Crufts, The Kennel Club and Puppy Farming
I always have a nauseating feeling when it’s time for Crufts. I have several friends who enjoy going along for the shopping, the show, the agility, the total immersion in a love we all share – dogs. But, I can’t get past what I know about the significant part the Kennel Club plays in puppy farming and how it directly profits from it, to even vaguely enjoy any of the better sides of what is just a big dog show.
If you’re unclear on how the Kennel Club makes money from puppy farmers, this from K9 Magazine is worth a read.
Or this, in the current issue of K9 Magazine
I can’t in all conscience ignore (and I’ve tried this year to do just that), let alone enjoy or go along to an event which benefits the same organisation that takes money from puppy farmers and breeders who leave their dogs like this:
How can it be ethical to ignore the fact the Kennel Club is making money from breeders whose dogs suffer like this poor soul? I find it disturbing to see the blatant disconnect on this by some who spend a lot of effort fighting to end puppy farming, but who choose a silent path when it comes to the Kennel Club; this is never more obvious than during Crufts.
In the years since my books have come out I’ve been contacted by a lot people with direct experience of breeders who appear to be reputable and sell their puppies with KC papers. Some stories concern puppies, others are from people who give homes to retiring breeding dogs from places which wouldn’t be typically labelled a puppy farm. When they read my books they recognise that the damage done to my dogs, mirrors what their ‘KC registered’ dogs display. Often they believe their dogs are unusual, some are told by the breeders it must be something to do with how they are with the dogs and they feel guilty and say no more. Until they come across my work, a lightbulb moment occurs and they know that it’s not them, it’s the background the dogs have come from that’s to blame, however reputable the breeder may appear.
Often they become great advocates for the dogs: there’s nothing like living with an innocent victim of breeding greed to ignite a burning wish to see the cruelty end. Some who contact me are just seeking a sounding board, or wish to thank me for writing about my dogs, but others wish their stories to be told. Like ‘Polly’ whose story I’ve recently been sent and share here with permission.
Polly was bought from a well known breeder, one who regularly shows and has won at Crufts. Names are changed and the breeder isn’t identified at the request of Polly’s owner.
“We had lost a couple of our dogs and wanted to offer a home to an ex-breeding girl as a friend to our remaining dog who missed her lost friends. We were put in touch with the breeder who told us she had an ex-breeder available. We went to her house which has kennels at the back which we weren’t allowed to view but we could hear the dogs. When we met Polly she was a jibbering heap and we assumed it was because we were strangers. Her eyes said it all and I knew she was coming home forever with us.
The first few days there was no eye contact, cowering, general ‘hiding’ from us, like she wasn’t in the room and we couldn’t see her if she didn’t move. It was heartbreaking. Polly watched Lola (our resident dog) like a hawk and followed her around. However, she wouldn’t eat or drink for a good week – she must have drunk when we weren’t around and even now she makes sure no-one’s looking when she eats.
We lost our Lola a little while ago but what Polly learnt from her in the first four weeks was amazing. Polly is my girl and is a little shadow. She still won’t get eye contact with others but we’re getting there and every day when she does something new I’m so so proud of her. But then anger and tears well up and I could scream at the breeder for how she has treated Polly but then look at her and that is all replaced with love. It’s shocking that a ‘reputable’ breeder who is highly thought of in the dog world can be so cruel and unfeeling.
It’s so different than the puppies we’ve had as I’ve had to gain Polly’s trust and love. We have gone from the little scared girl to one who loves her walks – which again is something she had to learn. She is more nervous around men and children but again this will come in time as she learns that hands can be kind and not cruel. She has a number of old scars on her back, we don’t know how many litters she’s had but you can pretty much buy a pup every month from her breeder.”
This is far from the first story I’ve been told about this Kennel Club Assured Breeder. The dogs they retire when their breeding days are done and the last of the money to be made from them is pocketed, go from a life deprived of love with all the problems that we commonly see in ‘puppy farmed’ dogs. All this is entirely legal and with the badge of honour that being Crufts winners gives, all apparently reputable. What a mockery. The Kennel Club should be under relentless scrutiny by everyone who knows full well what’s going on in the puppy industry, but it isn’t. I can only put this fact down to there being too many business and self interests, promotional opportunities, and wilful blindness among many.
So, while many show off at Crufts this weekend, remember dogs in ‘reputable’ kennels, as well as those in rough puppy farms suffer just the same deprived lives for the sake of their fertility. There are others who regularly speak out, and I consider myself in good company and urge you to support everyone who does. For, dogs like Polly need their stories heard every bit as much as dogs like Susie-Belle, Twinkle and Cerise who survived the more obviously abusive part of the puppy industry. The abuse and suffering is too often the same, however it’s wrapped up in rosettes and registration papers.