Why we should support the Kennel Club
I am receiving large numbers of enquiries for puppies once again, as people realise that a dog will improve their lives. It is so frustrating not to be able to offer any support to these people, because puppies are not toilet paper and cannot be made to order.
I always recommend that people contact the other Kennel Club Assured Breeders and ask to go onto their waiting lists. I’m delighted to have recently had my three-yearly inspection as part of this scheme. However, I am disappointed that there isn’t wider recognition and take-up of this scheme.
The history and purpose of the Kennel Club
It’s a very old organisation that runs dog shows. I think that is the public perception of the Kennel Club. The organisation was set up in 1873 “to have a consistent set of rules for governing the popular new activities of dog showing and field trials. It was the first national kennel club in the world.”
The home page of the brand new Kennel Club website now states it is:
“The largest organisation in the UK devoted to dog health, welfare and training. Our objective is to ensure that dogs live healthy, happy lives with responsible owners.“
What does the Kennel Club do?
It does still run dog shows. Although most people are aware of Crufts, the world’s oldest and largest dog show, they probably don’t know everything that happens there. The show really is a celebration of dogs! You can find out about different dogs, watch dogs at work, doing what they do best and enjoy the amazing relationships between dogs and owners.
I love watching the heelwork to music displays and the excitement of the flyball. Of course I love watching the agility and was very proud as a breeder to have one of my pups competing last year. It’s a great place to learn about dogs and what brings them into our lives. And there is LOTS of shopping to be done!
Other dog shows around the country are run by the Kennel Club. Breed shows promote the enormous range of dog breeds we have available to us in the this country. Sadly though, this is still viewed as an elite hobby and one that is regarded as subject to corruption and bias. I do feel that something based on the subjective opinions of individuals is likely to be a bit unfair. However, through writing the Breed Index, I have learnt that there are breed standards and that these are rigorously checked.
I do believe that the Kennel Club is a force for better dog health. There have been scandals in recent years about dogs with poor conformation winning prizes, but I think that on the whole, there is a momentum of support for healthier dogs.
The Kennel Club claims the following:
“We help improve the lives of dogs, now and in the future, through research, collaboration, resources and health schemes.”
For pedigree dog breeders, there is a wealth of information and support. As an Assured Breeder, I am not able to register my puppies as pedigree Border Collies without meeting the health testing requirements for my breed. If I want to use someone else’s dog to mate with mine, I am able to check the health records of that dog and ensure that the dogs are a good match.
Sadly, the Kennel Club is not as rigorous in recording the health of all dogs. Crossbreeds are not required to be tested. Puppies can still be ‘registered’ with the Kennel Club, but this is just a record of existence, not a certificate of proven parentage and health. I don’t know how this could be improved?
Getting a dog
Just as I have tried to support people in finding a dog, the Kennel Club have a huge amount of support and resource to help people. You can find out about different breeds, check the health of a dog’s parents, and think about what different dogs might need in terms of care. The Kennel Club provide support on finding a rescue dog and help you find an Assured Breeder.
Part of the problem the Kennel Club has is to do with the sheer volume of information it holds and the demand for dogs in this country. Last year was an extremely challenging one for the organisation as the massive increase in demand coincided with a transfer of records to a new IT system.
In this message to its users published yesterday, the Chief Executive Mark Beazley said “we know that many of our customers have not had the experience they deserve and expect from The Kennel Club in recent months.” The message details the progress that has been made to work through and resolve these issues. There is still work to be done, but with 40 million records to transfer, I can quite see why this is a challenge!
What do we want from the Kennel Club?
I have said that we need more responsible breeders. It would be great if this could be promoted and managed more assertively by the Kennel Club.
Personally, I would like there to be a much clearer message about dog breeding and health. It makes me sad that someone with a mixed crossbreed dog can embark on breeding with no thought for checking the health of their dog beforehand. They can produce a litter of pups and sell these to random strangers for thousands of pounds. People ‘don’t care about paperwork’ so they don’t ask to see proof of parentage and health testing.
We do now have an understanding that if we keep demanding puppies, that there are unscrupulous people who will force dogs to breed continuously, in horrible conditions – a puppy farmer. But we are not yet savvy enough to spot a dog that has been bred this way. We still buy dogs from unregulated online adverts, meaning we can easily be the victims of fraud. This affects us all, because getting a dog without proper care and due diligence can result in emotional trauma.
Equally, there is absolutely no requirement for breeders to vet prospective owners of dogs. I can breed from my dogs and send them off to complete strangers, without any checks. There is no guidance on the questions to ask prospective homes. Sadly, it is the puppies that are ‘carelessly homed’ that end up in rescue. Good breeders take their puppies back, and provide a lifetime of support to their owners.
Please let me know what you think? What do you think the Kennel Club should do better? How do you think things should change?
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