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PETA to USA Network: don't air Westminster!

January 5, 2009 |  6:21 pm

Uno the Beagle, 2008's Westminster dog show winner We told you last month about the BBC's announcement that it won't air the Crufts Dog Show (the UK's answer to Westminster), citing concerns raised by a BBC documentary, "Pedigree Dogs Exposed," over the health of dogs bred for the show ring.  The BBC reported:

The programme...says dogs suffering from genetic illness are not prevented from competing in dog shows and have gone on to win "best in breed," despite their poor health.

It says physical traits required by the Kennel Club's breed standards, such as short faces, wrinkling, screw-tails and dwarfism, have inherent health problems.

Other problems occur because of exaggerations bred into dogs by breeders trying to win rosettes, it adds.

Now PETA is asking the USA Network, which airs the Westminster show every February, to follow suit.  In a letter to USA's president Bonnie Hammer, PETA founder and president Ingrid Newkirk writes, "Since dog breeders routinely use incestuous inbreeding and genetic manipulation...it's not surprising that as many as one in four purebred dogs is plagued with a serious genetic problem." 

Beagles like last year's Westminster winner, Uno, are susceptible to a wide variety of genetic health problems like hypothyroidism, epilepsy and demodectic mange, according to PETA.

"Countless dogs suffer painful cosmetic surgeries and millions of wonderful dogs die in animal shelters because of the AKC's inhumane policies...USA Network can take a stand against the cruel treatment of animals simply by denying air time to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show," said PETA Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch.  And PETA blogger Amy Elizabeth chimes in:

So USA, how about being a good network? Sit. Listen. Roll over. And fetch a few reruns of Law and Order to replace that dastardly dog show…

What do you think -- is PETA right on or out of line?  Will you be watching Westminster this year?  Let us know in the comments.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Uno, a 15-inch beagle, won Best in Show at the 132nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show last year.  Seth Wenig/Associated Press.

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