The following is a statement from Clarissa Baldwin, Chief Executive of Dogs Trust:
It was horrifying to watch last night's Pedigree Dogs Exposed programme on BBC1. I am very aware that the Kennel Club has been making significant efforts in the recent past to persuade breed clubs that they need to make more effort to eradicate genetic disease and carefully control inbreeding. We hope this programme provides them with the impetus and muscle to accelerate their plans.
Dogs Trust is aware that there are many genetic defects in pedigree dogs which cause significant health and welfare problems. We see many afflicted dogs in our Rehoming Centres and deal with the consequences. Not just the physical problems but also the mental anguish. Dogs Trust recognises that the majority of breeders are responsible and prioritise the welfare of their dogs but we believe that the following four steps would help reduce the suffering of some pedigree dogs.
1. Existing legislation needs to be changed to prevent inappropriate breeding practices such as those highlighted in the programme.
2. There needs to be genetic screening of all breeding stock and the assured integrity of such a process.
3. Breed standards need to be reviewed and where necessary revised to ensure they are firmly focused on the health and well being of the dog, not the aesthetics of the breed. Breeders and show judges must adhere to these revised breed standards.
4. When people buy a dog, they need to think about where they are buying it from. Although we always urge people to first consider a rescue dog, if they do want a pedigree, people should buy from a Kennel Club accredited breeder. They must find out the dogs genetic heritage and get a screen test before buying. Let's not pander to uncaring breeders.
We will be working with the Kennel Club and DEFRA on these points, but I urge Dogs Trust supporters who watched the documentary and want to help bring about constructive change to write to Lord Rooker, Minister for Sustainable Food and Farming and Animal Health at Defra requesting the above steps. Similarly we would welcome our supporters’ suggestions of how the situation can be improved.