Sunday, 14 November 2010

Lies.. damn lies

Last year, I upset the Flatcoated Retriever  community by taking them to task - on a private Flatcoat list - over misinformation about health being given out at Discover Dogs,  the KC's annual meet-the-breeds show at London's Earls Court.  Instead of being cross with the Flatcoat representative for giving out wrong info on the breed stand, the breeders got very cross indeed with me. As ever, my criticism was labelled as trashing the breed.

Well it's Discover Dogs again this weekend and this time I'm going to upset the Flatcoat community publicly. Again, someone manning the Flatcoat stand has given out misleading and dishonest information about the extent of cancer in the breed. "Less than 10 per cent" said the man pictured on the right to one visitor who asked yesterday.

The truth? Over half of Flatcoats will develop cancer by the age of 8 and it kills many of them.

Last year, I gave the Flatcoat representative the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps she simply didn't know how much cancer there is in the breed?

But this year I am naming and shaming.

Let me repeat: it is unacceptable to lie about health to pet-buyers thinking of spending £700 or so on a pedigree puppy.


  1. There is none so blind as those who WILL NOT see!
    By denying their breeds problems they deny their breeds future.
    Why cant the so called 'guardians' of their breeds (clubs) see
    this? No different with urate stones in Dalmatians, yet at least one pet owner a month
    on the forum (Dalmatians) is asking for help with stone formers! The internet makes the world a much smaller place!
    When will they truly put the dogs first! When insurance companies start to charge premiums on breed specific health problems maybe!!??

  2. How about 3/2's of all goldens will develop cancer?

  3. Where does that figure come from HTTrainer?

  4. Jemima talking out of ignorance again, would she like to stop any further flatcoats being bred or actually support those of us who breed responsibly. Dogs that die of cancer or kidney complaints at 12 years plus having had a full and active life are in the writers estimation worth breeding. Blanket serial abuse of those involved with a breed by someone known to be self promoting and incapable of accurate research is at best insulting.

  5. Once again you are reporting on what was 'said to a visitor', not what was actually said to YOU! How was the question put to the person you are accusing? I'm not denying cancer is in the breed, but over 50%? The figures in the link do not come to 50%, and it covered only 174 dogs. A start, but you cannot make a definitive statement based on such a small number. heddwyn

  6. Forty-two per cent died from confirmed tumours and 11.6 per cent from unconfirmed tumours (in other words cancer was diagnosed but not absolutely confirmed by histopathology). That's a total of 53.6 per cent. Sure, more studies are always needed but the cohort of 174 dogs was statistically significant - recruited via the Flatcoated Retriever Society, incidentally, so these weren't just any old pet-bred flatcoats (just in case anyone tries to argue that they were).

    As for the "10 per cent quote" - yep, not to me direct, but in response to a direct question as suggested by me ("How many flatcoats get cancer?"). Last year, the 10 per cent figure was given to Telegraph vet Pete Wedderburn; this year it was given to a veterinary nurse (and it is on tape, just in case anyone is thinking of disputing it).

    I love flatcoats with a passion. No one deliberately bred them to have cancer and I appreciate that many responsible breeders are doing their level best in difficult circumstances. But until such time that there is another study yielding less depressing figures, I repeat: it is dishonest to play down the extent of cancer in the breed.

    I get two or three enquiries a week to my rescue (which rehomes retriever crosses) from people who have lost a flatcoat to cancer and can't bear the heartache of losing another one prematurely. One family recently had lost THREE - at aged 4, 6 and 7.

  7. How sleazy can you get. Taping, photos. Have you any clue how that person must be feeling, not to mention others who were there this weekend? Well I guess you just don't care.

    Pity you don't have the guts to go and ask them yourself, it doesn't instill trust in someone when they stoop to such devious behavior, not once, but twice. heddwyn

  8. Pure deflection from the point in hand. The correct response, if you'll allow me to guide you, is: "It is wrong that misleading information was given out to a member of the public. It shouldn't have happened. We'll make sure it doesn't next time."

  9. Not at all sleazy, there are a lot of health campaigners asking questions and recording the answers now. If there is nothing to hide then there will be no need to publish the answers

    Why should it be wrong to expect that the pet buying public will be given the true facts?

    The sleaze is surely in those that deliberately deceive a puppy buyer who will love their dog as part of their family.
    All potential owners have the right to know what heartbreak and expense they are taking on when they buy one of these health compromised breeds.

  10. I have had 2 flatcoats die with tumours but they were 13 years old. All dogs die of something! At what age do you consider it acceptable for a dog to die of whatever illness?

  11. My first flattie, Fred, lived until he was 15. That's him on the top right of the blog - the dog on the title page of Pedigree Dogs Exposed.

    Dogs aren't fridges. There are no guarantees. And we all have to die of something. Golden retrievers suffer a lot of cancer, too, but it is in the main an old age cancer. A bit more acceptable - although still awful for both the dogs and their owners of course. I think that if any breed suffers from a breed-specific condition that effects the welfare (and/or longevity) of more than 30 per cent of the breed, then that is unacceptable - and the younger it hits them the more unacceptable it is. But, really, all I'm asking for here is that people are honest.

  12. There are lies, damned lies and statistics. You can make statistics represent anything you like - ask any politican. How many flatcoats die from cancer at an acceptable age. The Flatcoated Retriever Society website does not shy away from health concerns. the poor man you wish to hang draw and quarter is he a breeder, did you ask or should I say did you get your "friend" to query what he is supposed to have said and confirm he was a breeder? When I contacted the litter recorder for the flatcoated retriever society I was given a very comprehensive list of what I should expect from a breeder and indeed all the health concerns relating to the flatcoat. Any person buying a pedigree puppy should get first hand information from the relevant breed society health monitor.

  13. Any owner who loses 3 flatcoats at such young ages should be looking to the environment the dogs are kept in and their feeding/water/exercise regime. Just as there are clusters in human cancers surely it must follow that the same must be true of dogs?

  14. Yes, Margaret, it is a sleazy way of going about things. Do you call the way the 'News of the World' goes about getting it's exposes sleazy? Yes, you do. This was no different. It was a deliberate act to try an catch someone out if they possibly could. To tape and photograph was a premeditated act. Glearly the taping was done secretly, and who knows when the photo was taken.

    Jemima has no thought as to the harm she has caused. Passionate about getting rid cancer in Flatcoats? Ha! I don't hear any compassion for young children dying of cancer. I don't hear anything about having set up a Flatcoat Foundation to research causes.

    Of the some 1500 - 2000 puppies whelped each year, are you really telling me that over 50%, some 750 - 1000 plus, will die young from cancer?

    From where I'm standing, far from trying to passionately cure cancer in the breed, it looks as if Jemima is actively trying to destroy the breed all on her own. heddwyn

  15. I have no problem with anyone exposing breeders that tell lies about the health issues in their breed.
    Their denials mean that dogs suffer. These people deserve to be shown for what they are.

    I found your last comment interesting.
    I gave evidence for the APGAW Report and that sentence illustrates perfectly something I wrote..............

    "There is a prevailing culture within the dog showing and breeding community that actively discourages recognition of health issues within pedigree dogs.

    Successful breeders are those most threatened by buyers knowing about health problems. There is an unspoken rule that inherited health issues should not be acknowledged or discussed because this will ‘ruin the breed’."

  16. We only have your word for it, and secondhand at that, that the man in question gave a misleading answer. Leaflets etc were available on the stand with telephone numbers for the relevant individuals who work tirelessly for the breed out of a genuine love of the flatcoat. Any person wanting a flatcoat would have taken a leaflet and no doubt been able to contact the litter recorder and/or health monitor. The website also has relevant information. If, which I doubt, any quote from the stand was misleading this would have been picked up on by further research by a prospective purchaser. He who never made a mistake never made anything!

  17. So Margaret this guy is a breeder is he? how do you know. I have manned a stand at Discover dogs and spoken to several other people on various stands and guess what they were not breeders. Just ordinary folk enjoying their dogs!

  18. Discover Dogs is promoted by the KC as a way that the public can learn about the different breeds of dogs.

    It is surely the responsibility of the Kennel Club and the breed clubs to make sure that there is at least one knowledgeable person, capable of giving accurate information, manning each booth.

    It would also be sensible to check the information leaflets given out. According to the King Charles Spaniel handouts docking is still optional for both Charlies and Cavaliers?

  19. Doesn't matter who said it. I love dogs, and like Margaret and Jemima we want to see happy healthy dogs. Don't think for a minute we have something against the dogs, when I meet these animals all I see is a beautiful little character in a body so poorly moulded by humans.
    I love Discover Dogs, I wanted to man a stand at Discover Dogs representing Mongrels, you can guess what the KC said to that. I just hate seeing animals suffer.

  20. no the guy in the photo is not a breeder,
    he a pet owner who deeply cares for his dogs,
    his as owned fcr for many years,which his dogs have lived over the age of 11 years old
    at the moment he has a 11 year and a 8 year which has no health problem.
    and a young 3 year old to.
    he enjoys the occasional open show,
    he just loves his dogs and the breed.

  21. We all love our dogs and our breeds.

    When asked about cancer, it would of course have been totally fine to have told the public that although a key study has found a very high rate of cancer, all his own dogs have lived to over the age of 11. That's what I would do too as I haven't personally lost a flatcoat young to cancer and my current eight-year-old is doing fine. But, again, it was not fine to say that the incidence of cancer is 10 per cent when it is so much more. And if he wasn't aware of the true figure, he should have been, both because he was representing the breed on the stand and because the breed club should ensure that all the representatives are well-briefed regarding health on every stand.

  22. Unless anyone has anything new to contribute, comments on this are now closed.

  23. Anonymous 18th Nov 12.06;
    you say "We only have your word for it, and secondhand at that".

    Well it was to me that he said it, so now you have it first hand.

    The reason I asked was because two of my work colleagues lost their rescue flat coat "Fern" to a horrible death of cancer last year (cutaneous histiocytoma). It came on very quickly, starting as weakness and lameness. She was referred to specialists but it was too aggressive and they lost Fern, who was a wonderful beautiful and healthy flat coat one minute and dead the next. They loved the breeds characteristics and nature but were terrified of getting another one because of the memories of what Fern went through.
    It was a simple question from me, a curious member of public. Whether the advice I was given came from a breeder, a vet, or a pet owner is irrelevant.
    The people on the breed stand are there to answer the publics questions simply and honestly.
    If they do not know the answers they should be honest and say so and direct that person to someone on the stand that does, particularly on a subject that is of high concern to the breed. I didn't pick up leaflets etc, but then why should I when I got my answer from a breed representative? What's the point of people being there if they contradict the information on pieces of paper and on the web?
    I was suprised at the low figure quoted, so I came home and checked the club page that says 57%.
    Who do I believe? The advice from discover dogs or the club?
    Maybe next year the breed club will send people who know about the health issues in the breed or advise them that if they cannot answer a question on such an important health matter that they refer that person to someone who does, rather than either lying or making up the answer.

  24. My last comment on this. Kate if you were 'a curious member of the public', why was it necessary to tape the conversation and take photos? Why was Jemima the first person you ran to with this and not the FCRS? Her own posts suggest she had asked someone to do this.

    Jemima, the reason people were angry with you last year, and I would think this year - I know I am and I wasn't even at DD, is because instead of going to the FCRS and/or the people involved with the DD stand, you made it a public, world wide 'event'. As I've said before elsewhere, your job is journalism and sensation, and you've certainly achieved that!

    Most of the people I know who have Flatcoated Retrievers are very serious about their health and do not, as many seem to think, brush health issues off as trivial! heddwyn

  25. I did not tape any conversation with this man.
    I did on the day ask lots of questions to lots of different breed representatives. I also took lots of photos, like this one, of different dogs.
    I also took pictures of other trade stands, police dogs, PAT dogs, dogs being groomed by the young KC.
    I didn't "run" to anyone. I queried something with someone I know is passionate about the health of all pedigree dogs.

  26. As much as the KC and breed clubs would like the most perfect specimen of a breed on show at discover dogs i'm sure you Jemima understand the commitment, time and energy required to man a stand which some of us can ill afford in this current climate. As with dog showing one has to be selective nowadays in which shows to enter as the financial aspect has to come into the equation.
    So my comment is that with all the will in the world you may not have come across the 'perfect specimin' (if there is one but we try) at Earls Court and i'm sure many breed clubs were grateful for the time and effort put in by their representatives on that day regardless that it wasn't a 'perfect specimin of the breed' on their stand but no doubt still a very much loved dog which i would have thought was a better profile for the public!
    On my particular breed stand i know the representative was somebody that rescued this breed and is extremely knowledgable on the downsides but is very informed on the good side and can give a very impartial intelligent view.
    Just some points to consider, as a reporter you do seem to go right for the jugular and nothing is as good to read as an informed, unbiased, thought provoking, factual report which i think would be read with much better interest.

  27. So sad, and so true about Flat coats and cancer! My flattie died at 10 of osteosarcoma, and her dad died at age 4! Since then I've met a few flattie owners who's dogs died of cancer around the age of 6. I wonder what the stats are like for flatties in different countries?

  28. I've just checked the Flatcoated Retriever on the Dog Breed Health website. I was surprised to find no mention of the prevalence of cancer within the breed. Whilst it does mention cancer, there's no clarification of the percentage incidence.

    That's not a criticism of Carol; it's just something that I would really want to know about before I got a Flatcoat.

  29. I have just lost my beautiful 5 year old liver Flatcoat on the road, yesterday. But two years ago he had to be treated at our local University Veterinarians for a sarcoma on his leg which grew very rapidly. The tests came back as non-malignant, but the vets asserted to us that the cancer rate is 'high' in flatcoats, so we certainly had a few worrying days until the report came back. Having chanced upon this page today, I shall now try to console myself that quick is better than cancer.