FIVE YEARS ago, in his speech at the Welsh Kennel Club dinner, the then Kennel Club chairman expressed his apprehension about a television programme due to be broadcast the following Tuesday.
How right he was to be worried, for the programme showed ‘dog people’ in the worst possible light.
Much of it was anything but fair, as Ofcom later agreed. But there was sufficient basis of fact and justification to its general slant that the pedigree dog world has never been the same again.
The broadcast duly set in motion a whole chain of events and actions from which it took a considerable time to bounce back, and with a continuing fall in participation at shows, and now a distinct decline in registrations, one wonders if permanent damage was done, if not on the scale we all feared at the time.
But what matters most is the welfare of the dogs themselves, and here the programme, however painful it was, may have in the long run done good in focusing breeders and judges’ attention on health and freedom from harmful exaggeration. For many caring breeders these had been the priority for decades before 2008. But now no one claiming to be a responsible breeder can ignore them.
In future columns we will look at this anniversary in more details; meantime there remains much to be done. One of the issues raised in Pedigree Dogs Exposed was syringomyelia in Cavaliers. It is only now, five years on, that test results are published in the record supplements. No one, surely, could deny that these give enormous cause for concern, and not only in the one breed. As many suspected there is clearly a major problem to be dealt with. Breeders can no longer bury their heads in the sand.