Founder of DBRG and creator of the DogBreedHealth website
In a former life Carol was Head of English at a secondary school in Bristol. She had her first dog, Bonnie, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, in 1999. As a result of discovering that her dog had the devastating breed related genetic disease, CMSM, Carol began to campaign for the improved health and welfare of dogs. Carol featured in the BBC documentary film, 'Pedigree Dogs Exposed' in 2008. She created the website, DogBreedHealth to provide breed related health information to potential dog owners. Carol was awarded the Ceva Pet Lovers Award in 2012 and founded DBRG in the same year. Carol led the DBRG team to win the CEVA Animal Welfare Charity Team of the Year 2018. She was Leader and Secretary of DBRG until December 2022 and continues to support its work as a Consultant.
Legal advisor and DBRG Governance
Katharine is a practicing solicitor and member of the Association of Lawyers for Animal Welfare (ALAW), with a particular interest in companion animals. Katharine had her first dog, an Airedale, 30 years ago, and has never been without a canine companion since. The support from the DBRG became a lifeline when she lost one of her beloved Dobermanns in 2018. Katharine realised the valuable work DBRG is doing to improve the standards of dog breeding and how important puppy welfare is in general. She is now keen to use her legal skills to help whenever and wherever she can.
Dr Clare Rusbridge BVMS PhD DipECVN FRCVS RCVS and
Dr Fiona Cooke BSc (Hons) MA (Law) PhD, MSc (CAB), MBPsS, APBC full member, ABTC Registered Clinical Animal Behaviourist, Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourist (ASAB)
Animal Law and Behaviour Specialist
The Donkey Sanctuary
Fiona's PhD focused on the role of local authorities in the implementation and enforcement of animal welfare legislation. In addition to her work in law and policy, her welfare science research focuses on assessing and improving animal welfare using innovative and practical tools. Fiona has worked within the animal charity sector for over 15 years, and currently leads the Research (Europe) and Ecology and Conservation teams at the Donkey Sanctuary, working globally to improve the welfare of donkeys and mules. She is also lecturer in Law at the Open University, and runs an animal behaviour company supporting owners and charities working with complex behavioural issues of dogs and cats.
Dr Rowena Packer BSc (Hons) PhD
Royal Veterinary College
Rowena graduated from the University of Bristol in 2009 with a first class degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare. She then completed her PhD in 2013 at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), investigating the relationship between extreme morphology and inherited disease in domestic dogs. Her PhD primarily focused on problems associated with the brachycephalic skull shape (respiratory and ophthalmic disease) and spinal disease in chondrodystrophic 'long and low' dog breeds. In 2013 she hosted 'Building Better Brachycephalics', an engagement event to disseminate this research. Since 2014 Rowena has work as a Clinical Investigations Postdoctoral Researcher at RVC, primarily focusing on canine epilepsy, working with Professor Holger Volk to investigate its treatment, behaviour comorbidities and effects on canine welfare. She is the current President of the RVC Researcher Association.
Campaign Manager, Naturewatch Foundation
Natalie is part of the campaign team at Naturewatch Foundation, where she is responsible for the charity's UK companion animal campaigns, which includes low welfare dog breeding. It is part of the charity's mission to end puppy farming and other exploitative dog breeding practices. Prior to joining Naturewatch Foundation in December 2021, Natalie worked for the RSPCA's Field Operations department, where she was responsible for animal logistics. Natalie has a long standing interest in animal protection law and is a Trustee and volunteer for the UK Centre for Animal Law (A-LAW)
Dr Emma Foster BSc Comp Path (Hons) BVetMed MRCVS
Royal Veterinary College
Emma graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, London, in 2022 having completed an additional intercalated degree in Comparative Pathology in 2019. This allowed her to research the degenerative neuromuscular disease, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which is currently progressing the treatment of the disease in dogs and humans. Emma was never allowed to have a pet dog at home as a child but decided to compensate for that by caring for them as vet. Throughout her studies she was particularly interested in pathology, neurology and shelter medicine. She has taken a keen interest in the emotive topic of dog welfare and the issues surrounding poor breeding, genetic health, and the sustainability of dog breeds. Emma currently lives in London with her boyfriend and rescue cat, Basil.
Dr Sam Gaines MSc, PhD
Head, Companion Animal Welfare Science and Policy, RSPCA
Sam is one of the RSPCA's dog welfare specialists. She is the Society's technical lead on a variety of issues that affect dog welfare, including breed specific legislation, racing greyhounds and breeding practices. Sam manages a team of behaviour and welfare specialists who lead improvements in Companion Animal Welfare through corporate and government policy change and behaviour change. Prior to working at the RSPCA, and after gaining an MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Sam worked as a research scientist for the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. She was involved in various projects studying the behaviour, performance and welfare of working dogs. During this time she was also awarded a PhD which studied the effects of housing and husbandry on the welfare of kennelled dogs.
Dr Dan O'Neill MVB BSc(hons) GPCert(SAP) GPCert(FelP) GPCert(Derm) GPCert(B&PS) PGCertVetEd FHEA MSc(VetEpi) PhD FRCVS
Royal Veterinary College, VetCompass
Dan graduated from Dublin Vet School in 1987 and worked in general practice until 2009. An MSc in Veterinary Epidemiology in 2010 was followed by a PhD in 2013 developing the VetCompass Programme to collect primary care practice data for epidemiological research. Supported by the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, Dan continues to expand VetCompass applications at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) to explore health and welfare issues in companion animals. He has published over 70 peer-reviewed papers and authored two books on companion animal health. He is now Senior Lecturer in Companion Animal Epidemiology at the RVC. Dan chairs the UK Brachycephalic Working Group and is a founding member of DBRG.
Dog Owner and founder of PawsAgainst
After her Bernese Mountain Dog was diagnosed with Elbow and Hip Dysplasia, Annie set up her Facebook page Paws Against Elbow Dysplasia to raise awareness of the disease. She subsequently learned that dogs suffered from many hereditary diseases, the prevalence of which could be reduced if dogs were health tested before being used for breeding. Annie also runs the #dontbreedblind campaign which aims to ensure that all male and female breeding dogs have had the relevant hereditary health tests, sound conformation, good temperament, and acceptable genetic diversity. Ideally Annie would like all dogs have a 'fitness the breed' certificate.
Vicki Betton B.A (Hons), PGDipIDM
PDSA and now BVA
Vicki has worked at PDSA since 2006, initially establishing a national youth and community education programme, and now leading their Policy and Campaigns team, Vicki is Chair of the PDSA's Pet Wellbeing Task Force and a founding member of the Animal Welfare Education Alliance (AWEA). She represents PDSA on an number of other collaborative groups, including the Canine and Feline Sector Group (CFSG) sub-group for the Breeding and Sale of Dogs, the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) Dog Sub-Group and the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) Vicki took up her post with the BVA in 2022
Cavalier Matters Charity
Tania is a business woman and currently Managing Director of her drinks vending machine company, Platino Limited. She acquired her two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Molly and Dougall, in 2008. Tania set up her Cavalier Matters Charity, website and online shop when she became aware of the genetic health problems of the Cavalier breed. Her website gives information and advice to owners of Cavaliers and Cavalier Matters Charity raises money for 'research, rescue and reform.' Cavalier Matters supports DBRG through funding technical support. Tania shares responsibility for DBRG social media.
Dr Alison Skipper
MA Vet MB Cert VR MA PhD MRCVS...
For over 30 years Alison has combined work as a small animal GP with many different voluntary roles in pedigree dog health. She has recently completed a PhD at Kings College London, funded by the Wellcome Trust: The History of Health and Disease in Pedigree Dog Breeding from 1890 to the Present.
BSc (Hons) RVN
Michelle is a registered veterinary nurse and has a first class honours degree in Bioveterinary Science and Veterinary Nursing from the University of Bristol. She has experienced working in a variety of small animal practices and currently works at an Orthopaedic referral hospital. She is also completing an MRes at the Royal Veterinary College relating to Online health research by companion animal caregivers: threat or opportunity for animal welfare?
Michelle is responsible for liaising with and managing the DBRG Student Ambassadors
Dr Sean McCormack
BSc (Hons) MVB MRCVS
Sean studied his undergraduate degree in Animal Science at the University of Essex and University of British Columbia in Vancouver, also completing postgraduate seminar modules in Applied Animal Ethics and Welfare Science. Graduating from University College Dublin vet school in 2010 from the graduate entry programme, Sean spent the first six years of his veterinary career in domestic, exotic and zoo animal practice. He has treated and advised on the care and welfare of a vast array of species from elephants and big cats to invertebrates, birds, reptiles and amphibians. In 2016 Sean left clinics to work in pet nutrition and have more time for media and wildlife conservation work. He has been a long time campaigner and commentator on dog welfare, particularly on ethical breeding practices and the health and welfare issues of brachycephalic dog types.
Professor Sheila Crispin
Former Chair of the Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding MA Vet MB BSc PhD DVA. DVOphthal DipECVO FRCVS
Sheila is a fellow and Past-President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. After obtaining an honours degree in Zoology and Applied Zoology, she was awarded an Agricultural Research Council Veterinary Training Scholarship and qualified from the University of Cambridge. Following a period in veterinary practice she returned to Cambridge as a research scholar in veterinary ophthalmology, then moved to a lectureship at the University of Edinburgh where she completed her PhD. From there she moved to the University of Bristol as Professor of Comparative Ophthalmology. Sheila has won many honours and awards, has an international reputation as a veterinary ophthalmologist and wide ranging interests including the environment, ethics and animal welfare
Secretary, Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW)
Secretary, Canine and Feline Sector Group (CFSG)
Liaison with the above groups
Marisa leads the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare comprising MPs, Lords, NGOs, Veterinary Bodies and Businesses which develops policy and outline legislation on animal health and welfare. She also runs the Canine and Feline Sector Group (CFSG): the stakeholder advisory body to DEFRA. Marisa wrote the 'Healthier Future for Pedigree Dogs' Report and the All-Party Dog Strategy. She also sits on the DEFRA Expert Panel for the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (Regulations 2018) and was heavily involved in the drafting of the Guidance and Dog and Cat Welfare Codes. She co-ordinates the Local Government Animal Welfare Group www.localgovernmentanimalwelfare.org Marisa is an honourary members of the British Veterinary Association
DBRG Student Ambassadors
Studying BSc Animal Biology, Behaviour, Welfare and Ethics, Royal Veterinary College (RVC) Third Year
After attending a lecture on pedigree dog breeding which outlined its effects on dogs, I wanted to get involved with DBRG. As we are a nation of dog lovers, I would like to help educate future generations on responsible dog ownership in addition to pushing for higher levels of welfare for all dogs affected by selective breeding. I believe that pedigree breeding, particularly for aesthetics, is an important topic in both animal welfare and human psychology. Whilst learning about the pedigree market I think a lot of people would be fascinated by why we choose one breed over another as well as what our dogs have to say to us.
Third Year Veterinary Medicine Student, Royal Veterinary College
'Dogs have always been a part of my life, so I've been lucky enough to experience first hand how important they become to their family. I strongly believe that we owe it to our pets to give them the happiest life we can, which starts with ensuring their bodies are fit to function. I hope to help the DBRG to reach more people, so that more dog lovers can start making informed choices for their pets.'
Third Year Veterinary Medicine Student, University of Liverpool (Grace is now a fully qualified vet)
Following undertaking research for an Extended Project on Pedigree Dog Breeding, I decided to join DBRG to support the future improvement of dog health and welfare. I hope that together we can help to educate the public and raise awareness of responsible dog breeding and ownership.
First Year Veterinary Medicine Student, Bristol University
I joined DBRG as I am passionate about dog welfare. I want to make sure potential owners are aware of the breed-related health problems they may be faced with, and that breeders are doing all they can to breed the healthiest puppies.