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When "beautiful" means "genetic abuse"
The breed standard is that set of specific morphological and behavioral characteristics that a subject - be it a dog, a cat or any other animal - should have in order to be included in
a particular breed.
Therefore, the standard is a point of reference both for breeders, who should aim to create a good "subject" and always improve it, and for owners who wish to have a dog or cat that meets the "sacred canons" "of the breed object of their desire.
However, when selection is pushed to the extreme to privilege some exclusively aesthetic characteristics without looking at functionality and resorting to extreme inbreeding, problems begin to arise and genetic maltreatment takes shape, a much more serious form of maltreatment than simple suffering inflicted on a single animal since, on the contrary, it affects a large number of subjects and can be perpetrated for many generations to come.
WHAT FUELS GENETIC MALTRACTING?
Obviously, the fault is not only of the breeders, of the judges and associations that push more and more towards extreme hypertypes in which the aesthetic qualities (and functional defects!) Are enhanced to the nth degree, but the responsibility is mostly to be attributed to the market demands and the desires of an increasingly demanding public that in doing so does not look without realizing it to animal welfare, but aims only at the satisfaction of a whim generated by the subliminal messages that arrive from society .
History repeats itself and we have all had the opportunity to witness, over time, the boom of this or that breed, perhaps in conjunction with the release of a successful film or, more recently, due to the desire to own a dog or a cat like that of television stars or web influencers who hammer us daily with their images and videos on socials. Fickle, temporary and fleeting fashions with a huge round of money behind them, unfortunately at the expense of animals that, although aesthetically cute and "perfect", pay the price of our superficiality having to live with physical problems that they compromise their quality of life or even their survival.
Already in the 60s of the last century , a certain awareness of the importance of the "healthy" over the "beautiful" began to grow within the veterinary world and something, at a European level, is starting to move, albeit slowly and with difficulty. Even in our country something is starting to take shape in this sense, such as the establishment of the Cbv (Bioethical Committee for Veterinary Medicine), in 2018, or the birth of associations such as Asetra (Association of ethological studies and protection of the relationship with animals) .
Giovanni Cubeddu, former Professor of Forensic Medicine at the University of Sassari and president of Melefovet (study group of Forensic and Veterinary Forensic Medicine of the Italian Association of Small Animal Veterinarians), and Ferdinando Meregaglia, freelance from Turin and secretary of Melefovet, explained the legal implications of genetic maltreatment, an aspect that is too often overlooked, but which can also have important implications for the veterinarian.
The need to satisfy market needs deriving from the rapid request for aesthetically pleasing subjects and respondents to the fashion of the moment inevitably involves the use of a pushed inbreeding, using a few breeding subjects that bring with them both the desired morphological characteristics and even serious problems, an issue that the WSAVA had raised as early as the 1960s.
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