Information on unethical breeding has been shared for a long time. Already in 1983, the former head of department at NMBU Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Jorunn Grøndalen, discussed dog breeding on television.
In 1998, the Council for Animal Ethics (RDE) stated that certain breeds must be banned if their health did not improve. A few years later they announced that “individuals who are carriers of disease/ genes for defects should, as a general rule, not be used in breeding”. In 2010, RDE also pointed out that information about health status is essential, both for the puppy buyer and for the breed’s genetic and health development over time.
Several documentaries have been released about unethical breeding of companion animals over the years. Both the television program “Brennpunkt” from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) (2001), and the Pedigree Dogs Exposed films from the BBC in the UK, (2008 and 2012) have called for a review of today’s breed standards.
In 2015, an independent scientific report commissioned by the local NSPA branch in Oslo and Akershus, concluded that many individuals within different breeds have serious health issues. The NMBU Faculty of veterinary medicine states that a change in practice is urgently required.
In 2017, the Norwegian Veterinary Association launched an appeal against unethical breeding. The appeal was quickly signed by more than 1,500 veterinarians.
Despite having discussed the issue for years, little has been done to actually improve the situation. On the contrary, we have seen an increase in the popularity of many of these breeds. They frequently figure in advertising and in social media and people seem to be very passionate about owning them, despite their serious health problems.
” The Honestly campaign was initiated by the NSPA with the aim of bringing about lasting, structural changes to pedigree breeding. Today’s breeding, where cousin-to-cousin mating is allowed, is detrimental to the welfare of pedigree dogs.”
The Norwegian society for protection of animals
We have now decided to call for action. Sick animals must be the exception rather than the rule. Therefore, the NSPA is now taking legal steps against 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 unhealthy 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.
“We believe that many dogs are bred unlawfully in Norway. The purpose of the law is to protect the animals from human atrocities, and what we see in this case is of major animal welfare concern,”
Åshild Roaldset, BVSc, DVM and CEO NSPA.
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 therefore taking The Norwegian Kennel Club, the two breeders’ clubs and selected breeders to court.
Breeding must encourage characteristics which give robust animals which function well and have good health. Breeding, including through methods of gene technology, shall not be carried out in such a way that it:
- changes genes in such a way that they influence the animals’ physical or mental function in a negative way, or passes on such genes.
- reduces the animals’ ability to practise natural behaviour, or
- evoke ethical reactions in the general public.
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.