It seems to me that animal welfare laws which are usually under statute (an ‘act’) don’t apply to dog and cat breeders or any other breeders for that matter in respect of an important aspect of their work: inbreeding. But they should.
Perhaps I’ve got this wrong but I don’t recall any dog or cat breeder being prosecuted in the UK under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 because they inbreed their cats and dogs in such a way that they suffer unnecessarily in the future. Yes, breeders can be prosecuted for keeping animals under appalling conditions but that’s a different matter.
Example – Maine Coon
And that, I believe, is the weakness in the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Take for example the Maine Coon cat. This cat suffers from some serious genetically inherited health conditions such as hip dysplasia, which is painful because bone rubs against bone. It is as if the cat has suffered a serious injury.
But they don’t suffer this injury because somebody has hit the living cat but because they’ve been inbred which ensures that the cat has mutated genes causing hip dysplasia. The breeders know with certainty that their breeding line produces kittens who’ll suffer from hip dysplasia. They can avoid it by removing the foundation cats that have the genetic mutation causing hip dysplasia.
Everything is in place for a Maine Coon cat breeder in the UK to be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 EXCEPT for the fact that they are not doing harm to a living Maine Coon cat. They are programming the cat, as mentioned, to suffer harm without any further human intervention in the future, during their lives. But the act applies to living creatures and not what someone did before the animal was born or when an embryo.
Except for that issue, a breeder could be prosecuted. This is because a person under this act commits an offence if they do something or fail to do something which causes an animal to suffer and that they knew or ought to have known that the failure to act or the act would cause the cat to suffer. The Maine Coon cat is a protected animal under this act. And the suffering that they experience is because of inbreeding which is unnecessary.
If I’m correct, and of course I believe that I am, this is a weakness in the act and in a better world, the government would do something about it.
What I’m saying in a roundabout way is that cat breeders have been producing unhealthy cats for far too long, for decades, and it is time it stopped. The same of course applies to many dog breeds.
Inbreeding is the big problem. They have to be inbred in order to ensure that their appearance meets the breed standard. The breeders have to fix the appearance and they can do this by breeding Maine Coon cat with Maine Coon cat. They can’t outcross to a non-purebred cat which would create genetic diversity and substantially help to clean up their breeding practices. But that’s a complete no-no under the Maine Coon cat breed standard.
So, we can say with some confidence that the cat associations in league with the cat breeders ‘programme’ a cat’s development so that they experience pain and suffering at some point in their lives and this certainly applies to hip dysplasia. Spinal muscular atrophy is not said to be painful as I understand it but it causes a weakness and a gait problem.
HCM causes breathlessness and weakness and I would say therefore distress which is suffering. I’m just making a point about the law and the fact that breeders circumvent it by chance really. It’s pure luck because if the Animal Welfare Act had been drafted differently, they could have easily included cat and dog breeders. There is no chance that they will be included by amending the act in the future. Not a dog’s chance in Hades.