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PETA asks sponsors to drop Westminster dog show

January 30, 2009 |  3:27 pm

Handler Kellie Fitzgerald runs with James, an English springer spaniel that won best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club's 131st dog show When PETA requested that the USA Network drop its coverage of the Westminster dog show earlier this month, it  drew the ire of the dog show community and many dog owners who said the show demonstrates the best American dog breeding programs have to offer.

USA chose to air Westminster despite PETA's objections (it's scheduled to appear on the network Feb. 9 and 10).  But being overruled by the network hasn't stopped PETA; the organization instead has switched tactics and is now pressuring advertisers to drop their sponsorship of the show.

Citing the BBC's decision to drop its coverage of the Crufts dog show, and the British Kennel Club's revisions of the standards for many of the breeds it recognizes (including the bulldog, German shepherd, chow chow, and Labrador retriever), PETA wrote to Westminster sponsor Pedigree Dog Food.  The letter read, in part:

The new BKC standards allow dogs to breathe, walk, and see freely, which previous breeding standards prevented.  Unfortunately, the AKC has refused to take even the smallest step to allow American dogs these same basic freedoms.  The BKC even has additional regulations requiring dog-show judges to choose the healthiest dogs as winners.

On behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and our more than 2 million members and supporters, we ask that you pull your company's sponsorship of this event until the AKC revises its breeding standards so that it is, at the very least, in line with the BKC's standards, which would reduce the likelihood that purebred dogs will needlessly suffer from diseases and disorders.  You will then be following in the footsteps of Pedigree UK, which ended its sponsorship of the Crufts dog show last year.

Similar requests were directed to other advertisers who plan to air commercials during Westminster, including LifeLock, TransUnion, Intuit, the CityKids Foundation, and the Flex Belt, says PETA's vice president for cruelty investigations, Daphna Nachminovitch.

LifeLock, an Arizona-based identity theft prevention company, has rebuffed the request, according to the Phoenix Business Journal:

"We use an online aggregator that places LifeLock ads on more than 10,000 different sites," said company spokeswoman Tami Nealy in an e-mail. "While we don't know where all of our ads will be placed, we do require that they are not placed on adult sites, or any other sites that could be deemed offensive. At this time, we have no intention of pulling this advertisement."

Do you plan to watch Westminster?  Do you agree with PETA that the AKC should follow the British Kennel Club's lead in examining and revising breed standards?  Or should PETA focus on other issues and leave dog shows alone?  Let us know in the comments.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Related:
Kennel Club addresses ills of selective breeding
BBC announces it won't air Crufts dog show
PETA to USA Network: Don't air Westminster!
Dog show fans to PETA: Leave Westminster alone!
BBC documentarian: "PETA is a bunch of crackpots"
PETA responds to BBC filmmaker's "crackpots" comment

PETA's vice president: We don't want to take your dog away
Breeder of Westminster winner Uno has a few words for PETA
Britain's Kennel Club announces sweeping reforms
BBC documentarian comments on Kennel Club reforms

Photo:  Handler Kellie Fitzgerald runs with James, the English springer spaniel who was named best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club's 131st dog show. Credit: Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images.

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