As a whippet named Tease was being crowned best in show at Crufts, protesters disrupted the prestigious UK dog show by running onto the field and unfurling a banner that read “Crufts: Canine Eugenics.”
The owner of Tease grabbed her dog, Crufts officials quickly secured the trophy even more protectively, and it was all over in less than a minute, after the two protesters were promptly tackled by security officers and whisked away, along with their banner.
The protest broke out just as Yvette Short of Edinburgh lifted her dog onto the podium as the event’s live feed broadcast across the globe.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) took responsibility for the incident.
“Crufts glorifies pedigree fetishists’ twisted pursuit of the ‘perfect’ dog,” Elisa Allen, PETA’s UK’s director, told the Independent on Sunday. “There’s nothing natural about breeding dogs with extreme and debilitating physical traits, and PETA urges everyone to stay away from this cruel beauty pageant.”
Many animal welfare groups take issue with the over-breeding of pedigree dogs to meet arbitrary physical standards and at the expense of health problems and physical ailments, but none with quite the zeal of PETA.
In 2008, the BBC stopped broadcasting Crufts after 40 years following public outcry over health concerns that were raised by a BBC One investigation called “Pedigree Dogs Exposed.”
The documentary focused on chronic health concerns that have resulted from breeders trying to attain physical standards The Kennel Club and breeders promulgate.
The Kennel Club, the organization behind Crufts, called the documentary “biased and selective,” but went on to revise some of the least healthy breeding standards it calls for.
Still, “canine eugenics” remains a pretty apt description of what dog shows are all about.
After Sunday’s demonstration, a Crufts spokesman said the protesters “scared the dogs and put the safety of both dogs and people at risk in a hugely irresponsible way.”
We’d suggest that the security response to the protesters looked far scarier than anything those two were doing, and that the Kennel Club, over its long history, has behaved more irresponsibly than a couple of PETA protesters ever could.