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Spotlight on genetic welfare problems in companion animals
The new website has been designed to help people who are thinking of buying a pet to decide which species, strain or breed to choose – and to be aware of problems and know the right questions to ask when buying in order to help avoid perpetuating the problems.
Under development for two years, the site now contains more than 70 conditions in approximately 90 breeds of companion animals (dogs, cats, rabbits, pigeons, goldfish), including 54 conditions in 47 breeds of dogs, are already comprehensively described – with more to be added.
According to UFAW, the site is unique in providing comprehensive and detailed information, not only on the genetic conditions themselves but also, most importantly, on their effects on the pet's welfare.
James Kirkwood, UFAW's chief executive and scientific director, said: "When, tens or hundreds of years ago people bred for the particular shapes, sizes and appearances that appealed to them, they had no idea that they were sometimes selecting for serious diseases at the same time. With advances in knowledge of animal diseases the serious nature of many of these problems has come to light."
The role of the UFAW website is to explain the welfare consequences of these diseases to make clear the importance of selecting against them and to highlight any tools and methods that can help with this.
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