Royal Canin sponsors illegal Bear Baiting in Ukraine
Update on the Royal Canin campaign
After the message spread that FOUR PAWs discovered the involvement of the international pet food manufacturer Royal Canin in bear baiting contests in Ukraine, a great act of protest evolved throughout Europe. Within two days, FOUR PAWS received more than 17.000 protest mails against Royal Canin and about 100.000 people watched the youtube video which proofs these cruel pratices.
Thanks to this engagement, Royal Canin finally approached FOUR PAWS and, after a meeting in Vienna on 30 July 2013, agreed to support FOUR PAWS in providing a species-appropriate solution for the 15-20 bears involved in the contests. A more detailed plan is just being discussed.
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International pet food manufacturer ROYAL CANIN involved in sponsoring bear baiting
The international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has uncovered a scandal: in recent months the globally-operating French manufacturer of dog and cat food ROYAL CANIN has sponsored brutal, illegal bear baiting in Ukraine.
FOUR PAWS is in possession of a video documenting a contest sponsored by ROYAL CANIN which took place in April 2013 in the woods near Vinnytsia, Ukraine. Over several hours, at approximately ten-minute intervals, two to three dogs are set on a chained brown bear. An audience looks on as the dogs attack and bite the bear, which can put up almost no defence. It cannot move freely as it is attached to a chain tied to a rope above. Several men at the ends of the chain control every movement of the bear, dragging it around the fight area. A referee awards points to the individual dogs. Trophies carrying the ROYAL CANIN logo await the owners of the most aggressive dogs.
Four to six times per year contests take place in special training camps for hunting dogs in Ukraine. FOUR PAWS has evidence that ROYAL CANIN has sponsored several of these gruesome spectacles over recent months. ROYAL CANIN has confirmed to FOUR PAWS its involvement in the event in April, but declines any meeting on the matter.
FOUR PAWS calls on ROYAL CANIN not only to stop sponsoring these cruel contests once and for all, but also to take on the responsibility for the future of the tortured bears. “The company promotes itself with the principle ‘Respecting the animal nature of dogs and cats’ and places companion animals’ wellbeing at the centre of their company philosophy”, says Dr. Amir Khalil, vet and project leader at FOUR PAWS. “By sponsoring appalling bear baiting ROYAL CANIN is reducing wild animals like the brown bear to the rank of second-class animals.”
This type of contest with brown bears is illegal. The brown bear is protected by law in Ukraine, and any activity which causes pain and suffering to a bear in captivity is banned. FOUR PAWS is pressing for direct action on the part of the authorities in charge. “It is not enough for ROYAL CANIN to distance themselves verbally from such activities. The company must take responsibility and support the government in securing a species-appropriate life for the bears concerned”, stresses Dr. Khalil, adding, “The government has already requested FOUR PAWS to assist them in setting up a project to give the bears a species-appropriate home.”
FOUR PAWS estimates there to be between 15 and 20 baiting bears in Ukraine. They live cruel lives in tiny cages with nothing but a concrete floor, and they are only released from these cages for training or to be attacked by hunting dogs. They are usually given insufficient food and water, to make them weaker opponents for the dogs. Most also have their claws removed.
Baiting bears come from zoos, circuses or the wild. They are taken from their mothers at just a few months of age. How cruel this is for both mother and cub was documented on video by FOUR PAWS last year. In May 2012 ruthless animal dealers took a female cub, Nastia, from a zoo in Lutsk. She was only four months old and screamed as she was brutally torn away from her mother. She was forced into a tiny cage and taken to Vinnytsia. In July 2012 the animal welfare organisation was able to free her from the clutches of the dealers and take her back to her mother. In November 2012 Nastia was able to move into the Nadiya Bear Rescue Centre in Zhytomyr, newly built by FOUR PAWS. There is space for at least two more bears in the sanctuary.