Each year for over 130 years, Westminster Kennel Club displays the best of the best in dogs. For many years the groups and Best in Show are broadcast over television stations which fight for the privilege. In the last few years this tradition has spawned a little controversy. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protests the breeding of a master race of dogs whenever they can. This group opposes companion animals in any form as a human moral weakness. The ASPCA was quoted in a NYT article denigrating purebred dogs and the national registry. The American Kennel Club responded with an open letter to dog lovers everywhere reminding us that the AKC spends millions every year on disaster response, canine health research and that more than 95% of dog keepers who register their dogs or litters of puppies through the AKC are responsible caretakers based on physical inspections and DNA testing.
Because euthanasia of dogs and cats in animal shelters (estimates are between 2-4 million, mostly cats, each year) tugs at the heart strings of the average pet owner, much misinformation about population control and pet breeding has been used for fund raising and problem solving for over a decade. The rhetoric can be downright poisonous at times because we are talking about man's best friend and our duty to him or her.
Last year at another prestigious show, Crufts, there was an uproar over winning dogs alleged to have health problems. Veterinarians on site were asked to inspect dogs after awards were granted and disqualify any who showed symptoms of disease. The uproar came when dogs were disqualified for "red eyes" and undiagnosed problems that could not be confirmed later by independent doctors.
Two years ago a war between the Westminster Kennel Club and PETA resulted in Pedigree Pet Foods being replaced by Purina as the official dog food sponsor of the show. PETA asked Pedigree to emphasize shelter dogs. Westminster asked them to include purebreds leading up to the show. Purina stepped up prepared to do so and won the contract.
So, with the decision by Westminster Kennel Club to hold their two day show in two different facilities to accommodate record entries, we have been on the edge of our seats wondering what this year would bring.
I am happy to report, yesterday went very well for Borzois and as soon as the results are in, I'll report fully.