Crufts is widely renowned as the largest and most prestigious dog show in the world, and every year, plays host to tens of thousands of dogs and their owners hoping to place well in their class, and maybe even be in with a chance for a shot at the prestigious Best in Show title.
As every dog lover will no doubt be aware, Crufts has just finished for another year, having run across four days from the 5th-8th March at Birmingham’s NEC arena. Hundreds of thousands of visitors attended the show over the course of the four days, with millions watching the televised event at home, and the show has of course been one of the hottest topics of conversation on social media this week as well.
However, not everyone is in favour of the Crufts show on principle, and this year’s event has been shrouded in various different controversies, which have all served to divide the opinion of the nation’s dog lovers even further. In this second of two articles on the Crufts dog show 2015, we will look at the controversies and the bad parts of the show in more detail.
Crufts is first and foremost a breed show, designed to showcase the very best examples of each breed of dog in competition for the prizes. However, certain breed standards have been highlighted as being potentially unhealthy for the dogs affected, calling into question the effects of selective breeding, overtyping, and breeding dogs for an appearance rather than robust health.
Since these problems were highlighted in the BBC exposé “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” in 2008, The Kennel Club has worked to change and monitor potentially unhealthy breed standards, but many dog owners feel that this has not had a significant impact on the health of competing dogs, and that Crufts still rewards potentially dangerous overtyping.
Virtually every large canine charity, organisation and lobbying group was present at Crufts, except for one very notable absence: The RSPCA. The RSPCA’s official position is that pageant-style shows such as Crufts can cause unnecessary suffering to dogs, as well as promoting breeding and pedigree ownership over the needs of existing homeless dogs.
The RSPCA took every opportunity over the course of the show to make their feelings known on social media such as Twitter, using the trending hashtags for Crufts to promote their own viewpoint and encouraging people to support shelter dogs.
Something that has been front page news all across the world this week has been the sudden death of Irish setter Jagger, who died on Friday after competing at Crufts on Thursday. While the exact circumstances surrounding the dog’s death have yet to be established, the owners of Jagger firmly believe that their dog was poisoned while at Crufts, having consumed poisoned meat that may have been fed to the dog by another competitor or a visitor to the show. Reports are also surfacing that several other dogs may have been taken ill after competing at the show as well.
Scottish terrier Knopa took the prestigious title of Best in Show in the finals, accompanied by handler Rebecca Cross. However, this decision is again shrouded in controversy, as the way that the dog was handled in the ring is not considered to be in line with The Kennel Club’s acceptable standards. Several times while showing Knopa, Ms. Cross lifted the dog by the tail in order to show off her conformation. This is common practice when showing small dogs in America (where Knopa hails from) but is in direct contravention of the guidelines in the UK.
The Kennel Club has made a statement saying that Ms. Cross was repeatedly told not to lift Knopa by the tail, but she continued to do so. However, despite this, the Best in Show cup was still awarded to Knopa, which has caused outcry among the nation’s dog lovers and even calls that the dog be stripped of her title.
The owner of a border collie competing in the show was photographed in one of the car parks at Crufts mishandling and hitting his dog, which has again sparked a huge outcry across social media and in the press for the man to be identified and brought to account. This event in itself has generated a significant amount of negative publicity for the show, bringing home to people the shady side of showing that can lurk just below the polished surface.
While Knopa and her handler were being awarded with the Best in Show cup, a PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) protestor managed to run across the stage of the main arena, holding up a banner saying “Mutts Against Crufts.” The man was swiftly removed by arena security, but again, this event has served to highlight the potential failings within the pedigree dog world.
Crufts was covered by Channel Four, who took over the televised rights to the show after the BBC’s Pedigree Dogs Exposed TV show aired in 2008, and the BBC cancelled their longstanding arrangement to cover the show. The notable absence of the BBC and their limited coverage of the event across their various news platforms has once more served to send a clear message to Crufts and The Kennel Club that support for the show and pedigree breeding in general is potentially on the wane.
Photos Credit :onEdition