Pick animal welfare with your festive knitwear, urge vets

Ahead of Christmas Jumper Day (December 8), vets are asking the public to avoid buying festive jumpers that depict dogs and cats bred for extreme features which may seem cute but can lead to suffering, such as flat faces or long backs and short legs. In addition, jumpers featuring dogs with illegal mutilations like cropped ears should be left on the shelf.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is calling for an end to the sale of these types of products that normalise poor animal health and welfare, at a time when there has been a celebrity- and social media-driven explosion in demand for such popular breeds.

Many people may not be aware that flat-faced breeds such as pugs, French bulldogs or Persian cats suffer from breathing problems, as highlighted by BVA’s ‘Breed to Breathe’ campaign. The long and low body shape of dachshunds and corgis makes them prone to serious spinal and neurological issues which can require surgery. Showing dogs such as dobermans with cropped ears is a huge no-no, too: the practice is illegal in the UK and vets and animal welfare charities are campaigning hard via the ‘Cut The Crop’ campaign to close the legal loophole that currently allows cropped dogs to be imported from abroad.

Despite raising this issue in previous years, big retailers including Marks & SpencerSainsbury’sJohn LewisNextJoules and Asda are still selling jumpers promoting animals with known welfare problems this season.

British Veterinary Association Senior Vice President Justine Shotton said:

“Christmas jumpers are a bit of festive fun and cheer, but they shouldn’t promote poor animal welfare.

“Flat-faced breeds and sausage dogs may seem cute, but many people are unaware of the health problems that these breeds can have, which can cause severe suffering for the animal and be costly to treat. We are especially concerned this year to see at least one example of a jumper showing a dog with cropped ears, an illegal practice where the tips of the dog’s ears are cut off for cosmetic reasons..

“The British Veterinary Association would encourage anyone concerned about the promotion of unhealthy breeds or illegal mutilations on merchandise to contact the brand directly using the template letter on our website and refer to our pet advertising guidelines for more information.”

BVA’s template letter for brands can be downloaded at: https://www.bva.co.uk/media/3096/brachy-letter-template.pdf

See BVA’s guidelines on the responsible use of animals in advertising: https://www.bva.co.uk/resources-support/ethical-guidance/advertising-guidelines-pets-in-advertising-a-social-concern/

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