Exhaused bear loses hope survival Ukraine bear baiting Royal Canin

Royal Canin admits sponsoring barbaric bear-baiting events

Royal Canin has admitted their involvement in sponsoring brutal bear-baiting events in the Ukraine. Royal Canin Austria, owned by global pet food giant Mars PetCare, released a new statement accepting full responsibility and offered an “unreserved apology” for supporting such events.

caged bear ukraine

Awaiting another day of abuse

The initial public statement from the pet food manufacturer denied any involvement and was vague, evasive and made no suggestion as to how the bears could be helped. Royal Canin said, while they were “shocked and deeply upset” about the incident, they insisted that they knew nothing of “events like this”.

bear chained life sentence no parole

Life sentence, no parole

Yet, damning information, photographs and video published by international animal welfare organization Four Paws showed a chained bear being brutally attacked by several hunting dogs as part of a contests sponsored by the company in the Ukraine told a very different story.

Despite Royal Canin’s insistence that they were ignorant of their sponsorship of such events, photographs of branded trophies bearing the Royal Canin logo carrying the following inscription (translated from Ukranian): “Second championship between hunting dogs for bears and wild boar”, were awarded to handlers of the most aggressive fighting dogs.

dog trophies sponsored royal canin bears ukraine

Translation: Second championship between hunting dogs for bears and wild boar

Following international outrage and increasing pressure, regarding new information that revealed that Royal Canin knowingly sponsored such events as early as February 2012, Royal Canin released another, revised, statement admitting their full involvement in sponsoring bear-baiting events. Remarkably, Royal Canin finally expressed a willingness to work with Four Paws International in rescuing the bears held in captivity in the Ukraine.

captured bear baiting cage ukraine

Potap, at home, in the Ukraine

I was alerted to the updated statement after Royal Canin Austria contacted me following the article I published here on Poisoned Pets exposing their sponsorship of these barbaric events. I replied to their letter saying that while I appreciated their apology, I wanted to know, specifically, what steps Royal Canin plans to take to re-home the abused bears.

My letter to Royal Canin follows:

Dear Royal Canin,

Thank you for your message. While it is heartening to read that Royal Canin has admitted their involvement and acknowledges their sponsorship of events in the Ukraine where bear-baiting took place and has apologized for doing so, I would like to know what measures Royal Canin has taken to eradicate this inhumane blood sport in the Ukraine.

While I am relieved to know that Royal Canin has further expressed a desire to work with Four Paws by “working to improve the welfare of the Ukrainian bears and dogs that are involved in the bear-baiting”, I would like to know what specific steps Royal Canin is taking with Four Paws ensure the safety and welfare of captive bears in the Ukraine.

I would also like to know why Royal Canin has not given a satisfactory explanation as to why Royal Canin sponsored dog shows that clearly featured bear-baiting? The explanation that Royal Canin was not aware of such activities seems disingenuine considering the obvious support of such events with trophies awarded to the handlers of the most aggressive dogs attacking the captive bears.

Without complete transparency Royal Canin’s assurances mean very little to myself as well as consumers all over the world who placed their trust in Royal Canin.

I would hope that Royal Canin is aware that rebuilding brand trust will mean showing consumers how Royal Canin is taking measures to re-home the bears abused by these horrific blood sport activities in the Ukraine.


Mollie Morrissette

bear trapped and caged in small box torn from its mother ukraine

A baby bear, torn from its mother, will spend its life as bait for dogs

The updated statement released by Royal Canin Austria reads: (translated from German)


Royal Canin condemned any activity that endangers the life and health of animals, and apologizes unreservedly for the sponsorship of events in Ukraine, where a Bärenhetzjagd [bear baiting] has occurred.

Royal Canin rejects the sponsorship of such events in the future and aims to work closely with all partners in the interests of animal welfare on.

You may have heard of the incident, the rounds in the social media platforms and other media and acts of Bärenhetzjagden [bear baiting] in Ukraine. Royal Canin apologizes unreservedly that we have sponsored events in Ukraine, which took place at a bear baiting.

As a company whose philosophy is based on the knowledge and respect for animals, we condemn any activity that endangers animals or inflicting suffering. Royal Canin was absolutely shocked when we saw these images in conjunction with our brand. The sponsorship of such events is in no way consistent with the welfare-oriented policy of Royal Canin. Our philosophy is in accordance with the animal always first and foremost.

“4 Paws International” has made this known incident in May 2013, and Royal Canin has immediately made the appropriate investigations. As a result we have immediately responded and withdrew our sponsorship of this event. At the same time the entire sales and marketing personnel of Royal Canin was again forcefully reminded of our welfare-oriented corporate policy and instructed to review sponsorship of events carefully. Since the video we did not know at the time, we did not understand the true meaning of events.

This incident is a painful and humiliating experience for Royal Canin. We thank “4 paws International” that she has brought us this event practice, and reminded us that, as carefully and conscientiously, we must ensure compliance with our corporate philosophy. We look forward to working with all our partners with whom we fight together to prevent through policy changes and improved animal welfare practices every kind of cruelty to animals. Specifically, this means that Royal Canin is working to improve the welfare of the Ukrainian bears and dogs that are involved in the bear baiting.

The animal welfare policy from Royal Canin defines clear that we perform, support or sponsor, where animals come to no harm events, or research projects. All activities which could endanger the health, well-being, lifestyle and life expectancy of animals were, and are prohibited by this policy. This policy also extends to sponsorship of marketing activities in which the life and health of animals could potentially be at risk.

Your team of


potap bear ukraine bear baiting

Potap: A bear rescued by Four Paws in the Ukraine

In response to Royal Canin’s expression to work with Four Paws, For Paws released the following statement which reads, in part:

At last ROYAL CANIN has officially contacted FOUR PAWS and a face to face meeting between ROYAL CANIN and FOUR PAWS has been scheduled for Tuesday next week. In this meeting FOUR PAWS will emphasise the need for a swift and lasting solution for the bears in Ukraine.

Due to the upcoming meeting with Royal Canin, we want to inform you that we will stop our protest mail site until further notice.

While I am heartened to know that Royal Canin has expressed a willingness to work with Four Paws in helping bears abused in this brutal blood sport, I reserve my complete relief when concrete steps have been taken to rescue the bears in the Ukraine.

Masha bear cage

Masha’s home: A 2 X 3 foot cage

Right now Four Paws is desperately trying to save a female bear named Masha in the Ukraine whose entire life has been one of terror and indescribable pain. Four Paws is calling for financial help to rescue Masha and describes, in heartbreaking detail, the horror her life has been:

In her five years of life, Masha has endured terrifying abuse every single day, and heartbreaking misery every night. This beautiful brown bear has been raised on a dog breeding site in Ukraine, where she is attacked by hunting dogs on a daily basis. This cruel training builds the dogs’ strength, enabling the trainers to make a heftier profit from their eventual sale.

Weak, chained and unable to defend herself from the relentless onslaught, Masha is fighting for survival. The scars on her face say it all.

Once the dogs are finished attacking Masha for the day, the exhausted bear is returned to a tiny wire cage, just two feet by three feet. She is given little food and water, to ensure that she is weakened for the next days assault.

FOUR PAWS have drawn up a rescue plan for Masha. We intend to take her to the safety of our bear sanctuary ‘Nadiya’ in Ukraine, where she will experience compassion and empathy for the first time in her life. Once at the sanctuary, Masha can begin her recovery from her trauma, in a naturalistic environment and with experts on hand to aid her return to health.

Masha, attempting to fend off the advances of an attacking dog.

Masha, attempting to fend off the advances of an attacking dog.

The best outcome of a scandalous tragedy such as this will be the increased awareness of this little known blood sport known as bear-baiting and will ultimately lead to the rescue of bears like Masha held captive in the Ukraine.

Among the estimated 15 – 20 bears abused in the Ukraine for bear-baiting events, Four Paws estimates there are more than 100 brown bears living in very poor captive conditions across the Ukraine. Most of them are living in small cages next to restaurants, hotels or petrol stations. Four Paws has been working on protecting bears for years and runs bear sanctuaries in Austria, Germany and Bulgaria, where numerous rescued animals are being cared for.

I urge you to support the work of Four Paws in helping bears tortured for human entertainment and continue to boycott Royal Canin and all Mars products until action has been taken to rescue each and every single bear used for this barbaric sport.

NOTE: All the photographs of bears are bears that were rescued by Four Paws, with the exception of Masha whose fate is undetermined.

Illegal bear baiting in Ukraine: Statement from pet food manufacturer ROYAL CANIN evasive and incomplete/Four Paws
FOUR PAWS uncovers illegal bear baiting in Ukraine
Royal Canin: Stop Bear Baiting/Four Paws
Bear Rescue Campaign Efforts/Four Paws
Bears in the Ukraine/Four Paws
Bear Sanctuaries at/Four Paws

dog cat poisoned pets safe food warnings news recalls alerts

Poisoned Pets | Pet Food Safety News remains free (and ad-free) and takes me hundreds of hours a month to research and write, and thousands of dollars a year to sustain. Even if all you can spare is $1 it will  help keep the website alive. If you find any value in what I do, please consider a donation of your choosing. Thank you!




Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

Comments (26) Write a comment

  1. Royal bloody Canin, I will never by their food…. and there is no way they will make up for this mistake, it’s not a mistake they knew what they where sponsors for… it’s like you are sponsor for bloody games and you know it and there is no room for “MISTAKE” only intent. Well they get caught, how did they think for a moment that they will get away with this “mistake”.
    Well now it’s on thier hands to do what ever is in thier power to help in releasing every single poor bears out there…. Such a shame….


  2. This is not only “HORRIFIC” but Should be “CRIMINAL” !!!!
    Cruelty has no Bounds and goes with the “HEARTLESS” …… May they “ALL” Rot in Hell !!!!
    Prayers for these INNOCENT, Precious Animals …….


  3. This is a “DISGRACE” and this Corporation should hang it’s head in “SHAME” !!!! Let them use their “BLOOD MONEY” to Save these Innocent Bears, Keep them in a Sanctuary and End this “HORRIFIC PRACTICE” once and for all !!!! “YOU” thought this was OK so now “FIX” what you were involved in and by the way may your Companies Pay Dearly for what you DESERVE !!!!


  4. Maybe a little to much today – as I actually had to look away and 90% of the photos after seeing just a couple. Is definately to much but we have to keep on keeping on so we can do something for all our family of animals – we must protect them! Where do we start?

    Thax for sharing…..


  5. Pingback: VIDEO FOUR PAWS uncovers illegal bear baiting in Ukraine | Save Animals Today

  6. Absolutely sick over this them people should be chained up and tortured like they did to those poor helpless bears. It breaks my heart to know this is going on. Kudos to four paws for bringing this to light and I hope every single bear gets rescued


  7. Royal Canin just have lost one of her customers. I hope everyone who has read above will do the same.


  8. As you said in a previous post: There are dip-sh*ts in the USA doing bear-baiting as well, South Carolina for one. I just signed a petition called, “BOYCOTT South Carolina until they Outlaw Bear Baiting.” Also it’s done in India, as well. I wonder if Ghandi would have approved. So sad.


  9. As a dog lover and someone invoved in the canine sporting industry, I must admit that I understand very easily how this could happen. As someone that organises sporting events with dogs, agility, flyball type events I approach dog food companies frequently for sponsorship. The usual conversation is me asking for money and them asking what will be happening at this event. Then they send me their logo by mail and a cheque. Then I have the ribbons, posters and trophies created with the logo that they sent me. Once I have their money and their logo they are helpless to what I decide to do with it. Having dealt with several Royal Canin staff over the years, I have only ever gotten the feeling that these are people that are as passionate about the wellfare of animals as I am. I truly feel they were screwed by these so called ‘dog show’ organisers and had no idea of the events taking place. Sort of like the dog fights that were so called sponsored by Heineken a few years back. Turned out that Heineken had no clue this was even happening! There are too many bad and sick people in this world, I don’t see why a company like Royal Canin would have anything to gain by being linked to such an event, so makes more sense that they got screwed and were lied to by the organizers!


    • Spread the word about bear-baiting and how it should be abolished. It happens all over the world, not just in the Ukraine. In fact, it happens in the good ol’ USA. It also is big in the Middle East. And you can go to Four Paws’ website and donate money to them. They have 7 international locations and sites – just pick one – they all have a donate button. I suggest going to the one in Austria as they are the ones working directly with the bears in the Ukraine. The links are in the articles (3 so far) on Poisoned Pets.


  10. Big deal. Royal Canin cops to admitting knowledge. This means nothing to me and should mean nothing to any potential consumer of their products. Their “admission” is nothing more than an attempt to salvage a situation that is spiraling out of control. They denied Four Paws initial reports and this is only in response to Four Paws providing follow-up evidence of prior sponsorship, as detailed on Poisoned Pets. Michael Vick denied, denied, denied… until his co-conspirators copped pleas and he couldn’t maintain his story any longer. Royal Canin is doing this sooner rather than later, in hopes that the story will die down. As you say, consumers should show them that this will not work, and permanently cease buying ANY of their products.


    • Fortunately, because of intense public pressure, RC has capitulated and is going to help 4 Paws rescue all the bears used in bear-baiting in the Ukraine and foot the bill for a bear sanctuary.

      RC was a day late and a dollar short on this one, but at least the bears will no longer have to suffer, and for that I am eternally grateful regardless of where the money came from to do it.

      That said, I still will NEVER buy (not that I ever would anyway) a Royal Canin product or a Mars brand product ever again. Dang, I’m going to miss their candy bars though. Kidding.


  11. Shame om them do they really condone this type of animal creulty or any type for that matter Thank God i dont use this product and no matter what vet recommends it i will never use it


    • I will never buy royal canin again,you guys make horrible tests on animals. Shame on you. Hope you lose a lot of customers,I will make sure to spread the word and I have a lot with animals welfare to do,so wait and see this will cost you big time. How stupid do you think we are,first you support this and then you lie,then you admit and promise oh we will not do it again. Fuck you sick bastards… I will not forget the bears will not forget and untill you really start treating animals with respect you deserve to lose you customers. You make me sick royal canin


      • I couldn’t say the “f” word in the article, but I am in complete agreement with you! Shame on them.

        I will never forget what I have learned from this. I never even knew what bear-baiting was before this scandal broke, so I guess at least that’s one good thing that came out of this tragedy — is that it brought international attention to a little known barbaric blood sport.

        And with it, the bears that are in captivity now in the Ukraine will finally be rescued.

        Sometimes the only way to force change is by creating awareness. If people are unaware of these atrocities how can they object to them if they don’t know they exist.

        And as far as RC being unaware of the bear and boar baiting — bullsh*t — 100%.


      • I’m with you, there products match their actions….terrible! If you knew the technologies that they rely on, as do I, you feel even more anger towards them! These people defending RC, probably are employed by them. The comparisons listed are erroneous, any pet food manufacturer that donates supplies and trophies, knows what the print says first. That Mike Vick analogy was heart felt, but try to remember he is a moronic individual, not a company full of high powered execs that should have the manpower to prevent this kind of nonsense from happening, oh yeah, by the way he did go to jail for his crimes, and costs him millions of $$$


  12. Royal Canin….. get your act together and know what you sponsor. I have a solution: sponsor a organization that stops bear (or any animal) mistreatment, just to make up for such a mistake



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.