Tuesday, February 3, 2009

With Westminster approaching this weekend...

...is it time for fans of these dog shows to re-evaluate what really happens with many of the dogs?
I came across this article from the SF Chronicle (Feb 3, 2009).

Some good points made there...read it if you have time.I was shocked (eh...delightfully, really) that the BBC did a documentary on dog shows. "Pedigree Dogs Exposed" aired, and subsequently the British version of the AKC made new rules for their various breed clubs. The BBC did not air the Crufts dog show, however, despite the demands for new, supposedly more humane, regulations on how breeders cut and mold their perfect pups and the nature of such actions.

Here's something I'm against – ear cropping. Should people who buy American Staff Terriers (a breed listed in most, if not all, city, county, state level pit bull ban legislation) be allowed to do this? The Westminster definition does state that ear cropping is "optional" (I feel ill just saying that): “ears may be either cropped or natural.”

One of the main reasons I wish this didn’t happen is because it is being done to pit bulls – not just pure breed staffies. I have seen my fair share of pit bulls whose ears are cropped in the crudest manner. If someone is going to go to the trouble to pay a breeder for one of these dogs and see a veterinarian to have the animal’s ears cropped to “look the breed”, is that person going to dump their dog out on the street? Not likely. The strays that come in to New York's Animal Care and Control shelters, whose ears have been sliced in half, whose faces and legs are scarred, do not “look the breed” – in other words, that is not why it is being done. Example - Grace Chon, photographer in LA, photographed Clancy, a rescue with Lori Wiese, of Downtown Dog Rescue.

Thoughts? Opinions?

Moving on, consider the following lines from the SF Chronicle article: “By restricting breeding pools, which is how you create and maintain “pure” breeds in the first place, you limit genetic diversity. Selecting dogs for a single set of characteristics that help them win at dog shows instead of, for instance, how healthy, happy and long-lived they are, limits it even further.”Bear in mind she is speaking mainly of people who breed in order to win at Westminster and, I guess, whatever other shows they think they can get cash from.

I personally think these dog shows are gross displays of animal exploitation. And I really can't stand that Discovery and Animal Planet disrupted their regularly scheduled shows, such as the rescue-focused Underdog to Wonderdog, to air the AKC/Eukanuba show this weekend. Hope some day these networks will take after the BBC.

The other side of these dog shows is that they get a lot of media attention for the winning breeds, which in turn, prompts people to want to buy them. This feeds the breeding business, including irresponsible breeders and puppy mills. Not only do these shows, whose judges and participants use animals as status symbols and for their own profit, invigorate a consumer base for a few select breeds, by widespread advertising and press coverage, further the idea that animals are property to be bought and sold...and discarded. All this going on, of course, while millions of animals are abused, thrown out on the street, sitting in cages, and are euthanized every year...

While millions of perfectly wonderful animals are in need of homes, those selling the dog show and breed industry are making money producing and selling animals.

Note Westminster's statement.
It's all about the breed (and cash and status, of course)...but what about the animal?

But anyway, I'm curious of other opinions, especially those opposite of mine.

Are dog shows OUT? Do they lend themselves to animal cruelty?
Have we entered a stage of animal overpopulation, homelessness, and recognition of adoptions that dog shows are being seen in a different light?
Feel free to drop a note.

There are amazing animals for adoption in shelters and in foster homes through rescue groups. Always adopt... http://www.petfinder.com/ or if you're in NYC: http://www.nycacc.org/ and http://www.animalalliancenyc.org/ for rescue groups.

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