Jilly and Gavin
Jilly, winner of best in show at Crufts 2013, with her handler Gavin Robertson

Crufts was on telly recently. My wife made me watch it (or so I’ll assert to my dying day).

Personally, I find it all a little repugnant, in a similar but not identical way I find beauty pageants for children repugnant. The fanatical pursuit of canine appearance goes against a lot of why I became a vet.

When prominent vet and former RSPCA head vet Mark Evans spoke out about this, I felt my own views vindicated. I had kept them quiet for most of my career feeling or wondering that maybe I was a bit too hard-line?

I found it easier to present my views to both clients and colleagues. Indeed, with some clients I didn’t hide my opinions about what they were doing, breeding for “domed heads” and “short snouts”. In effect, I “came out” about giving a damn about the welfare of my patients.

Dogs needing surgery just to be able to breathe properly and regulate their temperature is an outrageous state of affairs, and indeed I think it should be regarded as subjecting an animal to “unnecessary suffering”.

Unfortunately many vets who feel the same way cannot voice their opinions for fear of losing their jobs, damages, libel or slander actions, or having to field a complaint from the RCVS – a frightening prospect heavily weighted against the professional.

A sad state of affairs.

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