Following the recent release of the report of the Independent Inquiry into Dog Breeding, by Professor Sir Patrick Bateson FRS of Cambridge University, on Thursday 14 January 2010, Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown has today spoken of the hard work and commitment of his constituent Carol Fowler in raising the profile of the issue of hereditary health problems in pedigree dogs.
Mr. Clifton-Brown first met Carol in November 2005 when she came to him to discuss the problems in the dog breeding industry and the lack of will to address the welfare problems caused by inherited diseases. Carol’s involvement in this issue began after the death of her Blenheim Cavalier, Bonnie, in 2003, who had suffered from the disease Syringomyelia, in which the brain outgrows the skull, causing the dog excruciating pain.
With Geoffrey’s assistance Carol was able to meet with DEFRA officials in 2006 to discuss the Animal Welfare Act, and with officials’ from the Kennel Club. Carol also gave evidence to the Companion Animal Welfare Council (CAWC) prior to the publication in 2006 of the report, ‘Breeding and Welfare in Companion Animals’. In 2008 Geoffrey accompanied Carol to the House of Lords for CAWC’s workshop meeting, ‘Fixing ancestral problems: genetics and welfare in companion animals.’
Carol’s hard work was spotted by Jemima Harrison, a producer working on a documentary film on this issue, who asked Carol to be a part of her work. The film entitled ‘Pedigree Dog’s Exposed’, was broadcast on BBC1 in August 2008. The film caused a significant amount of controversy, and led to the decision by the BBC not to broadcast Crufts, over concerns about the health of pedigree dogs. An important further outcome in January 2010 was the publication of Professor Bateson’s Inquiry Report, funded by the Kennel Club and Dogs Trust and supported by Defra.
Mr. Clifton-Brown feels that the report, along with those produced by the Companion Animal Welfare Council, the All Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare and the RSPCA all point to the clear need for a change in the Animal Welfare Act, and the MP has arranged for Carol Fowler to meet with Andrew Rosindell MP, the Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, and Richard Benyon MP, the Shadow Minister for Environment, Fisheries and Wildlife, to present the case to decision makers in the Conservative Party.
Commenting on Carol’s work, Mr. Clifton-Brown today said “From the very first moment I met with Carol I was struck not only by her compassion for animals and her dedication but by the strength of her case. It was quite clear that the issue of the health of pedigree dogs was being overlooked, but the film in which Carol appeared demonstrated the case to the animal loving people of the United Kingdom and I know she received a huge amount of supportive messages which has continued to spur her campaign. However, there remains more lobbying to be done and I know Carol will be right at the head of this work and remain delighted to offer what assistance I can.”
Source: Geoffrey Clifton-Brown