More Of The Same At The Kennel Club
Just before Christmas a jaw-dropping statement was made during a radio interview. It involved the UK’s main animal welfare charities and the Kennel Club. As someone who, along with others has long criticised the Kennel Club for registering puppy farmed litters (eg read here), when I heard the statement I thought I must have missed something positive happening at the KC in recent months.
Marc Abraham, founder of Pup Aid was interviewed by James Whale on Talk Radio to discuss the puppy trade. During the interview on more than one occasion, James put the spotlight on the role of the Kennel Club, suggesting they have much to answer for when it comes to dog welfare. His concerns were put aside by his interviewee, and here’s the jaw-dropper, with the suggestion that the “real villains” aren’t the KC but the four charities – Blue Cross, the Dogs Trust, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and the RSPCA.
An astonishing claim.
You can decide for yourself about the allegations made in the interview; all four issued full rebuttals which can be read on the link. I’ve no interest in attacking the charities. Hostile campaigning against those who do tough work on the frontline helping the animals is a peculiar tactic, one which I cannot fathom.
It was the claim that the KC are not the “real villains” that really got my attention. What had I missed for such a claim to be made? Surely I’d not missed them dropping their two-tier system of puppy registration: the Assured Breeder Scheme and the other one, the one that allows anyone to register litters so long as they pay the KC a fee. This means sellers can legitimately peddle puppies with the ‘KC registered’ pitch – a sales tactic which leads puppy buyers to think it’s some kind of assurance. Whereas it’s just a piece of paper the breeder – and puppy farmers – pay the KC for.
But no, I hadn’t missed the scrapping of that scheme, it’s still in place, still bringing revenue to the KC, still being used by puppy farmers.
In fact, one of 2016’s most publicised puppy farmers has registered puppies on the scheme throughout the year. In May 2016, the award-winning BBC Panorama documentary Puppy Dealers Exposed featured one of Northern Ireland’s largest licensed puppy breeders, Eric Hale. The footage and facts shocked viewers. The documentary won a BAFTA. Part of the disgust for many, was the fact that Eric Hale – along with many other puppy farmers – have no problem registering their litters with the KC. It shocked people that the KC could take money from someone who keeps his dogs in conditions nothing less than disgusting. An organisation which on its website claims:
A primary concern of the Kennel Club is for the welfare of all breeding bitches and puppies whether they are produced by large or small breeders, as its mission statement is ‘to promote in every way the general improvement of dogs’. To this end, the Kennel Club is committed to doing everything it can to help stamp out puppy farming
An organisation which James Whale quite rightly called to account.
Following the Panorama documentary, we might have expected the KC to look again at accepting litter registration money from Eric Hale. But, the Kennel Club Breed Register Supplements show that both he and his wife are registering litters. So no change. Makes a mockery of this claim on the KCs website
It is important to remember that puppy farmers tend to operate under the radar and choose not to register their litters with the Kennel Club. In fact, the vast majority of those who register with the Kennel Club breed in small numbers – often no more than one litter a year.
Under the radar??– a BBC BAFTA winning documentary seen by millions isn’t exactly under the radar!
Then there’s the KC support for calls to end third party sales of puppies. Something they like to trumpet about and say they support. In September, there was some hot air around a new regulation being put in place by them:
BREEDERS will now be breaking a Kennel Club regulation if they sell registered dogs through a ‘commercial wholesaler, retail pet dealer or shop’. If the new regulation B22g is contravened, the KC warned, the General Committee could refuse to register litters or treat it as a disciplinary matter under rule A11.
In the Press Release, Caroline Kisko Secretary and Director of Communications said:
“Where we are provided with sufficient evidence, the matter of breeders breaching this regulation will be referred to the General Committee for a decision.
“In this respect we are very much reliant upon our customers and members sending us this evidence where someone is registering their puppies with the KC and selling them via commercial dog wholesalers, ie someone who buys and sells puppies from shops and businesses.”
Again, appearing in a Panorama documentary seen by millions, isn’t evidence enough? It certainly hasn’t posed any obstacle for Eric Hale and his wife to register their puppies with the KC and hand over a fee every time they do so. And by taking the money, it does rather wobble the KC’s claim to be ‘doing everything it can to help stamp out farming’. Accepting money from puppy farmers is not the actions of an organisation wanting to ‘stamp out puppy farming’.
Let me give another example: a licensed breeder when inspected in March 2016 had over 300 dogs on site; this breeder aka puppy farmer is merrily selling their KC registered puppies to the public at hefty prices, while their unregistered puppies go to dealers to sell on to pet shops and other outlets. In fact, seeing the vast number of KC litter registrations during the last quarter alone from some of the largest puppy breeding operations across the UK suggests nothing whatsoever has changed at the KC – plus ça change as they say.
Now I couldn’t write about this and not mention one more, a breeder and third party seller I first wrote about in August 2015. Their website today shows they’re still proudly using four breeders they’ve used for decades, and that “most puppies are Kennel Club registered”. The KC know all about this seller and the breeders involved.
So, I have to agree with James Whale, the KC do have a lot to answer for, have done for years, and no doubt will continue to do so until they’re forced – by whom is anyone’s guess – to act better.
I know where my finger of blame is pointing at the real villains when it comes to the puppy trade.
Thanks to Puppy Love Campaigns for permission to use facts from their investigations and database, and for their assistance and that of others who wish to remain unnamed with the research for this article.