Yesterday animal welfare organization Four Paws uncovered a scandal involving the international pet food company Royal Canin, owned by global pet food giant Mars PetCare: In recent months the pet food manufacturer has been sponsoring illegal and barbaric blood sport known as bear-baiting.
The animal welfare group, Four Paws, has obtained video exposing Royal Canin as the official sponsor of dog shows in the Ukraine featuring the world’s most savage blood sports where spectators watch as a chained and clawless bear set upon by trained fighting dogs: Bear-baiting.
The heartbreaking video shows a terrified brown bear chained, unable to escape, as two to three dogs are set upon it at approximately 10-minute intervals. During the barbaric competition, which can last up to several hours, the bear’s every movement is controlled by three men pulling on its chain to restrict the bear’s response.
The panicked bear, unable to mount a defense, frantically begins to foam at the mouth. As the dogs are encouraged to attack, the bear will tire and weaken, until it is unable to remain upright. This is when the bear’s face and neck become vulnerable to the dogs’ teeth. They hang from the bear’s mouth and lips as they try to drag it to the ground.
The bear, deprived of food and water for days in preparation for the contest, exhausted from fatigue eventually succumbs to the vicious attacks by the dogs. The culmination of the fight is when trophies, bearing the Royal Canin logo, are awarded to the handlers of “the most aggressive dogs”.
According to Four Paws, these contests are hosted at least four to six times per year and take place in special training camps for hunting dogs in the Ukraine. The organization added that it has, “evidence that Royal Canin has sponsored several of these gruesome spectacles over recent months”. In Europe alone, Royal Canin sponsors or is active in 3,500 dog shows and 400 cat shows each year.
Royal Canin is accused of using such events to promote their brand by handing out free pet food samples, donating trophies, and decorating the event using Royal Canin swag. Yet, despite the evidence that the events were clearly sponsored by the manufacturer, Royal Canin insists that they are not, nor have they ever been, involved in sponsoring bear-baiting activities or events.
A statement released by Royal Canin’s global corporate affairs director, Hervé MARC, insists that their involvement was limited to the sponsorship of dog shows in the Ukraine where there was “no mention of the demonstration using a bear”, yet, he was quick to add that, “as a result of our investigation, we have decided to immediately pull out of future sponsorship of this event”.
The systemic abuse of bears in the Ukraine has a long and sordid history: Bears are often targeted in the Ukraine. Used in bear-baiting activities, young bears, often no more than a few months old, are torn from their mothers at an early age to be used as props in photo shoots with tourists. Its claws and teeth will have been removed – an agonizing mutilation for which anesthetic is rarely used and live cruel lives in tiny cages with nothing but a concrete floor.
Despite laws forbidding barbaric blood sport of bear-baiting, the practice continues. Bear-baiting is illegal and the brown bear is protected by law in the Ukraine, in fact, any activity that causes pain and suffering to a bear in captivity is banned. Yet bears continue to be abused, where they are often withheld from food and water to weaken them for the hunting dogs, and only released from their cages for training or to be attacked by hunting dogs.
Four Paws estimates that there are at least 15 to 20 baiting-bears in Ukraine with most of them heralding from zoos, circuses or the wild.
Four Paws is calling on Royal Canin to take responsibility for their actions by asking supporters to join them in signing a letter to Royal Canin executives demanding an explanation. In a statement released by Four Paws they said, “We find it hypocritical that a pet food producer who claims to put ‘dogs and cats first’ enables this cruel activity, where hunting dogs in training are let loose on a chained up bear, who is left almost defenseless to the onslaught”, adding, “in addition to this barbaric practice, once the onslaught is over, the bears are kept in extremely poor conditions”.
I urge all of you to call on Royal Canin by signing the letter to immediately halt all its sponsorships of these activities and take responsible action by actively supporting Four Paws’ work, which includes rescuing all bears currently abused in Ukraine for bear-baiting and be re-homed in an appropriate environment.
Until such time, I strongly urge you to boycott all Royal Canin and Mars PetCare brand products and advising your friends to do the same by denouncing their support of the inhumane and brutal treatment of bears.
- Four Paws Ukraine
- Four Paws: Pet food maker Royal Canin sponsoring bear-baiting
- Sign the petition urging Royal Canin to take responsibility for sponsoring bear-baiting
- Join the protest by signing the letter opposing Royal Canin’s involvement in bear-baiting
- Humane Society of the United States Fact Sheet on Bear Baiting
- WSPCA on Bear-Baiting: A Savage Blood Sport