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We Must Stand Together

Those of us who enjoy the avocation of owning, breeding and showing purebred dogs may never again hear a more pressing message than this: we must stand together and not allow internal battles to divide us, or we are destined to lose our war against animal rights extremists. If we stand united, we can fight anything; if we allow arguments to divide us from our kennel clubs and our peers in the sport of dogs, we will not be strong enough to stand against those who want to take away our right to breed and show dogs.

The words we must keep at the forefront of our minds were used by American revolutionary Patrick Henry, in a speech given in 1799: “United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.” Henry was talking about nothing short of the existence of the United States of America, but the words are just as applicable today to the place in which we find ourselves when situations, such as the one at Crufts this past weekend, occur.

As many readers know, the Kennel Club in England imposed a new rule for a few specific shows in the U.K. requiring that certain breeds – those they’ve determined have health issues that need to be monitored and corrected – be examined and “passed” by a veterinarian before being allowed to compete at the Group level. The first time the rule was implemented, of course, was at Crufts 2012, and we understand that the uproar caused by six dogs not being allowed to go on to the Group is being “heard ‘round the world.”

Judging just from the responses posted on Best In Show Daily, to say that this has brought out raw emotion in fanciers is to put it mildly. The dismay and anger aimed at the Kennel Club are understandable. We sympathize with the defensive responses from people involved with the breeds in question. It seems that the way the examinations were conducted and the veterinarians appointed to perform them had little to do with the reality of the health concerns for the breeds in question.

The Kennel Club must be called on to develop a legitimate method for conducting these examinations. But the point of this article is not to argue that; rather it is to remind everyone that we must respond to these problems reasonably and calmly so that together we can confront the issues that face our dogs and our sport to find sensible, workable solutions.

The strategy of “divide and conquer,” sometimes also called “divide and rule,” has been used throughout history, when one power would systematically break an opposing power into smaller groups that would then be easier to conquer. PETA is a very powerful and wealthy organization with a carefully planned long-term strategy, not only to end hobby breeding and the showing of dogs, but to end pet ownership as we know it.

PETA and the other extreme animal rights groups want sensible people like you and me to argue over things like what happened at Crufts this past weekend. They want us to refuse to go back to Crufts, to refuse to support the Kennel Club in England, and then eventually the American Kennel Club as well. They want us to threaten to go off on our own, thinking that each of us can breed dogs and keep dogs the way we want to breed and keep them.

We must not succumb to this tactic. We have to stay in the fight…this is not a call to do anything less than that.

But let’s work together to get the message out that we know that many of our breeds are facing genetic disease and disorders that threaten their well-being. Instead of being defensive, let’s vow to approach people who don’t understand the problems in our breeds in a reasonable way, to let them know that, above all, we live with and love our dogs and want them to be healthy. Let’s vow to continue, personally and through our parent clubs, to fund research and support genetic testing that will one day help eradicate these problems. Let’s vow to face these issues head on and be the first to honestly say that we’re doing everything we can to solve them. Let’s vow to do all of the necessary health testing that will allow us to breed only the healthiest dogs to other healthy dogs. Let’s vow to be part of the solution by helping to educate the public about what we’re doing to make the world better for all dogs.

Further, let’s work together to support our kennel clubs, to make them stronger, so that together we can fight the animal rights extremists. Let’s offer reasonable methods by which the Kennel Club in England can implement its “high profile breeds” examinations using orthopedic specialists, veterinary ophthalmologists, specialists who have experience and knowledge regarding upper airway syndrome, and other veterinarians who can genuinely make a statement that the dogs they are examining are free from – or, if necessary, continue to suffer from – these conditions that we want to eradicate in our breeds.

I know – we all know – that it will not be as easy as this sounds. The point here is that we can’t allow ourselves to be divided. The kennel clubs and our fellow breeders are not the enemy. Division is the enemy of our future success. Let’s vow to work together to fight those who want to take our beloved dogs away from us.

Like the commitment required of the revolutionaries in the young United States of America more than 200 years ago, the existence of our world of showing dogs will ultimately hang on our commitment to not allow disagreements to divide us.

English Dog World magazine reported the following on its website on Tuesday:

“DOG SHOW exhibitors and breeders unhappy with the way the Kennel Club’s health checks on the 15 so-called high-profile breeds were handled at Crufts will attend a meeting in the Midlands on Thursday evening.

“As the result of a Facebook campaign called ‘Exhibitors Voice and Choice,’ launched on Sunday night, a meeting has been arranged to let exhibitors sound off about what happened at Crufts when six breeds were banned from competing for the group after failing the newly-introduced veterinary checks after winning best of breed.

“The meeting is set to take place from 6 pm on Thursday in the Britannia Suite at the National Motorcycle Museum located close to the NEC where Crufts took place. The announcement on the Facebook group says the meeting will ‘discuss the implications of the health checks carried out at Crufts and arrive at some conclusions which would be forwarded to the KC.’

“Andrew Brace says of the group: ‘Everyone who is passionate about our sport is requested to attend – regardless of what breed you have. This affects everyone.’

“Emotions on the Facebook group are running high, with some commentators particularly upset that some of the UK’s most experienced and well-respected judges had their decisions overturned.”

Written by

Christi McDonald is a second-generation dog person, raised with a kennel full of Cairn Terriers. After more than a decade as a professional handler’s apprentice and handling professionally on her own, primarily Poodles and Cairns, she landed a fortuitous position in advertising sales with the monthly all-breed magazine ShowSight. This led to an 11-year run at Dogs in Review, where she wore several hats, including advertising sales rep, ad sales manager and, finally, editor for five years. Christi is proud to be part of the editorial team for the cutting-edge Best In Show Daily. She lives in Apex, N.C., with two homebred black Toy Poodles, the last of her Foxfire line, and a Norwich Terrier.
  • Leonore March 14, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    either the order of the exams needs to be changed – vet exams before breed judging (quite possibly impractical given the huge entry) OR health clearances need to be required to enter Crufts at all.

    it has been suggested on one list that in the US, Eukanuba and Westminster would be well advised to do the same thing.

  • Candace Ware March 14, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    Are you insane? Join the KC in fighting AR extremism?? The KC is entirely under the THUMB of AR extremism, and has been ever since they began groping for whatever slimey bone would shut Jemima Harrison up.

    All you have to do to see the truth of that is to take a gander at the even LONGER list of targeted breeds to be laid on the sacrificial alter for the coming year and Crufts 2013!

    If rotten cyber-tomatoes are not whizzing past your ears as I type this, there is something very, very wrong. Your bend-over appeasement strategies have failed. You have needlessly and unfairly thrown some breeds under the bus to “save” others. And what are half of you advocating as a solution? Making ALL breeds subject to the ridiculousness!

    The KC continues to blindly and ignorantly *cooperate with* the agents of the imminent DEMISE of the purebred dog. Thanks to your cowardice, the ship is going down. Those who sit around on deck, playing the same old tune as they slip beneath the waves, deserve whatever they get.

    Those who prefer a different outcome — I hear there’s a great meeting coming up tomorrow night. BE THERE.

  • Robin March 14, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    I completely agree in the concept of “united we stand and divided we fall”. Several people declared there should be a boycott on Crufts. My reply to those I saw advocating boycott was to advise if a boycott was to take place the AR’s definitely win. Since their agenda is to put an end to dog shows, breeding, and ultimately companion animals .

    It would seem, the KC was determined to divide exhibitors, breeders and judges on an international level in choosing to bow to the AR’s when they decided to perform the health check AFTER the judge had made his Best of Breed decision. I am not opposed to the health check provided it is performed by a qualified specialist. However, health checks should have been performed PRIOR to any judging taking place. Nor should documentation provided by an exhibitor/breeder from a qualified veterinarian be ignored. I believe had it been done in this manner, there would not have been such an uproar in the dog community..

    A judges decision should never be tossed out akin to yesterdays trash, embarrassing the exhibitor/breeder and judge on an international level. Hiring judges for future Crufts and other shows for breeds on the KC’s “hit” list will be a challenge. No judge wants to have his/her decision undermined AFTER Best of Breed has been awarded. No matter how prestigious the show, If I were a judge I would not willingly accept such an assignment..

  • Kayla March 14, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Thank you Christi for the right call to action!

  • Liz Thornton March 14, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    i understand the Kennel Club Committee is holding an urgent meeting at 6pm tomorrow on this subject – lets watch this space……

  • Tom Barrie March 14, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    Good article, Christy! I think the point would be made even stronger had you used Dennis Sprung’s response to the issue.

    In his message to AKC senior Staff, he said, “. . . assure and share with everyone that AKC will NEVER allow any such practice to occur. Our Parent Clubs own their respective standard and we support them 100 percent. Furthermore a Judges’ decision is final and we respect that as well. The situation is a very disappointing one here from the point of view of breeders, exhibitors and judges and fanciers from around the world. In summary while our PCs have a right to be upset and concerned I will never allow this wrongful practice in America. Never!!! Dennis”

    Does that mean pressure will not be brought to bear by PETA and the ARists? We can count on them continuing to push. But breeders, judges and exhibitors in the US have a powerful ally in the AKC.

  • Doreen Gordin March 14, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    I do not feel that to have a Vet examine a dog after it has won BOB is called for unless the dog is ill where it needs A Doctor. When the Judge has picked his BOB winner that should be final . First of all A Vet will be looking for different problems such as clipper burns or a infection such as an ear or any place else a dog can get an infection. That is just an example of what any Vet could look for . But a Judge is looking for conformation , movement ,Correct markings and attude in that Breed .We as Judges can not see or no what health issues that a dog may have nor do we have that right to make that decision , I also feel that a Vet can not make the decision as to the conformation of that dog after it has been Judged by a a Judged who was hired to do his Job as a expert in his field . If this be the case what oppion do we respect as I believe the Judge should have some say so as to what happened and why he disagrees as to the Vets oppion

  • Geneva Coats March 14, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    I disagree with the premise of this article. The Kennel Club is wrong to interject veterinary exams into dog shows and the dog world must NOT support such wrong-headed ideas. If that is interpreted as “division” then said division was already set into motion when the Kennel Club pandered to the AR crowd.
    You don’t compromise with terrorists who have nothing to lose. You just say no to them.

    • Christi McDonald
      Christi March 15, 2012 at 11:05 AM

      When we separate ourselves from the sports’ governing bodies instead of working to right the wrongs in the system, THAT is when we pander to the animal rights extremists. And as I’ve said previously, PETA and the other AR groups know that, and do everything they can to divide us. Looks like it’s working with some of our fellow fanciers.

      • Geneva Coats March 16, 2012 at 10:34 PM

        Sorry but the Kennel Club has sold out their membership by pandering to the people who believe that the rights of animals are more important than the rights of humans. The Kennel Club no longer deserves to be regarded as a leading body for anything. Individual breed clubs would do better to forge ahead on their own than let the Kennel Club sell them down the river.

  • Cathy Hewitt March 15, 2012 at 2:45 AM

    I think it is a little too late, The KC have already shown exhibitors it’s standing as regard the extremist. Gave them plenty of fuel. The KC has made a lot of upset and humiliation for all involved. The vet check approach was not properly thought through. Quite clearly the vet was asked to fail certain breeds so that they would not be showcased in the groups on national television. I think the message that has gone out to all exhibitors, breeders and dog fanciers is that the KC would rather make a spectical of us all than stand up for us. A sad sad day indeed. To unite with the kennel club and support them after letting us all down will be very hard to do.

    All of us want healthy dogs, we live breathe and die dogs. Current health tests are being carried out on our breeding dogs to eradicate the unfortunate genectic faults. Nobody wants to breed unhealthy animals. We need to educate the public what these health tests are and the costs involved so they can make an informed decision on what pet breed they would like and go to reputable breeders to buy. They may have to pay a little more to cover costs of tests but well worth it in the long run.

    Come on KC give us your support we have been supporting you for years and now it’s your turn

  • Bev March 15, 2012 at 7:23 AM

    Once again vets are coming to the forefront to tell us what we an and cannot do with our breed. Tail docking, ear cropping, whether or not you are in favor of this for your own reasons, breeders do have reasons for docking tails that have NOTHING to do with appearance but FUNCTION. They are slipping into our dog world here in Canada, one province at a time, starting with Nova Scotia, New Brunswick. Places with smaller populations and breeders and they do so sneakily so by the time you realize what they are doing they have slipped a sentence into the bill that goes unnoticed by most.. Breeders need to be vigilant. PETA should target the puppy mills and mass production enterprises and PROTECT the animals, not eliminate dogs etc from our household. If PETA spent more money on ‘NO KIll” shelters then more dogs would be saved.

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