Blue Cross has put out calls for flat-faced breeds to be banned from advertisements after treating more than 5,000 brachycephalic breeds in the last two years.

And as these breeds are commonly used in advertising, they’ve gained popularity among dog owners and celebrities, increasing in value, but often decreasing in health.

Blue Cross have shared a heartbreaking story of a French Bulldog who lost his life due to countless health implications as a result of his breed, having been neglected by a previous owner.

When Leonard the French bulldog was found roaming the streets in February, he was in an incredibly sorry state - struggling to breathe and covered in sores.

Leonard was taken in by the staff at the Lewknor rehoming centre in Oxfordshire where he stayed for three weeks (

Image:

Blue Cross)

He was suffering with a painfully dry and crusty nose, and was ‘terribly thin’, with a urine infection.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “As a French bulldog, he was what’s known as a brachycephalic breed, meaning he was born with a shorter muzzle and narrower airways than other dogs not genetically engineered to look this way.

“We suspect unscrupulous breeders had been using him to produce unhealthy puppies to sell at exorbitant rates to people unaware of the health problems associated with dogs like them.

“No dog should ever have to fight for breath, let alone chose between letting food or air into their body.

“Sadly, Leonard’s story is not rare – Blue Cross has seen an influx of dogs like him in recent years.”

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The Blue Cross team at the Lewknor rehoming centre in Oxfordshire quickly set about getting him on the road to recovery.

Nyki Lawn, Animal Welfare Assistant, was Leonard’s dedicated carer. She said: “It was immediately clear that he was going to need a lot of vet intervention. He almost seemed like he was suffocating a lot of the time.”

Centre manager Jenna Martyn added: “He couldn’t breathe through his nose at all. He could barely eat, because he had to alternate between breathing and chewing and the only way of getting oxygen in was through his mouth. It was always a risk he might choke.”

But despite everything the little pup had been through, he continued to be a ‘kind little soul’ who just wanted to play and have fun.

Despite everything, Leonard just wanted the chance to be a normal dog (

Image:

Blue Cross)

Jenna added: “Leonard would have these bursts of energy, so he wanted to be an energetic dog. And his breathing would just stop that for him because he would have to then just stand there and gasp for breath. Running around in the park chasing a toy, or having fun with friends, is not something Leonard could have done.”

Leonard - thought to be about seven-years-old - needed surgery to widen his nostrils and remove a section of the soft palate at the back of his mouth to treat his brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS).

He attended an animal hospital in Victoria, Central London for the crucial op, and whilst the surgery was a success, Leonard never recovered and died later that day.

Jenna - who has worked for Blue Cross for 18 years - said it was one of the most painful experiences of her career.

She said: “Sadly, as so many dogs like Leonard are suffering, BOAS surgery has become quite a routine surgery – but it’s still a major operation and having to put an animal through it is very concerning. We knew there was a risk, but nothing could have prepared me or the team for him not making it.

“When an animal like Leonard passes away for a simple thing that we take for granted every day, to breathe, it’s so painful. It’s still painful now.

“The hospital team were heartbroken, and we were heartbroken. One of the hardest things we have to do in our job is say goodbye.

“Even though we had him a short period of time, I can't tell you how much I valued having that short window with him because he touched our hearts and he will be with us forever. He gave us so much love and joy. And we were able to obviously give that straight back to him as well.”

Leonard sadly passed away following his BOAS surgery, but not before touching the lives of all who met him (

Image:

Blue Cross)

Surgery under anaesthetic carries a greater risk for brachycephalic dogs, who have additional pressure on their hearts due to the lack of oxygen in their bloodstream, and it proved just too much for Leonard’s struggling body to cope with.

His carer, Nyki, added: “Knowing how happy he was in his final weeks is what we hang on to, really. He was having the best time – probably in his life – leading up to that. He left behind a big hole and everything felt very empty here. He’ll never be forgotten.”

On October 21, Blue Cross launched a campaign to ‘End The Trend’ of brachy breeds in brand marketing material, asking companies to pledge to phase out the use of French bulldogs, Boston terriers, pugs and British bulldogs in their advertisements.

As part of the campaign, they’ve placed mock advertisements in 10 high-profile train stations in London, including Charing Cross, London Bridge, St Pancras, Victoria and Waterloo.

The charity also launched a petition which members of the public can sign to urge their favourite brands to commit to this pledge. The petition can be found here: www.bluecross.org.uk/endthetrend

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