Showsight December 2022

A CAUTIONARY TALE Animal Rights Laws Increase Pressure on European Dog Enthusiasts BY PHIL M. GUIDRY AND SHEILA H. GOFFE, AKC GOVERNMENT RELATIONS R ecently, The Kennel Club (England) (TKC) asked for Scottish dog owners to respond to a consulta- tion launched by Maurice Golden, a member of the Scottish Parliament for North East Scotland,

In the past few years, several Western European countries have taken steps to implement laws and rules that, whether knowingly or unknowingly, are tactics promoted by animal rights extremists to incrementally limit the breeding and owning of purebred dogs. One tactic is to veil their anti-breeding schemes as concerns for ani- mal health. When animal rights legislation becomes law, it can place national kennel clubs in a no-win situation: either change their poli- cies to accommodate extremist laws or face the consequences and pen- alties of violating the new national laws. For example, in 2020, the Dutch Kennel Club (RvB) began a policy of limiting the registration of certain breeds, citing health concerns related to muzzle length. It even went on to encourage crossbreeding to increase muzzle length and offered to allow for future generations descended from those mix- es to be registered as purebred. AKC urged the RvB “to continue to aggressively work against overt attempts to control breed type and to continue to pursue education and scientific discussion of thoughtful ways to address health issues within a breed in a way that protects and preserves the essence of the breed.” In Norway, a July 2021 vote by parliament amended the breed- ing clause of the country’s Animal Welfare Act to ensure that the Norwegian Kennel Club (NKK), breeder groups, and private breed- ers were all legally responsible for breeding healthy, fit animals. (The underlying legislation that emphasized health testing had many simi- larities to proposals introduced in the U.S. Congress in 2021-2022, including H.R. 2840/S.1385, the so-called “Puppy Protection Act”.) Seven months after the measure passed in Norway, a district court in Oslo, composed of a judge and two co-judges (one a veterinarian, the other a geneticist) unanimously concluded that Bulldogs and Cava- lier King Charles Spaniels have such major health challenges that any further breeding of them is in violation of the new law, and ordered that the breeding of both breeds in Norway must stop immediately.

to support the introduction of a specific criminal offense for dog theft. A consultation is an opportunity for the public to comment on an idea prior to the idea becoming a bill filed in Parliament. The proposed Dog “Abduction” (Scotland) Bill would create a new statutory offense for dog theft and other sit- uations where a dog is taken or kept without lawful authority. The concerns justifying the proposal are similar to the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) public warnings about the rise in pet thefts. More than ever, AKC is providing advice and education about ways dog owners can protect their property (including their dogs), and advocating for increased enforce- ment of current laws that criminally punish thieves and others who treat animals cruelly. So, the Scottish proposal sounds reasonable and in line with AKC’s values then, right? Not exactly. AKC is concerned about the philosophical, political, and legal impacts of the animal rights movement, and the myri- ad of guises in which it appears, both in the US and abroad. Animal Rights is a radical philosophy that holds that humans should not use or own animals in any way—as companions, as is the case with our beloved dogs; or as food for the world, as in the case of livestock—and seeks to make that agenda a reality by utilizing media, legislation, and litigation to incre- mentally change perceptions about the human use of animals. The ultimate goal of animal rights supporters is not to improve the wellbeing of animals, but to stop their breeding by, and interaction with, humans.


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