Animals are not there to fulfil the dubious aesthetic demands of their owners

  • by
Julia Klockner

NEWS AND VIEWS: The wise words of the title are those of Julia Klöckner, the German government’s Agriculture Minister. I want to give this woman a kiss because (1) she is genuinely concerned about animal welfare and has the power to make some real changes for the benefit of animals and (2) she is very good looking. You can’t help but fancy her. Sorry for being a bit flippant.

Julia Klockner

Julia Klöckner. Germany’s Agriculture Minister.

She has tightened up the law in Germany with the primary intention of stamping out the worst cases of animal abuse and in particular the objectionable puppy farms where dogs are bred with an almost complete disregard for their welfare. The only problem that I can foresee is enforcing the new rules about dog walking but this appears to be targetted at the breeders not the typical dog owner. Perhaps we’ll understand more when the full draft and the thinking behind it is publicised. I think it would be hard to enforce because there are not enough police officers. Her intentions are great though.

Julia Klöckner has introduced draft law which is intended to achieve the following:

  • German dog owners must allow their companion dogs half an hour’s exercise in the fresh air at least twice a day.
  • “Torture breeds” (Qualzucht) which is a German expression translated into English meaning animals bred with inherent health problems such as flat-faced dogs cats causing breathing problems, will be banned from dog shows with the intention of curbing demand for them. They are very popular because the public is hooked on appearance and when breeders focus on appearance they do so at the expense of the animal’s health. This attitude is deep seated in the dog and cat fancy.
  • Breeders will no longer be able to tether dogs with chains. They will also not be able to transport them in vehicles for more than 4.5 hours in heat over 30 degrees centigrade.

The exercise rule is to stop dogs in breeding establishment being confined to kennels 24/7. The current law is that they must be given “sufficient outdoor exercise”. It was apparently decided that the existing law is not specific enough. FYI – one in five German households have a dog.

I’ll repeat the words of the title as spoken by Julia Klockner:

Animals are not there to fulfil the dubious aesthetic demands of their owners.

Those words chime completely with my thoughts on the subject. Unfortunately, dog and cat breeders have focused on aesthetics, sometimes at the expense of health and even behaviour. The dog and cat fancy associations do not do enough to direct their members to de-prioritise appearance and prioritise health and behaviour or at least treat health as important as appearance.

CFA and Persian in the US

In America, the CFA, the Cat Fanciers’ Association, still supports the extreme breeding of the flat-based Persian which is known to carry inherited health problems such as breathing issues, tear duct overflow and polycystic kidney disease (PKD – 35% of cats at my last reading of the problem). The cat is bred along aesthetic principles but of course aesthetics are subjective. To many people, the aesthetics of the flat-based Persian are horrible. They are unnatural. The more natural doll-faced person is preferred by many, is more healthy and aesthetically more pleasing. Why does the CFA shun this variant of the breed? There shouldn’t be two variants of one breed in any case. It is an aberration driven by subjective aesthetics and for some reason the breeders believe that their extreme version of the Persian is the most beautiful, which baffles me.