On September 16, 2021 this article of mine was published on the Veterinary Information Network (V.I.N.):
It was written in response to a previous article on V.I.N. about veterinarians signing a breed banning petition and legislative actions against breeders in Norway. In my article, I discuss the complex nature of challenges around dogs with extreme conformation and stress the individual role of veterinarians, as well as other stakeholders including kennel and breed clubs, breeders, and owners, and I promote collaborative efforts. It presents a balanced view of the problem and suggests that unilateral actions, confrontation, denial, and other negative interactions will not be able to improve the health, well-being, and welfare of the dogs. DOGS – the ones who come out the worst in this emotionally-charged situation.
In spite of the challenges, in Canada the Canadian Kennel Club, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), and IPFD are discussing a joint breeder-judge-vet symposium to be held in conjunction with the CVMA national conference. This collaborative venture could provide a model and platform for balanced discussions. Finland has enacted strong welfare laws and work is ongoing on by the Finnish Kennel Club that has the potential to make a difference in some breeds. The UK has attempted to enact tougher legislation, but enforcement seems slow. The Kennel Club in the UK has been moving forward on changes to some breed standards, work on the breathing assessment scheme, and more. Many groups - veterinary, Kennel and Breed clubs - have tried educational strategies to improve the knowledge of their members. However, true progress from such efforts is difficult to gauge.
One challenge continues – veterinarians see a population that includes many more non-KC-bred than KC-bred dogs; but they are viewed as simply e.g., Pugs, Bulldogs, and French Bulldogs. In most countries, the KCs are not able to impact the majority of the population. The German Kennel Club reports progress on the health programs in Frenchies, but registered dogs may be less than 2% of the apparent French Bulldog population. And people continue to push up the popularity of certain breeds. More work is needed. But, to prevent attacks on ALL pedigree dogs by campaigners, the show and breeder community needs to identify certain breeds that have clear issues and take meaningful steps to address them.
Who shall focus – first and foremost – on the dogs? IPFD tries to and tries to engender collaboration and cooperation across diverse stakeholder groups. We urge people to see the complex problems and possible solutions. Recently, IPFD has been attacked for presenting facts on brachycephalic problems and international developments. If there is no will – no voice – from wider groups of people, people who believe pedigree dogs are important for our society but who can admit that some breeds have preventable problems, who know that breeding for health and temperament should be the way forward, how do we proceed? Without a clear and conscious attention to these challenges, the legislators and activists will win out. Is there hope for meaningful, multi-stakeholder, international collaboration? Time will tell.
In case you have missed all the announcements, I have taken a step toward retirement and am no longer CEO of IPFD; I am Veterinary Science Officer.
Other balanced resources: