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Hope the Court of Appeal is on the dogs’ side

Av 14. juni 2022april 27th, 2023Ingen kommentarer
Cavalier king charles spaniel er en av rasene de skal ta opp i lagmannsretten. Foto: Shutterstock.

After the Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals won the dog breeding case on all points in Oslo District Court in January, the appeal process is now scheduled for 19 September. Four days have been set aside for the case. Once again, we will stand up for the dogs’ right to a good starting point in life.

Tekst: Norwegian Society of Protection of Animals (NSPA). Photo: Shutterstock. 
T his is not an attack
The problem with today’s dog breeding is that it has to a large extent been based on the dog’s appearance. During the last 50-100 years, our dogs have therefore changed drastically both inside and out. The inbreeding is now sky high, and many breeds suffer from several serious hereditary diseases, as well as extreme body shapes that cause suffering.
The Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals (NSPA) and The Norwegian Kennel Club (NKC) disagree on how the wording of the breeding section of the Animal Welfare Act (§25) should be interpreted, and this is the reason why the case ended up in the court system. NSPA has always been clear that we may be willing to settle the matter if satisfactory scientific crossbreeding projects are initiated on the two breeds at stake. NKC, for its part, has insisted that the dogs should be of pure breed, and that crossbreeding is not an option. This is a surprising position that is at the expense of health, welfare, and the dog’s longevity. Thus, the case continues in the court system.
Information-sharing and dialogue have been tried for over 20 years. Meanwhile, the situation for many of our purebred dogs is getting worse. A breed like the French bulldog now has an average life expectancy of only 4.5 years. All cavaliers have, through human-controlled breeding, the anatomical features that can lead to extreme headaches. All English bulldogs have reduced respiratory function compared to dogs with normal noses. So, our dogs suffer because of us humans. We have the knowledge, technology, and framework to breed healthy dogs. Thus, we fail our dogs by letting this continue!

Health tests do not solve the problems

The fact that BOAS testing has now been initiated on the bulldog to improve the breed’s breathing function will not solve the problems.
It does not help to test for individual diseases when the breed has many problems. Most English bulldogs have orthopedic problems, about 50% have skin problems, and about 40% have eye problems, just to name a few examples. All cavaliers have the anatomical changes that can cause chronic, migraine-type headaches, yet very few of the dogs are screened. It is hoped that the problem will be solved by breeding dogs that are three years or older.
These are examples of disorders that are not considered in the breeding work.
In other words, it is the breeding work itself that is worthy of criticism. It does not take into account that the whole dog must function in order to have a good and long life. We humans have put our dogs in this situation, they are not naturally like that. It is therefore obvious to most people that we must also take responsibility for cleaning up the horrible mess we have put these dogs in.

The time is ripe for change

Dogs can be bred healthy. In Norway, we have both the knowledge and the technology needed to achieve this. It is difficult for us to understand why old, contrived ideas that pure breed should trump everything else in dog breeding still exists. The Oslo District Court was crystal clear in its judgment. Research shows us that both the cavalier and the English bulldog have enormous disease burdens and are very inbred. With today’s genetic material, all hope of being able to breed these purebred and at the same time follow Norwegian law, is gone. The only way to save these breeds is by crossing in healthy dogs.
The Finnish Cavalier Club has understood this and recently unanimously decided that crossbreeding should be initiated in Finland. They justify this by saying that “the breed does not have enough and probably no lines that are not predisposed to heart disease and neurological disorder”. They also write that cross-border imports do not help, as a lack of genetic diversity applies to the entire western population of cavaliers.

Our dogs have been waiting a long time for the kennel club community in Norway to also understand this and initiate crossbreeding, which is the only solution for breeds that are in a genetic crisis. For every year that passes without those who engage in breeding taking action, new dogs will be born to suffering. This must end, and we must begin to take the dogs’ well-being seriously.

Common guidelines for dog breeding

In 2020, the EU came up with guidelines for dog breeding. This is a well-written document that all animal welfare organizations, breeders, kennel clubs and authorities should be able to agree on. NSPA requests that these guidelines apply to dog breeding in Norway as well.
There is a lot going on in dog breeding throughout Europe, and we cannot allow Norway to fall behind in animal welfare just because old dogmas are allowed to rule in NKC. The preparatory work for the Animal Welfare Act states that the law “must be able to be interpreted in the light of society’s ethical norms for animal husbandry in force at any given time and thus be relevant also in a longer time perspective”. If we are to overcome the biggest animal welfare problem of our time in dogs, we must therefore stop believing that we can interpret the legislation according to old dogmas about breed purity.

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