The Crufts dog show, hosted by The Kennel Club, takes place annually in March at Birmingham’s NEC arena. This is the world’s most famous dog show, and also its largest; and in terms of its appeal, attendance, and prestige, also the most popular.
However, it is fair to say that Crufts is also by far the world’s most controversial dog show too; and everything from the influence The Kennel Club holds and uses in general to judging and breeding practices and whether Crufts should even be permitted to continue are hot topics of conversation among dog lovers of all types and on both sides of the debate.
A lot of the backlash against Crufts and The Kennel Club in general stems from a 2008 documentary called Pedigree Dogs Exposed, which blew the lid off a whole plethora of deleterious practices when it comes to pedigree dog breeding and showing. Even now 12 years on, this continues to have a knock-on effect on public perception of both The Kennel Club as a whole and Crufts as its flagship event; and whilst this might be by far the most well-known and far-reaching Crufts scandal of the 21st century, it is far from the only one.
Even within the last decade alone, several other Crufts controversies and scandals have occurred at the show at various times, and peripherally to it too; and even though Crufts 2020 is still a few weeks away, two ex-judges of the show have recently made the news for all of the wrong reasons, having been convicted of keeping dogs they bred in inappropriate conditions not appropriate to their welfare.
However, when it comes to the show itself and some of its competitors, Crufts scandals are not in short supply in general!
With Crufts 2020 just around the corner, this article will recap on the five greatest Crufts controversies of the last decade, some of which you might remember from the years they happened. Read on to learn more.
The most recent major Crufts controversy in most people’s opinion occurred in 2018, when protestors acting on behalf of self-declared animal welfare organisation PETA invaded the Best in Show event, the most popular and widely televised part of the entire Crufts show, and the culmination of the entire event.
Activists displayed banners with slogans such as “Mutts Against Crufts,” before being tackled and removed from the arena by security.
2015 saw one of the most widely discussed and lurid Crufts controversies of all, after allegations that first one dog, and later three others, were deliberately poisoned at the show.
An Irish setter died as a result of consuming poisoned meat upon its return to its home country of Belgium after attending the show, and the poisoning was originally claimed to have occurred at Crufts; however, this theory was later largely discounted, and the conclusion drawn that the dog was poisoned in Belgium.
2015 wasn’t a good year for the show in general, and the poisoning allegations at Crufts wasn’t the year’s only scandal. A huge controversy also raged after the event as a result of the way a Scottish terrier was handled in the ring, namely, that when the dog was lifted into show stance, it was partially lifted by its tail.
The handler in question was American, and this practice is permitted in dog shows in the USA, but not here in the UK. Despite this being mandated in the Crufts rules and also, the handler being told not to do this, the dog in question was still awarded Best in Show; generating a huge backlash among dog lovers, and calls for the dog to be stripped of its title.
2013 saw an Akita win an obedience award at Crufts, but promptly go on to prove that the prize should probably have gone to another dog when it bit another dog owner on the knee whilst still at the show itself.
This resulted in the dog’s handler, Lorain Ronis, being prosecuted under the remit of the Dangerous Dogs Act and convicted of having a dangerously out of control dog, before being handed down a 12-month community order as a result of this.
The dog itself was not destroyed as a result of the incident (which is a viable course of action that courts can mandate in such as situation) but an order was also made that he must henceforth be muzzled in public.
Finishing off on a somewhat lighter note, one of the funnier Crufts scandals of the last decade comes to us from way back in 2010, when a streaker disrupted judging in the gundog ring. The streaker was widely televised running around the presentations section of the arena with the slogan “istreak.com” emblazoned on his torso, before he was tackled and removed by arena security.
This was one of the funnier Crufts controversies of the last ten years, and one that was undertaken apparently for the laugher value (and to promote said website!) rather than with somewhat more sinister intentions or undertones in mind.
Watch this space to see if Crufts 2020 brings us any new controversies to add to the annals!