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Maisie, one of the dogs condemned to suffer in Iams experimentsCruelty Connections: The Kennel Club and Herbal Essences

Following on from the BBC exposé of horrific cruelty in dog breeding broadcast on Tuesday 19 August 2008, Dr Dan Lyons reveals the link between the Kennel Club and Herbal Essences.

Having campaigned against animal abuse for 15 years, I thought I was beyond being shocked. The creation and maintenance of pure-bred animals has always struck me as bizarre and exploitative practice that endangers the welfare of the animals - everyone knows that mongrels are healthier than purebreds. While some breeders are undoubtedly conscientious and caring, ultimately breeding treats animals as human artefacts rather than as individuals with inherent value. But last night’s BBC documentary about dog breeders and the Kennel Club showed that a culture that treats animals as mere objects inevitably leads to incredible, sadistic cruelty.

Generations of inbreeding, including incest, have resulted in a number of deadly and debilitating illnesses, and many breeders continue to bring animals into the world who are doomed to a life of excruciating pain.

Particularly disturbing were the scenes showing a King Charles spaniel that was contorted and screaming in agony because he had been bred with a skull too small for his brain. The bulldog has been bred to a state of deformity whereby they can no longer mate or give birth without human intervention. Breathing problems are common among dogs whose face has been ‘bred-out’. The pug, for instance, also suffers from a whole range of mutations that fundamentally affect their health and wellbeing. Meanwhile Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies who lacked a desired deformity - the ridgeback - were considered obsolete and simply culled, despite the fact that they are healthier than the ‘breed standard’. All this has happened under the supervision of the Kennel Club.

However, perhaps most shocking was the callous and deluded attitude of many breeders (apart from a few honourable exceptions) and their representative body, the Kennel Club. The links between the Kennel Club, the eugenics movement and Nazism went some way to explaining the warped attitudes that sustain the breeding industry: the notion that it is acceptable to sacrifice sentient individuals for the sake of ‘racial purity’. Some of the breeders, frankly, had a tenuous grip on reality, and that’s putting it generously.

So where does Herbal Essences fit in? The connection is through Herbal Essences’ sister brand, Iams pet food - which is also made by Procter & Gamble. In 2001, Uncaged caused a major shock when we revealed on the front page of the national press that Iams were killing cats and dogs in laboratory experiments to develop their pet food. The exposé happened during Crufts, the KC’s annual showpiece event, which was sponsored by Iams. And Crufts still is sponsored by Iams.

Due to the embarrassment caused by our revelations, Iams claim to have stopped killing cats and dogs in experiments. It’s hard to trust this statement as there has been no real independent verification. But even if we believe Iams’ statements, they still admit to conducting painful procedures on cats and dogs and have no aversion to killing other species in pet food research.

At the end of the day, the KC don’t mind taking money off a company that inflicts cruelty on animals - and now we all know why. Herbal Essences, the Kennel Club and Iams are an unholy trinity that represents the brutish side of human nature.

Dr Dan Lyons, Uncaged Campaigns 21.08.08

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Uncaged 1993-2012: This is the archived website of Uncaged. All information correct at the time of archiving - November 2012.