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World Update: Crufts Coverage Changes Hands, Retains Focus

By David Alderton

Earlier this year, the BBC decided not to broadcast from the world-famous Crufts Dog Show for the first time in nearly half a century.

Despite relatively short notice, the Kennel Club managed a very creditable webcast of the event, which actually allowed those in North America and elsewhere to follow it live.

Since the BBC will not be returning to cover the 2010 event, which runs from March 11-14, digital TV channel More4 acquired the broadcast rights--a move welcomed by many dog-lovers. Leading sports program makers, Sunset and Vine, which has a reputation for innovative broadcasting of live events, will produce the coverage.

“More4’s coverage will enable dog lovers to see all the Crufts favorites, with fresh and stylish coverage that will give the show a More4 twist,” said Hamish Mykur, the head of More4. “Crufts has a long-standing place in British broadcasting, and people who watch it want to know that the dogs are, above all, happy and healthy. Our programs will place a particular emphasis on dog welfare issues, reflecting different points of view.”

More4 is planning to bring a fresh perspective to coverage of Crufts, while retaining the show’s popular highlights, including the stories of heroic dogs in the “Friends for Life” competition and the live judging and presentation of the “Best in Show”’ award. The programs will also provide a high-profile platform to inform the public about issues of health and welfare in pedigree dog breeding.

Contrary to reports, the Kennel Club has never attempted to hide the fact that some dogs are afflicted by breed weaknesses. Indeed, it has spent millions of pounds sponsoring research in universities and elsewhere, which have led to real improvements in canine health overall. The organization also conducted in 2004 the world’s largest survey in conjunction with the Animal Health Trust and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association on the health of pedigrees. The results culminated in a review of all breed standards in January 2009.

“Dog shows such as Crufts are crucial to safeguarding the long-term health and welfare of pedigree dogs,” said Caroline Kisko, the Kennel Club’s director of communications. They enable us to encourage and reward the breeding of healthy, happy dogs, by making sure these are the ones that go home with the prizes. Without dog shows, there would be no incentive to breed healthy dogs, no forum to monitor whether this is being done and no platform to educate the breeders and owners of the future,” she said.

“Crufts is also the world’s best platform for all individuals and welfare organizations, veterinary professionals and breed experts who love and care about dogs, to discuss the health issues that the Kennel Club recognizes affect some breeds and discuss what we can all do to ensure that dogs live healthy, happy lives,” Kisko added.

Nicky Paull, president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), agreed.

“Dog shows provide an excellent opportunity to educate the public about pedigree breeding--both the good elements and the areas of concern,” she said. “They can also be used to highlight best practice in dog breeding and encourage responsible ownership.

“Alongside many other organizations, the BVA has long campaigned to reduce genetic disease in all animals and, jointly with the Kennel Club, our Canine Health Schemes help breeders to identify problems early and ensure they are not passed on,” she continued.

“We welcome More4’s commitment to screening Crufts as a way to highlight health and welfare issues and inform viewers in an interesting and engaging way.”

Already, there are more than 20 breeds benefiting from DNA screening programs organized through the Kennel Club, which enables the breeding out of various health issues by careful pairings. This is a rapidly developing area of veterinary science, which is already making a significant difference to canine welfare. <HOME>


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World Update: Crufts Coverage Changes Hands, Retains Focus

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