Press release: The Oslo District Court has agreed to hear the Norwegian Society for the Protecion of Animal’s case of illegal dog breeding
The Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals has brought a case before the Oslo District Court against the Norwegian Kennel Club, the Norwegian Cavalier Club, the Norwegian Bulldog Club and six breeders of English bulldog and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The defendants argued that the case should be dismissed. The Oslo District Court has now agreed to hear the case. Unless the ruling is overturned on appeal, the case may be heard already in the autumn of 2021.
The Norwegian Society for the Protection of Animals (NSPA) is very pleased with the court’s ruling. If the ruling is upheld, the Oslo district court will sometime this autumn consider whether further breeding of English bulldog and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is illegal as contrary to the Animal Welfare Act.
The NSPA is of the opinion that these breeds have such major health challenges that further breeding of them is in violation of the Animal Welfare Act section 25. This provision prohibits breeding that changes genes in such a way that the animals’ physical or mental functions are negatively influenced, reduces the animals’ ability to practice natural behaviour, or evokes ethical reactions. It also prohibits breeding that passes on such genes.
The case is suitable for judicial review
The Norwegian Kennel Klub, the breeding clubs and the breeders argued that the case was not suitable for judicial review and should be rejected by the courts. In its decision, the district court concludes that the case is suitable for review. The court states that the NSPA has a genuine need to have the claim decided against the defendants.
The court emphasizes the extensive material the NSPA has presented to substantiate the claim, and that the defendants themselves acknowledge that both breeds have real health problems. The court also emphasizes that the scope of the breeding provision in the Animal Welfare Act is uncertain. The court concludes that the claim is suitable for judicial review in the form it was presented by the NSPA.
Many years of work
The NSPA and our local branch, NSPA Oslo and Akershus, are very pleased with the Oslo district court’s decision. We have worked to stop unethical breeding of family animals for several years and have been working on this specific case since 2018.
- The court case is a result of several years of work to improve the health of purebred dogs. Together with other involved parties we have worked continuously on this issue for more than 20 years. Through our dialogue with the Norwegian Kennel Klub, it has become evident that we have very different understandings of what constitutes acceptable animal welfare and legal breeding of pedigree dogs. Therefore, it is important that the court interprets the content and limits of the breeding provision in the Animal Welfare Act, says Åshild Roaldset, veterinarian and CEO of the NSPA.
The defendants have one month to appeal the Oslo district court’s ruling to hear the case.
Legal changes can improve the wellbeing of pedigree dogs in Norway
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food has invited stakeholders to a hearing for the upcoming changes to the Animal Welfare Act. The provision regulating breeding of animals is one of three changes that are a part of the current hearing. The Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals (NSPA) is welcoming the suggested changes. The NSPA has asked for stronger regulation of breeding of pedigree dogs since 2018.
T he Animal Welfare Act prohibits breeding that changes genes in such a way that they influence the animals’ physical or mental functions in a negative way or passes on such genes.
A clarification of the law is cherised
Breeding of dogs has traditionally had acceptance for a high burden of disease within certain breeds and the provision regulating breeding has never been used. “It is time to put an end to breeding dogs that cannot give birth, that cannot breathe and that are literally riddled with disease”, says Åshild Roaldset the CEO of NSPCA. “As a veterinary surgeon I have seen these dogs suffer for decades, we have to stop this and start breeding animals with compassion for their wellbeing, their health and function.”
The suggested changes in the law clarifies that the Norwegian Kennel Club can be held accountable for breaching the breeding provision in the law.
The EU breeding guidelines – the best Christmas present our dogs could get!
In October 2020, the Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals (NSPA) submitted an input to the EU Commission’s platform for animal welfare. We gave them our view on the situation regarding the breeding of dogs and cats and suggested specific actions to improve the situation. We are pleased to notice that we have been heard, and that the finished document reflects several of our thoughts.
T he NSPA suggested several changes, all vital to improve the welfare of breeding dogs and cats. We are thrilled to see the EU share our concern for today’s breeding and that they are calling for a change. Here are a some of the highlights.
We are very pleased that EU is acknowledging the importance of using estimated breeding values (EBV) in dog breeding. Estimates breeding values is also the best way to say something about the puppies health and hence provides vital information for any puppy buyer. EBV should be based on comprehensive health data and breeding values for different traits. By doing so, breeders will also fulfil parts of the requirements in section 27 of the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act, which among other things, require puppy sellers to provide necessary information to puppy buyers about conditions that are important for the well-being of the animal.
We are also delighted that the EU guidelines now says that no forced matings must occur. Furthermore, the guidelines states that semen collection and artificial insemination should only be performed by a qualified veterinarian.
It is also positive that a veterinary health plan should evaluate the suitability of the individual for breeding. The plan should be reviewed annually, ideally by an independent veterinarian.
Monitoring at population level
The document has its own chapter on hereditary disorders. In our hearing we emphasised the need for increased focus at a population level. In our opinion, the focus on the inbreeding at the level of an individual mating does not yield enough information to properly manage the breed. Professional management of a breed requires an overview of the increase in inbreeding over time. The EU agree with us and suggest careful monitoring of the degree of inbreeding within the breed.
The EU guidelines pinpoints the need to change and modernise the way stud dogs are selected and urge the use of the different tools already available. We now expect the Norwegian government and The Norwegian Kennel Club to ensure these guidelines are endorsed in Norway. The first step will be registration of all traits in a database, as this is largely lacking for many traits and most breeds. These guidelines are a big step in the right direction for the welfare of our dogs and cats. This important document is the best Christmas gift for our four-legged beloved friends, says Åshild Roaldset, veterinarian and CEO at the NSPA.
You can read more about our input here (In Norwegian): https://www.dyrebeskyttelsen.no/2020/10/12/haper-a-bli-hort-i-eu-kommisjonen/
Here are the breeding guidelines from the EU: https://ec.europa.eu/food/sites/food/files/animals/docs/aw_platform_plat-conc_guide_dog-breeding.pdf
Feel free to sign our appeal against unethical breeding (In Norwegian): https://www.opprop.net/underskriftskampanje_mot_uetisk_avl_av_familiedy
Reputable lawyer Geir Lippestad will represent the Norwegian Kennel Club
On November 23rd 2020, the Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals summoned the Norwegian Kennel Club, 2 breed clubs and 6 breeders for illegal breeding of purebred dogs. It is attorney Geir Lippestad who will represent the Norwegian Kennel Club.
Disagree on the requirements of the law
T he Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals (NSPA) and the Norwegian Kennel Club (NKK) disagree on the interpretation of the Animal Welfare Acts requirement that animals must be bred with good function and health. It is clear to the NSPA that any breeding passing on genes that affect the animals negatively, either physically or mentally, is illegal. Thus, we see it necessary to try the Animal Welfare Act’s breeding provision (Animal Welfare Act section 25) in our legal system. The NSPA claim that some breeds are bred with a disease guarantee, since all individuals develop one or more hereditary diseases during their lifetime. Several breeds also suffer from diseases and health challenges associated with their extreme exterior. The NSPA therefore regard further breeding as a violation of the Animal Welfare Act.
It is common knowledge among professionals that good breeding must be based on science, registration of the animals’ characteristics and function, and access to comprehensive health data in addition to the pedigree. There is no reason why family animals should not benefit from the advances made over the past 50 years, in both computer technology and genetics. We can solve the issues with today’s breeding using these solutions. The NSPA believe that the right to good health and welfare must outweigh the owners desire to own an animal with a specific appearance. Breeding of pedigree dogs is a hobby that causes serious health problems for many dogs and there are no good reasons to let this continue.
Extreme breeding has gone so far that for some breeds, the only solution is cross breeding with a healthy breed. Both the English Bulldog and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are in this situation and we have therefore decided to focus on these breeds.
We understand the love that dog owners have for their animals. Many of these dogs have a wonderful temperament and a lovely personality, even more reason to give them a life without man made disease and suffering.
Respond to criticism
After it was known that the NSPA is taking the NKK to court, there have been several negative reactions. The NSPA have been criticized for not prioritizing combatting dog smuggling and unethical breeding of mongrels.
“I would like to remind everyone that this is first and foremost a fight we take on for the animals, and not a fight against breeders and other stakeholders. When it comes to smuggled dogs and unethical breeding of mongrels, I want to assure everyone that we work tirelessly to report matters concerning illegal import, puppy farms and illegal breeding of mutts. The NSPA consider that all animals are equally valuable and work to improve the wellbeing of all dogs, purebred or not ” says Åshild Roaldset, veterinarian and general manager of the NSPA.
Lawyer Lippestad has been granted a postponement of the response on behalf of the NKK, breed clubs and breeders, to Oslo District Court until 18 January 2021.
Norway to decide if breeding of English Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels violates Norwegian law
The Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals (NSPA) works to prevent and stop unethical breeding of family pets, hereunder pedigree dogs. The NSPA believes breeding of both English Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in Norway today does not meet the legal animal welfare criteria laid down in the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act of 2009. The NSPA is now taking The Norwegian Kennel Club, the two breeders’ clubs and selected breeders to court.
c. evokes general ethical reactions.
Animals with a genetic constitution as cited in the second paragraph shall not be used for subsequent breeding.
This revised wording has not yet been tried in Norwegian courts. The NSPA believes that some breeds have now accumulated so many serious health conditions that further breeding of them will constitute a breach of this provision.
Therefore, the NSPA is now taking legal steps towards selected breeders, clubs, and The Norwegian Kennel Club to have the content and limits of this provision interpreted by the Norwegian courts.
At this point, the NSPA is of the opinion that a number of these breeds are too sick to continue breeding them. In addition, the lack of sufficient remaining genetic diversity makes it impossible to breed robust and healthy animals within the remaining population. Based on these facts, the NSPA believes that outcrossing of these breeds is the only available option that is in accordance with the relevant legislation in Norway.