A pet charity is calling for an end to “horrendously bad breeding” of certain dogs, cats and rabbits.
The Blue Cross is campaigning for the end to the over-popularisation of brachycephalic pets, which have a short skull shape, giving the appearance of a flattened face.
So, which pets are affected, what is the campaign called, and how can you support it?
Here’s what you need to know.
What breeds of dog, cat and rabbit are affected?
The Blue Cross have said that French bulldogs, British bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers, Persian cats and lionhead rabbits are all particularly affected by brachycephaly caused by what they describe as “cruel and inhumane” over-breeding.
What is the campaign called and what is its aim?
The campaign is called #EndTheTrend.
The Blue Cross believe that advertising is causing a high demand for brachycephalic pets, and the over-popularisation of these dogs and cats is fuelled further by online sales, and the impact of unregulated breeding.
In a statement, the charity said that this has “resulted in an animal welfare crisis”.
According to their data, brachycephalic breeds accounted for one fifth of the nation’s dogs in 2021.
Brachycephalic animals are being used more regularly in the marketing and advertising of major brands, even if their products are unrelated to these pets.
The charity said: “By using brachycephalic pets in their advertisements, brands are indirectly contributing to the over-popularisation of these animals and, in turn, the extreme demand for flat-faced breeds.”
Becky Thwaites, head of public affairs at Blue Cross, told The Sun: "We have already started contacting MPs. Ultimately Blue Cross is determined to see the end of the poor breeding of and are considering all options both legislative and non-legislative to achieve this."
The Blue Cross #EndTheTrend petition calls for the UK’s leading brands, including ASOS, Brewdog, John Lewis and Pets at Home, to commit to phasing out the use of any brachycephalic pets in their future advertisements by the end of 2022.
To help brands with this, the BVA (British Veterinary Association) have produced a guide to show how pets can be used responsibly in advertising.
Among other things, the guide highlights 14 characteristics and body shapes common in brachy pets that brands should avoid using, including animals with a short muzzle or nose, drooping or ‘diamond’ eyes and a sloping back.
Why are there concerns about brachycephalic pets?
Being bred to be brachycephalic negatively impacts on the animal’s quality of life, according to the Blue Cross.
It is well documented that flat-faced animals can struggle with breathing issues, but the charity says there are other “countless” painful and life-limiting conditions they are forced to live with, or undergo surgeries for, because of their skull shape.
There are a number of procedures that vets may have to carry out on brachy pets, but there are three that are most common.
- Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) surgery is carried out when an animal can’t breathe properly and the charity says it is often a vital procedure for clearing their dangerously obstructed airways.
- Enucleation is the removal of an animal’s eyes and eyelids due to high rates of disease which can occur in flat-faced pets.
- Many female brachy pets who become pregnant also need a caesarean section as they can’t give birth to their litters without help from a vet.
The charity said: “These health problems come from a vicious cycle of over-breeding to meet the huge demand for these four-legged friends.
“Many of these breeds now no longer even resemble their healthy ancestors that came just a century before them. And, devastatingly, it is now costing them their quality of life.”
In the last two years, Blue Cross vets have treated over 5,000 brachy pets, and that number continues to grow every week.
How can I support the campaign?
The Blue Cross is calling on people to help affect the change by signing their #EndTheTrend petition.
You can sign the petition on their official website.