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Westminster Dog Show Rebuffs Shelter Dogs

Westminster Dog Show Rebuffs Shelter Dogs

For 24 years, Pedigree has been the sponsor of the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, but not anymore.  This year, Westminster switched sponsors to Purina. The reason?  Pedigree’s commercials promoting adoption from shelters are not the image Westminster desires.

It is well known that Westminster is all about purebred dogs. As the website says, the show is “Storied in its history, rich in its tradition, The Westminster Kennel Club’s famed annual dog show is unique, prestigious, and elegant for all concerned.”

It’s an all too familiar story of the haves and have-nots.  In OWS parlance, shelter dogs are the “trying to survive” 99% while purebreds are the pampered and privileged 1%.

So a Pedigree commercial like this one is too distasteful for the Westminster crowd.  Too bad!

Now, this is certainly not a breathtaking news story.  But it is important to point out what is wrong with Westminster’s decision is that it’s promoting the attitude that purebred dogs are superior to mixed breed dogs. The Canine Diversity Project tries to educate breeders about the dangers of inbreeding, which leads to the loss of genetic diversity.  This has a dramatic negative effect on the health of dogs who are over-bred.

As a mutt lover myself, I do not watch the Westminster Dog Show. How about you?  Many animal advocates are disappointed with the Westminster decision.  Not so much because they are concerned which company sponsors the show. It’s because of the remarkable work Pedigree has done in educating the public about the plight of shelter dogs needing adoption. It just feels, well… snobbish!

A Pedigree video narrated by David Duchovny aired during the 2010 and 2011 Westminster Dog Shows says it all.  Shelter dogs are described with dignity in a straightforward message. It doesn’t get anymore straight forward than this:

“Shelter dogs aren’t broken. They’ve simply experienced more life. If they were human, we’d call them wise. They would be the ones with tales to tell and stories to write. The ones dealt a bad hand, and who responded with courage. Do not pity a shelter dog. Adopt one.”

Melissa Martellotti, a brand communications manager for Mars Petcare U.S. (MARS makes the Pedigree brand) says dog show officials informed Pedigree they were initiating the split because of concerns over the adoption ad campaign, according to the New York Times.

“They’ve shared with us, when we parted ways, that they felt that our advertising was focused too much on the cause of adoption and that wasn’t really a shared vision,” she said. The kennel club is “focused on the purebred mission,” said Martellotti.  And that includes the adoption of pure breeds over mixed breeds.

Perhaps Westminster should be informed that about 25% of shelter dogs are actually purebreds that were surrendered or found as strays. And perhaps it would be wise to let the public know that the AKC — which sponsors Westminster — has no problem with people purchasing purebreds that started life in puppy mills.

If you are the type to fight for the underdog, you can contact Westminster to let them know how you feel. Contact David Frei, Director of Communications for Westminster at (212) 213-3212 or email him at david@westminsterkennelclub.org.  The important thing isn’t to get Westminster to bring back Pedigree as a sponsor.  It’s to educate the club about the power of public attitude toward shelter dogs.

To paraphrase some bumper stickers, tell him “my shelter dog can beat your purebred dog any day of the week!”

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419 comments

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10:09PM PST on Feb 27, 2014

FYI, that email address isn't a valid account.

1:44AM PDT on Sep 27, 2013

Troy, and your point is just WHAT? Why the resurrecting of such an old article to say that? It's pretty silly to insinuate that all breeders sell dogs to ONLY line their wallets, but while true, it's just a part of the fact that it's a business. Every pet sold makes room for a future litter, and responsible breeders only breed when they are assured that every pet "created" will have a home. Some people are on a waiting list for a year or more to get what type of dog (or cat) they want.

9:33AM PDT on Sep 26, 2013

"The kennel club is “focused on the purebred mission,” said Martellotti. And that includes the adoption of pure breeds over mixed breeds."

When you ADOPT a dog from a shelter or rescue you are not only helping to save a life, you are making room for that organization to take in another dog that needs saving. When you BUY a purebred dog from a breeder you are not "adopting", you are making a PURCHASE. You are contributing to the exploitation of female dogs to produce more puppies (product). You are not helping to save a life, you are lining the breeders pocket, maybe helping them buy a new tv or iphone.

5:10AM PDT on May 16, 2013

This is just awful, I have only hasd rescues and all my mongrels have been healthier and lived longer then the purebreeds. If you are interested check out these youtube videos on the problem of breeding dogs to such rigorous standards.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZMegQH1SPg - Pedigree dogs exposed
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7RTsVfMHQk - Pedigree dogs exposed, 3 years later.

1:44PM PST on Feb 17, 2013

dfdd

7:15AM PST on Feb 14, 2013

I don't watch it either. My house is full of rescues. They don't have any neurological problems caused by vicious inbreeding!!!!!

12:10AM PST on Feb 13, 2013

Patricia, scroll/read down to Snow K's comment. There are choices for every dog owner out there. If you don't have a dog that "qualifies" for Westminster, nor want a purebred, that's your choice, but why DISS those that do? I lost my (AKC-registered, purebred) Golden last year, and still have a purebred (at least that is what I was told when I adopted her) GSD. The Golden was show "quality" and I had no desire to show him, EVER, except possibly in agility, but at the time he was capable of that, I wasn't. Now, he's gone. My GSD is not able to perform at much of anything, but of course she's every bit as loved. One doesn't have to compare love of a dog to what one does WITH one's dog. Showing is just a venue for some. When one bashes things one doesn't participate in for any other reason than they disagree with it, it comes across more as envy, many times. Do you ENVY those with AKC-registered dogs, or were yours not qualified to show for some reason? It's expensive to do so, so possibly finances is a factor? That's fine. I couldn't afford to go there, either. To many who do (go to Westminster), it's a life's ambition realized.........an accumulation of a dream. To others, it's just the competition, and to breeders, a way of marketing their "product" (all dogs in comformation classes cannot be spayed/neutered). Again, not interested in participating.......don't.

BTW, I realize there were two different Patricia's who commented, and I replied to both. I apo

11:48PM PST on Feb 12, 2013

"My family has had purebreeds and mutts? all were loved and showed their worth.An organization that shows animals should not discriminate.The message from the westminister kennel dog show seems to be that expensive,pretty dogs are the only ones worth caring about"...........so, your family has "pure breeds" (purebreds) as well as "mutts", Patricia? Was that a question or a statement? The organization referred to hosts a dog SHOW and has every right to establish rules. Rules state for AKC registered dogs only. If one wants to show a non-AKC registered dog, do so, just not at THIS particular show. Westminster is just an AKC-recognized CLUB. The message is NOT about expensive, pretty dogs............anyone with an AKC registered dog can participate if the dog qualifies with required "points". Some dogs were rescues, many FREE, and in many eyes, many are NOT pretty at all. I'm sure many people think the breeds I'm attracted to are not "pretty" and vice versa. You insinuate that those who want purebreds and show them are "snobs". Frankly, you come across like a "sore loser" that is whining. Which one of us is more "accurate"?

BTW, I'm not supporting many who participate AT Westminster, just the right to do so and the right of the show committee to set the rules. Clubs are CLUBS for a reason. Don't like their rules? Don't participate..

10:21PM PST on Feb 12, 2013

Patricia F., Westminster's e-mail address has not changed, nor is it blocked from or for anyone. You don't even realize this discussion is a YEAR OLD. Read the date.........Feb. 2012.

Now, while your heart is in the right place, why would Westminster have an "adjunct" show for non-purebreds, when the whole purpose is to pick the best representatives of varous PUREBRED breeds? How does a judge decide if a half-terrier/half hound is a better representative of WHAT against a half-Chow, half Dobie, for example? What could possibly be the parameters? There ARE dog shows for non-purebreds. Agility and tracking for example, do not require AKC registration. There are even conformation shows for non-purebreds. Check your local listings.

10:01PM PST on Feb 12, 2013

When I tried to e-mail Westminster with the address given above, it was apparently blocked. I admire what Pedigree is doing for shelter dogs. What I wanted to suggest to Westminster is that they have a shelter dog show as an adjunct to the regular show; let the dogs strut their stuff in the ring; (not sure about the judging thing) then give information for adoption of each one. Before the show, groom the shelter dogs and make them look as beautiful as the pure-bred dogs so that people can see that shelter dogs can be as appealing as any purchased dog. Since I can't e-mail them, I can't suggest that but if anyone else is able to get thru, please do so. My husband and I have rescued many dogs down thru the years; always spay and neuter immediately. Some of the rescues are pure-bred; their owners must have just gotten tired of the responsibility; most are mixed breed and they are all wonderful. It's ridiculous to be elitist about what dog you have.

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