The Dutch food and consumer safety authority NVWA has issued an official warning to a Gelderland couple who are breeding a species of cat prone to serious health problems, broadcaster NOS reports.
It is the first time such a warning has been issued. The breeding of animals in the knowledge that they will suffer health problems has been prohibited for the last five years but the practice continues because the NVWA will only act if specifically asked to.
The Bambino Sphynx, a popular species of cat which can fetch as much as €1,000, has no fur or whiskers and very short legs, which makes it difficult for the animal to ‘behave naturally’, NOS writes. It is also prone to sunburn. Its plight had been brought to the attention of the authority a number of times by animal welfare organisation Dier&Recht and this has now led to an official warning.
The breeders in question, Cattery van Lootakkers from Gendt, will be fined €1,500 if they continue to breed Bambino Sphynxes. The owners have since said on Facebook they will sterilise the cats.
‘A pet is not a fashion statement,’ Dier&Recht vet Frederieke Schouten told the broadcaster. ‘I see how lost the animal is without its whiskers. Its welfare is really in danger.’
The NVWA says it earlier lacked the scientific proof which could help it combat the breeding of certain species. It can now base further actions on a report by the University of Utrecht which outlines when breeders overstep the mark.
‘It looks at physical characteristics. The snout of a dog needs to at least a third of the entire length of the head, for instance, so it can breathe properly,’ Schouten said.
Dier&Recht said there are many more pure bred animals with health problems, such as French bulldogs, but that curtailing the practice is difficult because of the popularity of the breeds.
What is needed, apart from NVWA interventions, is to make people aware of the problem, Schouten said. ‘People should bring it up when they meet in the street. We hope they won’t ooh and aah but say “wow that is a really sad looking animal you have there”. Once demand drops breeding will stop.’
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