FOUR PAWS uncovers illegal bear baiting in Ukraine
Update from 31st of July 2013
Royal Canin pledges FOUR PAWS full support in rescuing baiting bears
Pet food producer takes on responsibility and wishes to participate in long-term solution
Vienna, 31st July 2013 During yesterday’s meetings in Vienna Royal Canin made a commitment to FOUR PAWS to accept responsibility: the company will support the rescue of the bears, which have been tormented during brutal dog training.
The meetings were triggered by last week’s publication by FOUR PAWS of video material which exposed Royal Canin as sponsor of the cruel events in Ukraine. The publication resulted in vehement protests worldwide, intensive media reporting and a public apology by the company.
After the bear baiting was uncovered FOUR PAWS presented a project proposal to the Ukrainian government, and then yesterday also to Royal Canin. A reception station should be set up where the 15-20 bears concerned can spend the rest of their lives in species-appropriate conditions. The organisation points to its years of experience in rescuing bears and its successful management of four sanctuaries in Bulgaria, Germany, Austria and, starting a few weeks ago, in Kosovo.
Dr. Amir Khalil, Director of Project Development and chief negotiator at FOUR PAWS, explains: “I am pleased that we have now been able to sit down with Royal Canin to discuss tangible solutions. We welcome Royal Canin’s willingness to take on responsibility. But of course words alone are not enough – now we need to see actions.”
Over the next few weeks a detailed project plan will be drawn up by the FOUR PAWS and Royal Canin negotiating teams. Dr. Khalil: “As part of this we will then also work together to map out the particulars of the support.”
“Royal Canin looks forward to opening this new chapter by helping to promote animal welfare in Ukraine. Therefore, we intend to provide funding for this project. We will also 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”, says Hervé Marc, Global Corporate Affairs Director with Royal Canin.
Dr. Khalil emphasises that this project is only at the start: “But it is already clear that we need the support of the Ukrainian authorities if we are to end the bears’ suffering. A project like this is very demanding logistically, financially and bureaucratically, and as such it also needs a lot of time.”
Update from 29th of July 2013
Due to the upcoming meeting with ROYAL CANIN, we want to inform you that we will stop our protest mail site until further notice.
In this meeting FOUR PAWS will emphasise the need for a swift and lasting solution for the affected bears in Ukraine.
We will keep you updated!
We have news for you. 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.
We will keep you updated!
UPDATE: Statement from pet food manufacturer ROYAL CANIN evasive and incomplete
The first statement from the globally-active French animal food producer is vague, evasive and makes no suggestion as to how the bears can be helped. With an international letter of protest FOUR PAWS is calling on the company to finally accept responsibility.
The international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has uncovered a scandal: in recent months the globally-operating French manufacturer of dog and cat food ROYAL CANIN has sponsored brutal, illegal bear baiting in Ukraine.
FOUR PAWS is in possession of a video documenting a contest sponsored by ROYAL CANIN which took place in April 2013 in the woods near Vinnytsia, Ukraine. Over several hours, at approximately ten-minute intervals, two to three dogs are set on a chained brown bear. An audience looks on as the dogs attack and bite the bear, which can put up almost no defence. It cannot move freely as it is attached to a chain tied to a rope above. Several men at the ends of the chain control every movement of the bear, dragging it around the fight area. A referee awards points to the individual dogs. Trophies carrying the ROYAL CANIN logo await the owners of the most aggressive dogs.
Four to six times per year contests take place in special training camps for hunting dogs in Ukraine. FOUR PAWS has evidence that ROYAL CANIN has sponsored several of these gruesome spectacles over recent months. ROYAL CANIN has confirmed to FOUR PAWS its involvement in the event in April, but declines any meeting on the matter.
FOUR PAWS calls on ROYAL CANIN not only to stop sponsoring these cruel contests once and for all, but also to take on the responsibility for the future of the tortured bears.
FOUR PAWS estimates there to be between 15 and 20 baiting bears in Ukraine. 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. They are usually given insufficient food and water, to make them weaker opponents for the dogs. Most also have their claws removed.
Baiting bears come from zoos, circuses or the wild. They are taken from their mothers at just a few months of age. How cruel this is for both mother and cub was documented on video by FOUR PAWS last year. In May 2012 ruthless animal dealers took a female cub, Nastia, from a zoo in Lutsk. She was only four months old and screamed as she was brutally torn away from her mother. She was forced into a tiny cage and taken to Vinnytsia. In July 2012 the animal welfare organisation was able to free her from the clutches of the dealers and take her back to her mother. In November 2012 Nastia was able to move into the Nadiya Bear Rescue Centre in Zhytomyr, newly built by FOUR PAWS. There is space for at least two more bears in the sanctuary.