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French Bulldog Looking for Loving New Home After RSPCA Stumps up Cost of Life-saving Surgery

A young French bulldog is looking for a new home after being handed over to the RSPCA when his owners couldn’t afford the expensive bill for his life-saving surgery to help him breathe. 

One-year-old French bulldog Beau came into the care of RSPCA Hillingdon, Slough, Windsor, Kingston & District branch as his owners couldn’t afford his vet bills.

He required extensive surgery for prolapse and brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) – a group of conditions that make it very difficult for flat-faced dogs to breathe properly – to widen his nostrils and remove excess tissue from his soft palate, improving airflow.

The surgery is expensive and often isn’t covered by insurers. Unfortunately, the RSPCA is seeing more and more brachycephalic (or flat-faced) dogs coming into its care with these health problems and when their owners can’t afford their treatment. 

The charity has launched a new campaign Save Our Breath urging the public not to buy breeds who cannot live normal lives due to the irresponsible way they’ve been selectively bred. It comes as the number of British bulldog puppies being registered with the Kennel Club increased 149%, between 2011 and 2020, while the number of French bulldogs registered soared by 1,317%.

This is also reflected in the number of Frenchies who are coming into RSPCA care having been abandoned or signed over, usually due to the cost of their veterinary needs. While Staffies still account for the largest proportion of dogs coming into the RSPCA, their numbers are steadily declining, while the number of Frenchies increased by 1,567% from three in 2015 to 50 in 2020.

With the surge in demand for pets during lockdown there are fears that more brachycephalic dogs, cats and rabbits will have been bred by breeders resulting in even more sickly animals who require expensive veterinary treatment to help them carry out the simplest of everyday tasks such as walking and playing. 

And the RSPCA fears that more of these animals could be abandoned or relinquished to charity as their owners struggle to cope with costly veterinary bills as the cost of living soars.

RSPCA chief vet Caroline Allen said: “Our desire for cuteness and the selection for shorter, flatter faces – known as brachycephaly – has resulted in dogs who struggle to breathe.

“Their excessive soft tissue causes obstruction in their airways and their abnormally narrowed nostrils and windpipes leave them gasping for air. Struggling to breathe, or even sleep is very distressing and affected dogs are struggling with this every day, with serious impacts on their welfare. They also face eye problems, skin concerns due to excessive wrinkles, and painful back conditions due to corkscrew tails. 

“We understand why there is so much love out there for these breeds. But it’s wrong that we’re knowingly breeding for features which compromise their basic health and welfare.”

The public has an important role to play in helping to improve the future health of these breeds. We need to stop seeing these pets as cute and recognise the serious health issues they face.

Our Save Our Breath campaign seeks to educate the public about the impact of this type of breeding on dog welfare. We’d like people to consider getting an alternative breed or consider a crossbreed that has a lower risk of problems.

Beau is now looking for a new home. He’s vivacious, affectionate and very sociable. He’d be happy living with another dog and with older children. He loves to go for walks but hates the rain! 

He needs new owners who understand the health problems associated with his breed and will be able to manage any problems he could face in the future. While his surgery has hugely improved his breathing, he is still snuffly and snorty when playing so his owners will need to monitor this closely. 

To find out more about Beau, please see his online profile or contact the branch on rspca@rspcahillingdonclinic.org.uk or 01895 833417.

For those wishing to get involved in the Save Our Breath, there will be two surveys available to members of the public. One survey will collect crucial information on brachycephalic animals in advertising, while the other will allow the public to share their own experiences with these animals. This vital research will help inform the RSPCA’s experts as it works to protect future generations of these animals.

Supporters can also sign up to the Give Animals a Voice campaign network for the latest information and access to campaign materials.