Important victory for the dogs in the Supreme Court
Today, Norway's Supreme Court handed down a final verdict in the historic dog breeding case. Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals fully agreed that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed as it stands today is too sick and inbred for breeding to continue. The verdict thus confirms that the breeding which for years has perpetuated hereditary disorders and diseases is not only unethical, but also an actual breach of Norwegian law.
Text: Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals
This is an important judgment that sets a new standard for work against unethical breeding, both nationally and internationally.
Norwegian Society for Protection of Animal’s work with breeding
Over a hundred years of breeding based on breed purity, appearance and inbreeding has produced hereditary disorders, a high degree of inbreeding and increasingly shorter lifespans. The diseases and suffering that breeding inflicts on our dogs are numerous and completely man-made.
The consequences of such breeding have been felt by our dogs over far too many decades. The price they have had to pay for some people's vanity is sky high and will go down in history as one of man's greatest betrayals of dogs.
Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals (NSPA) fights for breeding to be taken in a scientific direction. It is time to abandon a one-sided focus on exterior and racial purity. The whole dog must function for the dog's quality of life to be good, and it is no longer sufficient to use individual tests from individual animals in breeding. Both genomic relatedness, health, temperament and function must be quantified and used in order to achieve a good and comprehensive breeding effort.
As part of the work to achieve this goal, NSPA went to court. We wanted to establish that certain breeds have become so extreme that further purebred breeding – as their genes are today – is against the animal welfare act. For the cavalier, this has now been confirmed in all three of our courts.
Is it legal to breed English bulldogs in Norway?
The Supreme Court concludes that it is legal to breed English bulldogs, but with clear frameworks and signals for the future.
Firstly, the Supreme Court is clear that only breeding within the clearly stated framework for breeding within the bulldog club's relatively new rules will be legal. Breeding outside these limits is, by default, illegal. These are frameworks that did not exist in the same way when the lawsuit started.
Secondly - and more importantly - the Supreme Court is clear that the conclusion is based on a present-day assessment which may turn out differently if it shows that the new rules do not lead to sufficient improvement in the short term - both in relation to BOAS and in relation to the proportion of caesareans in the breed. NSPA assumes that the Norwegian Food Safety Authority will take this into account in further enforcement of the law.
Much has been won, but the most important work lies ahead
Before NSPA went to court, there were few restrictions on which dogs could be bred. Among other things, there was free access to use dogs with very serious breathing problems in breeding. Today, the clubs prohibit breeding with such dogs, and the draft regulations are clear that it will not be allowed. There were also no ongoing cross-breeding projects for our companion dogs, while today there are such projects ongoing for both French bulldogs and cavaliers in other countries.
Our work with unethical breeding has had major ripple effects in Europe. In many countries, the authorities now understand that dog breeding must change, says Åshild Roaldset, CEO of NSPA.
NSPA’s work with dog breeding has meant that the wording in the breeding section has been changed, and we have been pressured to better regulate dog breeding and that this be laid down in regulations. Along the way, we have experienced that even professionals have become much clearer that dog breeding must change.
The dog breeding case has received enormous attention from abroad, and many people follow and support NSPA’s work against unethical breeding. A snowball has begun to roll internationally. This will hopefully push dog breeding in a good direction with the dogs' best interests as a guide. All this, and more, has come as a result of NSPA’s years of work for the welfare of dogs.
The decisive thing now is that the changes continue in the right direction, and the judgment from the Supreme Court is a clear signal in the right direction. In the future, all stakeholders must work for the best possible regulations that ensure real changes in dog breeding.
Thanks for all the support
There are many of us who believe that the time is overdue for necessary changes in dog breeding. Many individuals within the Norwegian Kennel Club (NKC) system have expressed their support for NSPA's work to change dog breeding. The problems were highlighted by NKC already in the 60s by their then general secretary. Unfortunately, few from the kennel club community have the courage to come forward.
- We must thank everyone who has supported NSPA's work for better regulation of dog breeding. We know that many who have supported the case have experienced harassment, so they deserve a very special thank you. The time has come to shake off an entrenched and old-fashioned culture that affects the dogs' welfare, says Roaldset.
It is only a very small minority of the population who think breeding that causes disease and suffering is okay. The NKC-directed breeding unfortunately follows this minority. Most people want healthy, functional dogs with a good temperament and a long life. Therefore, our fight continues against these outdated, unscientific breeding systems that create animal welfare problems we would not otherwise have had.
- NSPA’s work against unethical breeding has made it abundantly clear that the systems for purebred dog breeding are both outdated and lead to enormous suffering for the dogs. We expect the Animal Welfare Act to be administered with a background in science and not old dogmas. We hope that the Minister of Agriculture also believes this and instructs his civil service that science should be at the forefront of the ministry's work, says Roaldset.
Åshild RoaldsetVeterinær og daglig leder i Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge
Foto: Marcel Leliënhof
Om Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge
Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge er en landsdekkende dyrevernorganisasjon med 25 lokalavdelinger spredt fra nord til sør. Siden 1859 har vi arbeidet for at dyr skal bli behandlet med respekt og medfølelse. Dette gjør oss til en av verdens eldste dyrevernorganisasjoner.
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