Royal Canin makes food for cats and dogs. It promotes itself with the slogan “respecting the animal nature of dogs and cats.” Judging by the bear-baiting contests it has sponsored in Ukraine, the company has a horrible awareness of the animal nature of dogs.
Here’s what a bear-baiting contest consists of, as seen in a video obtained by the animal welfare group Four Paws: A bear, with his claws removed, is chained to a tree, and dogs are set upon it, biting and attacking the bear. The bear became becomes exhausted and terrified, foaming at the mouth. Men restrict the movements of the bear by pulling on the chain.
All this takes place in a space demarcated with Royal Canin tape. Trophies, emblazoned with the Royal Canin logo, are given to the dogs judged the bravest.
It’s a horrific, nearly inconceivable story. The animal welfare group Four Paws uncovered Royal Canin’s involvement in these sick events last May, and released the footage showing the contest on July 23. Royal Canin has said it ceased its involvement in the contests when Four Paws approached them in May.
The brown bear is protected by law in Ukraine, but Four Paws says that there are bear baiting contest four to six times a year, and estimates there are 15 to 20 “baiting bears” in Ukraine. Sourced from zoos, circuses and the wild, the bears are taken from their mothers when they are young.
“They live cruel lives in tiny cages with nothing but a concrete floor, and they are only released from these cages for training or to be attacked by hunting dogs,” a spokesman for the charity said, according to the Daily Mail. “They are usually given insufficient food and water, to make them weaker opponents for the dogs.”
Four Paws says it has evidence that Royal Canin sponsored “one than one event,” according to the Observer.
In a statement to the Observer, the company said, “Royal Canin has been absolutely horrified to see these images linked with our brand. The sponsorship of this event is not consistent with Royal Canin’s animal welfare policy, our philosophy of pet-first or our vision.”
Royal Canin also said that it knew of the bear-baiting event in the video — after Four Paws altered the company about it in May. Royal Canin said it immediately stopped sponsoring the event, and it “reminded sales and marketing staff of its policy on animal welfare and sponsorship due diligence.”
However, the company said it hadn’t seen the video at that time, and didn’t know the true nature of the event. Now, the company says it has “pledged to work to improve the welfare of Ukrainian bears and dogs involved in bear-baiting.”
“This has been a humbling experience for Royal Canin,” the statement said.
It should be. It’s inconceivable that a dog food company would be involved in fighting dogs and the torture of bears. Kudos to Four Paws. The group is still pressing on Royal Canin to do something to improve the life of bears affected by bear baiting in Ukraine, and is awaiting a meeting with the company.