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Open Letter to the Kennel Club Says What a Lot of us Are All Thinking

Open letter to the Kennel Club in response to your Puppy Awareness Week email asking me for “help putting bad breeders out of business”

This is a wonderful idea. Puppy Farmers need to be stopped. As a dog lover, I would love to help put the bad breeders out of business and ensure that puppies are bred by those who truly care about their welfare. I would also gladly help give potential puppy owners vital information about the most responsible way to find and buy a puppy.

This is a subject close to my heart as, having sought advice from the Kennel Club on where to find a responsibly-bred Cavalier puppy and then buying from a “top” breeder on the recommendation of a breed club Puppy Advisor, my little dog was diagnosed with severe Syringomyelia (SM) aged two. In hindsight, she started showing symptoms as early as six months. It transpired that the Kennel Club registered parents of my puppy had no recorded health tests and, to this day, the breeder has been unable to provide evidence that any of the required or recommended health tests were done despite the well-documented inherited health problems in the breed.

It took me 18 months to find my next puppy from genuinely responsible breeders. Why so long? Because most Cavalier breeders, despite what they claim, do not test their breeding dogs or follow the breeding recommendations designed to reduce the incidence of the two most severe and painful health conditions.

These experiences have meant that I cannot, in all conscience, spread the word about buying from a Kennel Club Assured Breeder. I know only too well that the Scheme requires very limited testing, which in no way addresses serious inherited health issues and the non-compliance of breeding protocols by the majority of Cavalier breeders.

I’m afraid that the Kennel Club itself first needs to put in place stringent steps to prevent the KC registration of litters from Puppy Farmers. Caroline Kisko, the Secretary of the Kennel Club, has recently said “We want to stress to people they should never pay money to someone they suspect of being a Puppy Farmer”. Your own KC website defines Puppy Farmers as “high volume breeders who breed puppies with little or no regard for the health and welfare of the puppies or their parents”. It must therefore be of concern to all who support the PAW campaign that one such high-volume breeder is shown as registering 11 Cavalier litters in three months in your latest Breed Record Supplement. The 11 mothers and four stud dogs have no health tests whatsoever shown on your website.

There are many doing great work to draw attention to the misery caused by puppy farming. Surely, this sort of inconsistency undermines the efforts of so many committed and hard-working people?

I would like to draw the Kennel Club General Committee’s attention to a petition that has already gathered over 17,000 signatures. It promotes an idea that would identify responsible Cavalier breeders and so remove Puppy Farm dogs from KC registration: https://www.change.org/p/the-kennel-club-stop-registerin-g-cavalier-king-charles-spaniel-puppies-unless-their-parents-are-mri-scanned-and-heart-tested

By implementing the suggestion that only litters from health-tested Cavalier parents are accepted for registration the KC would ensure that irresponsible breeders, who will not pay for health tests, are unable to register their poorly-bred litters. Buyers could then be confidently directed to the Kennel Club as truly being the place to find responsibly bred puppies. As a really significant bonus, the information on health testing would go to researchers so better testing and breeding methods can be devised?

Yours faithfully

Charlotte Mackaness

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