Now we all know that a darling Pekingese named Malachy toddled away with this year’s Westminster Best in Show. Very nice for that dog and guardian, not to mention the handler. What is not so nice is the fact that Westminster supposedly felt they had to dump long-time sponsor Pedigree because the Westminster leadership felt the sad eyes of the shelter dogs turned off their purebred viewers.  I can only assume that the Westminster leadership has become completely disconnected from the bulk of dog companions, many of whom have both purebreds (whether bought from a breeder or adopted from a shelter or other rescue) or they leadership wants to avoid feeling any guilt for not making more efforts to prevent the millions of unnecessary dog deaths in shelters every year.

Either way, Westminster, you need to rethink your haughty attitude toward rescue dogs. Working with a breed rescue I can tell you that some of your precious show dogs can become shelter dogs. Every day dogs go from riches to rags whether its because their humans die or have to relinquish custody due to health or finances. Other dogs get unceremoniously dumped in shelters for a variety of reasons. Dogs get stolen and dumped, never to be found as they are executed for the crime of being homeless and unclaimed.

Just because a dog is a purebred does not give them some sort of immunity. ALL dogs are at risk as long as we have a society with too many dogs for too few homes. Your champion Pekingese gets lost or stolen and dumped, he becomes just one more dog in the canine firing squad of shelters.

And if you think I only speak up for shelter and rescue dogs because I love them and maybe am a bit anti-purebred, think again. I come from a family that bred arguably the most famous Weimaraner in recent history. We no longer breed dogs but I love a gorgeous purebred as much as anyone. I also love mixed breeds in all their glory. In short, I love all dogs — and so do most dog people. We are NOT eithor/or about dogs.I have two Weimaraners, a Beagle and a Coonhound/Lab mix. I love them all and find that mixing dogs of different backgrounds and histories makes for a richer life together, just as having a life filled with good people of all backgrounds makes for a better life in general.

Its not a “turn-off” for most of us to see shelter dogs pleading to be adopted. We know there are homeless and unloved dogs. We also know we should do more to help them.  Yes, we do cry at some of the best shelter-based ads, but I was crying last night watching the beautiful, profound Purina ads running during the Westminster show. (BTW, whoever put together those ads for Purina and Subaru deserves some serious applause. I’m ready to go buy both brands!) The point is that shelter life is a fact of life and Pedigree has always done a magnificent job of reminding us that there is something we can all do while uplifting the dogs in need.

Thanks to Pet News and Views,  OhMiDog and Marketplace .org for some excellent discussion on this topic.

So Westminster decision-makers, I can only suspect that your decision to cut Pedigree from the advertisers has more to do with your own trepidation in facing the shelter dogs and their needs than any real marketing threat from upset viewers. Instead of trying to separate  dog lovers into purebred and mutts, how about recognizing that what is good for one dog is good for all dogs. When one dog is protected from homelessness and early death then all dogs are a little bit safer. And the day when shelters are empty of homeless dogs, only holding those dogs waiting for their humans to reclaim them, and Pedigree no longer has any dogs to feature during Westminster will be a marvelous day for purebreds and mixed breeds alike.

    4 Responses to “Westminster: It’s Not Either/Or With Purebreds and Mixed Breeds”

    1. Walt Boyes says:

      What you said, and said eloquently!

    2. Jill Sicheneder says:

      Amen, to what Walt wrote and to the fine job you did with this subject, Joy. I couldn’t believe it when I heard that Pedigree was dumped as the sponsor because of the shelter ads. I don’t have a very good opinion of the AKC to begin with (that is my problem, I know), but this just enforces my view of them as not caring about any other dogs except purebreds.

    3. Trish says:

      Ditto, Jill. I was so impressed with them when they partnered with Pedigree to give rescue dogs added exposure, and now I am terribly disappointed.

    4. Anna says:

      Agree completely! And I would add Kudos to Pedigree for being early and whole-hearted in their support of adoption. They are running an adoption drive on Facebook currently. Westminster, you’ve just earned yourself a big black eye. I wouldn’t be too surprised if some advertisers abandoned YOU in the future for your regressive thinking.

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