Pets: Unauthorized “canine fertility clinics” give dogs human contraceptives to help time litters
Unlicensed vets operate in the UK and run shady ‘canine fertility clinics’ for specialist species like chihuahuas, pugs and shih tzus who have difficulty breeding.
Last year, experts found 37 clinics that either aren’t run by vets or didn’t have a vet on site – though many offer services like blood testing and caesarean sections.
In contrast, a similar investigation in 2015 found only one unlicensed clinic.
Two of the clinics had even advertised a type of canine artificial insemination that requires surgery – a procedure that was banned in 2019.
The growth of these clinics is accompanied by a spectacular increase in the number of puppies born by other artificial insemination techniques.
Unlicensed vets operate in the UK and run shady fertility clinics for specialist species like chihuahuas, pugs and shih tzus that have trouble breeding (stock image)
According to the British dog protection organization, The Kennel Club, there have been more births by canine artificial insemination – non-surgical – in the past three years than there have been in the past six. previous years from 1998 to 2015.
This trend appears to be related to the growing popularity of so-called brachycephalic breeds – those dogs with short noses and flat faces, such as Chihuahuas, Pugs, and Shih Tzus – who can find it difficult to mate on their own.
Many of the clinics identified by the researchers were mobile businesses, advertised through rudimentary websites, offering dog veterinary services at inexpensive prices.
Some of these clinics seemed to advocate “self-delivery” – in which dogs are not taken to the vet to give birth, even when it might be advisable – as well as raw feeding which can lead to infections.
Of the clinics identified, 20 offered a breeding service for breeds requiring a Caesarean section 80 percent of the time to give birth, such as English and French Bulldogs, although many do not appear to have a veterinarian on site.
“Artificial insemination is, in itself, ethically permissible in many situations,” said Madeleine Campbell, animal welfare specialist at the Royal Veterinary College.
“Indeed, this can sometimes have positive welfare effects, for example by removing the need to transport animals over long distances or internationally to reproduce.”
The procedure, she added, can also help “maintain genetic diversity by facilitating crosses between animals geographically distant from each other.”
“However, if artificial insemination is used to achieve pregnancies in animals which, for hereditary anatomical reasons, are not able to reproduce or give birth naturally, this has negative welfare implications and constitutes an ethical concern. “
“Further, if the investigations imply that non-veterinarians may undertake acts of veterinary surgery such as cesarean sections, then this is obviously worrying and would be illegal,” added Dr Campbell.
“Concerns about non-veterinarians undertaking veterinary surgeries should be reported to commercial standards – and to the police.”
“Maybe it’s time the UK created its own laws to better regulate the burgeoning dog fertility and breeding industry?” Said Josh Loeb of Vet Record.
“At the very least, the profession needs to pay more attention to how these clinics behave and whether, in some cases, they are to be viewed not as veterinary clinics but rather as ‘pseudo-vet’ clinics. “
The full results of the study were published in the journal Vet Record.