Dog world article on the Pedigree dogs exposed. Beverley Costello’s response is part
Dog world article on the Pedigree dogs exposed. Beverley Costello’s response is particularly interesting.
What the documentary makers decided not to include in their programme
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28 Aug 2008 08:10
SEVERAL people who appeared on the programme wanted an opportunity to clarify points and expand on some issues.
Lesley Jupp, chairman of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, said: “By the nature of its advance publicity I was expecting the documentary to be editorially biased, and this proved to be the case. But when I watched the programme, more than anything else I was struck by the almost complete lack of credit given to the extensive work carried out by our club, and many other regional clubs, to address health issues and support research.
“For the past 20 years or more we have conducted numerous health clinics and health programmes across the country, all involving ophthalmologists and cardiologists. Ian Mason, an ophthalmologist, recently said that eye problems in the breed have been greatly reduced, due in large measure to this initiative. Ian was interviewed by the film crew during our last championship show but this achievement was apparently considered insufficiently newsworthy to warrant mention on the programme.
“Other breed societies have also organised health-screening schemes, some of which have been very successful. Again none of these were mentioned. Syringomyelia (SM) first came to light approximately five years ago. Since then, the club has consistently endeavoured to educate and inform its members on the condition. Numerous research schemes have been established and assisted funding provided for MRI scans. Many seminars have been held, including the first International conference on SM, held at the Royal Veterinary College in 2006. None of this was mentioned on the programme.
“The Kennel Club Charitable Trust has supported many club research projects; £24,000 was raised jointly by Cavalier clubs to fund mitral valve disease (MVD) research at Edinburgh University. The Kennel Club matched this funding and the research is now in its fourth year. Again, this initiative was not mentioned during the programme. I genuinely believe that no club could reasonably have done more than the work carried out by ours. Our efforts were not inspired by the Companion Animal Welfare Council (CAWC) meeting earlier this year, but have been in progress for at least 25 years. Sadly, health research is a slow process. There can be no quick miracle cures for historic conditions in the breed. It should also be noted that only a minority of Cavaliers registered are bred by members of Cavalier breed clubs.
“The club has no mandatory powers to impose breeding regulations on its members, only the capacity to influence, educate and persuade. This we have done to the best of our ability. This was not reflected in the programme, even though its producers were aware of our efforts. As I watched the programme, it became very apparent that this did not coincide with the image they wished to promote.
“Finally, some reasons to be positive. Most Cavaliers lead happy, normal lives and some vets say they do not encounter SM. Eye problems are being eradicated. Brendan Corcoran, at Edinburgh University, is conducting the first investigation of the mitral valve ‘structure’ and why it fails. Simon Swift, at Liverpool University, has conducted cardiology clinics at our club events for 18 years, following Peter Darke’s retirement. Simon is involved with the exciting LUPA project, which is funded by the EU (580,000 euros) to unravel the genetic background of specific canine diseases, one of which is MVD in the Cavalier. The project has access to the top scientists in the field. Sarah Bott at Animal Health Trust is conducting groundbreaking research to produce an internet-based breeding programme of estimated breeding values. This is a science that has been used successfully for cattle and pigs. In the near future Cavalier breeders will be first to be given the opportunity to use this programme to breed healthier dogs. Sarah has received substantial sponsorship from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. Perhaps just as importantly, she also has the enthusiastic support of all Cavalier breed clubs. This bodes well.
“Additionally, breed clubs are currently in discussion with the Animal Health Trust on the appointment of a panel of neurologists and radiologists, for standardising the certification of MRI scans. Currently, scans are assessed by individual neurologists and this inevitably results in differing opinions. The new panel should resolve this problem and will provide for an ‘appeal’ system to be established. Initially, this will be a Cavalier Club scheme for which we have received financial and practical assistance from the KC. Furthermore, we will continue to hold health clinics and promote heart testing, eye testing and blood sampling. We intend, in unison with other Cavalier clubs, to promote the permanent identification of dogs and cheek swabs.
Cavalier breeder and exhibitor Beverley Costello, who was interviewed by the film crew after her champion dog won BIS at a breed club championship show, said the programme had upset her greatly and that her remarks had been ‘severely edited.’
“I am very upset the way the programme was edited and the things said about my dog,” she said. “I have the support of the majority of club members. It was said that it was that it was known that my dog had SM because the MRI scan had been seen. But that’s not true because the scan has never left the house. I’m very angry because pet people will now believe that.
“I have been in the breed 15 years and have made up a champion. But life has got complicated. It is upsetting. The dog in question is five this year, and is healthy. His mother lives with me – she is fine and my friend has his grandmother and she is well, too. None of them is showing any symptoms. The line is good and an MRI scan is not the answer to everything anyway. I don’t think SM is the epidemic they are trying to make out it is. I have never had phone calls from anyone saying any of my dog’s puppies have had problems. I would be angry if they did not let me know if they had. I’m sure if any of the puppies did have a problem the programme would have found them and wheeled them out.”
Miss Costello said she would not breed any more litters: “I work full time and dogs don’t finance anything. I have nine Cavaliers – some retired – no litters and no intention of mating anything. My dogs live with me in the house and they do a lot of walking. They are like my children, and mean the world to me