Leading veterinary bodies have been urged to issue an ultimatum forcing The Kennel Club (KC) to impose tighter breed testing rules.
Vet Emma Goodman Milne, who found fame on BBC’s Vets in Practice, wants to see organisations such as the BVA and the BSAVA issue an ultimatum to The KC to either make health tests for potentially fatal conditions compulsory prior to registration and showing – or sever their links completely.
Mrs Goodman Milne attacked The KC for its unwillingness to tackle health issues affecting cavalier King Charles spaniels via her blog.
She also added her name to an online petition calling for The KC to make health testing compulsory for mitral valve disease and syringomyelia.
“Leaving testing up to the breeders is certainly not working,” Mrs Goodman Milne said. “If show winners had to prove they were health tested [and had passed] or face elimination, I can tell you things would change pretty damned quickly.
“I qualified 20 years ago and have been asking The KC for ages why they don’t put themselves forward more and insist on health testing, because we are so far behind a lot of other countries.
“The KC will often say it’s not up to them and there’s other breeding going on of dogs that aren’t registered with it, but actually it drives so much of it because it is seen as the pinnacle of dog excellence. Crufts is a massive dog show and it’s got the power to make a huge change.
“We need to put professional pressure on [The KC] and it would probably have to come by some form of ultimatum from one of the big bodies – either the royal college, the BVA or the BSAVA.
‘Not overnight process’
The KC secretary Caroline Kisko said The KC cared deeply about the health of cavalier King Charles spaniels and aimed to be able to provide the same tools in the UK that were available in other countries to enable breeders to breed healthy dogs.
“This is not an overnight process and is something The KC is investing a lot of resources into, as we fully recognise the importance of protecting the future health of this lovely breed,” she said.
“The KC has been committed to developing a new heart scheme for cavaliers in the UK for many years, but, unfortunately, the veterinary profession has been unable to agree testing protocols.”
BSAVA vice-president John Chitty said those who saw the consequences of inherited diseases in veterinary practice and research shared serious concerns, but progress was being made.
BVA president Sean Wensley said it was vital everyone with a stake in the health and welfare of dogs worked together to tackle health problems. He said: “Only by working together in this way can we make progress.”
- Further comment and reaction can be read in the 29 August issue of Veterinary Times.