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Norway bans breeding of bulldogs and cavaliers

In a recent ruling, the Oslo district court banned the breeding of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Bulldogs on the grounds that it inflicts harm on them, in violation of Norwegian animal protection laws.

King Charles spaniel
A Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, which along with the Bulldog will be subject to a breeding ban, is pictured on February 7, 2022 in Oslo. Photo by Petter Bernsten

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are known for their tiny heads, English bulldogs for their smushed wrinkled muzzles — traits their owners love. But in an unprecedented move, Norway has banned the breeding of these dogs because being cute is causing them suffering.

In a recent ruling, the Oslo district court banned the breeding of the two purebreds on the grounds that it inflicts harm on them, in violation of Norwegian animal protection laws.

Hailed by animal rights activists and criticised by breeders, the verdict comes amid a growing debate: is the quest for cute pets going to extremes at the expense of the animals’ well-being?

“A lot of our breeds are highly inbred and have a massive burden of disease,” Ashild Roaldset, the head of the Norwegian Animal Welfare Society, told AFP.

Her organisation brought the legal case against dog breeding companies and individuals.

 “We need to change the way we breed dogs,” she said. “The way we breed dogs was maybe acceptable 50 years ago but is not acceptable anymore.”

Inbreeding has caused the two breeds to develop a “disease guarantee”, a long list of hereditary illnesses that affect most individuals, if not all.

Fierce-looking but gentle — and since World War II a symbol of British tenacity — the English bulldog has developed respiratory difficulties due to its flattened muzzle, as well as dermatological, reproductive and orthopaedic problems.

More than half of all bulldogs born in Norway over the past 10 years had to be delivered by Caesarian section.

“The race’s genetic inability to give birth naturally is reason alone for bulldogs not to be used for breeding,” the district court judges wrote in
their ruling.

As for cavaliers — which have won the hearts of many over the years, from Queen Victoria to Ronald Reagan and Sylvester Stallone — they often suffer headaches because their skull is too small. They also have heart and eye problems.

Roaldset said these diseases cannot be bred away with other purebreds from abroad due to an overall lack of genetic diversity.

The two breeds will eventually be led to extinction, she said.

“And it’s going to be painful for them because they’re just going to get more and more diseases,” she said.

‘Puppy factories’

The January 31 court ruling has been appealed and has therefore not come into force yet. But it delivered a shock to professional breeders.

“In the judgement it was said that the dogs are born with headaches, I cannot understand that,” says Lise Gran-Henriksen, who has been a breeder for 25 years, as she watches five of her Cavalier King Charles Spaniels frolic on the ice outside her Oslo home.

“If so, they would not be so happy. They are happy dogs that run around and look very healthy, and that’s what I think they are,” she insisted.

 Professional breeders readily admit that the two breeds do pose “challenges”, but say these can be overcome by selective breeding of individuals that meet certain requirements.

In addition, they note that the court ruling does not ban the ownership, sale or import of bulldogs or cavaliers — only their breeding.

Walking her English bulldog Oscar in an Oslo park, Anne Grethe Holen fears a rise in “undocumented dogs” from “puppy factories” abroad.

“Demand will not decline. And the dogs that are sold will be more sick,” she said.

“They won’t be subjected to any veterinary requirements and you won’t know anything about their pedigree,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Animal Welfare Society says the future of the two breeds lies in crossbreeding them with other types of dogs to get rid of their genetic flaws.

“If the cavalier gets a slightly larger skull to fit their brain, it’s still… going to be the cutest dog in the world,” Roaldset said.

“And if the bulldog gets a little bit less wrinkly, a little bit longer snout and a better skeleton, it’s not going to be a horrible dog.

“It’s going to look a little bit different, but you can still call it a bulldog.” Roalset said

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TECH

What you need to know about the EU’s plan for a uniform phone charger

The European Union has approved a new regulation that would force tech companies to use a standard charger for mobile phones and electronic devices. What does this mean?

What you need to know about the EU's plan for a uniform phone charger

The European Parliament has approved an agreement establishing a single charging solution for frequently used small and medium-sized portable electronic devices. The law will make it mandatory for specific devices that are rechargeable via a wired cable to be equipped with a USB Type-C port.

The rules have been debated for a while, and the announcement of the agreement has caused controversy, especially among tech companies and enthusiasts. US giant Apple has repeatedly lobbied against the standardisation, saying it halts innovation.

The EU says that the new rules will lead to more re-use of chargers and “help consumers save up to €250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases”. Disposed of and unused chargers are estimated to represent about 11,000 tonnes of e-waste annually, the bloc says.

So, what exactly are the changes?

Which products will be affected?

According to the European Parliament, the new rules are valid for small and medium-sized portable electronic devices. This includes mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers that are rechargeable via a wired cable.

Laptops will also have to be adapted, the EU says.

Those devices will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port regardless of their manufacturer.

When will the changes come?

For most devices, the changes are set to come by autumn of 2024. However, the date is not yet set because the regulations need to go to other proceedings within the EU bureaucracy.

After the summer recess, The EU’s Parliament and Council need to formally approve the agreement before publication in the EU Official Journal. It enters into force 20 days after publication, and its provisions start to apply after 24 months, hence the “autumn 2024” expectation.

Rules for laptops are a bit different, and manufacturers will have to adapt their products to the requirements by 40 months after the entry into force of the laws.

Where are the rules valid?

The rules will be valid for products sold or produced in the European Union and its 27 member countries. But, of course, they will likely affect manufacturers and promote more considerable scale changes.

The USB-C cable, with the rounded edges, will be the standard for charging in the EU (Photo by مشعال بن الذاهد on Unsplash)

Why the uniform USB Type-C?

The bloc said the uniform charger is part of a broader EU effort to make products more sustainable, reduce electronic waste, and make consumers’ lives easier.

“European consumers were frustrated long with multiple chargers piling up with every new device”, EU Parliament’s rapporteur Alex Agius Saliba said.

USB Type-C is a standard of charging that has been around for a while but still is one of the best options currently in the market. Also known as USB-C, it allows for reliable, inexpensive, and fast charging. A USB-C port can also be input or output, meaning that it can both send and receive charges and data.

Unlike other ports, it can be the same on both ends of the wire (making it easier and more universal in its use). It can also power devices and sends data much faster.

USB-C can also be used for video and audio connections, so some external monitors can charge your laptop and show your screen simultaneously with the same cable.

What criticism is there?

The project is not without criticism, most vocally from US tech giant Apple, a company that famously has its own charging standard, the “lightning” connection.

Apple claims that forcing a standardisation will prevent innovation, holding all companies to the same technology instead of allowing for experimentation. Still, Apple itself has been swapping to USB-C. Its iPads have already dropped the lightning standard. Its newer laptops can now be charged with the MagSafe proprietary connector and USB-C.

Apple iPhones are still charged with the company’s lightning ports – or wirelessly (Photo by Brandon Romanchuk on Unsplash)

The company’s popular earbuds and peripherals (including keyboards and mice) all charge with lightning. And, of course, the iPhone, Apple’s smartphone, also uses the company’s connection for charging.

While there have been rumours that Apple is working on new iPhones with USB-C connection (though definitely not for the next launch this year’s), the company could go away with wired charging altogether. Instead, like many tech manufacturers, Apple is improving its wireless charging solutions, even creating products dedicated to its MagSafe charging.

It won’t be completely free from the EU regulation if it does that, though. This is because the rules approved by the EU also allow the European Commission to develop so-called “delegated acts” concerning wireless charging. The delegated acts are faster processes that can be applied directly without being put to the vote.

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