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Controversy swirls around Britain's Crufts Dog Show; animal charity plans to be on hand to advise attendees

February 27, 2009 |  3:08 pm

An Irish Setter wins the Crufts dog show With the BBC boycotting -- and animal groups the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and veterinary charity PDSA steering clear -- this year's Crufts Dog Show promises to be an unusual one. 

Crufts, the biggest dog show in the world, is expected to draw well over 20,000 canine competitors this year. 

The show began to make headlines worldwide months ago, when the BBC announced it wouldn't televise it based on concerns raised by a BBC1 documentary called "Pedigree Dogs Exposed."  The documentary showed purebred dogs with severe health problems, including "spaniels with brains too big for their skulls and boxer dogs that suffered from epilepsy," according to a statement from the BBC.  The filmmaker behind the documentary, Jemima Harrison, argued that common breeding practices such as inbreeding led to such issues. 

Last month, Britain's Kennel Club announced major reforms, including revisions of many dog breed standards and ceasing to register puppies produced by inbreeding (defined by the KC as the breeding of a mother and son, father and daughter or brother and sister). 

Now, the Blue Cross (another U.K. animal charity not to be confused with the American insurance company) has announced that it will attend Crufts to fill the void left by the RSPCA and PDSA in educating the show's spectators about the issue of hereditary disease in dogs.  The Telegraph explains:

In a survey of more than 1,000 pet owners commissioned by Blue Cross, 74 per cent admitted they were concerned about the issue of inherited health defects in some dog breeds but 38 per cent felt powerless to do anything about it.

A further 33 per cent of pet owners thought they could help reduce the problem if they knew more about it but 65 per cent did not know where to find reliable information about the health and welfare of pedigree dogs. ...

Kim Hamilton, The Blue Cross chief executive, said: "We know that three quarters of pet owners are concerned about inherited health defects in dogs, so it's important that we are at Crufts to reach many thousands of dog owners and give them practical advice on how they can help achieve a brighter future for our pets."

The Blue Cross says it will have an information and advice stand at Crufts, which will last four days beginning March 5. 

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: APL / The Kennel Club

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