Enders in wrangle over St Bernard dog

The BBC has been accused of double standards after its flagship soap EastEnders introduced a St Bernard dog.

Two-year-old Gumbo - whose real name is Shamus - first appeared in Walford last Thursday after being left in the care of estate agent Bradley Branning. Since his debut, ten complaints have been lodged with the public broadcaster over the choice of breed.

At the end of last year, the BBC announced its decision to suspend coverage of the annual Crufts dog show.

The suspension came after investigative documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed claimed that 14 breeds of the show dogs were born with severe health problems, sometimes after intentional mating with canine relatives in order to meet the Kennel Club's breed standards.

Speaking to The Times, dog owner Alexandra Bubb said: "The people at the BBC are a bunch of hypocrites. They were not prepared to televise the breed at Crufts and now it's on one of their most popular soaps."

Secretary of the South of England St Bernard Club Jim Coots added: "I think the decision to introduce a St Bernard is very hypocritical… I have complained to the BBC. I watched an episode this week and there was even talk of breeding from the dog so they were even advertising possible bad breeding on the programme."

Meanwhile, Kennel Club secretary Caroline Sisko said: “We are mystified by the decision. It seems very hypocritical. It could be one part of the BBC not knowing what the other has done."

A BBC spokeswoman said of the matter: "There is no BBC rule to say St Bernards should not appear on screen at all following the decision to suspend broadcast of Crufts. A St Bernard appearing as a lovable fictional pet in EastEnders is very different in context to seeing them upheld as exemplary breeds in a prestigious televised dog show."

Shamus's owner, London-based Jean Minnican, did not comment on EastEnders' choice of breed but said: "He's being very well looked after [during his visits to Elstree Studios]."

The Albert Square plot saw Gumbo left in a lockup by its owner in the hope that Bradley would look after it. Since taking the dog his care, Bradley has struggled to cope with its extraordinary demands. However, after coming first place in a dog show, Bradley received a phone call from a dog breeder hoping to use Gumbo at stud.

Source - Digital Spy

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