Three years ago, Jemima Harrison set the dog world abuzz with the release of a controversial documentary of pedigree breeding practices that left many dogs with severe health issues. Since then, she’s become a campaigner for canine welfare and now, three years after the release of Pedigree Dogs Exposed, Harrison revisits the issue to see if improvements have been made. Although there have been some, the dog advocate says she has uncovered a depressing lack of progress.
The claims are made in a new BBC documentary scheduled to air Monday evening. The show is a follow-up to a 2008 release which highlighted many of the health problems faced by purebreds. The documentary drew immediate and intense fire from breeders, who claimed that Harrison had not been fair in her portrayal of the dog breeding community at large.
Some of those complaints were acknowledged by a broadcast regulator who partially upheld the complaints and ruled the program had been unfair to some of the breeders mentioned, and had not given the Kennel Club adequate opportunity to respond to allegations of a cover-up. Despite that acknowledgement, several sponsors pulled out of Crufts and the Corporation canceled its coverage of the dog show after a 42 year run.
Whether or not this follow-up to the original will have the same impact remains to be seen, but it comes as no surprise that hackles are already up as breeders have expressed angst over the controversy being revived just before Crufts, which starts next week.
According to the Telegraph, “The Kennel Club themselves have been investigating the problem of inbreeding among pedigrees and early results of research carried out for them reveal just how vulnerable some breeds are to inherited diseases. The findings from a study of genetic diversity in some of the 210 pedigree breeds registered in Britain has revealed that Manchester terriers, Lancashire heelers, English setters, Irish red and white setters and otterhounds all have critically small gene pools.”
Pedigree Dogs Exposed: Three Years On airs Monday on BBC4 at 9pm. Included below is the original release in its entirety.