Join or be damned


You already know I have been identified as a “bad” breeder (writes Canine Alliance Chair, Howard Ogden).

I told you so, following me attending the KC Roadshow in Hereford towards the end of 2014, when ABS boss Bill Lambert took me to one side to assure me there was no other appropriate description as long as I remained “on the outside”. You are either in the ABS or you are not and that makes you “good” or “bad” as a breeder by being subject to its regulation or not.

Howard Ogden
Howard Ogden

You see I had publicly queried his published statement as to HIS reason for joining the ABS: “so that puppy buyers can make the vital distinction between good and bad breeders, exposing those who fail to adopt even the basic principles of responsible breeding and leaving them nowhere to hide.

But by the end of 2014 well over 1000 members had left the scheme according to the KCs own published figures.

Unsurprisingly, he sought to utilise Crufts as a relaunch pad, announcing to the press: “Sadly, too many breeders, outside of the kennel Club’s sphere of influence, are not committed to their puppies’ health and welfare and fail to use the information and tools which the Kennel Club makes available“.

That will be ME then and YOU, and YOU, and YOU where “sphere of influence” means the ABS.

Further, by truly amazing coincidence, the 2,500th ABS certifiable member would be none other than the immaculately successful (KC member) Lee Cox (and Tom). Bad luck Hilda Sproggins from Accrington with your lilac, other-colours-in- production Heelershitz for having evidently been drawn as 2,499th! Bill was at pains to point out that cash from  Hilda was just as bankable as that from Lee and Tom and she must not read otherwise into his statement that it was “particularly fitting” they happened to be drawn 2500th “as they have an outstanding record in the show ring and have bred so many show champions”.

Cue Caroline Kisko, the KC Secretary (she having also been at that Hereford Roadshow) who obligingly followed her employers’ mantra, albeit it was juxtaposed in a televised interview from Crufts with Clare Balding on “illegal” puppy farming and she shared the platform with that “wonderful vet” (Claire’s words) Marc Abraham.

I make no apology“, said Caroline. “Make your life simple“.

Her message to the “consumer” was to only buy from an ABS member because:

they have done the health testing; they have done the best they can“.

BUT she never said WHO she was apologising to or why.

The Answer? The vast majority of British pedigree dog breeders who remain on the outside and are to be stigmatised as “bad breeders” and whom “our” Kennel Club charges more, as a penalty, and places breeding restrictions upon.

Meanwhile Hilda from Accrington can continue to produce her crossbreeds at will as she  gratefully mates Willy to Nilly.

Poor Claire looked on incredulous to be castigated “You are kidding?” by Marc Abrahams to her naively innocent assertion, “Obviously no-one is going to buy a puppy (unseen) off the internet!

He had talked of our instant, consumer-led society and appeared wistful as to the “olden days” when people had to wait 6 – 12 months for their well-bred puppy to be born. The consumer wants everything “now“.

He has recently been quoted in a Daily Mail article as saying, reference “designer crossbreeds“: “It can be very dangerous. You end up cross-breeding breeds which each often have their own genetic faults. Cross-breed them and you get puppies prone to both conditions. I get sick cross-breeds all the time. People have fallen for the idea that they’re healthier than pedigree dogs … which is complete rubbish.

Caroline Kisko in the same article is quoted: “You can trim a Poodle’s coat or brush a Retrievers coat, but mix them together and you have a completely unmanageable, matted coat. It is irresponsible breeding and it is done purely to make money“.

Yet in the televised interview they both went along with Marc Abrahams conclusion that the modern consumer ONLY has two purchase options:

  1. ABS
  2. Rescue Centre

So its sod the rest of us!

Nothing to choose between the vast majority of dedicated British dog breeders, who are “bad” breeders by definition for making a conscious decision not to join ABS, on the one hand, and neither the puppy farmer, licensed or not, nor the designer-poo merchant on the other. We are in ‘no dogs land’. Not even a reference to breed club rescue. That’ll be because we undesirables will be running that!

Thankfully, democracy is alive and kicking outside of the Kennel Club in the 21st century and we still have choices and have no truck with double standards that turn a blind eye to pure money-making by crossing breeds contrary to Nature without thought to health, to feed off the greed and gullibility of the modern consumer, just so long as the fees keep the coffers full.

This is all about individual choice. I have colleagues in the Canine Alliance who have chosen to join ABS and we have often enough spoken up for the concept. That doesn’t mean that it is beyond criticism as it has developed and particularly now when it is sought to be used as a scare-mongering weapon.

“Join or be damned!”