By Carole Raphaelle Davis
Not everyone jumped for joy on Valentine’s Day when
Malachy, the Pekingese, was named Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show.
Real dog lovers raged. Why? Because a Peke won a beauty contest and
consequently tens of thousands of Pekes will suffer a horrible fate. Because it
means rough years ahead for Pekinese breeding dogs who are abused in puppy
mills and backyard breeding operations. Because thousands of Pekinese will be
dumped at the pound when the novelty wears off. The Westminster Dog Show and
its parent, the American Kennel Club, the most established of the breed
registries, has blood on its hands.
I wasn’t always this angry about dog shows. As a teenager
I was a total dog geek. I would run every year to Madison Square Garden, the
dog lover’s Mecca, to buy the three-day, all-access pass to The Westminster Dog
Show. Since then, during twenty plus years in the animal protection movement, I
have learned the truth. The Westminster Dog Show is a sham. Behind the flashing
lights and the trophies are the American Kennel Club’s dirty little secrets:
1. Annually, the AKC, a “non-profit” animal enterprise,
profits over 40 million tax-exempt dollars promoting the business of dealing
dogs; many of them inbred with genetic malformations that are painful for the dogs
and expensive for the owners. See the BBC’s special, Pedigree Dogs Exposed
2. They routinely register puppies from inhumane dog
factories (puppy mills).
3. AKC reps are a constant presence at dog auctions,
making deals not to promote the wellbeing of dogs, but to ensure registration
fees from unscrupulous breeders. At these auctions, commercial breeders buy and
sell breeding dogs, their
“product,” for as low as a dollar. The “product,” which should be a family pet
in a loving home is instead sold to live out her sad life reproducing in a
4. The AKC denies and covers up its responsibility for
contributing to the millions of
dogs housed in our nation’s shelter system at our expense until they are
5. The AKC spends millions of dollars fighting animal
protection legislation in every state in order to continue to profit from the
dog dealing business.
And here are the dots it took me twenty years to connect:
The Best-In-Show trophy awarded every year at the Westminster Dog Show fuels
intense desire for purebred dogs. It promulgates the purebred fetish—the
elitist idea that some dogs are better than others because of absurd criteria
like the length of their hocks, the shortness of their snout, the texture of
their fur or the protrusion of their eyeballs. Many of the genetic traits that garner prizes at dog shows
are congenital malformations that cause suffering to dogs and can eventually
kill them. And by the way, none of those standards are the qualities that make
us love our dogs and that make our dogs love us.
This year, because of the Westminster Dog Show, millions
of people will covet the latest fashion accessory, a Pekinese dog, and
commercial breeders will happily cash in on the bonanza. Pet stores will order
them by the truck-load from brokers, who will buy them in bulk from commercial
breeders. The word on the puppy pipe line will be: “Churn out those Pekinese
puppies, they’re selling like hotcakes!”
You can order your Peke on-line at nextdaypets.com. All
you need is a credit card and your Peke will come in the mail in twenty-four
hours, just like a pair of shoes—if he survives the trip; many don’t. And when
Peke fashion passes its peak, you can unload your used Peke at any shelter,
where unless a socially conscious person shows up to adopts him, he will be
While dogs are bought on a whim by selfish people who
want what they want when they want it, over five million companion animals are
killed in our nation’s shelter system for lack of adopters. It’s a national
scandal that we are paying over $2.5 billion a year to house and kill these
innocent animals. Twenty-five percent of those dogs are purebred dogs.
The Westminster Dog Show is a televised convention to
promote the multi-billion dollar business of dealing purebred dogs. Behind the
scenes is a sinister web of handshakes and deal-making with the long term plan
of fighting any legislative measures the animal protection movement attempts to
pass. Any talk of regulation that hinders the bottom line of commercial
breeders in order to alleviate the suffering of breeding dogs is met with
fierce opposition and deep pockets.
The commercial breeders and the clubs that enable them,
like the AKC, are stubborn in
their insistence that animal rights activists back off . The breeders stick
together, lobby Washington and take out ads in national newspapers to portray
the animal protection activists as “fringe,” “extremist,” “anti-business” and “fanatics.”
The animal protection movement is not going to back off.
We will continue to expose the truth about the dog dealing industry and the
shows that promote them. The Westminster Dog Show and the American Kennel Club
need to come clean about their shameless disregard for the welfare of dogs.
Instead, they congratulate themselves with trophies while we go broke cleaning
up their mess, rescuing broken dogs, nursing them back to health, soothing
their fear and finding them loving homes.
While the Westminster Dog Show winners celebrate, we cry
over our dead—the millions and millions of dead dogs, our supposed best
Carole Raphaelle Davis is the author of "The Diary of Jinky, Dog of a Hollywood Wife" and the West Coast Director of The Companion Animal Protection Society
Labels: carole raphaelle davis, dogs, pedigree, pets, puppy mills, shelter dogs, westminster dog show