Following the unexpected protest from the Vegan Strike Group at Crufts 2018, campaigning against ‘Canine Eugenics’, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have supported the protestations, claiming that Crufts promotes the suffering of dogs bred by humans to have “grossly exaggerated features”.
In 2016’s show, The Kennel Club fielded hundreds of complaints after the show’s officials admitted to cutting television footage of a prize-winning German shepherd with walking difficulties. Despite winning a ‘best in breed’ category, its deformities were laid bare on screen, ramping up the negativity towards Crufts as a whole.
The RSPA even stepped in to insist the Crufts judging system must be reformed to prevent dogs to be bred with life-threatening issues. Fortunately, 2017 saw the implementation of a string of new health standards, ensuring that only dogs that can “stand freely and unsupported in any way” can be considered for selection.
There are a few other developments that Crufts’ show organisers should adopt for 2019 to improve the event’s integrity and transparency:
Outlaw the use of electric shock collars
The Kennel Club has campaigned for some time about a ban on “cruel” devices used by some trainers to improve canine obedience. New government proposals have been unveiled to ban the use of electric shock collars which deliver a shock or emit uncomfortable noises and smells that are harmful to a dog.
These collars are already outlawed in Wales and Scotland and the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove is committed to banning these “punitive devices”. If the UK government can get the law passed through the House of Commons in time, we’d hope that Crufts 2019 would see the show take a tough stance and prohibit any trainer or breeder using such devices for the event, in preference of legitimate dog collars.
Circulate the new Breed Watch Illustrated Guide to all show judges
The Kennel Club has created a new Breed Watch Illustrated Guide, designed to provide healthy examples of award-winning dogs to influence the actions of breeders and buyers. The publication has been welcomed by animal welfare campaigners as a means of identifying physical features that could lead to long-term health and welfare issues among various breeds of show dogs.
Not only will the guide empower show vets to ensure all entrants conform to physical standards, it can also ensure show judges make the right decisions, providing the guide is circulated to all judges.
Clamp down on unscrupulous breeders
While there are thousands of genuine breeders and trainers that play by the rules, there remains a dark side to puppy breeding in the UK. There are still disgusting examples of ‘puppy farmers’ throwing dogs away into the street after reproducing multiple litters. Fortunately, organisations such as the RSPCA are doing their bit to protect ‘fashionable’ breeds, but it’s important that Crufts stands shoulder to shoulder on this issue to prevent an animal welfare crisis. Any breeder caught ditching so-called ‘breeding machines’ unlawfully should be struck-off and banned from ever presenting at Crufts again.
Dogs are not disposable objects. They offer unwavering love and companionship that you simply cannot put a price on!