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PETA responds to BBC filmmaker's "crackpots" comment

January 9, 2009 |  6:00 pm

A Chinese Crested competes in 2008's Westminster show We told you yesterday that Jemima Harrison, the filmmaker whose controversial documentary led the BBC to drop Crufts from its airwaves, is upset (to say the least) with PETA.  The animal rights group, she says, "devalues and marginalises" her film by using it as ammunition against Westminster, America's most prestigious dog show.

Daphna Nachminovitch, PETA's Vice President for Cruelty Investigations, responded to Harrison's comments today in a statement provided to Unleashed:

We were sorry to see Ms. Harrison's rant against PETA's reasonable request that, like the BBC, the USA Network recognize the tragic, dire crisis dogs — purebred (as well as the Great American mutt) — are facing today. In the U.S., an estimated 25 percent of dogs in shelters are "purebred." A dog does not care if he has papers or not and anyone who has studied the modus operandi of the American Kennel Club knows that those papers are so meaningless you might as well line a puppy pen with them. The AKC has issued papers for puppies who were never born, dead dogs and even cats, all as "purebreds"! The fact, however is that dogs need love and attention, exercise, praise, a soft spot to stretch out in — preferably next to "their" human — and respect for their individuality...

Dog shows are for human beings' amusement and profit. They are not made for dogs' benefit or enjoyment and they promote breeding and vanity purchases (a dog to match my look, my lifestyle, a trophy dog, an arm candy toy, and so on), while 6-8 million unwanted animals, many dogs, get dropped off at shelters every year, literally dying for a home. It's simple math — too many animals, not enough homes — and we should not be adding to the problem. The key to end this crisis is prevention through animal birth control and in treating dogs as individuals with emotions, not as if they were something they are not...

Dog shows like Westminster, says Nachminovitch, exist to glorify humans rather than dogs (who, she says, seemed "undeniably miserable and uncomfortable with the pre-show grooming ordeal and the totally unnatural stillness required of them to be combed, brushed plucked and mucked about" when PETA went undercover at the show last year).  See a video made by PETA documenting Westminster pre-show grooming rituals after the jump.

We spoke further with Nachminovitch about allegations like Harrison's that PETA "admits its ultimate aim is to rid the world of what it calls the 'domestic enslavement' of dogs as either pets or working dogs" -- look for the remainder of our interview tomorrow on Unleashed.

Do you agree with PETA that dog shows like Westminster, rather than benefiting dogs, "are for human beings' amusement and profit"? 

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo:  A Chinese Crested competes in 2008's Westminster show. Credit: Virginia Sherwood/USA Network.

Video: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

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