Hard work on breed health recognised at the Breed Health Awards

Founder of the Karlton Index, Philippa Robinson, was thrilled to see the first breed health awards being given to worthy recipients at an event held at Discover Dogs on Sunday morning. The awards were kindly supported by the Kennel Club and the Kennel Club Charitable Trust and were given in recognition of hard work put in to pedigree dog health at breed club level. Work that is often overlooked. The aim of the awards is to highlight and share good practice. The judging panel included:

  • Nick Blayney
  • David Cavill
  • Chris Laurence
  • Harvey Locke
  • Dan O'Neill
  • Simon Parsons
  • Clare Rusbridge
  • Hannah Stephenson
  • Holger Volk

Reflecting on all the award submissions one of the comments from the judging panel was:

"It is very encouraging to hear what is going on in some of the breed clubs. It is clear that certain breeds have at their disposal very talented individuals who can see a way forward. I hope we can use this exercise to create the potential to share good ideas and strategies and to encourage breeds to work together, both within those breeds where there is more than one breed club and also between breeds, where problems may be different but the principles are the same."

Another stated:

"What is most pleasing across the board is the level of recognition that inherited problems exist in a significant proportion of dogs and that something needs to be done. What is even more pleasing is the level of activity going on to address the issues. I think all the submissions should be congratulated."

There were seven awards in total. Two of which were linked directly to the Karlton Index scoring system. The remaining five awards were decided exclusively by the independent judging panel.

Top breed on the Karlton Index 2013, was presented by Bill Lambert to Ian Seath on behalf of dachshunds.  In scoring the breed earlier in the year against the Karlton Index framework, Philippa described the work done by the Dachshund Breed Council as "a real inspiration to others".

An award for Most significant progress 2013 in breed health (as measured by the Karlton Index) was presented by Frank Kane to representatives of the Bloodhound Club and Association of Bloodhound Breeders.

Commenting on their work, Philippa said "in 2011 it was difficult to find any information in the public domain on how the breed clubs were safeguarding the health of Bloodhounds. Yet by March 2013 they had published health survey results and analysis, a breed health strategy and were developing a health dedicated website". 

In recognition of being an invaluable role model the Dachshund Breed Council received the award for Leadership in breed health which was presented by Mike Townsend of the KCCT to their representatives Ian Seath and Gill Key. As one judge observed "I am very impressed with the Council's Health Planning and Progress Matrix. By using the GISID scale they are adopting a systematic and scientific approach that is easy for breeders to understand"

The fourth award for Communication and engagement in breed health went to the Lancashire Heeler Community website, a project supported by the Lancashire Heeler Association. The judging panel felt that this was an exemplar of good ideas and implementation.

The work of the Irish Wolfhound Health Group in tirelessly promoting heart testing was recognised when they were presented with the award for Participation in breed health initiatives. Judges' comments reflected the tenacity and sheer determination shown by the health team behind IWHG to widen participation in that health scheme.

The award for individual achievement went to Ian Seath of the Dachshund breed council and was presented by the very well-known vet and dog welfare campaigner Marc Abraham. One judge summed this decision up by saying "Ian Seath's wide-ranging commitment to all aspects of Dachshund welfare makes him a stand-out winner."

The final award of the day for Innovation in breed health went to the French Bulldog Club of England for their trailblazing breed health scheme. Penny Rankine-Parsons received the award on behalf of the club, also presented by Marc Abraham.  The judges recognised the extent of the issues in a breed that has seen a sudden surge in popularity. As one judge said "this really is innovative in tackling both show and pet dogs - and an enormous job considering the explosion in numbers." 

As well as the glass trophy to take back to their teams each winner also received the sum of £250 to be invested in future breed health activities.

A total of eight breeds and four individuals were courageous enough to put their work up for this level of scrutiny. The full list is:

  • The Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier Club of Great Britain
  •  The Lancashire Heeler Association and the Lancashire Heeler Community website
  • French Bulldog Club of England
  • The Finnish Lapphund Club of Great Britain
  • The Irish Wolfhound Health Group
  • Glen of Imaal Terrier Enthusiasts and Fanciers Club
  • The Dachshund Breed Council
  •  Association of Bloodhound Breeders and the Bloodhound Club

The individuals nominated were:

  • Kim Slater for her work and leadership as Breed Health Co-ordinator in Neopolitan Mastiffs
  • Ian Seath for his unstinting work in Dachshunds
  •  Gill Key for her pioneering work on Laforas disease in Miniature Wirehaired Dachshunds and in reaching out to pet owners
  •  Hilary Jupp, for initiating and driving forward heart testing in Irish Wolfhounds

The judging panel wanted to emphasise that all the entrants are to be congratulated on their body of work in pedigree dog breed health.

In her address to close the event Philippa said "all the entrants should be proud of their efforts, and should look to the future with confidence that continuing with the same dedication, creativity and focus, their work will make a difference to the dogs".

Looking to the future she said "this is the first year for these awards and as of next week I will be doing a full evaluation of the entire process to ensure we maximise the learning opportunities and share that with other breeds and breed clubs."

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