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Tag: bbc

Beloved BBC dog Mabel passes away

After 14 years on the world’s longest running children program, Mabel, a border collie mix, has died.

Seen by millions of children on “Blue Peter,” Mabel was the BBC program’s first rescue dog.

“She was dearly loved and that’s a credit to her quirky character. She’ll be sorely missed by the presenters and viewers alike,” said Helen Skelton, one of the program’s co-hosts.

Mabel, who retired last year, was the second-longest serving dog on the show. Another, named Petra, appeared on the show for 15 years.

Her death came barely a month after the death of her canine co-star Lucy, according to the Daily Mail.

Mabel was originally featured on the program in 1996 when then presenter Katy Hill met her while making a film about the RSPCA. She joined the show a month later. Her name came from the letters MAB1 which were written on her RSPCA kennel.

Mabel, who was thought to be 16, was notable for her different colored eyes – one brown, one blue – and a folded-over ear. She starred alongside 14 different presenters in hundreds of studio shows.

After retirement, she lived with a former member of the show’s production team

The BBC show’s presenters announced the news about the border collie to viewers last night.

“Pedigree Dogs Exposed” gets first U.S. airing

“Pedigree Dogs Exposed, ” the controversial BBC documentary that shed some much needed light on purebred breeding practices and the horrors they have produced, will get its first airing in the U.S. tonight (Dec. 10).

Probably the single most important piece of dog reporting in the past decade, the documentary led to the BBC dropping its coverage of Crufts, the UK’s equivalent of the Westminster Dog Show.

The documentary looks at how many breeds have had their physical appearance so exaggerated they’re unrecognizable from a century ago, and it examines some of the breed-specific health problems that have resulted from breeders emphasizing looks over health when breeding dogs for shows.

The show, which led to some changes in Kennel Club and breeder policies and practices,  airs at 8 p.m. tonight on BBC America.

The documentary revealed that dogs suffering from genetic illness are not prevented from competing in dog shows and have gone on to win “best in breed”, despite their poor health. It says physical traits required by the Kennel Club’s breed standards in the U.K., such as short faces, wrinkling, screw-tails and dwarfism, have led to inherent health problems.

This excerpt from the program shows a prize-winning cavalier King Charles spaniel suffering from syringomyelia, a condition which occurs when a dog’s skull is too small for its brain.

The documentary looks at other problems that have resulted from mating dogs who are close relatives, all for the purposes of accentuating certain physical features deemed desirable by the dog show crowd — boxers suffering from epilepsy, pugs with breathing problems and bulldogs who are unable to mate or give birth unassisted because their heads are so big.

While picked up here and there by the U.S. media, the story of shaping purebred dogs to fit arbitrary human standards of beauty — despite the health ramifications – remains best told by the BBC documentary. By all means, watch it.

“Pedigree Dogs Exposed” deemed mostly fair

Ofcom — the UK’s equivalent to our FCC — has ruled that the controversial BBC documentary “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” was mostly fair, but didn’t give Kennel Club officials a chance to fully respond to all of the allegations it made.

“Pedigree Dogs Exposed,” which is receiving its first U.S. airing tonight, alleged that events such as the Crufts dog show awarded top prizes to unhealthy and inbred animals and encouraged breeders to place appearance above health concerns.

The Ofcom ruling was in response to complaints by the Kennel Club, according to The Guardian.

Ofcom said that the way the film was edited was fair and that the Kennel Club was not, as it claimed, deceived about its purpose.” However, it added, the Kennel Club was “not given a proper opportunity to respond to an allegation about eugenics and a comparison with Hitler and the Nazi Party, or an allegation that it covered up the nature of an operation carried out on a Crufts Best in Show winner”.

The Kennel Club made complaints about the program in five areas. Ofcom — here’s the full ruling — rejected complaints in four of these areas stating that there was “no unfairness.”

Only the Kennel Club’s fifth complaint was deemed somewhat valid. The Kennel Club said it was not given an appropriate opportunity to respond to 15 specific allegations, and Ofcom agreed that was in the case for four of the 15.

In one of those, Jeff Sampson, the Kennel Club’s senior scientific adviser and spokesman, “was not given the chance to show how seriously he took the health problems confronting pedigree dogs,” Ofcom said.

The BBC said it stood by the program. “While we note Ofcom’s findings regarding some aspects of Pedigree Dogs Exposed, we stand firmly by the programme, which was clearly in the public interest, and we stand firmly by its conclusions,” said a spokesman for the BBC.

“The broadcast has accelerated unprecedented reform in the way pedigree dogs are bred, including new limits on inbreeding, changes to the written standards of 78 breeds of dog and a new code of ethics which prohibits the culling of puppies for cosmetic reasons,” he added.

Three convicted in England dogfighting case

Three people have been convicted for their roles in one of Europe’s largest dog-fighting syndicates — offenses brought to light by a BBC program called “Panorama.”

Claire Parker, 44, from Lincolnshire, Mohammed Farooq, 33, from Birmingham, and a 17-year-old boy were convicted at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court, the BBC reported.

The RSPCA said it was one of the biggest cases of dog-fighting it had prosecuted. Read more »

Trial opens in Britain for accused dogfighters

rspcadogGrisly testimony was heard yesterday in the trial of a woman accused of being a member of one of England’s biggest dog fighting gangs.

 The case was brought against Claire Parker by the Royal SPCA after Steve Ibinson, an undercover investigator, infiltrated a dog fighting gang called the Farmer Boys in Northern Ireland for a BBC Panorama program.

The busted dogfighting ring had links to Northern Irish paramilitary organizations, according to the Times of London.

Parker, a 44-old breeder of Boston terriers, denies being present at a dog fight, using her property for fights and owning three pit bulls.

Parker is on trial with 33-year-old Mohammed Nasir Farooq,  who it is claimed acted as the “time keeper” during the Lincolnshire fight in May 2007.

At the opening of what’s expected to be a two-week trial, the Lincoln Magistrates Court heard how some of the gang made the dogs train on treadmills and in swim tanks, used lunge poles with dummies hanging on them, electrocuted dogs, and used “rape harnesses” to force female dogs to mate.

RSPCA raids also uncovered weighing scales, ’break sticks’ for parting the animals once their jaws had locked on to each other and veterinary products to treat wounded animals.

Ibinson, a former SAS operative who had lived in fear of his life following the investigation, uncovered links between the gang and dog fighting fanatics across the United Kingdom. His identity was revealed after his death, from natural causes, earlier this year while serving as a security guard in Afghanistan.

Statements he made are being given as part of a case that has seen five people from across the North of England already admit various dog fighting offenses.

In a secretly recorded video, Gary Adamson, a 38-year-old welder, is shown standing next to three reinforced pens in his yard boasting about how his pit bull, Pablo, suffered a “real good ragging” during a 26-minute fight held in the garage of  Parker’s home in Lincolnshire.

In his statement, Ibinson said that Adamson was a representative of the Farmers Boys, from County Armagh, and aspired to be for pit bull fighting what Don King was for boxing.

(Photo: Courtesy of the RSPCA)

Bad taste: Poop poster proving effective

kidandpoopRepulsive as they are, posters showing a small girl consuming a brown substance while seated in the grass next to a pile of dog poop seem to be working, according to officials in Torbay, England.

Torbay Council launched the controversial campaign at the end of April, according to the BBC.

Since then, the amount of dog waste not cleaned up has dropped by half

That’s according to Councillor Dave Butt — (please hold your sophomoric giggling until the end of the story) — a cabinet member for community services. He said there were more than 400 ”incidents” in April, but only 185 in June. (Apparently Torbay conducts a monthly census of dog droppings.)

Butt said there had been no complaints about the posters, which are six feet high and contain an image in which a young child at a playground appears to be eating dog feces

The posters were displayed in local bus shelters and dog mess offenders were warned about the penalty which is a fine of up to £1,000.

Butt told BBC News: “The poster was rather unpleasant, but helped drive the message home very forcibly. “We did not have any complaints, but we did have people ringing us to say it was about time and they were pleased we went in so hard.”

Plans call for campaign to continue, with the message being spread to schools and community groups.

“We are not against dog owners, we are against people that ignore safety and health issues,” Butt said.

Torbay, a popular tourist destination, is located on the Lyme Bay in western England in an area known as the English Riviera.

Nightline re-exposes pedigree problems

ABC News has boldly gone where BBC went before, airing a Nightline episode last night that looked at the world of purebred dogs and dog shows — and how some of the former are suffering for the sake of the latter.

The Nightline segment didn’t really pick up where “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” left off – it was more of a rehash — but it does signify, at least, some attention to a controversial issue that, for the most part, has been far less likely to surface on American shores.

“The Westminster Dog Show is the showpiece for a multi-billion dollar industry, a festival of primped pooches, prestigious prizes and perfect pedigrees. This year’s big winner, a Sussex Spaniel called Stump, became an instant celebrity,” the piece began. “The owners love it. But whether such competitive shows are good for the dogs is debatable.”

A bulldog is the first to be featured, shown being sprayed with a cooling mist backstage at Westminster to keep him from overheating.

Read more »

Charmin rolls to victory at Crufts

A Sealyham Terrier from Chester County, Pa., was named best in show at Crufts today.

Margery Good, owner of the four-year-old dog, named Charmin, said she was “very excited and very pleased” to have won, according to a BBC report.

Ms. Good added: “He’s such a special dog. He is my best buddy. He proved himself tonight and made every step just right.”

With the awarding of best in show, the four-day event at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, tainted by controversy this year, came to a close. The RSPCA and sponsor Pedigree pulled out of partnerships with the dog show, following claims about breeding malpractice in a BBC documentary.

But thousands of spectators attended the four-day event at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, About 28,000 dogs were estimated to have attended the show, the third highest figure since the show was founded in 1891.

The Kennel Club, which runs Crufts, broadcast the event live on the internet for the first time, and predicted that visitor numbers would match last year’s record crowd of 160,000.

Crufts was hit by controversy after the BBC screened a documentary last year which exposed serious health issues around breeding practices for some breeds of pedigree dogs.

The BBC suspended its coverage of the show pending further investigations and a key sponsor also pulled out.

Charmin, whose win was just the latest of many, is also featured in the video below, which explains a little more about the breed. Sealyhams are not as popular today as the breed once was. In the first half of the 20th Century, Sealyhams were owned by Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Richard Burton and Alfred Hitchcock, who used his own Sealyhams in the movies “The Birds” and “Suspicion.”

The Sealyham Terrier was named by its original breeder, Captain Edwardes, after his mansion, Sealyham, near the Sealy river in Pembrokeshire, South Wales

Closely watched Crufts show starts next week

The London Times reports that judges at the prestigious but beleaguered Crufts dog show next week will be keeping a sharp eye out for any unhealthy animals as part of a campaign by Britain’s Kennel Club to lift the show’s tarnished image.

The club was badly damaged when the BBC One documentary “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” was broadcast last summer, followed by the network’s decision to scrap its coverage of the show after 42 years. The program was critical of club breeding standards that it said created dogs with diseases and deformities.

The club has since issued new breed standards that place more of a priority on health, less on appearance, and it has enlisted a team of vets and monitors to be on the lookout during the show for breeds deemed to be at risk from health problems, including the basset hound, bulldog, mastiff, pug and shar-pei.

Judges, meanwhile, have been told to ban dogs if they shows signs of sickness, lameness, shortness of breath or aggression.

“We all think dog shows are under threat,” said Caroline Kisko, secretary of the Kennel Club. “There is a view among some animal welfare groups like the RSPCA that dog shows are bad … We have to get across that showing dogs is about improving the health of dogs and ensuring they have a good temperament.”

Kisko said Passionate Productions, which made the documentary, won’t be given a press pass to the event. “We see Crufts as a big celebration of dogs and we don’t want them there spoiling our day — and I don’t think breed people would be pleased to see them there.”

The show opens next Thursday, and the Kennel Club is expecting about 160,000 visitors to see 28,000 dogs over the four days.

While it won’t be aired on BBC, Crufts will be shown on a live webcast at www.cruftslive.tv.

Are dog shows hurting dogs?

The question that has become all the rage in London — but hardly even gets asked in the U.S. — got some ink in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle, and with less than a week before the opening of the Westminster dog show.

The woman who was courageous enough to ask it, and honest enough to give the answer — yes — was Christie Keith, contributing editor for Universal Press Syndicate’s Pet Connection, past director of the Pet Care Forum on America Online, and a writer of a “semi-weekly” column for SFGate.com, the online home of the San Francisco Chronicle.

As Keith points out, the BBC documentary “Pedigree Dogs Exposed,” got things rolling. The series showed that many purebred dogs are prone to diseases and health problems that have resulted from “the tyranny of the show ring” – breeders selecting their dogs to accentuate specific, often freakish traits that win at dog shows but leave them unfit for living the life of a normal dog.

“If that allegation sounds extreme, consider that the Pekingese dog who won top honors in 2003 at Crufts, Britain’s most prestigious dog show,” Keith wrote. “(He) had to be photographed afterwards while lying on an icepack because he couldn’t breathe well enough to efficiently cool his own over-heated body.”

In response to the BBC documentary, the network’s decision to stop airing Crufts, and the withdrawl from the show of several sponsors, Britain’s Kennel Club revised its standards somewhat, warning breed clubs that the most extreme traits would no longer be tolerated.

In the U.S., the American Kennel Club, and critics of it, were mostly silent. Only PETA stepped forward, as it’s prone to do, demanding that the USA Network follow BBC’s example and stop airing the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. USA Network declined, and the show will air Monday and Tuesday, February 9-10, from 8-11 p.m.

“But should it? Are purebred dogs really in that much trouble? And if so, are dog shows behind the genetic and other health problems that plague our pets?” Keith asks in her column.

Read more »

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