June 9th, 2017
Remember that cute pug that featured in the Hutch (now Vodafone) advertisement?
Yes, the one that made us smile whenever we watched it.
Many of us wanted a pug for ourselves after the advertisement. But by the end of this piece, we’re sure dog-lovers would give a second thought before buying pugs as pets.
Not-so-cute facts about the cute dogs
Pugs, Frenchies, Boxers, Shih-Tzus and other flat-faced dog breeds have been trending for at least the last decade. These dogs are suitable for city homes which have lesser space.
It’s difficult for one to overlook their cuteness, their friendly personalities and endearing odd looks.
However, it’s important we know that the essentially cute features of these dogs are not something natural to them. It is appalling to know that their squashy little faces, the grunting pants and their double curled tails are a result of a purpose-bred genetic defect which in most serious cases lead to paralysis.
The squashed-nosed or brachycephalic dogs are victims of genetic defects that make it difficult for them to breathe and eat, causing trickle-down effects like cardiovascular stress, eye prolapses, overheating, weight gain because of that sedentary overheated lifestyle, dental crowding, soft palate collapse, and skin-fold dermatitis.
The silence from the veterinarians
The sad part of the story is that even after performing corrective surgeries on the dogs, vets are not ready to openly talk about it. The unethical nature of buying and creating demand for genetically impaired dogs does not come to the forefront for one simple reason – it’s bad for business. The truth would alienate their owners and they would simply move to other neighbourhood where the vets are not as outspoken.
However, the British Veterinary Association (BVA), which represents vets across the UK, is in a better position to do so. It has taken out several statements over the period of time urging revision of breed standards to protect animal welfare. As these dogs have become popular in the market, rising cases have been noted of unwell pets and animal suffering.
The need of the hour is for dog lovers to adopt pets from a healthier breed or cross-breed.
Furthermore, the myth that mixed-breed dogs are healthier than purebred dogs also needs to be broken and awareness about the lifelong suffering and ill-health faced by the dogs needs to be created; even if it puts the vet’s profession at risk.
When ugly becomes cute and deformed becomes unique
The internet is flooded with images of weird (read genetically deformed) animals that owners proudly show off.
But the world needs know that their cuteness is a result of torture that they are made to go through to make them fit the standards. Disabilities and genetic mutations like that of vision impairment, no nasal bridge, a cleft palate, heterochromia, etc., are not attributes that define cuteness.
It is one thing to love and adopt a pet with genetic mutations but to intentionally create genetic mutations and to foster an industry that does so is totally unacceptable.
In the end, we are left musing at the paradoxical nature of human behaviour when we celebrate the weirdness of animals, even go to the extent of making them weird to suit our purposes but are not ready to accept the diversity in humans with an open-mind.