Now that the Miss America pageant has scrapped its swimsuit segment—where contestants were objectified and judged on their physical appearance—PETA has fired off a letter calling on the Westminster Kennel Club to end the “beauty” regimes it subjects dogs to in its annual dog show.
In these contests, dogs are judged on aesthetic standards, such as slanted hindquarters, flattened faces, bug eyes, and other characteristics that come at the expense of dogs’ health.
PETA’s letter to Westminster Kennel Club President Charlton Reynders III follows:
Dear Mr. Reynders,
In light of the welcome news that the Miss America pageant has scrapped its swimsuit and evening gown competitions, we urge the Westminster Kennel Club (WKC) to drop the “beauty” aspect of the Westminster Dog Show.
Beauty may be subjective, but Westminster is an ugly business. Every year, thousands of dogs are paraded around, required to hold their heads and trot just so, and made to stand in the “correct” position so that judges can scrutinize every inch of their bodies—from their purposely inbred squashed-in noses, bug eyes, and dropped hips and their surgically sculpted ears to their amputated tails. Their heads are often held in a table noose for hours so that they can be preened: Curlers are put in their fur, powder is applied to make their fur whiter, and even eyeliner is put on them to make their eyes look bigger. They are also made to wear booties that keep their feet clean at the expense of the movement of their toes. Instead of celebrating these complex, intelligent animals for who they are, the show currently devalues them by imposing artificial “beauty” regimes on them, placing the emphasis on some perverse human notions of canine beauty.
We hope to hear that the WKC will follow the Miss America pageant’s lead and judge dogs by their talents, abilities, and personalities, rather than by their looks. Dogs are wonderful as they are and deserve better than this outdated beauty pageant.
Very truly yours,
Ingrid E. Newkirk
Stop treating dogs like moldable toys.
These cruel dog shows encourage people to breed dogs with physical features that can cause chronic pain and shorten their lives. Dogs used in these shows frequently spend most of their lives in crates, they’re often forced to have their fur in curlers and to wear booties that restrict the movement of their toes, the powder used to whiten their coats often bothers their sensitive noses, and they’re otherwise manipulated for human amusement and prizes.
What You Can Do
Dog shows like Westminster treat “competing” dogs as if they are dolls, with little to no concern for their nature, intelligence, talents, and natural looks. Please, don’t watch the Westminster Dog Show, write to its sponsors, and never buy a dog from a breeder or pet shop. Instead, always adopt! Every time someone buys an animal from a breeder or pet store, they’re responsible for the death of a loving animal in a shelter who needed a home.
When you wear our “Adopt Don’t Buy” shirt, you can show the world why we should always adopt—and never buy—animals.