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Wednesday, 11 April 2012 09:27

New group formed following health check concern

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ONLY SIX days after the original concept of a new voice for breeders, exhibitors and judges was launched on Facebook pages, the Canine Alliance was born out of apparent frustration and concern over the way in which the Kennel Club has started implementing the veterinary health checks at shows.

Canine Alliance calls for equal treatment

ONLY SIX days after the original concept of a new voice for breeders, exhibitors and judges was launched on Facebook pages, the Canine Alliance was born out of apparent frustration and concern over the way in which the Kennel Club has started implementing the veterinary health checks at shows.

The Facebook campaign originally called for something to be done and soon resulted in a meeting last week at the National Motorcycle Museum just a short distance from the NEC. On a grey Thursday evening 320 concerned breeders and exhibitors attended an open meeting to address the concerns, many of which had spilled over onto the internet during and after Crufts show.

Thanking everyone for their attendance in his opening address, Mr Andrew Brace invited Mr Mike Gadsby to speak. Mike then listed the principal concerns which had prompted such drastic action. Central to these was the simple fact that all breeds should be treated equally; the allegedly robust approach to the health-check process by the vets and the undermining of the whole judging process.

Mr Brace emphasised that everyone in the room was committed to the need for healthy dogs; that was not an issue. A count of raised hands also confirmed that there were 61 Kennel Club members in the audience and 101 members of the KC Assured Breeder Scheme. By the end of the meeting this was down to 100 after the public resignation of Pug breeder Dan O'Connor. Handing over the chair to Mr Martin Wyles, Andrew Brace said that he was grateful for his help and for that of the scribes who had volunteered to take minutes for the record.
Mike Gadsby said that it was totally unfair for just the fifteen KC designated high profile breeds to be targeted this way. It was, he said, a matter for ALL breeds and the way in which it was done was without empathy or concern for exhibitors or judges.

The system was, said several KC members, the subject of a presentation at group judges' meetings. Those who attended them were told by the Kennel Club chairman Professor Steve Dean BVet.Med MRCVS not to worry about the appointment of independent vets at Crufts 2012. He implied that their examination of Best of Breeds would be cursory and that the Kennel Club must be seen to be doing what was needed to monitor the so-called 'high profile' breeds. It has been noted by OUR DOGS that words such as 'obvious clinical problems only', 'vets were to be vets not judges' and that there was 'nothing to fear' were used in these presentations. One senior KC member expressed concern about the same approach being implemented at forthcoming shows in the Spring of this year.
Clear cut case
With hands punching the air around the room, Mr Howard Ogden addressed the meeting introducing himself as a Griffon exhibitor and, in his professional life, a solicitor. It was, he said, a clear-cut case. In his view any regulation that was devoid of an appeal process was contrary to natural justice - something which a court judge would sustain. It would simply be deemed unfair. He also pointed out that he felt that the KC was in direct contravention of its own Crufts show regulation 29a(1) which gives no provision for other than a 'General and Group Championship Show Veterinary Surgeon' to check the dogs.
It was clear, said Mr Ogden, that the Crufts team was NOT used. After an appeal in the veterinary press two out the three applicants who applied were approved. By whom we do not know, but we assume that members of the KC General Committee (or the KC Finance and General Purposes) must take collective responsibility. 
Mr Ogden continued with a list of other points: the KC Secretary had implied on TV that no scopes or instruments of any sort would be used - they were used according to Mr Ogden; that the examinations were not consistent with what had been implied; more importantly in his view he said a dog or bitch having been judged BOB at Crufts was suddenly denied and therefore suffered a loss of status. This loss was transferred to the owner who was then denied the chance of competing in the group.

The least the KC should do, said Mr Ogden, was to restore the six BOBs, thank the owners for participating in the pilot scheme, offer them an ex-gratia payment of between £500 and £1000 and ensure the immediate suspension of testing in its present form.
Breeders and exhibitors
As the applause subsided he concluded by pointing out that a breathing space would enable the KC to get it right and allow the exhibitors to repair their reputations which had been impugned. It was also pointed out to the meeting that the owner of the Clumber Spaniel which had subsequently been given a clean bill of health, may well be minded to pursue legal action.

At different times during the meeting the owners of the Basset Hound BOB, Mr & Mrs Storton, claimed  they had been treated in an insensitive way despite being members of the KC's very own Assured Breeder Scheme for the last 18 months. 'Such tests after a dog has been judged makes a mockery of the judging system', said one member of the assembly.

In a similar vein the Crufts Clumber judge elect for 2013 Mrs Maureen Taylor told the meeting, to gasps of amazement, that she had been told by a leading eye specialist that under the current Breed Watch definitions NO Clumber in the show ring today would have passed the veterinary health check! Her husband Mr Tony Taylor, said that he and so many others felt 'insulted' by the way the KC had treated the breed. 'We are the victims of a runaway PR train', said another member of the audience. 'This has not been thought through.'

'The time had come', said the chairman Mr Wyles, 'to formulate a proposal' and he asked Mr Ogden for a precise wording. Speaking as the 2012 judge of Shar Pei Mrs Joy Bradley felt strongly that if any proposal was to be put forward that it should take in all breeds and be non-discriminatory. Once more in the meeting there were murmurs of 'fifteen breeds this time how many next year?'
Steering group elected
Taking the microphone, Andrew Brace announced that donations on the night had amounted to £4570 and that over £1500 had been sent to them by PayPal by those who were unable to attend. 'It was', he said, 'a measure of the strength of feeling' over the whole matter.

After further discussion the wording of the proposal which had already been framed by Mr Ogden at the start of the evening was agreed.

Some comments regarding the size of any Steering Committee were superfluous, as all 14 people who allowed their names to go forward were elected en bloc.In just under four hours the strength of feeling in the room had prompted the birth of the Canine Alliance: responsible for pedigree dogs. The Steering Committee comprises, Mr Andrew Brace, Mrs Joy Bradley, Lisa Croft-Elliott, Mr Phil Freer, Mr Mike Gadsby, Mr Steve Hall, Mr Robert Harlow (sec), Mr Stuart Mallard, Mr Howard Ogden, Ms Dianna Spavin, Mr Tony Taylor, Mrs Susan Whitehead, Mr Sigurd Wilberg, Mr Martin Wyles.
Specific proposal agreed
Those present voted to invite the Kennel Club:

i) To suspend the high-profile breed veterinary checks
ii) To agree that, on the available evidence from Crufts, the existing system is flawed
iii) Not to re-introduce the checks until they are transparent, there is clarity and fairness, and they are non-discriminatory
It was also suggested that the Canine Alliance and the Kennel Club should meet at the earliest opportunity to discuss and agree any mutual interest which would benefit the two organisations.

Read 254 times Last modified on Monday, 12 September 2016 10:34

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