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    Dog food company linked with Ukrainian bear baiting

    NewsGeneral Dog NewsTuesday 30 July 2013
    A company that is linked to Britain’s most popular pet foods has sponsored a barbaric fight between fierce dogs and a tethered bear in the Ukraine.
    Royal Canin, the French-based pet food company, which sponsors hundreds of dog shows in Britain each year, was even seen to have given two cups to the owners of the dogs involved in the horrific fights with the terrified bear.
    After a video of the fight spread on the internet, the scandal went on to cause international outrage and infuriated Royal Canin’s French bosses, who had no idea workers in Ukraine were supporting bear baiting. 
    Strong protests came out from the Austrian-based Four Paws bear charity and this, combined with pressure from the UK paper the Sunday Express, has caused Royal Canin to pledge to give £250,000 to to the charity to find and save 20 bears. 
    Royal Canin is owned by Slough-based Mars, which makes Kitekat and Whiskas cat foods and Pedigree dog food (formerly known as Pedigree Chum). Mars prides itself on animal welfare and executives are said to be shocked by Royal Canin’s involvement in the Ukrainian savagery. 
    The disgusting video, which was supplied by Four Paws, showed a clearly frightened bear tied to a tree by a 30ft rope while hunting dogs attacked it. 
    Gamblers then placed bets on the outcomes of the encounter. In these events, bears rarely die, however, they do tend to suffer injuries to their necks as well as other deep wounds. 
    The hunting dogs are trained to attack the bear at the neck and to try and bring the animal down. The dogs often hang on for several minutes while they sink their teeth into the bears. Often, as one dog clenches the animal’s neck, another will go for its legs. 
    Initially Royal canin, said that the support for the event was “inadvertent”, however, the Sunday Express then showed the executives pictures of Royal Canin cups presented for bear fights, and since then they have changed their stance. 
    Herve Marc, global corporate affairs director for Royal Canin, originally wrote to the charity saying: “It appears that these photos were taken during a dog show in Dubovy Gay in the Ukraine, on April 27-28, 2013.
    “Our colleagues in the Ukraine confirmed that we sponsored brand placements with one banner, two cups and a free product for a dog show and nothing else. There was no mention of the demonstration using the bear.
    “As a result of our investigation, we have decided to immediately pull out of future sponsorship of this event and undertake some additional actions, such as reminding our sales and marketing teams around the globe of the relevant policies in place.
    “Our Animal Welfare Policy states that we do not undertake, support or sponsor research that harms animals.”
    By Friday afternoon, the company issued a very different statement saying: “Royal Canin unreservedly apologises for sponsoring the event where the bear baiting took place. As a company with knowledge and respect for animals at our heart, we condemn any activities that harm or endanger animals. 
    “Royal Canin has been absolutely horrified to see these images linked with our brand. The sponsorship of this event is not consistent with Royal Canin’s animal welfare policy, our philosophy of Pet First or our vision.
    “This has been a humbling experience for Royal Canin. We again thank Four Paws International for bringing this practice to our attention and in doing so reminding us that diligence in ensuring our policy is followed is paramount. 
    “We look forward to working with all our partners to prevent animal cruelty through policy change and improved animal welfare practices. Specifically, Royal Canin will work to improve the welfare of the Ukrainian bears and dogs involved in bear-baiting.” 
    Picture: Sunday Express
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