IN THE NEWS: On SEP 13, 2017
Owning and breeding designer dogs like pugs is "self-indulgent" because of the damaging genetic defects they suffer, a Conservative minister has warned.
Lord Gardiner said people should "respect animals as they are" after peers warned people are buying the animals because of celebrity social media posts and demanded the Government tell people the pets are "not cool".
Speaking in a debate in the House of Lords members warned against the unregulated breeding of dogs and cats which can result in painful health conditions.
Lord Trees said the Government must do more to explain to people that owning genetically modified pets is "not cool" while others called for stricter rules about who can breed animals and how they can be sold online.
Pets bred to be brachycephalic, with shortened or flat faces, have become increasing popular thanks in part to social media posts by celebrities.
But the animals often suffer breathing difficulties because their airways are too short and their eyes become easily infected, leading to health problems.
Tory Lord Black of Brentwood said breeds such as pugs and Scottish fold cats are in "intolerable pain and unable to breathe properly" because of deformation caused by breeding.
Crossbencher and veterinarian Lord Trees claimed "their popularity is increasing because of celebrity endorsements" and we need to do all we can to persuade people it's "not cool".
He added that many "well-meaning" people buy the animals thinking they are in their natural state but do not realise they will "suffer ill health and distress throughout their lives".
The peer said that the popularity of dogs like pugs has grown and is "partly endorsed by advertising by celebrity endorsement and social media".
Environment Minister Lord Gardiner of Kimble replied: "We must respect our animals as they are," adding that it is "self-indulgent to breed animals with genetic defects".
He told peers the Government will work with interested parties to see how this can be tackled through regulation and has already announced plans to clamp down on breeders to curb the trade.
Lord Gardiner also suggested people looking for a new pet should first go to animal re-homing centres, rather than buying puppies online.