In 2020, the Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals (NSPA) filed a complaint against the Norwegian Kennel Club (NKK), the Norwegian Bulldog Club, the Norwegian Cavalier Club and six breeders for violating section 25 of the Animal Welfare Act with regard to breeding. The defendants look forward to giving a thorough, factual account of the work done with organised dog breeding at the hearing, which will take place in November this year.
The Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals has gone public with a considerable amount of information concerning this case, and the NKK now sees the need to give a more balanced picture.
– We must ask the fundamental question of whether people in Norway want dog breeding to take place in controlled conditions and be done by responsible breeders, or whether it should take place without any kind of checks, says Torbjørn Brenna, CEO of the Norwegian Kennel Club.
Both have the same objective
‘The NKK puts dog welfare first, and our goal is that the dogs that are bred should be healthy ones that can live long, happy lives, and also bring happiness to their owners and society. The health issues are taken very seriously, and a lot of work is put into constantly improving the health situation, Brenna continues.
In this sense, there is no conflict between the NKK’s and NSPA’s objectives. Both organisations clearly wish to ensure good dog welfare and fit, healthy dogs.
Geir Lippestad, the lawyer representing the defendants, says that the case really doesn’t belong in the courts, but that he is looking forward to getting clarification for his clients.
– My general opinion is that the content of this civil action falls within the remit of the Norwegian parliament and relevant directorate, and it is not something that should be decided in a court of law. It is up to parliament to decide if a breed of dog should be banned. We are looking forward to having this case heard in court and presenting our arguments. I believe we have a very strong case, says Lippestad.
Organised breeding with rules and regulations
– The NKK believes that the organised breeding of registered dogs is the way to go in order to achieve the objective of breeding ever fitter and healthier dogs. By breeding from dogs with known parents and known health status over several generations, there are better chances of being able to combine dogs with desirable traits, says Brenna.
The breeders who are part of the NKK system must observe a number of internal rules and regulations when it comes to breeding, and they also risk various sanctions if they break these rules. In addition, breeders can sign up for different courses and seminars to best learn how to breed robust dogs. The breeders who are active outside the NKK system are only subject to Norwegian laws, and there is no one with the authority to follow up on how these individuals operate.
Unorganised breeding behind closed doors
As the situation stands today, with no obligation to microchip dogs and no record available of the breeders operating outside the NKK system, unregistered breeding can in theory take place "behind closed doors".
There will always be a demand for dogs, and the Corona pandemic in particular has exposed how rogue operators readily take advantage of the chance to breed dogs purely for profit. The increase in demand during this period has led to several attempts at fraud as well as incidents where smuggled puppies have been seized by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.
– It’s clear that a lot of the rogue operators that have appeared recently place dog welfare far behind financial gain on their list of priorities. The NKK therefore considers it vital to highlight the importance of the responsible breeders who operate with the best interests of the dogs and breeds at heart. They do a fantastic job when it comes to breeding fit and healthy dogs, Brenna concludes.