Sunday, November 27, 2011

Can the Bulldog Be Saved?

English BulldogNY Times article, read it.

My first experience with English Bulldogs occurred in the back room of the vet clinic I worked at in college.

An in estrus female and an intact male were being prepared for breeding purposes.

Neither dog could have normal intercourse. At least not successfully.

I watched as a vet tech "massaged" the male dog's penis until it was erect. She continued until the dog ejaculated into a collection tube. I don't think horrified quite covers my reaction. If you discovered your neighbor molesting the family dog in this manner, you would probably call the cops. In the name of producing "cute dogs", though, the practice of artificial insemination is the gold standard of breeding English Bulldogs.

The female's experience was more distressing. She had never mated before (not that she physically could, so grotesquely abnormal were her proportions).

Because English Bulldogs can have difficulty with anesthesia (although I would see this dog a couple months later for a surgical c-section), some (many?) breeders choose to artificially inseminate the female while she is conscious.

The process involves inserting a catheter into the dog's vagina and depositing the semen into her uterus.

The young Bulldog female was physically restrained by two technicians. She screamed and yelped when the rod was inserted. Her body was violated by humans for reasons I find unfathomable. I think of this happening to Mina and I feel numb. It would feel like a violation of her trust in me. Not to mention a violation of her body that does not improve her welfare or health.

I don't think the question is can the English Bulldog be saved, but should it. Should we continue artificially selecting for dogs whose physical structure prohibits them from engaging in basic behavior? I'm not just talking about Bulldogs having sex like normal dogs. English Bulldogs do not breathe normally. They cannot. English Bulldogs cannot exercise normally because they might keel over.

Allowing a dog to exist in perpetual discomfort, unable to act in normal ways, because they provide human beings pleasure is not merely misguided, it is cruel.

Full disclosure, I do not believe dogs should be purposefully bred. But I do not want a world without them. Ah, being human.

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