Sat, Jan 14, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Councilor warns on dog inbreeding

ABNORMALITIES A Taipei City councilor said breeders wanting to turn a quick dollar are inbreeding dogs, a practice that results in deformities and dog abandonment

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

A physically-challenged Pekingese is displayed yesterday by Taipei City councilors.

PHOTO: CHU PEI-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The inbreeding of dogs, which causes genetic defects and deformities, has become an indirect reason for pet abandonment in recent years, a Taipei City councilor said yesterday.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Councilor Yen Sheng-kuan (顏聖冠) said that the public is often influenced by "dog crazes" sparked by movies about dogs or accounts of celebrities' pets in the media.

During these crazes, dogs are bred quickly by pet stores and others without adequate consideration of possible inbreeding, Yen said.

Sometimes the defects can't be detected when a puppy is born, but deformities appear six or seven months later, causing owners to abandon their abnormal dogs, Yen added.

Huang Ching-jung (黃慶榮), secretary-general of the Animal Protection Association, said that breeders should consider moral issues instead of just focusing on making money.

Inbred dogs often suffer from hip dysplasia -- a disabling condition in which the ball of the hip joint doesn't fit the socket -- hearing problems, low energy or even paralysis, Huang said.

A volunteer at Rose's Animal Shelter, surnamed Huang, said that surgery for hip dysplasia often costs NT$200,000 (US$6,252) to NT$300,000 -- an amount that most pet-owners cannot or will not pay.

Yen Yi-feng (嚴一峰), director of the Taipei Municipal Institute for Animal Health under the Taipei City Government, said that consumers must be careful when buying dogs, and be sure to ask about the canine's parentage.

The Council of Agriculture (COA) and the city government are currently discussing regulations to crack down on inbreeding, Yen said.

However, breeders should be conscientious and understand that random inbreeding causes genetic defects, Yen said. Consumers should also understand the responsibilities of pet owners.

Yen said that the nation's genetic-testing technology is not yet advanced enough to have all dogs tested before consumers buy them.

Many breeders practice "selective" inbreeding, which is the mating of closely-related dogs -- mother and son, father and daughter or two siblings.

Properly used, this method can establish certain consistent traits in a breed. Indeed, the pedigrees of some exhibition dogs show that many of their forebears are closely related. However, non-selective inbreeding causes defects, deformities and health problems for dogs.

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