Quite often we receive emails and facebook messages asking us if we have any dogs of a particular short-nosed ("Brachycephalic") breed (French Bulldogs seem to top the list).
Aside from the fact that every time we see this question, a little piece of our heart dies on behalf of all the lovely, sound and deserving crossbreeds, Tal-kaccas and the like in our centre and all the other centres in Malta, who keep getting overlooked, there is one overwhelming issue that saddens us.
These dogs are bred to be unwell, and many of them will suffer an illness during their lives simply because of the shape of their heads.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) recently took a stance on the welfare of these animals (effectively, after many years of appeasing breeders, they grew a backbone). Here's a link to their policy statement:
And here is a YouTube video that tells you very quickly what the issues are.
The photos below show you just how much we have messed about with dogs' (and cats') faces (you know, the bits they eat, breathe, smell and see and hear with) compared to how they naturally developed to create a functioning animal.
It's quite shocking isn't it.
If you want to see the evidence (and no doubt this post will result in lots of opinion, but this is evidence) then click on the CT scan image below.
So what would we like to see happen?
- We'd like vets in Malta, through the MVA, to take a stronger and more vocal stance. They can also do so individually by signing the online petition for vets and nurses reachable by clicking the middle photo immediately above, the one with the dog and cat and rabbit in. Not a single vet from Malta has signed it yet, and only one nurse.
- We'd like breeders to consider welfare rather than Euro signs.
- We'd mostly though, like prospective owners to use their brains and their common sense when selecting what type of dog or cat to make their new companion, to overcome the vain obsession with designer dogs (fed by images in broadcast and social media).
Of course these aren't the only health issues that come with breed, but during the 28 years I have spent as a veterinary nurse, inspector and shelter manager, again and again it's these breeds that not only suffer in living their everyday lives, but are at massively heightened risk of death or compromise during routine veterinary procedures just because of their shape. Not to mention than as well as everything going on at the head end, many are so deformed at the opposite end that they require a caesarean to give birth as the ability to do so naturally has been slowly bred away.
Ultimately, if these susceptible breeds, as they currently exist, disappeared, or became radically different in the healthier direction, I'd be very happy indeed.
Rehoming Centre Manager