Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The real turkey

This pic has been posted on the pro-show Best in Show Daily Facebook page today promoting the television coverage of the Philadelphia National Dog show  - which airs on NBC in two days' time. The rather random reference is to The Weekend's big hit of that name this summer.

This Neapolitan Mastiff male is Ch Ironwood's Paparazzi - call name "Poppy"  - co-owned by a chap called Jim Deppen. He sounds thrilled.

Here's another picture of this dog - butchered ears set upon a gross head of excess skin, entropion and stenotic nostrils. But no matter. He went Best of Breed at the National last weekend - and was also the Westminster BOB in 2013

Here's what Mr Deppen feels about owning a Neapolitan Mastiff.

Nope; nothing to do with God. This is one of man's best examples of qualzucht (torture breeding) as they call it in Austria. 

And of course's the breed history stuff is just all so much bollocks anyway. The breed is a 20th century recreation - and a terrible one at that - as documented succinctly on the Terrierman blog here.

Then there's the fact that this breed looked nothing like this historically. Nothing. The wrinkling, the acres of excess flesh.. all a totally modern conceit.

In fact, Neapolitan Mastiffs remained fairly moderate - and certainly physically very able -  right up until the 1970s.

And now this - Deppen's dog winning Best of Breed at Westminster in 2013. 

Like all Neapolitan Mastiffs, the sagging increases with age. This is the same dog this week winning Best of Breed at the National.  It almost looks like lymphedema on those hocks - something that blights Shar-pei.

On Deppen's Facebook, someone has commented on this pic: "Magnificent, such an expressive face."

As for Deppen's claims that this breed has "fought in battles against man and beast" and "been starved" - now might be a good time to mention that, in 2010,  Deppen and co-breeder Mimi Winkler were charged with 60 counts of cruelty, kennel violations and operating an unlicensed kennel. 

They denied the charges of cruelty detailed in this report:
The visit turned up 18 bichon frise dogs that were "living in unsanitary conditions and had heavily matted coats, long nails and open tumors on some of the dogs that were untreated," police said.
On April 28, Aguirre returned to the kennel, where Winkler relinquished "an emaciated and sickly border collie," police said.
The three dog wardens then returned June 4 to the kennel and discovered three Neapolitan Mastiff dogs "in health conditions that indicate that necessary vet care had not been provided."
The wardens returned June 7 to find "two of the Neapolitan mastiffs were deceased, one of which was disposed of outside of the kennel in a wheelbarrow," police said.
According to another report, Deppen's criminal record was subsequently wiped clean:
A district judge found Deppen and Winkler guilty of four counts of animal cruelty and a count of running an unlicensed kennel, and acquitted them of the rest. The pair appealed the verdicts to Common Pleas Court, and were allowed to enter Accelerative Rehabilitative Disposition, a program for first-time offenders that includes expunging any criminal record. According to Deppen, the outcome only required him to admit running an unlicensed kennel and pay a fine. Court documents on the case have since been destroyed.
Deppen and Winkler's breeding license was revoked by the Department of Agriculture, but the AKC appears to have take no action. Deppen is still listed as an AKC judge.

Perhaps it all was a case of falsified evidence - as claimed by Deppen's attorney who said his clients were being punished for their dogs simply "having a bad hair day". The court also heard  from the defence that there was nothing wrong with the Neapolitan Mastiffs' eyes, as claimed, because "exposed haw" is entirely normal for the breed.

But simply breeding modern show-bred Neapolitan Mastiffs (typically dead by five years old such is the effort to stay alive in that body) is an act of cruelty.

"I like things that look like they were hit by a car," said Deppen in 2005 (source here).

For dog show people to make a joke about those welfare-limiting folds is just disgusting.

It's like showing a picture of a gasping pug with the tagline: "All I need is the air that I breathe".

Or a Basset with his penis dragging on the ground with the line: "No scraping the barrel here!"

Has Purina seen this, I wonder?

You can let Purina know what you think by leaving a comment on their Facebook page here. 

Please chip in on the thread on the Best in Show's page here.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

BRACHY WEEK (extended): Swedish judging row rumbles on

Swedish judge Ake Cronander is standing firm. Despite being criticised by his own Kennel Club for awarding "Excellent" to a Pug in clear respiratory distress at a show in the summer (see video here), Cronander continues to insist that the Pug was fine and that he has done nothing wrong.

In today's DogWorld he says:

“It was the dog’s first show and she very strongly protested about being put on the table and having a hands-on examination. The most interesting thing is that her tail was up all the time, and that would not have happened in a Pug with breathing problems. When she was given a treat she made no sound as she was eating it, which means she was breathing through her nose with no noise. It’s quite simple; she is a healthy dog who was just upset at that point.
“The breed that the biggest problem in the heat that day was the Irish Wolfhound,” he said. “There were greater sounds of breathing coming from their ring than the Pug’s.”
Dog World also reports that Mr Cronander estimates that temperatures that day were about 28 degrees in the shade and "between 32 and 35 degrees in the sun".

The dog show was in Backamo in Sweden on August 22-23 of this year.

Here are the recorded temperatures in Backamo for those two days.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

BRACHY WEEK (extended): "She ran into a door"

Poor Zoe.  Bashing your eye is always an occupational hazard when you're a Pug - even when you haven't been born blind. And, boy, how painful must that have been?

Given that Zoe was born blind (micropthalmia in one eye; not sure about the other) removing both eyes isn't going to effect her quality of life one way or the other.  Micropthalmia is not, as far as I'm aware, a common issue in Pugs (as it is in some other breeds, e.g. Great Danes). Indeed, in Pugs and other brachycephalic breeds, the problem is almost invariably the opposite - eyes that are too big for their sockets.

Actually, they have normal-sized eyes - it's very shallow eye sockets caused by the brachycephaly that is the problem. With no muzzle to protect them, they are very vulnerable to injury and can prolapse easily.

Quite often they have to be removed - called enucleation.

It would not be fair to beat up Banfields for refusing to the op without the money up-front. Vets are not here to subsidise poor breeding. (And that IV line would have been in, I think, to give poor Zoe some pain relief while they were waiting for the family to return.)

As for Town and Country Vets who took on the case on the basis that the family would find the funds eventually... they charged this family $4854 for the removal of two eyes. Yes, it was an emergency, but that's a heck of a lot of money given that eye-removal is usually about £400/$700 per eye. 

None of this, of course, is Zoe's fault.

Zoe's fund-raiser can be found here. 

On the other hand.. meh.. surgery is done. And that bill is extortionate.

Zoe post-surgery

BREAKING NEWS: Swedish KC "deeply regrets" decision to reward Pug with breathing difficulties

Last week, I posted a video of Swedish judge Åke Cronander awarding Excellent to a Pug in clear respiratory distress.

The video is on Facebook, too, and has been seen by thousands of people in the dog world. Almost everyone who has seen it has expressed dismay - but there has been a small minority that has sought to defend Mr Cronander.  They maintain that the sounds the Pug was making were "anxiety sounds", not evidence of breathing difficulty.  Last weekend, a video was posted on social media showing the same Pug going for a long walk and clearly managing perfectly well. Never mind that it was a good 10 degrees cooler this week than it was on the day the video was shot (11ºC as opposed to 23º on the day of the show).  

The Swedish KC (SKK) has taken its time to respond. I have no doubt that its first instinct would be to back one of its judges. However, the SKK's considerable commitment to health has prevailed. Today, it issued a strong statement expressing its disappointment that one of its judges could have made such an error of judgement and committed to ensuring it would never happen again. Judge Cronander's actions are now the subject of an SKC review.

The SKKhas also confirmed its commitment to working with vets and national authorities to ensure a better deal for brachycephalics. New measures being discussed include a puppy-health certificate to focus more on "constitutional aspects of health" and new breeding rules that require an assessment of dam and sire's breathing ability. 

Well done the Swedish Kennel Club!

The SKK's statement in full:

The Swedish Kennel Club (SKK) has worked intensively on the education of show judges on how to handle exaggerated anatomical features in their duties. Breathing has been in focus both in general and specific texts within the Nordic Breed Specific Instructions (http://www.skk.se/Global/Dokument/Utstallning/special-breed-specific-instructions-A8.pdf). There is also a video production specifically focused on breathing difficulties available on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQ_3f4bLkME&feature=youtu.be). 
The SKK board therefore deeply regrets the scenario depictured on YouTube regarding the examination and rewarding a Pug with clinical signs of distress related to breathing at a dog show in Sweden this summer. 
The judge on duty has been asked to explain and motivate his actions according to procedures to be followed when situations like this are brought to our attention. That process is not yet completed. 
SKK expects that such scenarios shown in the film clip are not going to happen again. SKK’s ambition is to make sure that every judge at shows in Sweden will fully comply with BSI and the importance of the health aspects in the evaluation of exaggerated anatomical features. This incident very clearly shows the continuous need for attention towards exaggerations in anatomical features and the importance to continue the work with the Breed Specific Instructions, BSI. 
To make sure that potential breeding stock in brachycephalic breeds meets expected criteria regarding breathing SKK have developed collaborative efforts in Sweden with, the veterinary profession and national authorities. Within this collaborative framework there are six focus areas: 
a)             An update on nationally and internationally available data on the prevalence of unhealthy related to a brachycephalic constitution. 
b)             Investigate the possibilities to centrally register diagnoses and surgical procedures related to exaggerated anatomical features. 
c)             Revision of the puppy health certificate, mandatory to all puppies sold by members of SKK, to include more focus on constitutional aspect on health. 
d)             Develop a protocol and veterinary certificate for potential breeding stock on breathing capacity intended as a merit and if necessary be made compulsory before breeding. 
e)             Further training of judges, veterinarians and breeders related to exaggerated anatomical features.  
f)              Consumer education on health risks related to a brachycephalic constitution.  

Sunday, 15 November 2015

BRACHY WEEK: the price of Pugs

That's a whopping £480 per dog.

Now, I run a rescue. I rehome black retriever crosses and other gundog types. Our "vet-prep" cost over the past 7 years (excluding the extra costs we incur because of bringing in some dogs from overseas) works out at about £100 per dog (about 500 dogs in total). It is almost always simply the routine costs of vaccination, neutering, chipping, worming and flea-treating. If £100 per dog sounds quite cheap, that's because many surrendered dogs are already neutered/vaccinated.

As it is for all rescues, there is the occasional money-pit - a dog that needs expensive surgery; an elderly dog that is rehomed with the commitment to pay for ongoing meds.  But these are the exceptions, not the rule - and that's not because we avoid them. (Every rescue knows that hero-cases are good fund-raisers.)

A clue as to why it costs Pug Dog Welfare & Rescue UK almost five times what it costs me per dog features in the Telegraph today.

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The Telegraph reports that Pug hand-ins to Battersea Dogs' Home have soared  - and that many need surgery. Battersea vets have had to do 20 airway surgeries on Pugs so far this year. (Read the whole thing here.)

A short clip of Peanut the Pug's breathing pre-surgery can be viewed here.

It isn't just airway surgery, though - it is very common for Pugs to come into rescue requiring dental work and/or with ulcerated eyes that need treatment (and quite often removal).

It adds up to a whole heap of suffering - not just for the dogs, but often for owners too who end up giving up a Pug because they can't afford the surgery.

As for Pug Dog Welfare + Rescue -  they do a do a good job in very difficult circumstances.

If you would like to contribute towards their eye-watering vet bill, you can do so here.

BRACHY WEEK: "I'll get another one when the time comes"

Click to enlarge

A recent Veterinary Times carries the tale of vet nurse Lucy Gunn's experience with her Pug, Lola.

It begins:

"Lola was a healthy little thing when I got her, having had her vaccinations. But at about six months of age, she started snoring more and her breathing became louder. She would go for a little walk, then struggle for breath and collapse. I knew something wasn’t right, so took her to see the vet where I worked."

It was the start of a health nightmare. Lola had a soft-palate resection. It helped for a few weeks, but then her breathing got worse again. She had another soft-palate resection. Again, it helped her for a while - but then she deteriorated again.  Finally, she had a tracheotomy. It was either that or euthanasia, Lucy was told by the referral vet.

Lola was still only 10 months old.

Ms Gunn continues:

"Lola did very well for at least 18 months post-surgery. She was almost back to “normal” and was exercising well with no dyspnoeic episodes. However, following this great spell, the BAOS symptoms slowly started to appear again and it was not long before she became dyspnoeic during and after exercise and was also turning cyanotic during these episodes. So, I decided to return to the referral vets to see what they advised. 
"The vet decided because Lola was growing and a pug, the extra skin folds around her neck were causing an issue with her stoma, which is relatively small – about the size of a thumbnail. It was decided the best way to correct this was to have a skin lift – effectively, a nip and tuck. 
"Lola ended up having surgery in which a 16cm length of skin was excised from the back of her neck, allowing the excess skin to be removed and hopefully solving the issue. She has a rather impressive scar to show for it – I say it is one of her many war wounds. Postoperatively, all went well and Lola recovered as well as was to be expected.
In a separate condition, she developed bilateral eye ulcers. Fortunately, it was caught early and I treated her successfully with ophthalmic drops.
"Following this, she started showing symptoms of hip and spinal pain. This meant another anaesthetic and further investigation. Radiographs indicated hemivertebrae and it was decided to try long-term NSAID medication. Initially, due to her other health issues, we decided not to do anything surgically, but to treat medically and reassess symptoms regularly. 
"This treatment continued for 12 months, at which point Lola developed a gastric ulcer from the use of long-term NSAID medication. This meant another visit to a referral specialist and a two-week stay on medication to treat her symptoms.
Lola has recently had another surgery – a mast cell tumour removed on her stifle. Again, she recovered well and is now back to normal."

Lola' s treatment was covered by pet insurance but if Ms Gunn had had to pay it herself, it would have cost her £20,000.

And at the end of that, what does Ms Gunn conclude?

"Lola has not discouraged me from owning pugs and I’ll doubtless get another when the time comes. Pugs as a breed have a great determination and true spirit. Lola has had many issues, but has taken it all in her stride and being a pug she’s got great comedy value. She’s so silly at times – especially when racing around the garden doing the “pug run”. I would not be without her – she’s a huge part of the family and we adore her."
Ms Gunn... let me put this as nicely as I can.

You are not a hero. You are a stupid, unthinking, cruelty-promoting idiot. 

Seriously, I know that's rude but can't you see?

Dogs shouldn't have to have "great determination" or "true spirit" in order to endure what we have forced on them. That Lola and other Pugs cope with this awfulness isn't a tribute to her or them. It's a terrible, terrible indictment on you and us.