Attendees of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show love to watch people in sensible shoes lead dogs with ridiculous (and sometimes painful) hairdos in endless circles around the show ring. What they don’t love is to be reminded that the Westminster dog show contributes to the massive homeless-animal crisis by glamorizing purebred dogs. But that’s just what happened a few years ago when PETA supporters disrupted Westminster to tell the audience that breeding dogs is killing dogs. (Pro tip: It gets good at the 1:10 mark.)
Westminster and other dog shows promote the breeding and purchase of purebred dogs, which in turn, leads people to buy similar dogs and then abandon them in droves once the novelty wears off. In addition, as breeders crank out more and more puppies, dogs awaiting adoption at animal shelters are passed over in favor of dogs with fancy-sounding (but meaningless) pedigrees. In a nutshell, breeders contribute to the companion-animal overpopulation crisis twice: They take homes away from shelter dogs when people purchase their purebred puppies instead, and then they add to the shelter population when those puppies are cast off months later.
Breeding for appearance also wreaks havoc on animals’ health. Inbreeding causes painful and life-threatening genetic defects in purebred dogs and cats, including crippling hip dysplasia, blindness, deafness, heart defects, skin problems, and epilepsy. As PETA has pointed out, the American Kennel Club’s obsession with a “master pedigree” and “pure bloodlines” is eerily similar to another group’s way of thinking: the KKK.
What You Can Do
If you and your family are ready to offer a permanent, loving home to a dog or another companion animal, always adopt from an animal shelter, rather than buying from a pet store or breeder, and always spay and neuter.