Okay, we got it wrong!

Maureen Taylor

Maureen Taylor, Canine Alliance member, in her Dog World Breed Notes for Clumber Spaniels on the 10th January 2014 writes:

I WOULD IMAGINE THAT most of us are looking to reduce our waist lines that have expanded over the holiday period and will be hoping to keep to our New Year resolutions. It is also a time to look back and reflect on what things we have said or done that we could have done differently and learn from those mistakes.

I would imagine that the letter from “Our” Kennel Club regarding new charges and criteria for those on the Assured Breeders Scheme came as a bit of a shock. Yes, the KC had revised things, but instead of moving the scheme forward to encourage more members by improving things, they seem to have done the very opposite. If social networking sites are to be believed, the result of this latest KC faux par is that reputable breeders are leaving the scheme in droves.

Maureen Taylor
Maureen Taylor

I will not go through all the new criteria as that will no doubt be covered elsewhere, but can confirm that according to the KC site we have only one breeder of Clumbers that has been checked and therefore qualifies for the new UKAS certificate. I just wonder how all those on the scheme are going to be checked in a matter of a few weeks as suggested, which in itself begs the question who is doing the checking? Are those that visit the properties and given access to breeders dogs, homes and paperwork, trained and if so by whom and to what standard. Most ‘Accreditation’ authorities have very strict criteria in terms of the experience and, importantly, qualification of Assessors, including DBS checks where appropriate! We have heard on the sites of questions being asked such as “what time do you go to bed and get up each morning”, photographs being taken of the contents of freezers and many other invasive photos and questions too numerous to mention.  Do these people really have a right to go into a private property and take photographs of a bedroom?  I think not and I am surprised at how tolerant we dog folk can be at times.  My dogs are very much part of the family and they are health tested.  But if the rumours are to be believed, we would not qualify for inclusion on the list as we do not separate bitches in whelp (or with pups) completely from the other dogs – our girls still use the same exercise area and like to come and lounge on the settee for an hour or so to get away from the pups once they get to that annoying stage of pestering all the time.  I consider this to be a part of good socialisation, especially given that temperament must be above all other things.  I would positively not (and unbelievably this was suggested to more than one ABS breeder with whom I am in contact) move my oldies on to leave room for more, younger breeding stock. Is the ABS just for those breeding a large number of litters each year and is there no room for us who breed only when we want a new youngster to show?

At the time of the Kennel Club’s conception in 1873, men in urban areas of the UK had just got to vote for whichever party they wanted to rule our country – an electorate of just 2.5 million at that time. It took us 55 years to go from this to having all men and women able to vote (21 million instead of 8 million). Now, 55 years may seem a long time (and even a week is a long time in politics as has been famously said by one Prime Minister), but what difference did 55 years in the KC make with regard to who runs our sport/hobby?  None whatsoever. It took 113 years for women to be allowed into this Gentleman’s Club.  Those of us at grass roots still have no say in how our sport is run. At least we can vote out our government every 5 years if we think they are not doing a good enough job. We are stuck with those running the KC as we sit and watch as they ruin what could and should have been a perfectly good scheme to promote healthy pups being bred.

How long will we have to wait before it sinks in at the KC that we want change and if we do not get it our sport will die? Another 100 years? If so, our sport will be long dead by then. So here is my New Year’s plea to “Our” Kennel Club – open your eyes and your minds to those of us who know what is needed, give open membership so that those of us who want to change our KC can get the option to vote to do so. Have the courage to admit you have got things wrong with the High Profile lists, Vet Checks and Assured Breeders Scheme and DO something to put it right. We would think far more of “Our” Kennel Club if those at the top had the bottle to say “Okay! “We got it wrong. Let’s take a step back, think things through properly and intelligently.  Let’s start again from scratch and get it right”.

Here endeth the rant!

5 thoughts on “Okay, we got it wrong!”

  1. I think it is time the Accredited Breeder Scheme criteria was set out, exactly what these people are being asked to inspect, it seems parts have been cherrypicked from local council criteria and kennel licensing rules with a little of the kennel clubs input, but nothing has been made clear to us. Rumours abound, you must have two sinks, separation facilities, etc. etc. Photographs of our premises inside and out and yet we all know people that have been passed and you wonder how . I could go on and on it is becoming a laughing stock and still the non members carry on getting their puppies registered with no control at all.

  2. I feel I must send in a comment in the interest of correctness! – I was ‘inspected last Monday, and it would seem from the lady’s comments that I may be ‘passed’.
    I am fully in agreement with the CA in the way these changes have been put in place and no matter that she tried to justify the increases, I do not agree with them and may still leave the ABS in October when my membership becomes due, however I plan a litter in the next few months so decided to get inspected so that I could use the Membership that I still have when registering them. I asked for a vist, and as stated it happened last Monday – that was quick!
    The lady who came rang me beforehand to arrange a time, she sat down with me and explained that she would be taking a few photos but only of doggy items and my garden – OK with me? I said yes and I saw each photo that she took and was happy with it. There was never any suggestion that she should go upstairs.
    I had been asked to send in my Puppy Pack before the visit, which I had done and therefore she only quickly looked through it for specific things, particularly my Contract, she seemed happy. My dogs live in the house, but sleep out in my kennels – only because they done this since I had 7 dogs and the two I have now have just continued to do so, they love to go out there for the night.
    We sat in my kitchen with a cup of tea and chatted about the massive form that she had to complete – the questions were not intrusive and easy to answer. She looked at my kennels the one the dogs sleep in and the one I use for my puppies when they are about 5 weeks of age, took photos, took photo of my garden and the field that we own behind. After two hours of chat and form filling, she left.
    No problems for me, she was professional in the way she questioned me and completed the form, I did not find it intrusive at all, and she seemed quite happy, I will wait and see if the Kennel Club decide that I am OK but do not intend to change anything, in my eyes I do all that is required for my dogs/puppies and that will never change.
    I was asked what happened to my dogs that I no longer used for breeding – what a question I said – I brought them into the world and I see them out, they never leave me.
    I was asked if I moved them on, but it was NOT suggested that I should do so. There was NO mention of separating bitches in whelp or when feeding puppies,at all.
    So my lady was fine, maybe I was lucky, and I can believe that some would take some of the questions out of context perhaps and find them a bit ‘over the top’ but remember that we are asking for ‘accreditation’ whatever that may mean!! Some questions have to be asked to get to the truth perhaps.

    In my breed there is at least one ABS fairly new Member who I believe has not been inspected, and definitely needs to be, I did mention this to my lady and she said that this person would be inspected now before they bred again, I will wait with bated breathe to see if this person remains in the ABS after such inpspection, IMO they should not – I will wait and see!!

    As to myself, I will have my litter and see where things are in october when my membership is due for renewal, and make my decision then.

  3. Thank you for sending that and of course I agree although it was actually Bill Lambert himself who asked me the question ‘what time do you get up and what time do you go to bed’ at my first inspection as a Founder Member! This is probably why I am not over anxious to submit myself to another inspection since I had had such a poor experience ( the photographs taken of a room to be demolished a week later that I had particularly requested NOT to be taken as another example!) However, since they are blackmailing me and refuse to process the registrations of two apricot puppies 8 weeks old and ready to go on Sunday they have me ‘over the proverbial barrel’ since they were sold as ABS puppies with full paperwork showing ‘hereditarily clear’ of gene test for prcd-PRA, so have been promised a visit shortly but today is Friday and have heard nothing as at 12.30!

    Sent from my iPad

  4. Good article.

    I joined the scheme as I felt it genuinely had potential to drive up standards of breeding the dogs I care about. Personally, I had little to gain as someone who will have an occasional litter every 3 years – not for me the so-called discounts – and as my requirements outstrip those of the scheme I had little to fear from inspection.

    For example, I health screen my retired dogs annually to track signs of emerging disease; I scrutinise tail male and female lines of potential breeding stock and research as much as is humanly possible using detailed overseas data, about the ancestral combinations of those sections of the pedigree that never even make it to the KC Mate Select pages; I track emerging conditions in the gene pool – noting frequency, severity and age of onset variations; spending hours with potential owners to ensure they are fully prepared for a new puppy; dedicating my free time to learning more and ensuring my dogs have a stimulating, rewarding, enjoyable and safe life with me.

    Yet, I am still faced with exactly the same dilemma as before the scheme existed, as the AB scheme is not a by-word for good practice or even currently a method of improving canine welfare. Inside the scheme are volume breeders who pay scant attention to emerging conditions within a closed gene pool and continue to line-breed on animals that are producing disease – either deliberately or by ‘accident’ as they focus solely on their own lines in paper pedigrees and ignore the issues building in the wider population. Inside the scheme are those with separate sinks and stud book accolades, yet does the inspector ask what steps they take to reduce auto-immune disease in their breed and its devastating effects on the gene pool and unsuspecting owners alike; or ask for evidence on how they minimise the effects of popular sires? No, they endorse it all, providing records are in place and separate sinks are sparkling. Rumours abound from former inspectors who cite pressure from above to endorse those with sub-standard facilities/practice if the breeders support exhibiting.

    The scheme has so much potential to really address new thinking, yet it fails dismally to do so. I struggle to understand why. A fear of not being inclusive? A fear of upsetting well-known faces? Inability of applying sound scientific principles to an old established art-form? Too difficult? Too late?

    Instead, there has been a drive to encompass new membership but without the safeguards in place to ensure inspections. So, those with ‘good’ practice are once again lumped in with the rest. Thus, it is not an ‘Assured Breeder’ scheme but an alternative layer with all the same issues as before, and now even more confusing for potential buyers.

    I am not normally in favour of elitism, but that is exactly what this scheme should be doing. Thoughtfully, over time, driving up standards and attracting new membership as part of an elite club who want to do the very best for their breed/s. Using soundly researched benchmarks of quality – and in that I include health as well as conformation.

    Sadly, infrequent breeders who surpass the minimal standards of the scheme as is, are considering leaving. Surely, this was not the intended consequence. These breeders need to stay, yet how many will, given the current inspection criteria? The entire scheme should be suspended and started again from scratch with some real teeth to improve breeding practice across the board and not just driving up the volume of disease testing. The KC is missing a trick on welfare – look to Scandinavian countries where stud books are open, and breeders are actively encouraged NOT to line breed – how about an accolade for that Bill?

  5. Where in this system does the quality of the puppies come in.what about health checks of the sire and dam? I loved my pups to bits and was very very careful as to where they went to. In 28 years I only bred to give myself new show stock and took 6 litters, I would fail the accredited breeder scheme so glad I don’t breed anymore.

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