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THE education of clients and veterinary surgeons about genetics and inherited conditions; collaboration between all parties with an interest in the subject; and the generation and collection of sound data are all central to tackling the welfare problems caused by breeding for physical characteristics in companion animals.
These were the main messages to emerge from a press conference held on April 4 at the start of the annual BSAVA congress in Birmingham. A panel of veterinary surgeons and others involved in various ways with tackling inherited problems in dogs and cats faced questions from the media.
When asked what single change members of the panel would like to see to help improve the situation, there was general consensus that education was key – not just of clients, but of veterinary surgeons as well.
In terms of client education, reaching potential pet owners before they acquired an animal was very important, according to Mark Johnston, the BSAVA president. However, potential owners did not think to talk to a vet before getting their pet.
Will Jeffels, a veterinary surgeon who conducts health checks on high-profile best of breed winners for the Kennel Club at its shows, agreed. As a first-opinion vet, he believed that client education was key. He said that, even in an age of ‘information overload’, clients were still coming into the practice with very little good-quality information about the puppies or kittens they had bought.
However, in response to a question about how the public could be made aware that such veterinary advice was available, Steve Dean, chairman of the Kennel Club, commented that the profession would be ‘pushing water …
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