Wednesday, February 11, 2009

You Can Run, But You Can't Hide

So, yeah, great – a Sussex spaniel won the Westminster Best in Show (no, that's not him above), but all I can think about is that horrific BBC documentary about selective dog breeding called "Pedigree Dogs Exposed" that aired late last year in the U.K. (I posted it here.) The revelations of that exposé were so disturbing, the world's largest dog show, Crufts (also in the U.K.), lost the endorsements of one of its primary sponsors (Pedigree), the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), and the U.K.'s top veterinary charity (PDSA) and dog-welfare charity (Dogs Trust).

Watch the 59-minute documentary here.

The New York Times has a nice little slide show of Westminster's big night, but no mention of a new 76-page report released this week by the RSPCA (hot on the heels of the BBC documentary) called Pedigree dog breeding in the UK: a major welfare concern?, an independent scientific report with serious academic and professional credentials that addresses "the impact of traditional selective breeding practices on pedigree dog welfare." The AKC, I would imagine, is doing its best to will the thing away.

You can read the report summary or the full document here.

One noted passage:
Potential pet owners often choose to purchase a pedigree registered dog as they see this as an indication of the quality of the dog, and many base their choice on the breed's physical appearance. Therefore trends in the show-dog breeding community have major implications for the domestic dog population at large, and decisions made by a minority of breeders have considerable repercussions for the pet-owning public.
Especially when those same dog breeders are breeding genetic defects and deformities into their animals purely for "breed standard" physical characteristics.

If you love dogs and care about their welfare, read the document, watch the documentary. Education is everything.

Read more here on Lassie, Get Help.

photo for The New York Times by Barton Silverman

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