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Vets and MEPs discuss extreme breeding
In the Netherlands there are breed-specific regulations, including a fitness test for breeds such as bulldogs.
Issues must be tackled before they become ‘more disgraceful’ - MEP

Raising public awareness is key to tackling the issue of extreme breeding in animals, according to stakeholders at a meeting in Brussels.

The discussion in European Parliament brought together veterinary organisations, MEPs, animal charities and kennel clubs.

MEP Marlene Mizzi said: “The engineering of animals needs to be addressed before it becomes more disgraceful than it already is. Animals have rights and dignity and deserve our respect.”

Attendees discussed brachycephalic animals, but also genetic features such as folded ears, sloping backs and hairlessness. Some suggested finding ways to make these animals less ‘fashionable’ by promoting ‘normal’ dogs and educating the public on what a healthy dog should look like.

Other suggestions were developing breed-specific instructions for show judges, involving vets and veterinary organisations in setting healthy breed standards and opening up stud books to improve the gene pool.

Kristin Prestrud from the Norwegian Kennel Club said that, over time, many breeds have become more exaggerated: “Short legs have become shorter, heavy bodies heavier, long ears longer and so on. This is not how it was meant to be originally. Where is the limit for functional anatomy?”

In Nordic countries, breed-specific instructions are used to ensure show winners have a functional anatomy.

Meanwhile, the Dutch government has set up a multi-stakeholder programme. It involves educating breeders, judges, vets and behaviourists; animal health and welfare regulations for all pedigrees; breed-specific regulations, including a fitness test for breeds such as bulldogs.

Petra Sindern, from the German Veterinary Practitioners’ Association, said there is a campaign in her country to raise awareness among dog owners of ‘torture breeding’. This includes asking advertisers not to use dogs that are the result of extreme breeding. Official vets in Germany can also check breeders and sanction them if the animals are not healthy.

BVA’s senior vice-president Gudrun Ravetz said: “Any initiative we take should be meaningful, evidence-based, enforceable and enforced and, most importantly: people should know about it.”

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Report: A third of Welsh birds are in decline

News Story 1
 A report by RSPB Cymru and partnering ornithology organisations has revealed that a third of bird species in Wales are in significant decline.

90 per cent of Wales is farmed and there is now pressure to implement new land management policies that will aid in nature restoration.

Patrick Lindley, Maritime Ornithologist for Natural Resources Wales, commented: “The problems that confront UK birds, whether they are breeding or non-breeding, are pressure and threats that confront entire ecosystems.

“Birds are a great indicator to the health of our environment. The continued population declines of birds of farmed, woodland and upland habitats suggest there are large geographic themes that are having a detrimental impact.”  

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News Shorts
British sheep meat to be exported to India in new agreement

The UK government has secured a new export deal of sheep meat to India.

In 2017, UK sheep meat exports were worth £386 million. This new agreement is predicted to increase this value by £6 million over the next five years.

With a range of meat cuts due to be exported, the deal is seen by international trade secretary, Dr Liam Fox MP, as “another vote of confidence in our world-leading food and drink”.