Tuesday, 7 June 2011

New Chair of the Kennel Club...

...is Steve Dean, a not entirely unexpected choice.

As detailed in today's announcement from the Kennel Club, Dean is a long-time KC member and General Committee member - and also a breeder, exhibitor and judge of Border Terriers. He trained as a vet (although no longer practices other than as a show vet for the Kennel Club). He also has another big job as Chief Executive of the UK's Veterinary Medicines Directorate, which is currently receiving flak for refusing to recommend a three-year-vaccination schedule for dogs (for the core vaccines). This despite a good deal of evidence that yearly vaccination exposes your dog to an unnecessary risk of an adverse drug reaction (albeit a much smaller risk than the internet hysteria suggests) and may serve no purpose other than lining vets' pockets. 

This controversy aside, Dean must seem a sensible choice given the increased scrutiny of pedigree dogs by the veterinary profession and no doubt his appointment will help in the KC's dealings with vets, hopefully not just as a more effective smokescreen.

Dean's utterings regarding health since Pedigree Dogs Exposed, as evidenced mainly in his weekly column for Dog World, have been somewhat schizophrenic. On the one hand we have comments like this:

"Having established why the opinions against pedigree dogs are flawed, we should remember negative media comment exists largely to give the crusader and pressure group a public profile and a political platform."

(Yep, obviously, it couldn't possibly be because there is, you know, actually a problem.)

On the other hand, here have been times in the past year that Dean has sounded more robust regarding health, and he was particulary strong recently regarding the show world's acceptance of lameness and poor eyes (see this post on Dean last November.)

It is significant in these post-PDE times that Dean's quotes in the KC press release are entirely focused on health and welfare.   

"I am honoured to be elected as Chairman of the Kennel Club and to be given the opportunity to help improve the lives of dogs by ensuring that they live healthily and happily with responsible owners," he says. “I am aware of the scale of some of the challenges that we face but am excited about the opportunities that exist to help us make a real difference for dogs. I look forward to supporting and working with the millions of responsible dog breeders and owners that there are in this country, and to standing shoulder to shoulder with vets and other individuals and organisations, who are dedicated to improving the health and welfare of dogs.”

Dean's appointment certainly won't please the Elnett Revolutionists (breeders who have demanded the right to L'Orealise their dogs with conditioner, lacquer and chalk).  By all accounts, he doesn't have much time for this and, at the KC's recent AGM, Dean strongly countered claims by the Poodlists of the torture their poor dogs had to endure at the hands of a fine toothed-comb being used to extract some of the sticky muck from their coats for laboratory testing. 

Of course, it's hard for me to forget that, after Pedigree Dogs Exposed, Dean went round telling people that we had withheld medication from Zak the boxer in PDE to get him to fit for our cameras.  Totally untrue, and when I emailed to tell him so, he was unapologetic and churlish in reply.

Bottom line, and despite those veterinary qualifications that some may feel are a reason for optimism, Dean has been with the Kennel Club a long time and is part of two Establishments (the KC and the veterinary profession) that have turned a blind eye to the problems for too long.  Will he now step up to the mark?

I hope to be pleasantly surprised.


  1. Dont hold your breath !

  2. Would that be the same Zak the Boxer that it was said in the programme had fits everyday and then you had to correct when the owner pointed out he didnt? if that is the case and why not include that in this post or do you just want to bee seen as once sided and not able to make errors but only to point out those of others, if this doesnt appear I will know just how you want to be seen

  3. Always happy to admit and apologise for mistkes, Anon. However, the original UK programme actually said nothing at all about the frequency of Zak's seizures - it simply showed him seizing. After the programme went out, it became apparent that some people assumed he had seizures like that every day and a couple of people questioned his owner Joan's wisdom in not having Zak PTS - something she found upsetting. We took the opportunity, then, to clarify in the international version that followed that Zak's seizures occur once a month. In fact, he suffers from cluster seizures and can have a dozen or more fits in a 24-hr period (I think 19 in one day is the awful record). The good news is that for the rest of the month, Zak is OK, so he does have a reasonable quality of life - and he is much-loved by Joan. I'm pleased to report that Zak's epilepsy is now under better control, although the medication costs a small fortune. We may film him for the sequel, Joan willing.

  4. Glad Zak's seizures are under control, poor dog. Hope Joan and family are coping ok. Living with an epileptic dog is so heartbreaking.
    Anon your worry over figures is quite disgusting. A seizure is a seizure.

  5. Jemima,

    I am glad that your stance continues. The majority support you and I feel that PDE was the catalyst for change. Yes some of the Establishment will try to knock you back (and many dinosaur Breeders) but it will be worth it!

    We must do more for dogs and put HEALTH back into the ethos of breeding. Show dogs are not the best examples of any breed. They are merely what some do well with and that 'type' is promoted for 'Ego'purposes.

    Good luck to you.

  6. jo siemieniowski8 June 2011 at 07:34

    thanks for clarifiying Zak,s condition Jemima, and as you know i would never dream of witholding Zaks medication, both my dogs mean the world to me, and I would never do anything to harm or hurt them, and yes your right about the cost of his monthly meds, they have no gone up to a staggering £229,00 a month, and as he is only insured for £2.000 a year i have to find in the region of £800 a year to cover the cost, I never imagined when i insured my dogs for just £2,00 that they would have an illness that would cost so much,(a lesson learned !)

  7. More importance & attention should be given towards pet Insurance, this will help lot of people to change their attitude towards pets.

  8. I find it very worrying that such a biased blog can influence so many people. Just give Steve Dean a chance to HELP US ALL continue to improve the health of our dogs. It would be good if you mentioned more about the positive steps that research vets are taking in investigating horrible problems that our dogs can suffer with and the fact that many, many show breeders have the health and welfare of our dogs as paramount aim. And yes, I am a breeder and proud to be counted as such.

  9. jo siemieniowski10 June 2011 at 11:29

    I honestly feel that vets also take advantage of pet owners who have insurance, the second you see a vet they always ask,"is your dog insured" and I have been told that once they know a pet is insured they "up the price a touch" this was told to me by a veterinary nurse who used to work at my previous vets, but I do agree that all pets should be insured, and for as much as you can afford, i fell foul to this thinking £2.000 a year was a decent enough price, I now wish i had gone for the more expensive option of £5.000 for the year. as veterinary cost have catapulted over the last year.

  10. Steve Dean is a company man through and through.He is 60 going on about 80. There will be no modernization of this archaic Club under his chairmanship unless I am very much mistaken. Such is the apathy at the KC that for two years running no voting has been needed for Committee places. Do not expect any great health reforms or adjusting of breed standards. Steve may be for coat testing ( he is ) but is he against all the other ridiculous trimming and primping that goes on, the obsessive brushing that many coated breeds have to endure even in the ring ? Steve won't be upsetting that particular apple cart! One has only to read between the lines of his statement in this week's Dog Papers to see that any changes will be slow and grinding and only when pushed. We have the self serving Kennel Club we deserve but which dogs do not. The K.C. is all about £££££s whatever lip service they pay to health and welfare. The wrong man got the job voted in by committee members ( average age 65 ish ) with no foresight whatsoever. The Status Quo at the Kennel Club will remain unchanged............until the ship sinks!

    Clarges St. what is it for??? For making money from dogs.

  11. jo siemieniowski20 June 2011 at 07:54

    For the attention of Steve Dean (if he bothers to read this) first of all I am NOT A LIAR! you claim that I witheld drugs from Zak during the filming of P.D.E. I have NEVER and would,nt do such a terrible thing, and i have said this many, many times,and being a trained vet you should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking this, at the time of filming my vets had little sucess with the drugs they were treating him with because his fits were so bad, he was on 7 phenobarbitone,(60mg) 4 bromide(375mg) and also 6 diazipan (10mg) these were having very little affect on him so I then scoured the internet for anything to do with Epilepsy, I was lucky enough to find Dr Clare Rusbridge, and after consultation she prescribed Keppra, he started to take the keppra a couple of days after i filmed him, and the Diazipam was phased out.It has come to the point where i am sick of the comments you and a few others have claimed re witholding his medication, so if you would like to say this again them im sure a court of law will finish this slander once and for all.

  12. Jo, the slur was intended against us, the film-makers, not you. Apparently WE persuaded you to stop Zak's medicaton so he would fit for our cameras. Another version of the story out there is that we made Zak seize by shining bright lights on him.

    As you and I both know, we provided you with a small camera so you could film Zak yourself as we didn't think it was appopriate for us to be there with a film crew when he was fitting.

    That we took such care in this instance makes the gossip particularly infuriating.


  13. Just reading this after posting earlier about the comments made reguarding you with holding meds. I also have an epileptic dog and to be accused of that would infuriate me, as Im sure it did you, epilepsy is such a terrible disease to deal with. I am pleased ZaK epilepsy is now more controlled. My dog is also on epiphe, bromide, keppra and we have just added zonisamide (even more expensive than keppra!!) Luckily Jed is insured, his meds are going to cost nearly £400 a month, and thats getting the newest 2 from the pharmacy, not the vets. He have a limit of £4000 a year so yes we will probably also have a shortfall.

    Jemima if this comment doesnt get posted maybe you could pass on my wishes privately instead, thanks.