Wednesday News Bites

by Mary Haight on March 12, 2009

"Mascoutah Kennel Club dog show. Dogs fro...
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I don’t know about you, but it seems to me I’m always playing “catch up” with the news out there, and just when I think I’m going to review one thing, another pops up!  Case in point, ABC’s Nightline had a great follow up tonight for recent report on this blog on the horrific impact in-breeding practices have had on a wide range of dog breeds.

Westminster is the show piece for a multi-billion dollar industry the report relates, and while the owners love it, the reporter questions: is it good for the dogs? Breeders are circling the wagons by not taking interviews knowing the question being asked of them is now, “Are you harming the dogs.”  A “parade of mutants”  is how Mark Evans, Chief Vet of the RSPCA  characterizes Crufts.  James Serpell, University of Pennsylvania professor, remarks that charateristics of the bulldog from the 19th century to the 21st is shockingly different. The photos were remarkable, and are available on the video link at the end of this report.

Jemma Harrison, producer and director of “Pedigree Dogs Exposed”, the persona non grata of the dog breeding world, was the pariah of Crufts, and the Kennel Club for her BBC documentary that let loose the hounds of hell on the Kennel Club standards, the breeders who feed that standard, and the judges that adhere to it.  Examples: bulldogs can’t procreate on their own and must be artificially inseminated and given c-sections, boxers with genetic abnormalities causing seizures, male dalmatians that can’t urinate properly due to a stone forming disease.  See Harrison’s  report as she attends Crufts incognito.

When the American Kennel Club was asked for an interview, they refused when they found who else was being interviewed for the Nightline segment.  Terrierman, aka Patrick Burns, a blogger of repute, and the subject of AKC’s snit,  was interviewed reporting that most of the breeds can’t carry on their traditional functions anymore–hunting game and birds, etc.–and if they are now only pets, then health must be the number one goal in breeding.  And it seems clear that the standard of “health first” is being subjugated by show ring standards concerned only with exaggerated conformation preferences.

Burns relates that genetic diseases that have risen to the fore from inbreeding are creating sick dogs, who also can’t breathe as their snouts have all but disappeared into their faces in search of the “perfect profile” demanded by show  standards.  This misguided standard is likened to the eugenics practiced in Hitler’s regime.  The Nightline moderator ended the segment with a pointed comment: “Competition above all else.”  See the whole video segment and breed photo comparisons at abcnews.com. Select “Best In Show”.

In other news, a phased ban on cosmetics and cosmetic testing on animals begins this month throughout Europe, although is complicated by the phrase “where non-animal alternatives are available.” For the  full story, visit animalblog.

Martha Stewart lost her Chow Genghis Khan in the propane accident at a Pennsylvania Kennel in which 17 dogs were killed, 14 survived at last count.

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