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'Size Zero' row reaches dog shows!

world Updated: Feb 22, 2009 14:07 IST
PTI
Highlight Story

What started as just an argument about skinny models on the ramps of New York and Milan has now spread to the world of pedigree dogs. Yes, the 'Size Zero' row has reached canine shows.

Experts have claimed that many dog owners are denying their pets proper food and water in order to win competitions -- in fact, canines are "starved" to meet strict weight limits at shows, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

According to Andrew Brace, a dog show judge, three quarters of the Miniature Dacshunds at a recent championship in Bridgend, Wales, were "far too thin for their frames".

"I am well aware of the strength of feeling of the Miniature people about the need to maintain the scales, but I believe that this is not helping the breed one bit," he wrote in the Dog World magazine.

Agreed expert Jemima Harrison, the producer of a BBC documentary which in 2008 exposed breeding techniques which led to genetic illnesses that affect pedigree dogs: "This is 'Size Zero' for dogs.

"I am inundated with owners and judges who say they are seeing dehydrated or malnourished dogs on the scales, all for the sake of a rosette. It sounds funny to think of dogs having the same issues as fashion models but it is a serious welfare issue. For these owners, it is all about winning and nothing else."

However, the Dachshund Breed Council, the umbrella group for Britain's 19 breeding clubs, is furious about the new "cruelty" claims, describing them as "nothing more than hearsay".

"The breed standard clearly states that exhibits which appear thin and undernourished should be severely penalised. We do not disqualify dogs just because they do not meet the weight guidelines.

"A small number of people are stirring it up but there is no evidence of a welfare problem. We'll not tolerate exhibitors behaving in a way that might in any way risk the welfare of animals," Ian Seath, the Council's Chairman, said.

But, Beverley Cuddy, the Editor of Dogs Today said that the Kennel Club's position was "bordering on neglectful" because it had allowed the practice to continue at most shows.

"They could have banned scales for Miniature Dacshunds at all shows but instead they have gone for a cosmetic ban at high-profile Crufts (dog show) while allowing them everywhere else which is disgraceful," Cuddy said.

A spokeswoman for the Kennel Club said it had made the changes at Crufts in response to concerns, but "there's still no hard evidence" with which it could take further action.

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