After admitting involvement in sponsoring bear-baiting events, pet food maker Royal Canin has agreed to work with the international animal welfare organization Four Paws to rescue and re-home the bears used in the barbaric blood-sport known as bear-baiting in the Ukraine.
Following damning evidence released by Four Paws International that exposed Royal Canin, a subsidiary of pet food giant Mars PetCare, amid international pressure, made a complete turnabout by apologizing “unreservedly” for sponsoring bear-baiting events after initially denying knowledge of any involvement.
Royal Canin Busted: Trophy Tells All
Involvement, Royal Canin could hardly continue to deny when photographs emerged of Royal Canin branded trophies awarded to handlers of the most aggressive fighting dogs inscribed with the words (translated from Ukrainian): “Second championship between hunting dogs for bears and wild boar”.
Life Sentence, No Parole
Bear-baiting is a horrible, heart-breaking ‘sport’ where a terrified bear chained to a tether, its movements controlled by several men, is attacked by two to three trained fighting dogs for hours. Bears, torn from their mothers while only a few months of age, endure lives of unimaginable cruelty, are starved and live in cramped iron cages, only let out to be used as bait to train fighting dogs or used in bear-baiting events such as the ones sponsored by Royal Canin.
Royal Canin Capitulates
After stories emerged describing the horror and extreme abuse that captive bears used in bear-baiting endure, Royal Canin contacted me. Initially, Royal Canin referred me to their first press release denying any involvement. But today they sent me a copy of their new (and improved) updated statement, which reads as follows (translated from German):
UPDATED OPINION 31 July 2013
Royal Canin will support the development of a Ukrainian rescue facility for 15 bears that are involved in bear baiting.
This project is a joint partnership between FOUR PAWS and the Ukrainian authorities that will contribute to eradicating bear-baiting practices from Ukraine.
On July 30th 2013, Royal Canin met with FOUR PAWS to review a project proposing to build a rescue facility for 15 bears in Ukraine. FOUR PAWS has obtained support from the Ukrainian authorities for this project. Royal Canin has committed to join this project to help rescue the 15 bears, and we are working with FOUR PAWS to finalize the project’s implementation plan.
Royal Canin intends to provide funding for this project, and will take the lead in building an alliance to include additional volunteering parties (business partners, associations, NGO etc…) to ensure the project is secured for the long term.
Royal Canin looks forward to opening this new chapter by helping to promote animal welfare in Ukraine.
While it is heartening to know that public pressure and scrutiny can sometimes leads to meaningful change, it remains that this change would not have come about had Royal Canin not been exposed and in a way were forced to make a positive change. In this instance the outcome was the best one could have hoped for: The rescue of bears in the Ukraine used for this brutal blood-sport, and for that, I am grateful.
I wish to thank all of you for writing to Royal Canin to express your outrage that a pet food company could be so cruel as to support and sponsor such horrific events involving the unimaginable agony and abuse of captive bears.