What is BOAS and what does brachycephalic or ‘brachy’ mean?
Dogs with a flat, wide-shaped head are said to be brachycephalic (‘brachy’ meaning short, and ‘cephalic’, meaning head). This particular skull shape will often give these dogs a characteristic flattened face and a short muzzle. Brachycephaly is caused by genetic mutations that change the way the bones in the skull grow, resulting in a in a shorter, wider skull shape.
BOAS is a progressive disorder which can impair a dog’s ability to exercise, play, eat and sleep and is caused when the soft tissue in the nose and throat is excessive for the airways, partially obstructing the airway and making it difficult for them to breathe normally, causing heavy panting or noisy breathing.
What is being done?
In February 2019, the Respiratory Function Grading Scheme was launched, developed by the University of Cambridge and funded by The Kennel Club Charitable Trust. The scheme assesses dogs for the presence and severity of BOAS (brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome) and is currently available for any Pug, French Bulldog and Bulldog, with the potential to improve the health and welfare of these breeds for generations to come.
To support the scheme and continue to raise awareness of BOAS in ‘brachy breeds’, The Kennel Club is driving understanding and conversation with breeders, vets, organisations and the general public alike to encourage breeders to have their dogs tested as well as to recognise the health issues that face these breeds.
The Kennel Club also works collaboratively as part of the brachycephalic working group (BWG) to ensure uptake of the scheme is encouraged and that owners are aware of the health problems their dogs might face. The group have also written an open letter to advertisers to discourage the use of brachycephalic dogs in advertising.
Our guide to letter writing
While we know that it is much easier simply to copy a letter and send it off, your parliamentary representative is far more likely to take notice if you write your own letter. Use the guideline below to draft your own letter:
[YOUR HOUSE NUMBER AND STREET]
[NAME OF POLITICIAN]
[PARLIAMENT OR ASSEMBLY ADDRESS]
Paragraph 1: Why you are writing
The first paragraph of your letter should always introduce your concerns to your parliamentary representative. For example:
‘I am writing to you regarding the issue of [INSERT TOPIC], to ask that you support The Kennel Club’s campaign to...’
(This information can be found on the relevant campaign page of our website.)
Paragraph 2: What you want to change
Each of the campaign’s pages on The Kennel Club’s website outlines the organisation’s official position and what is being done to try and push for change. This information can act as a guideline for telling your parliamentary representative how existing legislation needs to be amended.
If you are writing to request that your parliamentary representative support The Kennel Club on a specific issue, you may wish to use something along the lines of the following wording as an introduction to the paragraph:
‘The Kennel Club acts as a voice for thousands of dog owners across the United Kingdom. Supported by its vast expertise and experience on dog-related matters, The Kennel Club is proposing the following…’
…then write a bullet-point list into your letter.
Paragraph 3: Why these changes are necessary
Providing politicians with evidence will demonstrate that your concerns are valid. Use facts and figures to support your argument, and describe any personal experiences that you may have had to make your case even more powerful.
Paragraph 4: Action points
Tell your parliamentary representative the line of action that you wish them to take on this matter. This could be taking the matter up with their party, raising the issue in parliament, signing an EDM or supporting a specific Bill. If you are unsure what to write in this paragraph, contact The Kennel Club's public affairs team for advice.
Paragraph 5: Signing off
Request a reply. You may also wish to arrange a face-to-face meeting to discuss the issue further. Then all that is left to do is sign off:
‘I look forward to hearing from you.
[INSERT YOUR NAME]’
Once you have received a reply
To help keep us up-to-date on which politicians are aware/supportive of our campaigns, please photocopy or summarise the response you receive and send it to us by email or by post to: The Kennel Club Public Affairs, 1-5 Clarges Street, Piccadilly, London, W1J 8AB.
If your parliamentary representative has agreed to meet with you, read our guide to a successful meeting with parliamentary representatives below.
Our guide to a successful meeting with parliamentary representatives
Most parliamentary representatives hold surgeries where constituents can meet them face to face. Sometimes notices of surgeries appear in local newspapers, but if not you can contact your MP, MSP, AM or MLA’s office directly to book your appointment in advance.
Five steps to success
- Preparation is key. Make a list of questions/topic areas that you want to discuss with your parliamentary representative. Go armed with facts and figures to support your argument. You should also take a notepad and pen to write down any important points for reference
- Be direct. Introduce yourself and what you are there to discuss. State your concerns clearly, countering any opposing points that they may make. Do not become emotional – you will make a stronger argument by being calm and reasonable throughout
- Listen and respond constructively. Once you have made your position, allow your MP/MSP/AM/MLA to present you with his/hers. Listen carefully for areas of agreement and disagreement, always be positive and try to ask questions that will probe their personal viewpoint rather than that of their party
- Be aware of time. Stick to the issue and try not to get sidetracked into general debate - you will have a limited amount of time with him/her and it is important to make sure you get across all the points you wish to make
- At the end of the meeting and beyond… Thank them for the meeting, summarise your discussion and outline the steps you can take going forward. Let them know that they can contact you in the future to discuss the issue further.
For further information or advice, please contact The Kennel Club public affairs department on 020 7518 1020 or by email.