Sever Links with Kennel Club Vet Profession Urged
The Kennel Club claims to be the UK’s “largest organisation dedicated to protecting and promoting the health and welfare of all dogs.” But for those who decide to look beyond the grandiose words and fine spin they’ll find an organisation with many critics. In the latest issue of the Veterinary Times, TV vet and author Emma Milne strongly criticises the Kennel Club (KC) and urges veterinary bodies to sever links with the organisation if it doesn’t make health testing for the most serious inherited conditions mandatory.
“We need to put professional pressure on the KC, and it would probably have to come by some form of ultimatum from one of the big bodies – either the Royal College, the BVA or BSAVA,” she told the paper, published today.
Earlier this month Emma was outspoken in her criticism of the KC for its unwillingness to tackle a health crisis affecting Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. She and over 27,000 others have signed a petition calling for the KC to make testing compulsory for the two most serious conditions affecting this popular breed: a heart disease called MVD and Syringomyelia (SM), a neurological disorder caused by dogs being bred with skulls too small to accommodate the brain.
Many countries do have mandatory testing schemes, such as Denmark where MVD in Cavaliers has fallen by 73 per cent. “I think it is unacceptable for the KC not to acknowledge other countries are making a massive difference and we are not,” she says, citing falling life expectancy of UK Cavaliers. “There must be vets tearing their hair out all over the country because nothing has changed.”
However, quotes in the Veterinary Times from the KC’s secretary Caroline Kisko suggest she believes vets are to blame for the fact there isn’t even an official heart scheme in the UK: “The KC has been committed to developing a new heart scheme in the UK for many years but, unfortunately, the veterinary profession has been unable to agree testing protocols.”
Reacting to this, Emma Milnes says: “It is typical of the KC to blame the veterinary profession. It beggars belief to say a heart scheme is too complicated when many other countries have them already in place. At the very least the KC could insist on the well-accepted MVD breeding protocol being followed for Cavaliers. It would be a start. If we never do anything because it’s not perfect, how will we ever evolve change? Looks like us vets will just have to continue to pick up the pieces while dogs carry on dying.”
She described the response from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) elsewhere in the Veterinary Times as “Disappointing”, asking “How long can we continue to say we have to work together?”
Long-time Cavalier health campaigner Margaret Carter comments: “Blaming vets is a new one for the KC. Perhaps even it realises its much-repeated claim of ‘requiring more data’ is ridiculous. It has been talking about a heart scheme for years. It has the know-how and power to not only create a scheme but insist breeders use it. While the KC prefers to placate its most important customers – breeders – more and more Cavalier puppies are being born to suffer from inherited disease.
“Its Assured Breeders’ Scheme (ABS) is almost meaningless for Cavaliers because the only health test required is for eyes: a token nod to health when the breed is plagued by conditions as horrific as SM and MVD,” she says. “And with so few recorded Cavalier health tests because of the absence of a heart scheme and the breeder boycott of the official SM scheme, the KC’s Mate Select tool is rendered pretty useless too.
“We are very grateful to Emma Milne for voicing so powerfully the situation regarding Cavalier health, however unpalatable the truth might be to some,” Margaret goes on. “I’d ask all vets to follow Emma’s lead in writing to the KC and their professional bodies demanding action.”
Read more about the Cavaliers Are Special Campaign here
To sign the petition calling on the KC to make health testing mandatory click here
Read more about the links between this and puppy farming here