Re the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals

Although retired from this debate for sometime, I am disturbed to hear RCVS is trying to stir up a hornet’s nest on the above subject. One wonders if half the time devoted by the professions politicians to puppy dogs tails had been spent looking after the health and welfare of the countries cattle may we have avoided BSE.

I would suggest that before its ruling Council acts upon such an ‘initiative’ there are a number of questions to be addressed. Whilst the Docking issue, much loved by those posing as welfare activists, has, inside and out of the Convention been a controversial issue. The accolade, for the most contentious issues, has to go first to ‘Article 5 Breeding’ and thereafter to ‘Article 2 Scope and implementation”

I have in front of me a copy of a letter written in 1995 by Mr Roger Green (then Chairman of the FVE Animal Welfare Working Party) in which he castigates HM Government for failing to prevent Docking. This castigation was in spite of said government having, on false premise, done precisely what the RCVS had asked of them i.e amend the Vet Act. I mention this point because, how ever right or wrong the College maybe, it certainly has the right to seek to amend the act under which it operates. I see nothing in that act that gives the RCVS the right to indulge itself in this present ‘initiative’.

Nobody is going to deny the RCVS interest in Welfare. It is, after all, the reason it was given an Act of Parliament. Ensuring, it was hoped, that that the owners of animals could rely on a certain level of competence in the treatment of their animals. It was not given a privileged position to pontificate to those owners. Nor indeed to those in the profession itself, who have undergone the required training for them to offer reasoned and competent advice to those requiring it. Whilst the members of RCVS have the privilege of giving advice this should be unfettered.

The docking issue is merely a tool, which power freaks, inside and out, of the profession wish to use to determine that they can enforce their views on others. Once a precedent is established who knows what might follow? I will return to how the RCVS could and should, within the provisions of the Veterinary Surgeons Act, enhance animal welfare

Back in 1995 an associate and myself endeavoured to establish who was orchestrating this Convention. After many letters and telephone conversations it was clear that in the main the input was Veterinary. Both the BVA and the then President of the RCVS tried to distance their organisations denying an involvement. [Much to the embarrassment of some Euro; officials. Veterinary & Council] But it became clear that UK involvement in the FVA was and had been considerable and in the formulation of many of the proposals may well have been fundamental. It seems more than likely that the FVE was responsible for most if not all of the input.

It was in the course of these enquiries that Mr Green’s letter [mentioned above] was received. It contained the following paragraph: –

“The FVE as a fully participating observer Expert on ETS125 has been invited to comment in general upon the breeding of Pet Animals. In order to be adequately briefed the Animal Welfare Working Party of FVE that I chair has commissioned the Danish Veterinary Association to prepare a paper on the subject consulting widely. This paper will be discussed at the next Working Party meeting in Brussels with a view to formulating policy for the FVE to promote at the next meeting of ETS125 in Strasbourg next year. The FVE delegate to ETS125 is Greek, Dr Ben Albalas. He is an internationally well known small animal practitioner and a Vice President of EFCAVA the European Federation of Companion Animal Veterinary Associations of which the British Small Animal. Veterinary Association is a member. Any opinions expressed or papers submitted to eminent organisations such as the Council of Europe are fully researched and agreed by all delegations beforehand”.

As far as I am aware, the said paper has not been published in the UK? If not why not? From the words and expressions used it would appear that this would be an important and informative document – “Consulting widely” Who? “Fully researched” By what means? It should surly be made available to those who the RCVS wish to consult. Mr Green obviously set great store by it!

This Convention thus far concentrates, in spite of its PET ANIMALS title, almost exclusively on the pure bred version of one species. Namely the dog. In connection with article 5 a resolution is adopted which pillories just about every breed that comes to mind and the Entlebucher Cattle dog, which doesn’t. [IT is condemned for having a “semi lethal” factor. It does have a stub tail and requires its dewclaws removed. Yes! That must be the lethal factor!] The Convention even has the audacity to threaten consequences!

Now whilst it cannot be denied that all breeds have their share aberrations so do all spices, not least the human. Dog breeders work hard to eliminate these. It is part of their aim in life and it is usually at some expense to themselves, and advantage to the profession. We are not talking about those difficulties we are talking about differences of opinion in appearance. Again, notice how things you cannot see, like heart defects, – which Boxer breeders have been particularly diligent about, – fail a mention? No, the main concern with the Boxer is his teeth [or could it be that he is a docked breed]. Why are we not concerned about crossbreds, mongrels and other species?

It is the SPECIFIC NATURE of the contents of this Convention that make it totally unacceptable! The COUNCIL OF EUROPE is not a legislative authority. Although others would wish and will try to alter and manipulate the status of the COUNCIL [note the attempt, once again, to use the docking issue to try to establish by precedent a power to legislate] The Council is and should remain a debating forum for the establishment and agreement principals: –

“The Council’s aim of establishing greater unity among its member countries is achieved through: International treaties (“European Conventions”) which prescribe reciprocal obligations and lay down common standards, rules and practices, joint action decided by the governments: the continuous pooling of information and experience. Its overriding concern for the individual, his rights and his freedoms, is reflected throughout its activities.” (Dod’s)

Which brings us to the suggested advice that HM Government should sign and ratify ETS 125. What precisely do the RCVS want the Government to do? Sign a blank check perhaps!

Under Article 2, “Parties to the convention undertake to take the necessary steps to give effect to the provisions of the Convention “. This should be within 6 months of ratification. This is the legislation bit. Have the College considered the WHAT, WHO and HOW of the matter? [Because they are not now posing in Europe, we are here back in the UK] Somebody has to formulate ‘precise detailed legislation’ because of the ‘detail’ that has been written into the Convention. Who is going to supervise and police such provisions? How exactly do the proposes see the legislation working? If the response to the Colleges consultations is to be in anyway meaningful these questions have to be addressed!

Whilst it may well be different for Dr Ben Albalas in Greece, in the UK we have, in the 1911 Act. Probably the best and most flexibly enforceable of Animal welfare provisions. We don’t need this Convention.

Now before closing I should like to return to the matter of the Colleges involvement in Welfare. We will all agree that an animal’s welfare may well be determined by its owners ability to obtain satisfactory and affordable Vet treatment and in this respect the role of the RCVS is crucial: –

Why are the public not offered an appeals and arbitration procedure similar to that of the Legal profession?

Why is the College not regulating the charges made for drugs?

[Much is made of the high cost of drugs but why should the profession benefit from that cost by virtue of a mark up beyond the cost of dispensing? If an animal has a prolonged requirement for a drug why should this benefit the Vet?] [As far as the drugs themselves are concerned The Medicines Directorate notes on drugs reveal just how a change is needed to offer benefit to both profession and customer]

Should the Profession not establish a much broader approach to specialisation and diploma qualifications?

[Especially in the field of surgery where there appears to be little restriction]

The Trading legislation provides exemptions on the basis that the profession is self-regulating, so the publics redress in these matters is restricted. It would therefore be nice to see the RCVS spending more time on matters within its own competence and less on interfering in other people’s interests.

Ron Henney. Warwickshire

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Mr .Nicholas Baker M.P. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State.

1st May 1996

Dear Mr Baker,


As Chairman and Secretary of the Chinese Crested Club of Great Britain, and writing on behalf of the members, we are all horrified and dismayed at most of these proposals, and urge you to vigorously oppose their implementation. Many points can be made:

No indications are given about how much evidence has been uncovered to prove that, for example, hairlessness which is a characteristic of the Chinese Crested Dog is in any way detrimental to its health and well being, and the same should be said of most of the other characteristics listed. Neither of the Clubs in this country have been approached for their comments. Just who are these pundits who seem to claim such intimate knowledge?
If it was possible in any form of breeding to comply with such exact and specific weights, measurements and proportions we imagine that every mother would give birth to a Tom Cruise or a Marilyn Monroe. These “experts” merely show their ignorance of genetics.
Hairlessness, which is a natural mutation in the genes and not a man made condition which appears to be implied by the proposals, has occurred in many species. i.e. the elephant, the rhinoceros, the pig, but the most obvious example is Man himself.
There is published evidence to show that natives in parts of Mexico, where some of the hairless breads originate, still breed and hunt with their hairless dogs and have done for generations. The existence of hairlessness is recorded in the dog in Mexico, China, Turkey, Peru, Ethiopia. Paraguay, Argentina. the Caribbean and the Philippines. In Mexico excavations in tombs have revealed skeletons and clay figures of hairless dogs, indicating that during the Toltec period of 900~1200 A.D, it was held in great reverence. Illustrations from a reference book dated 1866 clearly show a dog exactly similar to the Chinese Crested Dog as bred today. To go back even further, there is more evidence of a hairless breed in a painting by 15th Century artist Gerard David. In his painting entitled Christ Nailed to the Cross, there is a little hairless dog clearly showing an excellent crest, socks, and a plume on his tail. How then can it be said that hairlessness is life threatening when the breed still exists practically unchanged for so long?
As no indication is given as to what should happen to those dogs which fail to comply with the many criteria, and there will be many, as Nature has of course not read the Council of Europe proposals, would it not be more correct to conclude that these proposals are in fact more ‘life threatening’ than any of the conditions listed?
Please, please, do not let us support another ill thought out set of regulations like the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Yours sincerely,

Chinese Crested Club of Great Britain

CHAIRMAN: Mrs Sue Jones, SECRETARY: Mrs Brenda Taylor.

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Fight For Our National Breed

As a Bulldog Breeder I am writing to you to let you know my feelings towards the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals and the impact it will have on our breed should our government sign. As you are aware over 100 breeds are listed to be altered or banned, the bulldog is to be either “redesigned” or banned completely.

This carries with it several worries as a bulldog breeder. Firstly, the redesign of the Bulldogs Head. This is something that cannot be achieved without outbreeding, therefore the Bulldog will no longer be pure bred, this will lose over 100 years of history for a dog that is shaped as he is because he needed to be that shape to be able to carry out his original role in society; namely bull baiting. Every part of our bulldog was bred in deliberately over 100 years ago, the teeth were positioned to allow the dog to grip, the nose short so he could still breathe whilst doing so, the wrinkles to take the bulls blood away from the dogs eyes, the heavy front and short front legs to give him the strength to hold the bull and the shallow joints to allow him to jump from a standing position.

Thankfully the so called “sport” of bull baiting is long gone, but the breed remains with us and is a part of this Countries heritage. The bulldog was never meant to be agile, he was never meant to be able to walk for miles, he was designed for his strength and stamina. The question of course is what do we outbreed to? And what guarantees to we have that we do not re-introduce the aggression of the original bulldogs? The aggression is the only part of the bulldog that has been lost over time making him one of the most gentle dog breeds known to man. I’m sure you will agree that if it was possible to produce bulldogs that could be guaranteed not to suffer from soft palate related problems and didn’t carry too heavy wrinkles our rings would be full of such specimens. As it stands the ring does not always show us perfect bulldogs and there are certainly specimens that never make the ring for various reasons, but then many of these bulldogs are based on breeding lines where although the breeders did the best they could they didn’t have the technology that we have available to us today.

I feel there is a far greater understanding of genetics today, that breeders are far more aware of what their dogs can produce just by understanding how the genes are passed from one dog to another, as a direct result breeders are subsequently far more careful as to which dogs enter breeding programmes. Besides we now have the use of DNA profiling available to us and it isn’t going to be many more years before we will have the technology available to us where we can pinpoint carriers of particular faults and diseases and as a direct result all breeds are going to improve without the need for Europe intervention

There are many breeders of this noble breed who would rather see their bitches die virgins rather than out breed the history, besides I can see many breeders continuing as they are and the result will be bulldogs without papers, this will have a direct knock on effect to the Kennel Club as their registrations fall further. There is currently so much bad press on this breed that the general public are being led to believe that all bulldogs can’t breath, that all bulldogs have skin problems and that all bulldogs are genetic disasters which is far from the truth.

The European Convention is being sold to the public under the heading of “tail docking” and because many of the general public are opposed to tail docking they are assuming that this can only be a good thing for our dogs. What they are not being told is that there are many many other breeds on the hit list for reasons other than tails and dew claws, of which the bulldog is one. There is currently an Internet petition running which can be found at

Once again we have to fight for our national breed.

Regards Tania Holmes/Shaloney Bulldogs