Canada’s The Pet Network presents the controversial BBC documentary PEDIGREE DOGS EXPOSED on Monday Feb. 14 and Thursday Feb. 17 at 9 pm ET / 10 pm PT.
It is, in the words of filmmaker Jemima Harrison, “the greatest animal welfare scandal of our time.”
Two years in the making, the controversial 2008 BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed reveals that purebred dogs in the UK suffer from alarmingly high levels of disability, deformity and disease – and human beings are to blame.
Three-quarters of Britain’s seven million canines are pedigree dogs, and they cost their owners an estimated 10 million pounds in vet fees every week.According to Harrison, who wrote and directed the hour-long film, the root of the problem is competitive dog showing. Decades of inbreeding, done in the interest of fostering the physical traits required by the UK Kennel Club’s rigorous breed standards, have perpetuated a host of serious genetic diseases.
As many as one-third of all Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, for example, are affected by an agonizing neurological condition called Syringomyelia. And some breeds of Boxer suffer from epilepsy at 20 times the rate found in humans.
As the film reveals, practices such as breeding closely related dogs (including mother and son or brother and sister) and culling healthy puppies for purely cosmetic reasons remain troublingly commonplace.
Animal welfare activists say the show world’s obsession with appearance over quality of life has caused immense suffering and may threaten the very existence of some breeds. Yet according to Harrison, the Kennel Club has done far too little to address the problem — a charge its leading members strongly reject.
RSPCA veterinarian Mark Evans calls the situation “disgraceful.” He describes Crufts, the most prestigious of Britain’s canine championships, as “a parade of mutants – a garish, freakish beauty pageant.”
Since the film’s original broadcast, Jemima Harrison has become an outspoken activist on the issue. She blogs about the health problems of purebred dogs here.