Blue Cross calls for British Brands to phase out flat-faced pets in their advertising

Today, leading UK pet charity Blue Cross have launched a campaign called #EndTheTrend – which calls on the nation’s top brands to support their mission to improve the lives and welfare of flat-faced (brachycephalic) pets.

Many brands currently use brachycephalic animals in their advertisements, even if their products are unrelated. This contributes to the ever-growing popularisation of these pets, and in turn, over-breeding.

Flat faced (or ‘brachycephalic’) pets – such as pugs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Persian cats, and Lionhead rabbits – have soared in popularity in recent years and appear nationwide in advertising campaigns, due to the fashionable status of the breeds. As of 2021, brachycephalic breeds account for one fifth of the nation’s dogs.

But sadly, our obsession with these pets has created an animal welfare crisis. Blue Cross are all too aware of this crisis. In the last two years alone, their vets have treated over 5,000 brachy pets – a number that continues to grow week on week. Common procedures include:

  • Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (or ‘BOAS’) Surgery – a complicated and stressful surgery for any pet to have to undergo, but vital to widen their nasal passages and shorten their soft palate to improve their ability to breathe.
  • Enucleation and eyelid surgery – surgery to repair or remove their eyes and modify their eyelids due to high rates of disease.
  • Emergency Caesarean section – because many cannot give birth to litters naturally and need medical intervention.

These health problems have stemmed from a vicious cycle of over-breeding to meet the astronomical demand for these flat-faced, four-legged friends, many of which now no longer even resemble their healthy ancestors that came just a century before them.

Sadly, more and more major British consumer brands are using flat-faced animals in their marketing and advertising, even if their products are unrelated, and the perception that these breeds are ‘cute’ and ‘trendy’ by their portrayal in advertisements has perpetuated this view amongst the public.

This has led to these breeds being seen as the latest ‘must have’ and an increase in impulse buying – often leading to pets being sold on or given up when their owners realise they cannot cope or afford vital vet bills for treatment associated with their breed. It has also led to a huge rise in the cost of puppies, particularly during the pandemic, which has sadly meant a huge rise in dog theft across the UK – with research showing that these breeds are often specifically targeted*.

To tackle this nationwide crisis, Blue Cross has launched a campaign called #EndTheTrend, which calls for the UK’s leading brands to pledge, by the end of 2022, to phasing out the use of any brachycephalic pets in their future brand materials.

As part of the campaign, the charity has launched a petition which members of the public can sign to urge their favourite brands to commit to this pledge.

To raise awareness of the campaign and capture the attention of both brands and consumers, the charity has created a series of mock advertisements which demonstrate how brands are contributing to this life-threatening trend.

The advertisements will be featured across 10 different high-profile train stations in London, including Charing Cross Station, London Bridge Station, St Pancras Station, Victoria Station and Waterloo Station from 00:01hrs on 21st October 2021.

Caroline Reay, Blue Cross Vet says: “Brachycephalic pets, like Frenchies and Pugs, have soared in popularity in recent years. With their compelling big eyes and baby-like faces, our obsession with their appearance has created an animal welfare crisis.

As these breeds grow in popularity, there is a rise in parallel of unscrupulous breeders looking to cash in on a trend. Our veterinary hospital teams are treating more and more very unwell pets who are experiencing health complications caused by breeding for a characteristic ‘flat face’. Frenchies, Pugs and Persians have become the poster pets for advertising, no matter the product, and behind those cute faces can lie horrifying health problems. We call on companies to find other ways to promote their wares and help us #EndTheTrend.”

The petition can be found here: www.bluecross.org.uk/endthetrend