Why Were PETA Protesters Arrested at the Westminster Dog Show?

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3 min read

While protesting the “Best in Show” presentation, three PETA supporters—including one who was carrying a sign urging everyone to “boycott breeders”—were arrested.

peta protestor at 2024 westminster dog show arrested holding "boycott breeders" sign

The 2024 ‘Best in Show’ Winner May Suffer From a Lifetime of Health Issues

No dog truly wins a dog show—the only prize that “Best in Show” dogs like 2024 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show winner Sage, a 3-year-old miniature poodle, really get is a lifetime of exploitation.

Miniature poodles like Sage are bred to look a certain way, which can result in a number of painful and debilitating health issues, including heart problems, lameness, hypothyroidism, eye disease, and knee and joint abnormalities. Poodles also require regular grooming for the duration of their lives, as they’re bred to have dense, curly hair that can become heavily matted. This condition is painful and dangerous for dogs, and in some cases, even a trip to the groomer can turn fatal. Breeding dogs to endure a lifetime of suffering is nothing to celebrate.

PETA’s Dachshund Demo Highlights What’s Wrong With the Westminster Dog Show

During the Westminster dog show, PETA supporters stretched a “dachshund” on a rack. Why? To illustrate how dogs are treated as accessories during the event and to urge the American Kennel Club to stop showing and promoting dachshunds; breathing-impaired breeds (BIB) such as “Frenchies,” pugs, and bulldogs; and all other “torture-bred” dogs intentionally bred to have extreme features that are almost certain to cause suffering.

peta protestors stretch "dachshund" across a prop torture rack in front of westminster dog show

The Westminster dog show encourages breeders to churn out litter after litter of “purebred” puppies, who must meet standards set by the American Kennel Club, a “purebred”-dog registry, in order to compete for “Best in Show.” These standards lead to congenital and often dangerous and painful conditions for all “purebred” dogs and require that bulldogs, pugs, and other BIBs have extremely flattened faces and distorted airways that cause terrible suffering, lifelong discomfort, and even life-threatening, chronic health issues.

Even “All-American canine” Nimble, the first mixed-breed dog to win the Westminster agility competition, was bred from two dog breeds renowned for their agility. Meanwhile, there are over 70 million homeless animals in the U.S. on any given day who lose a chance at adoption when animals are bred and sold.

Skip the Westminster Dog Show and Help Homeless Animals Instead

In light of all the suffering caused by breeding dogs, why do breeders keep doing it? Because people keep buying them—and because events like the Westminster dog show entice them to produce litter after litter in the hope of having a prizewinning dog they can then profit from by breeding them and selling their puppies.

The solution is simple: Stop breeding and buying dogs. The breeding industry is big business, and as long as there’s money to be made by selling, showing, and breeding dogs, greedy breeders will continue to produce more—regardless of how much suffering they cause in the process. Following the show every year, breeders see a rush of people who want a carbon copy of the winning dog—and then animal shelters see a rush of people who abandon them when they turn out to be too much work or don’t seem to act like the dog on TV.

If you have the time, money, patience, and love to care for an animal for life (which could be for more than 15 years), please adopt one from an animal shelter. If you already have a BIB dog, please commit to making their life as fulfilling, healthy, and comfortable as you can—but pledge never to buy another one.

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