to stop the extremists getting a grip here in the UK. That does not mean, however, keeping our mouths shut when there is a problem.
This is one reason why I didn't disappear with the closing credits of Pedigree Dogs Exposed. I could see the risk and wanted to stick around to fend off the nut jobs.
None of us wants an end to dog breeding or dog breeds. We just want an end to the unacceptable physical burdens sometimes placed on them in pursuit of ribbons.
We don't want an end to dog shows. We just want them to find a way to truly reward good health.
And we don't feel that the problem with the way show dogs are bred is good enough reason to throw the baby out with the bath water.
But it will be if you don't wake up and smell the coffee and realise that the dog world must embrace reform with genuine gusto - or it will perish.
And so the biggest threat, Mr Brace, comes from your continued denial that there is a case to answer; in continuing to lay the problem at the doors of others.
The Kennel Club has now, mostly, woken up to this and there is a much more considered article (well, apart from the increasingly-tiresome accusation that I am an anti-purebred dog extremist) by Ronnie Irving in the same issue of Dogs News . In it, Ronnie explains that it was the threat of the European Convention that prompted the KC to be more proactive re the health of certain breeds. He then goes on to make the point that it isn't animal rights activitists driving the reforms; it is often legitimate concerns from the veterinary profession, welfare bodies, campaigners and the public. The Kennel Club, he insists, is acting to safeguard dog showing and breeding.
I am sure that the KC has sympathy with dog breeders reeling from the shock of the vet checks and the many changes introduced. I do too. But, equally, I believe the way the CA is at the moment is seen as an embarrassment by the Kennel Club.
Worse, it is letting down dogs and those breeders who have seen the light.
What's really needed if show breeders want us all to be proud of their "sport" (as they call it) is a lobby that:
• recognises the problems
• is commited to reform
• doesn't attempt to divert attention to other welfare concerns
• acknowledges that dog shows need to evolve
• wants to make British dogs not just the most beautiful but the healthiest and fittest in the world.
• recognises that is not possible without treading on quite a few toes.
That would be a force to be reckoned with.
Now I am sure Brace + Co see themselves as canine crusaders. But they're not. They're canine Luddites.
You can write and tell them that, if you like: firstname.lastname@example.org
Download link to yesterday's press release from the CA here.