It's not helping that there is far more misinformation out there than facts. Rumors, assumptions, and opinions repeated a time or two on social media get shared more widely as they become more outrageous. People are posting all sorts of (mis)information that they got from ***somewhere***, to that point that a trickle of misinformation has grown to a torrent. The result is fear and confusion, and a growing sense that an entire community is passing through the stages of grief.
In this case, the court cited violation of provision 25 of the Animal Welfare Act. You can see the entire document here on the governmental website for this legislation, but here are a few key excerpts.
Animal Welfare Act
Law | Date: 10/07/2009
The intention of this Act is to promote good animal welfare and respect for animals.
§ 2. Scope
The Act applies to conditions which affect welfare of or respect for mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, decapods, squid, octopi and honey bees. The Act applies equally to the development stages of the animals referred to in cases where the sensory apparatus is equivalent to the developmental level in living animals.
The Act applies, subject to the limitations allowed for by agreement with foreign nations or organisations, to Norwegian land territory, territorial waters, the Norwegian economic zone, aboard Norwegian ships and aircraft, on installations located on the Norwegian continental shelf, and to Svalbard, Jan Mayen and the dependencies.
The King may in regulations lay down specific requirements for Svalbard, Jan Mayen and the Norwegian dependencies, taking into regard local conditions.
§ 3. General requirement regarding the treatment of animals
Animals have an intrinsic value which is irrespective of the usable value they may have for man. Animals shall be treated well and be protected from danger of unnecessary stress and strains.
§ 4. Duty to help
Anybody who discovers an animal which is obviously sick, injured, or helpless, shall as far as possible help the animal. If it is impossible to provide adequate help, and the animal is domestic or a large wild mammal, the owner, or the police shall be alerted immediately.
If it is obvious that the animal will not survive or recover, the person who discovered the animal may kill it at once. However, animals from holdings or large wild mammals shall not be killed if it is possible to alert the owner, a veterinarian or the police within reasonable time.
Necessary expenses for action under this Section shall be covered by the state, but the expenses related to helping domestic animals may be recovered from the animal keeper or the owner.
The requirements in the first and second article apply equally for persons who injure animals, but a person responsible for injury to an animal may not claim reimbursement of expenses for action taken.
The King may issue more specific regulations regarding covering of expenses.
§ 5. Duty to alert
Anyone who has reason to believe that an animal is exposed to mistreatment or serious neglect regarding the environment, supervision and care, shall as soon as possible alert the Food Safety Authority or the police. The duty to alert applies subject to the limitations of other legislation.
Anyone who becomes aware that a large number of wild or stray animals are exposed to sickness, injury or other abnormal suffering shall as soon as possible inform the Food Safety Authority or the police.
§ 6. Competence and responsibility
The animal keeper shall ensure that animals are looked after by appropriately competent personnel. Others shall have the competence necessary to carry out the activity they are involved in.
Parents and carers with parental responsibility may not allow children less than 16 years of age to have independent responsibility for animals.
The animal keeper must not transfer animals to people if there is reason to believe that they cannot or will not treat the animal in an appropriate way.
The King may issue specific regulations regarding requirements for education, training and competence, including approval and authorisation of personnel.
A few salient points about this.
First, this is not a new law.
Also, it is not directed at dog breeders. In fact, it stipulates up front that it protects the welfare of everything with a backbone (e.g., mammals, birds, fishes, etc) as well as some invertebrate groups including octopi and honey bees. Yes, it protects both dogs and honey bees.
It explains that the legislation reflects our responsibility to respect the value of animals and to ensure their humane treatment, and it provides some basic guidelines for doing that.
§ 25. Breeding
Breeding shall encourage characteristics which give robust animals which function well and have good health.
Reproduction, including through methods of gene technology, shall not be carried out in such a way that it:
The King may issue specific regulations regarding breeding of animals in conflict with the principles in this Section.
"Breeding shall encourage characteristics which give robust animals which function well and have good health."
For Cavaliers, the problems are equally serious and well-documented. Mitral valve disease is terminal and afflicts almost all Cavaliers by the age of 10 years. The breed is notorious for the neurological disorders Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia, which can result in a lifetime of severe pain and even paralysis.
One last thing. There is lots of ink being spilled on issues that are not relevant. Most of the discussions I am seeing about this court ruling center on one of the issues I outline here (e.g., there is no problem in the breed because "I have a 12 year old Cavalier that has never been sick a day!"; or "This is an attack on purebred dog breeders by the animal rights wackos.", except that it's not.)
Breeders can't have an effective discussion about how they can bring their breeds into compliance with the law unless they focus on the problem at hand. This is not about puppy mills or the extinction of show dogs. The problem is health of the dogs you breed. Focus like a laser on that.
Here's a way to think about this. If there are lots of serious accidents at a particular intersection, the traffic people might decide to put up signs for a 4-way stop. This will drastically cut down on the number of accidents, making the intersection much safer for all. But, the stop signs might result in a line of cars backing up to get through the intersection, making people late for work, or even encouraging people to speed or drive recklessly to make up for lost time. Are these reasons to remove the stop signs? No. You have health and welfare problems to solve. Ignore all the other potential knock-on issues that are not your responsibility to solve, and leave those to the powers that can do something about them. Your single responsibility is resolving the issues that compromise the health of your breed. Don't waste time and energy arguing among yourselves about how to solve what are clearly complicated problems. Ask scientists and veterinarians for help.
We all want healthy dogs. You can do this.
ICB's online courses
Visit our Facebook Groups
ICB Institute of Canine Biology
...the latest canine news and research
ICB Breeding for the Future
...the science of animal breeding