Sooty and Amanda
Anger at BBC Crufts decision
By Sarah Loat, BBC
Dog owners expressed their anger as the BBC suspends broadcasting Crufts for the first time in more than 40 years.
The BBC suspended coverage of the Crufts dog show in 2009 pending further investigations into the health and well being of pedigree dogs in the UK.
This decision follows the broadcast of the programme Pedigree Dogs Exposed on BBC One in August 2008, which identified serious issues affecting the health and welfare of some pedigree dogs.
Tracy Titchmarsh, dog owner and trainer
George Entwistle, Controller BBC Knowledge Commissioning, said: "We know that a lot of people will be disappointed that Crufts will not be on the BBC next year, but we need to be confident the measures being taken now and planned for the future are effective in addressing the issues raised about the health of some pedigree dogs before we return to broadcasting the event."
The BBC choosing not to broadcast in 2009, has left many Crufts visitors and dog owners annoyed and upset by the decision.
Pet pug owner Amanda Stone said; "I think the BBC have let everybody down, there's plenty of dog lovers that want to watch it, families sit around on Sunday night to watch who wins. The daily Crufts programme is really good.
"It's informative and tells you things about subjects like dogs for the disabled. All dog breeders know that some people breed from bad stock but by no means the majority."
Mick Walker with Inka and Konna
Tracy Titchmarsh, a dog trainer and Bernese mountain dog owner, also felt the BBC's decision not to broadcast Crufts was wrong: "I think it's sad, Crufts is for the good of dog ownership and how to correctly look after dogs and train them, and that’s what people will miss. It's not just showing a dog off its about educating prospective dog owners. It's so sad not to see things like the agility. People have dogs as pets, it's not all about show dogs."
The BBC's Pedigree Dogs Exposed showed a number of breeds with genetic diseases caused by owners breeding for aesthetic perfection. The programme showed spaniels with brains too big for their skulls and boxers suffering from epilepsy.
Rhodesian Ridgeback owner Mick Walker agreed that looks were sometimes placed above the health of an animal: "Most breeders are trying to make the most aesthetically pleasing animal and that doesn't always mean a healthy animal, but this is down to individuals.
Louise Baldwin and Fiona Parry
"The problem is with irresponsible breeders and bloodlines chosen and irresponsible ownerships. It doesn't matter that the BBC has pulled out, what matters is that future animals born in the future have the best possible chance of a good quality of life."
The use of a St Bernard dog in an Eastenders storyline has been met with cries of hypocrisy. The St Bernard appears on at 'at-risk' breeds list of dogs prone to genetic abnormalities. 'Gumbo' the dog featured in Eastenders is also the son of two former Crufts champions.
"It's hypocritical as the BBC has a storyline in Eastenders about a pedigree St Bernard. We're responsible owners and that's not a responsible storyline. Kids love Crufts, everyone does and people are aghast. It's caused an awful lot of upset," said Louise Baldwin, the Vice Chair of the Leonberger club of Great Britain.
"We love our dogs. We have dogs that have an inherited illness and we haven't bred from them, we buy new stock. We don't want to breed unhealthy dogs and we have a strong code of ethics that members sign. Our Leonbergers are family pets and we show them and they love to work.
Newfoundland and Great Dane owners Chris and Marion Wilks were also furious by what they saw as double standards in the BBC's Eastenders programme;
"Hypocrites! I've written to them and they haven't even had the decency to give me a reply. I'm furious. If the BBC pulling out of Crufts gets rid of idiots like Ben Fogle then it's brilliant, he didn't know anything.
Chris and Marion Wilks
"You're showing the wrong side of the story of pedigree dogs. The BBC pulling out has put the wrong message across - they are telling the general public that pedigree dogs are mutants. There's the odd bad apple and we all know that but don't tar everyone with the same brush."
An EastEnders spokesperson said: - "There is no BBC directive to dictate that St Bernards should not appear on screen following the decision to suspend broadcast of Crufts. A St Bernard appearing as a lovable fictional pet in EastEnders is very different in context to seeing them upheld as exemplary breeds in a prestigous televised dog show."
Health and welfare
The RSPCA has also withdrawn from Crufts 2009 with chief vetinary advisor Mark Evans saying: "There is compelling scientific evidence that the health and welfare of hundreds of thousands of pedigree dogs is seriously compromised as a result."
"From a dog health and welfare perspective, such shows are fundamentally flawed and do our much-loved pedigree dogs no favours."
The Kennel Club said breed standards had been revised to exclude "anything that could in any way be interpreted as encouraging features that might prevent a dog breathing, walking and seeing freely."
Crufts 2009 is at Birmingham NEC from 5-8th March 2009.
last updated: 09/03/2009 at 14:57