Editor's Page

Pedigree Pulls Out An Ominous Sign

The latest development in the fallout from the BBC program, “Pedigree Dogs Exposed,” which aired in the U.K. in August, does not bode well for our sport, or for purebred dogs. Alarming as it was to learn that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the Dogs Trust had withdrawn their support from Crufts, the news on Oct. 24 that Pedigree, after an alliance of more than 40 years with the Crufts dog show, has withdrawn its support in the amount of £1.5 million is astounding... and frankly leaves a distinct sense of foreboding.

If it was not evident previously, the sheer magnitude of what has happened since the program aired must make any normal person wonder how and why this is happening, and in the end must lead to the same conclusion that many have drawn — that the animal rights organizations are behind this. The following was reported on Oct. 25 in the Times online, website of the London paper: “After a BBC documentary that high-lighted the genetic side-effects of unhealthy breeding, there was concern that the brand was being tainted by association with the show. The decision follows the furor over claims that the show promoted breeding methods that encouraged deformities and disease in animals.”

The Kennel Club reacted quickly to the negative fallout from the BBC program by initiating a complete review of every breed in the U.K., with plans to revise breed standards where necessary and to create a health plan for each of the 209 breeds recognized in Britain. The first of the revised standards has already been released, and the KC has also asked the government for statutory powers to enable it to “clamp down on breeders who fail to make a dog’s health their top priority.” (See “News,” page 22 in this issue.) Experts in the canine world, even those who are not supporters of the Kennel Club, expressed surprise that Pedigree chose this point in time to make this announcement. Beverley Cuddy, editor of the magazine Dogs Today and a longstanding critic of the Kennel Club, was quoted in the Times as saying: “I think it is sad in a way that it’s come at a time when the Kennel Club was trying to tackle the problems. But it is a dramatic reversal and could be the knockout blow for the show.” The Kennel Club says that Crufts, just four months away, will go ahead as planned.

What does this mean for us in the U.S.? There is no way to predict exactly, but it is certain that what is happening in Great Britain in regard to purebred dogs will not be kept away from our shores for long. As I’ve said in previous columns, the goal of the animal rights organizations is to divide and conquer, and they have now succeeded magnificently in Great Britain in engineering several great divides. We have to remain aware, and I am sure AKC is monitoring this situation and making plans.

We have devoted much of this issue to the International dog show scene, with an expanded “World in Review” section as well as a look at how dog shows operate differently around the world. DR of course covers the sport worldwide every month, but we plan to expand our international coverage in our December issue in particular in years to come.

And in this issue we’re saying so long for now to Kate Eldredge our Junior Showmanship columnist, as she turns 18 and ages out in December. I hope she’ll come back now and then to write for us on other topics, since she will of course be continuing to show her dogs in conformation, and she’ll also be breeding Tervurens as well as competing in obedience and agility. We wish her the very best of luck!
Be sure to vote for the Winkies® for Annual Achievement, between pages 32-33.

            Christi McDonald, Editor


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