Santa Barbara Humane officials say Norway’s ban is designed to deter irresponsible breeding and keep canines healthy
Judges in Norway’s Oslo District Court this week made a unanimous and landmark ruling that the breeding of bulldogs as well as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels violates section 25 of the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act.
When asked if they supported the ban, Santa Barbara Humane officials stressed their support for making certain animals are bred responsibly.
Monday’s ruling by the panel of judges was prompted by a November 2021 case by Animal Protection Norway, concerned with the multiple health issues of the dogs’ breeds.
“The man-made health problems of the bulldog have been known since the early 20th century,” Åshild Roaldset, the CEO of Animal Protection Norway, said in a New York Post story. “This verdict is many years overdue. For several decades, sick dogs have been bred in violation of Norwegian law. Our dogs (have) been victims of systematic and organized betrayal of our four-legged friends. Today it has been confirmed that this is illegal.”
Lawyer Emanuel Feinberg discussed the court’s decision further in the Post story.
“The ruling is not a blanket ban on the breeds, however, but a nuanced ‘legal framework for animal breeding.’ Thus, cross-breeding of the beloved — if often sickly — dog types is still possible and permitted,” Mr. Feinberg said.
The ban does not apply to responsible breeding of the bulldog or cavalier, stated Norway Protection in its post, also indicating that Norway has not only the infrastructure but also the technology for a more “humane cross-breeding reality.”
Kerri Burns, CEO of Santa Barbara Humane, told the News-Press that the ban is designed to deter irresponsible breeding.
“Norway’s population of animals is not like the U.S. at all,” Ms. Burns said. “The ban is cracking down on those who are not breeding responsibly.
“It is important to do your homework if you are going to get a purebred,” she continued. “Statistics show that 30% of purebreds enter shelters. Look at shelters before going to a breeder.
“A lot of pet owners let their animals breed because they think they can’t afford spay or neuter,” Ms. Burns said. “Santa Barbara Humane offers low-cost or free spay and neuter services. Spay and neutering your pet reduces the number of animals entering shelters.”
“It’s a matter of education. So we don’t run into an overpopulation of animals,” she Burns said.
Ms. Burns also talked about puppy mills, and while they might sound cute, she said puppy mills are irresponsible breeders.
Ms. Burns said animals are bred in confined spaces, until hopefully animal control comes in and removes the animals. The animals then have the opportunity to be adopted into loving homes.
The Santa Barbara Humane CEO said that when animals are rescued from the puppy mills and are adopted, it is likely the first time they have “seen the sky, touched the grass or felt love.”
“To watch them look up to the sky or feel the grass for the first time is a gift to see,” said Ms. Burns.
Responsible breeders understand when to stop breeding due to the potential of future medical or behavioral issues, Ms. Burns noted. She added that those problems can happen in situations that include backyard breeding.
A lot of people looking for a dog want purebreds.
“Purebred dogs were inbred at the beginning to get certain traits,” said Katie Marrie, chief veterinary officer for Santa Barbara Humane.
But she added, “A lot of breeds have known medical problems. Boxers are known to have heart issues, German shepherds have joint problems. There is a list of things that should be checked prior to breeding. Responsible breeders do this.
“Bulldogs’ noses are so far into their face they can’t breathe and are susceptible to a skin infection,” Dr. Marrie told the News-Press. “Cavaliers have brain issues due to their small head and heart issues.
“The Norway ban is trying to get the public to understand what we have done to these dogs and that it is inhumane,” she said. “There is a list of things to look for in a purebred.”
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has a “Position Statement on Criteria for Responsible Breeding.” To find it, go aspca.org, then search for “breeding.”
“This ban is about making sure animals have a good life, and it is what Kerri and I care most about,” Dr. Marrie said. “I would encourage people to learn more about spaying and neutering and programs we offer at (www.sbhumane.org), and to educate themselves on what responsible breeding is.”
Ms. Burns stressed the importance of prospective pet owners doing their homework. “If people getting purebreds are taking the time to do the research, they are going to get really great dogs. Sometimes we get dogs with severe medical or behavioral issues that could have been prevented.”
Dr. Marrie noted there are great dogs in shelters.
“A lot of people are looking for puppies,” she said. “But first you should think through the responsibility and time commitment and your lifestyle to consider what kind of dog fits your family’s lifestyle.
“Adopting from a shelter is always a win-win.”