Stricter measures on dog welfare needed, says EFRA committee
There are many dog owners, vets, and members of animal welfare groups that continue to lobby for improvements in dog welfare.
Boring political stuff that can seem to be of little importance to the ordinary dog owner but this is the only way that lasting changes will eventually be achieved.
A Select Committee of MPs have just issued a report.......
"Among its list of recommendations was that anyone breeding two or more litters a year should be licensed and face welfare checks; that the KC should refuse to register puppies from breeders who are not ‘Assured Breeder Scheme (ABS) compliant’ and conduct an annual review of breed Standards; high-profile veterinary checks should be extended to other breeds and ‘additional’ checks made on other dogs before their show entry is accepted.
The committee was outspoken in its criticism of DEFRA Minister Lord de Mauley, who gave evidence to the enquiry, saying he appeared ‘poorly briefed and ill prepared’ to provide information on DEFRA’s views on a range of dog issues.
"His evidence has done nothing to reassure us about the priority DEFRA gives to the number of dog attacks,” said the committee in its recent report.
It was also disappointed, the report said, that DEFRA had done little to improve dog welfare linked to dog breeding"..................................
"Currently, breeders producing five or more litters a year must be licensed, but the committee wants this number reduced.
"We consider this threshold too high,” the report said, adding that this could mean licensed breeders could produce ‘some 40 to 50 dogs’ a year.
The proposed annual review of breed Standards should be led by vets, the committee said, and the KC should do far more to use its influence on the pedigree dog community, including refusing to register puppies from breeders not compliant with the ABS.
The committee said the KC had told its members that ‘significant and effective steps’ had been taken both before and since Professor Sir Patrick Bateson’s report into breeding. But, the committee said, the KC was in a ‘strong position to influence, help and work with relevant parties, as its registered breeders were ‘obliged to follow its rules’.
However, the report said, there remained irresponsible breeders who operated outside the club’s sphere of control.
"The KC has a general code of ethics by which all breeders who register their puppies or dogs must abide,” the report said. "This includes a statement that a breeder should agree not to breed from a dog or bitch which could in ‘any way be harmful to the dog or to the breed’. But the KC does not appear to collate data on compliance with this requirement.”
Requirements under the ABS for breeders to health screen their dogs should be made mandatory to all breeders, it said.
"Nevertheless, the KC continues to accept registration of dogs not bred under this scheme. Furthermore, as Professor Bateson’s report notes, there is no requirement under the ABS to apply the results of health tests to breeding decisions.”
"send a strong signal to breeders about the need to adopt high health and welfare"
The ABS requirements for Cavaliers are laughable, only eye testing, but even that is too demanding for some of the breeders who should be setting an example.
A quick check of the latest Breed Record Supplement shows that one Cavalier Club committee member is allowing her stud dogs to be used although they are not eye tested. One is 18 months ( used twice ) and the other just over two years old. How long has the Cavalier Club had a heart protocol that recommends cavalier parents should be two and a half years old before being bred?
Another committee member has also allowed her underage dog to be used at stud twice, one has used a dog under two years on her own bitch and another bitch, having her fourth litter, has never been eye tested.
Cavaliers are still dying early of heart disease and hereditary cataract is showing up again in top show stock.
Lynn Burton – talking about her daily life experiences of living with Chiari-Malforma
Human sufferers find it hard to believe that any one would breed dogs with CM/SM at all............
Lynn Burton wrote this article as a synopsis of her talk given at the Companion Cavalier Club Health Seminar on 18th November 2012
Chiari is a rare and complicated condition of the brain and spinal cord which should be taken seriously, in dogs as well as humans. The charity of which I am a trustee, takes CM in dogs so seriously it gave Dr Clare Rusbridge a grant of £6.000 to collect and research DNA from affected dogs to try to find the gene responsible.
On Sunday, I tried to explain about 'Zero Chiari', which means although there is no herniation of the brain down into the spinal cord, there is overcrowding at the Foramen Magnum which means that there is still a blockage of Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) which causes pressure at the back of the head base of the brain.
So yes dogs walk on all fours, do not have cerebellar tonsils, but this does not mean CM does not affect them.....it most definitely does. I myself have gently stroked the neck of a CM dog, this lovely dog didn't move his head, wasn't aggressive but gave a low growl to let me know he wasn't comfortable being touched. I didn't realise at first what this meant, but when my hand gently brushed his neck again the same happened. He had been running around, jumping excited to see me in his home, but then as in humans, this activity has a price.... pain. His owner settled him with pain medication and he had a good night.
As someone with Chiari I knew exactly why he growled on being touched at the back of his head where the pain was, there are many days when I feel the same way, although a growl may scare the doctors who examine me! Dr Clare Rusbridge has shown in video films how dogs with CM are affected by pressure after defecating, running and even barking! How they need to sleep with their heads raised, as to lie flat causes pain in the head. If Chiari affected dogs differently why do dogs show the same symptoms as CM in humans?
Balance problems dogs after defecating, barking.
Humans after laughing, straining, coughing, leaning forwards, these actions cause horrendous pain as straining etc causes the CSF to 'shoot' from the spinal cord through the Foramen Magnum into the brain, the CSF rushes past the CM or overcrowding but then as the CM or overcrowding is blocking the exit back to the Spinal cord this cause huge CSF pressure build up until the CSF eventually trickles back through. I compare the effects of shaking a bottle of Champagne with the cork in, if the wire has been removed the cork will explode at force from the bottle, however if the wire is left on the amount of pressure built up is there to see in the form of 'bubbles', the pressure cannot escape but eventually the bubbles subside and settle. But the pressure that made the cork explode from the bottle was still there trapped at the neck of the bottle. The pain this causes is horrendous, for seconds I cannot move, see, hear just excruciating pain and thumping pressure in the back of the neck and head. Weather changes also affect head pain, low pressure can cause low pressure pain and many fellow patients with Chiari have voiced how the changes in the weather can cause them to feel worse. Heat can also cause pain and, in my case, a lovely hot sunny day has me reaching for fans, cool drinks anything but overheating as this makes my head feel as though it will explode!
I am in pain every single day, blurred and double vision, tingling and numbness in my arms hands and legs. Loud ringing in my ears, loss of hearing, choking. I dread catching a cold as coughing and sneezing causes tremendous pressure pain. I can't walk far because of the pain in my spine and head. I also walk some days like a 'crab' as my balance is so affected I can't walk straight, fatigue. The list goes on. Even in humans some doctors do not know a lot about Chiari, every day I receive calls to the charity helpline from patients diagnosed with Chiari but told, " Chiari will just give you a bit of a headache, all your other symptoms are nothing to do with it". but once directed to a surgeon who specialises in Chiari they are often offered surgery to try to halt the progress, in some cases to avoid paralysis. As the surgery carries huge risk of paralysis, stroke, brain damage. Patients are offered the surgery but is up to the patient whether to take such risks, most will opt for surgery of the severe pain and their quality of life is so limited because of Chiari.
I have morphine patches which release morphine into my blood stream 24 hours a day 7 days a week, I also have oral medication for breakthrough pain and while I accept that not all with CM will be as badly affected nearly all will experience some level of discomfort every single day. I can understand why many of those with Cavaliers will not want to acknowledge that CM can cause such problems in dogs, if CM affects the dogs so adversely where do they go from here? But if warnings about Syringomyelia/CM had been listened to and acted upon years ago when concerns where first aired and breeding form affected dogs had been stopped maybe this beautiful breed would not be in the dangerous state it is in now. With registrations down by thousands, it will soon be impossible to insure these amazing dogs. This will put off prospective owners and if the demand for puppies goes down there is a real danger for the breeds survival. Maybe instead of shying away from some kind of 'clear dog ' breeding programme, it should be embraced. There is no shame in admitting that 'your' breeding dogs have CM/SM, no shame at all. Shame is when a breeder carries on breeding knowing that their dogs will pass on these horrendously painful conditions. A lady with Chiari Malformation put the following on our facebook page today in response to a post about breeding from CM/SM affected dogs, it really sums everything up: "Your comments made me nearly cry. One of our main concerns is can we pass this horrid condition on to our children. The fear of inflicting this pain and torment plays on all our minds. To think that any one would breed an animal knowing they will possibly have Chiari is so sad. I would not wish this on my worst enemy, never mind a dog who can not express their pain. I hope your good work spreads the word, and people out there listen. Thanks for taking the time to work with the Trust, only positive steps can come out of it." We know this pain we live with it daily, dogs can't tell you what they go through........we can.