Why I Support Those Who Do, Not Those Who Say
I was a little surprised last week to be contacted by Tom Burrington, Assistant Editor of Dog World magazine, with compliments about this blog post. My surprise came as the facts in it are far from favourable to the Kennel Club (for those not familiar with Dog World magazine, a glance at the link will explain my surprise). Yesterday, Tom sent me the piece he’d published, in which I was pleased to see good space given to the charities to explain their positions regarding the allegations made against them. You can read it here. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the publication, the Kennel Club’s role regarding the puppy industry is given little attention. But then I can always fill in those gaps here.
In the radio interview before Christmas where Marc Abraham alleged the ‘real villains’ with ‘vested interests’ to be the charities, while simultaneously absolving the Kennel Club of any blame, the facts in my blog brings that sharply into question. I gave several examples of the Kennel Club taking money for litter registrations from puppy farmers. This, despite a statement in the Dog World article from Caroline Kisko that,
Furthermore, last year we brought in a new regulation which prohibits any breeder who registers their puppies with the KC from selling puppies through a commercial wholesaler, retail pet dealer or shop.
Again, my blog here gives a clear example of a breeder/dealer where no action is being taken to implement this regulation. As no evidence has appeared since the radio interview before Christmas, my view holds that of those organisations under discussion, the single one that appears to have a clear, ongoing – in fact years old – ‘vested interest’ is the Kennel Club. It’s there that awkward questions should be aimed, not the charities alone, if at all.
It’s worth reading the positions issued by the charities in the Dog World piece. It shows that what they understand is needed in order to address the huge problems in the puppy trade is much more than a ban on third party selling of puppies. Their positions are reasoned and they’re calling for measures that will tackle the whole massive complex industry with its serious criminal elements. Not just a segment of it. Which is what a ban on third party sales will achieve, assuming that could be effectively enforced.
And just so there’s no doubt, or room to distort my position, I’ll say clearly that I do most definitely want a ban on pups in pet shops and being sold away from their mothers. Of course I do. But I also understand the enforceability of what sounds simple is far from it. A retail pet shop ban I can see is straightforward enough to police. But retail outlets are a small part of the problem – a horrible part, but small. For example, how could it be proven that a female dog at the point of sale in a home set-up is not the puppies mother without on-the-spot DNA testing? It’s been well known for sometime and was shown last year in the Panorama Documentary ‘Puppy Dealers Exposed’ that puppy sellers are using adult females to fool buyers. Maybe those that know more could enlighten me? I’m certainly no expert here about how this might work in practice.
This is just one reason why I understand enforcement will be hard. And it’s perhaps why, during the EFRA hearings, the Pup Aid spokesperson when pressed on enforcement gave the weak suggestion that enforcement will be necessary “as a backup” and that “self-motivation” of breeders to improve things would be sufficient basis on which to introduce legislation banning sales in this way. Seeing the mess breeders have created for dogs over the past few decades, I’m not sure I’d rely on their self-motivation to do the right thing. Certainly not in an industry worth hundreds of millions of pounds annually. And certainly not when the Kennel Club as an organisation which many breeders look to for guidance, is continuing to take fees for litter registrations from puppy farmers. No, that answer didn’t cut the mustard with me, which was a disappointment as I’d hoped enforcement would be explained. A ban on paper is after all, pointless.
No, this is an industry requiring full traceability through a rigorous, overhauled licensing and registration system that applies to everyone involved in the trade, one that works, is enforceable and tied to animal welfare standards. What the charities are calling for in fact. But not as far as I can tell the Kennel Club. Unless I’ve missed something?
A final word on this particular attack that was made on the charities. It’s worth questioning the wisdom of launching open warfare on those whose day to day work helps the animals we all say we’re fighting to protect. Whose actions demonstrate time and again clear commitments to wanting a better world for the animals. Even if there are different views on how best to get towards the goal we share. And to be absolutely transparernt, I firmly exclude the Kennel Club. I’ve given enough examples of where their words may well suggest they share the goal of ending the problems involved in the puppy trade, but their actions demonstrate quite the opposite. When they stop taking fees from puppy farmers, I might just have a good word to say for them.
For now, a reminder that ‘divide and conquer’ – a strategy ‘that breaks up existing power structures, and especially prevents smaller power groups from linking up, causing rivalries and fomenting discord among the people’ can surely only benefit one side in the fight to end the suffering of breeding dogs. And it’s not the side I’m on.