The mass death of 38 snub-nosed puppies while in transit from the Ukraine to Canada has inspired change at a national level.
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) has put forward a call to action to regulators, breeders, and the public aimed at ending the extreme breeding of animals.
Specifically, the association says, brachycephalic dogs, including pugs and French bulldogs, must be bred, cared for, and transported responsibly because of the unique breathing and health issues they experience due to their short muzzles.
“In general, animals are bred for multiple positive characteristics, including physical appearance and behavioural traits,” says CVMA’s president, Enid Stiles, DVM, M.Sc. “When breeding programs focus on specific exaggerated conformational changes, sometimes referred to as extreme breeding, there can be unintended negative consequences that could affect the health and welfare of offspring.”
Despite the serious, long-term health risks associated with brachycephalic breeds, their distinct appearance makes them a popular choice for advertising and marketing, CVMA says. This, in turn, increases their public interest, resulting in excessive and often less selective breeding to meet market demand and an increase in imports.
To that end, the association advocates the following as part of its call to action:
- for advertisers to stop using extreme-bred animals for marketing purposes;
- for breeders of brachycephalic dogs to select only the healthiest animals (including those with longer muzzles) as breeding stock with the goal of reaching a muzzle length of half the head length over time;
- for prospective owners to be aware of the potential health risks associated with these breeds, consult with a veterinarian for advice, and source pets from local breeders who are committed to overall breed health;
- for dog brokers to select puppies from reputable local sources with a clear plan to breed responsibly; and
- for airlines to ban the air transport of all brachycephalic breeds for commercial purposes.
Finally, CVMA is calling for the Canadian government to consistently and actively enforce federal animal transport regulations and ensure importers and carriers are aware of the applicable requirements within these regulations.