Mark Harrop Business Development Manager

Mar 05

Aquarium is a breed apart when it comes to Crufts being dogged by controversy

As Crufts 2015 gets underway (5-8 March) at the NEC in Birmingham, the debate has re-opened on the best way to care for man’s best friend. The Kennel Club says, ‘Make a difference for dogs’ but Aquarium point out that technology is the key to delivering truly responsible dog breeding and pet parenting in today’s data driven world.

“Whatever the rights and wrongs of Crufts, if we all embrace the latest technology solutions, we can do more than ever to protect our best friend,” says Sales and Marketing Director, Mark Colonnese.

“Modern technology allows insurers and vets to track welfare issues and while this is used to cut premiums for responsible owners and breeders, it can also be deployed to monitor best practice and conversely, help bring to light those willing to engage in unethical practices in the pursuit of trophies.”

Established in 1891, Crufts has remained one the world’s largest dog shows, but is not without its critics. The eve of the show every year sees opponents come out to condemn the event as not in a dog’s best interest and accuse Crufts of harming dogs by encouraging breeders to follow unethical practices to deliver the all-important ‘best in breed’ but Aquarium points out that software can play its part in preventing this.

The BBC stopped 40 years of broadcasting Crufts in 2008 following a documentary which claimed pedigree dogs suffered because owners bred them for looks regardless of the health implications. The Kennel Club and Crufts argued they acted to counter such activities with their Accredited Breeder Scheme and other initiatives but this did not stop pet food firm Pedigree pulling its sponsorship and the RSPCA and the Dogs Trust withdrawing support. But Crufts retains its enduring popularity among thousands on social media.

“One issue has centred on the issue of inbreeding, but what was once difficult to police can now be tackled by modern technology,” added Mark. “While dogs that are the product of incestuous breeding are banned from registering, this has relied on owners providing accurate information. But as technology and software power is applied, these sorts of claims can be quickly assessed and can be made much harder to conceal but further legislation may be needed to see it through.” 

In February 2013, the cross-party Commons Select Committee for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs urged the government to ensure dog breeders do more to stop poor breeding practices, with reference to pedigree dogs in particular and bosses at Aquarium are convinced software is a solution.

Software can place all the necessary data at a user’s fingertips, allowing the authorities to track specific animals, trends and breeders and identify malpractice and common health problems. The Aquarium pet insurance platform employs ‘management by exception’ designed to give users pertinent information when they need it, rather than reams of data that may not be immediately relevant.                                                                      

“The government has to take the lead, but when it is ready to, the technology is there to help put an end to improper breeding practices which can impact on canine health,” added Mark. “Software is already being used to deliver lower pet insurance premiums and give insurers and vets better information and if we do make the effort, Crufts and other shows should be able to go back to being events enjoyed by genuine dog lovers rather than being dogged by such controversy.”