pug Tireless campaigner for canine welfare Jemima Harrison is launching a new campaign to promote the use of healthier dogs in advertising. Dogs seem to be everywhere in adverts at the moment and, as with people, advertisers tend to plump for the quirky-looking image.

CRUFFA – the Campaign for the Responsible Use of Flat-Faced Animals in media, marketing and advertising is contacting companies that have used poor examples of brachycephalic dogs and making them aware of the problems that these dog suffer. As the campaign notes, such advertising helps to fuel demand for such pets and makes dogs that cannot regulate their temperature, breed naturally and breathe properly seem acceptable.

You can buy Jemima’s groundbreaking 2008 documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed and the sequel Pedigree Dogs Exposed Three Years On from her website as well as reading about her other work to improve the lives of dogs.

Whilst it is heartening to think that so many people are toiling to improve the lot of dogs, it is also sad to think that the once- repsected organisation the RSPCA has fallen so far into disrepute for what many see as its politically-motivated prorities and its abysmal handling of some welfare cases. Many people who live and work with animals have a story to tell about how disppointed they are in the organisation and now MPs have launched an enquiry into the RSPCA’s role as judge and jury (and fundraiser) in prosecuting alleged abuse of animals. The situation in England and Wales is different to that in the six counties of Northern Ireland and in Scotland where animal welfare groups have the power to investigate cases, but the decision whether to prosecute lies with the state. The RSPCA investigated 159,831 complaints of cruelty in England and Wales in 2014 and prosecuted 1,132 people, claiming a “success” rate of 98.9%. MPs are investigating whether that would be a more appropriate model for the whole of the UK.

Cases of horrendous cruelty to animals are tragically almost a daily occurence and there is certainly need for an accountable body to pursue them through the legislature. However, it would be far better to prevent cases from getting that far and in this, the RSPCA has been weak. An infrastructure needs to be established including making the employment of dog wardens a statutory obligation for local authorities and serious discussions need to be had with the BVA and similar organisations as to the role that veterinary surgeons play in monitoring and acting upon poor welfare. Resources need to be made available so that potential and existing owners can access the best advice available on the requirements of keeping a dog, including their legal and moral obligations.

Babesiosis Hits Harlow



Four dogs in the Harlow area of Essex have contracted tick-borne babesiosis. The Babesia parasite is transmitted mostly via a tick bite but can be transmitted via an infected dog’s bite or blood transfusion. The incubation period is approximately two weeks, but symptoms can be hidden for months or years. The parasite infects red bloods cells and replicates to produce anaemia and jaundice. There are several strains of babesia that infect dogs, some of whch are distributed worldwide, although this is the first infection reported in the UK.


  • Infected dogs may:
  • Lack energy
  • Be off their food
  • Have pale gums
  • Have a fever
  • Have an enlarged abdomen
  • Produce red urine or a discoloured stool
  • Have yellow or orange skin
  • Lose weight.

Young to middle-aged dogs may be more predisposed to infection as are dogs with compromised immunity. Dogs that acquire some immunity may remain carriers for years; stress or other diseases may induce sudden onset of weakness and collapse.

Treatment depends on the species of Babesia which can be identified via tests but there is no product that is licensed for use in dogs in the UK. Treatment for shock and anaemia may be required in addition in severe cases. There is no vaccination for dogs available in the UK.

Tick prevention using a prescription medication is essential. Dogs should be checked for ticks after each walk, especially after walking in woodlands and long grass. Ticks should be removed using a tick hook as soon as possible. It is important not to use tweezers or fingers, alcohol or burning to remove the tick as inexpert handling or pain in the tick can cause it to regurgitate into the wound. Any dog showing unusual symptoms should always be checked by a vet.

Crufts Catastrophe – Yet Again

private video I haven’t had a television for more than a decade and have been too busy to watch Crufts online. Well, that’s my excuse. In reality, I don’t thing that I can bear to look at the travesties of dogs that competitors, judges and the public not only regard as acceptable but reward and perpetuate. I have passed the Kennel Club Judge’s Examinations but have no desire to participate in perpetuating the horrors of the pedigree show ring. Dogs are stunted, neotanised, gasping for breath, weighed down by skin folds, bug eyed or, as in the case of the German Shepherd Cruaghaire Catoria, actually ataxic and terrified to boot… and that’s just the conditions that are visible. Just about the only problem that my examiner would admit to when asked by another candidate about disqualifying dogs on health grounds was lameness. We we were told also that temperament should be taken into account. Well Cruaghaire Catoria was both lame and extremely nervous.

The Kennel Club has now stated that “…we made the decision not to further highlight the unsound movement of the dog whilst we discuss ways forward to improve the health of the breed.” They have blocked the video on You Tube, and instructed Channel 4, which has been airing Crufts since the BBC pulled out on welfare grounds, to edit the footage so that Cruaghaire Catoria was not seen moving.

Thanks to Jemima Harrison and Pedigree Dogs Exposed, the footage is available along with additional information such as these comments from previous judges:

“This bitch is so correct throughout, lovely feminine head & good expression, neck well set on to body. Very good front angulation, lovely topline & good croup, very balanced hind angles. Correct height to length ratio, super underline. In movement she is outstanding so clean coming & going & her profile movement was really excellent.. Very pleased to award her the CC & BOB.”

“…black and gold female of ideal middle size and strength, excellent general proportions, feminine expressive female with well shaped head dark eye and excellent ear carriage, normal wither into straight strong firm back, well laid croup which could be a touch longer, very good forehand with very good underline, excellent hindquarters with strong broad thighs, in top show condition, this female shows a willingness to perform in all phases, demonstrating excellent reach and drive, this was a super class of females, in my opinion this is a female who deserves the highest of accolades, a pleasure to judge. BEST BITCH AND BOB.”

Now I know what I was taught in the KC Judge’s exam and it bore no resemblance to what I saw in this bitch. I could not recognise her from the previous judges’ comments. I would like to think that no one in their right mind could fail to see that this dog was petrified, couldn’t wait to get out of the ring and was actually ataxic. Her topline was so distorted that she seemed to be crouching permanently. When she moved, the whole of her lower hind leg was placed on the ground and she scraped the top of her foot as she struggled to lift her leg high enough to take another step. This is the sort of gait that is commonly seen in dogs suffering from canine degenerative myelopathy. It is an auto-immune disease that is prevalent in German Shepherds and that causes progressive degeneration of the spinal cord resulting in weakness and eventual loss of communication between the brain and the hind legs. This bitch was passed as sound by vets.

Those breeding, judging and showing are supposed to represent the epitome in their chosen breeds so why would any of them think that it what was exhibited at Crufts this year was, in any way, shape or form, normal or acceptable? Not to mention the vet. Now I think it unlikely that this dog has degenerated since she was last judged so that, at every step of the way, a series of supposed experts have concluded that she represents some form of perfection.

Owner Susan Cuthbert has stated “Words cannot express the heart-wrenching experience that I have suffered.” Of course no acknowledgment that it is her dog who is truly suffering. Cuthbert then asks “How can you judge a dog on such a brief observation?”

Well, Ms Cuthbert, I was repeatedly told by my KC examiner that as a judge I would have fewer than two minutes to go over a dog and approximately 30 seconds to see it moving.

Personally, it took me no more than a second or so to see that this dog has an appalling topline, a severely abnormal gait and was clearly very unhappy in the ring.

The handler has further stated that the dog was overwhelmed by the noise, lights, heat and “forced photo [sic]shoots” and that this is “a situation that no owner, trainer or handler can prepare for.” One might forgive him the preposition at the end of the sentence but not that he does not realise that breeders, owners, trainers and handlers can do exactly that. If the dog was that distressed, why was she exhibited? This is supposed to be a top show dog; if her temperament is not suited to the ring, then she should not be shown and should not be bred from. If this was a one-off, she should have been withdrawn.

I took my rescue dog to Crufts a couple of years ago. He coped with the crowds, noise, heat, lights, flashing cameras (often in his face), noisy spectators and 8 hours of being patted, not always in an ideal manner. He also exhibited in the ring with Pets As Therapy. He wasn’t the slightest bit ruffled by any of it, in fact lapped it all up. So did the other PAT dogs – pets, many of them rescue dogs, who had with a minimal amount of good handling and training adapted very well to the demands of Crufts. Had my dog been at all discomfitted, I would have taken him home.

It should be remembered that Crufts was originally established with the aim of selling dog food. It now seem to be a club for the few initiates. In spite of the fact that 47,000 entries were received this year, some finalists were related or obviously known to the judges and the oft-heard complaint that the awards go to “the person on the end of the lead” may not be entirely a case of sour grapes. Even if judges are completely unbaised, awards are obviously not going only to fit, healthy and happy dogs.

The only good thing to come out of this is the outcry that it has engendered. The next good thing that should come of it is effective and immediate action by the Kennel Club to prevent all “recognised” breeds with blatent distortions and heritable problems from being bred from or shown and those that are not “recognised” to remain so. I won’t hold my breath.

Potions, Pills and Prosecutable?

bodybuilder Research published by More Th>n insurers yesterday of a survey of 1,000 pet owners has revealed horrific results.

1.4 million owners admitted to (illegally) administering potentially toxic human medicines to cats and dogs. As the Royal Veterinary College state “It is illegal, in terms of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, for non-veterinary surgeons, however qualified in the human field, to treat animals.” More than one third of those surveyed were trying to avoid paying veterinary fees. Medications administered without veterinary dierction included anti-histamines (36%), paracetamol (28%), antiseptic creams, ibuprofen (17%) and aspirin (14%) for complaints ranging from injured paws to cuts and stings. 21% decided that the injury or ailment did not warrant a trip to the vets, 33% decided that their pet was suffering and needed immediate pain relief and 27% stated that they believed that over the counter human medications are safe to self-administer to pets.

As if that weren’t bad enough, 5% of the owners surveyed (that’s at least 50 animals) had been forced to consume protein shakes and bars, diet pills, vitamins or exercise supplements. 21% of owners said that they wanted to improved their pet’s fitness and stamina,
40% were aiming for rapid weight loss and 35% believed that it would make their pet more healthy. 6% of those owners confessed that they did it “so my pet would look more impressive in public”. Yes, really.

Should we just write these people off as misguided or should we consider prosecution?

Owning a pet is a responsibility and, unless we use existing legislation to combat the actions of people who take their obligations lightly, dogs will consider to suffer.