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article imageFour Paws disputes Royal Canin response to alleged bear-baiting

By Elizabeth Batt     Jul 25, 2013 in Environment
Vinnytsya - After allegedly being linked to bear-baiting, pet food manufacturer Royal Canin said it believed the company was sponsoring a dog show. Four Paws however, responded that the sponsorship was not a "one off" incident.
Earlier this week, animal welfare organisation Four Paws produced a video charging Royal Canin with sponsoring brutal and illegal bear-baiting in the Ukraine. The organization backed its allegation with a video it obtained of a bear-baiting contest that took place in April 2013 near Vinnytsia, Ukraine.
After being bombarded by contact from many concerned animal activists, Royal Canin issued a response to the claims which they also posted below this Digital Journal article. The explanation from its Canadian-based offices, countered:
Thank you for raising this concern. These photos and the video were taken during a dog show taking place in Dubovy Gay (Vinnitsa region in Ukraine) on April 27th-28th, 2013. We recently became aware of the Ukraine’s sponsorship of this dog show and are taking it very seriously. At Royal Canin it is against our company-wide philosophy to undertake, support or sponsor research or activities that harm animals.
This philosophy extends to sponsored marketing activities and activities that could endanger an animal’s health, its life expectancy, its well-being or way of life. After learning about the activities being carried out at this dog show, the Royal Canin office in Ukraine stopped all sponsorship of this event. We hope this helps clarify our position. Please feel free to contact us should you have further questions or concerns (consumeraffairscanada@royalcanin.ca).
Four Paws contacted Digital Journal this morning to refute Royal Canin's response. The organization labelled the statement from the French animal food producer, "vague" and "evasive," and added that the company's response, "makes no suggestion as to how the bears can be helped."
"Several thousand supporters have also joined the Four Paws protest and sent emails to the company," the animal welfare org said, with "thousands of upset Royal Canin customers ... already expressing their anger on the manufacturer’s social networking sites."
Yet, "despite increasing media pressure and the intense public reaction, Royal Canin still shows no interest in talking to us," said Dr. Amir Khalil, Four Paws vet and project leader.
Royal Canin responded that it only sponsored two trophies  yet clearly more are available in the pho...
Royal Canin responded that it only sponsored two trophies, yet clearly more are available in the photo captured by FOUR PAWS.
FOUR PAWS Ukraine
Four Paws explained that it had been seeking to meet with Royal Canin executives for some time. "Curt excuses and comments that they were unaware of the bears’ involvement demonstrate an almost helpless ignorance on the part of a company which should accept responsibility once and for all," said Khalil.
Four Paws added that the branded trophies for the contest (seen in the video and photo above), make clear reference to bear-baiting and translate into the following statement:
Second championship between hunting dogs for bears and wild boar.
A photo depicting another bear-baiting contest sponsored by Royal Canin showed that a similar contes...
A photo depicting another bear-baiting contest sponsored by Royal Canin showed that a similar contest took place back in February 2012, Four Paws said.
Four Paws
According to the German Royal Canin website, Four Paws said the site maintained that, "the Ukrainian office inadvertently supported an event." But Khalil contended, "that is not true. We have proof that Royal Canin did not only support the April 2013 contest ... research material passed to us, proves that a similar contest back in February 2012 was also sponsored by Royal Canin."
Furthermore, the animal welfare org said, Royal Canin in Switzerland told journalists this week that they knew nothing of "events like this," but Four Paws can also disprove this.
Khalil explained:
In May 2013 we contacted all European offices of Royal Canin in countries where Four Paws have an office – which includes Switzerland – and also the headquarters in France. We confronted them with extracts of the visual material and requested a personal meeting. A personal meeting has been refused right up to today.
This screenshot shows that Royal Canin also sponsored a Feb. 2012 bear-baiting contest  Four Paws sa...
This screenshot shows that Royal Canin also sponsored a Feb. 2012 bear-baiting contest, Four Paws said.
Four Paws
Khalil suggests that if the pet food manufacturer is truly concerned about animal welfare, then the company's response should extend beyond words. "Accepting responsibility means genuinely supporting species-appropriate accommodation for the bears tortured in these contests," he said, "and this is exactly the sort of solution we are currently working towards with the Ukrainian authorities."
Four Paws added that it wished to give the bears exposed to illegal bear-baiting a refuge in the Ukraine. "For this," concluded the organization, "Four Paws needs the support of the Ukrainian authorities, but also support from Royal Canin."
Update: July 26, 2013
Digital Journal received notification from Four Paws that Royal Canin has agreed to meet with the organization. Four Paws said:
At last Royal Canin has officially contacted Four Paws and a face-to-face meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday next week. In this meeting Four Paws will emphasise the need for a swift and lasting solution for the bears in Ukraine.
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