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BBC documentarian: "PETA is a bunch of crackpots"

January 8, 2009 |  7:20 pm

Basset Hound

Filmmaker Jemima Harrison, the documentarian behind the BBC's explosive "Pedigree Dogs Exposed," is lashing out against PETA for "using the film to further its own, warped agenda," she said today.

The controversial findings in "Pedigree Dogs Exposed" led the BBC to drop its planned coverage of Britain's famed Crufts dog show, citing concerns about the health of purebred dogs.  As we told you on Monday, PETA has asked the USA Network, which historically airs the Westminster Kennel Club dog show every February, to follow BBC's lead and discontinue coverage.

So how does Harrison like PETA using her film as ammunition against Westminster?  Not one bit, and she minces no words in a statement provided to L.A. Unleashed today: 

"Our film is about animal welfare, not animal rights.

"PETA's animal welfare record is appalling. It kills 97 percent of the dogs that come to its shelters and admits its ultimate aim is to rid the world of what it calls the 'domestic enslavement' of dogs as either pets or working dogs.

"In stark contrast, and the reason we made the film, is that we believe pedigree dogs are of tremendous value to society and that something needs to be done to arrest the damage caused by decades of inbreeding and selection for 'beauty'. The film is a passionate call for urgent reform to save them before it is too late.  To do that, there needs to be urgent reform of breeding practices and dog shows. 

"PETA is a bunch of crackpots who do not care about anything but publicity and making money. They have not bothered to contact us -- and, indeed, if they did we would make it very clear we do not want their support. It devalues and marginalises a film that raises a serious issue that needs to be addressed, and quickly."

What do you think -- is PETA off the deep end, or right in suggesting that the big daddy of dog shows should be pulled from TV stations?

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: A basset hound competes in the National Dog Show.  Bassets, along with Pekingese, Chinese shar-peis, bulldogs, German shepherd dogs and other breeds, were listed by the BBC as at "high risk" for genetic disorders as a result of selective breeding.  Credit: Matt Rourke / Associated Press.

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