And, groundless as the accusations are, the New York Times saw fit to print them.
Cruz, a three-year-old Samoyed, died just a few days after competing at Westminster.
The New York Times calls it, “A whodunit that has rattled the show world and ignited tensions between animal activists and purebred-champion breeders.”
Why point the finger at animal rights rowdies for the death of Cruz?
Robert Chaffin, Cruz’s handler, says simply that they are the most likely suspects.
“Unfortunately, dog shows have been plagued by some of these people for years,” he said. “I’ve heard horror stories about other people’s dogs having their setups tampered with, being poisoned, but I never thought it would come to me.”
While animal rights groups have long protested dog shows, tampering with and poisoning canine contestants — a rare occurence — has traditionally more often been perpetrated by the human competitors, either out of jealousy or to better their chances to win.
Based on known facts so far, Cruz’s humans seem to be making a pretty big leap.
Chaffin accompanied Cruz to New York for the Westminster competition and says he paid close attention to everything the dog ate, including a steak he fed him the night before. Despite his monitoring, he said, “It would have been easy for someone to throw something in his cage.”
On top of that, Chaffin said he remembered a stranger at the Westminster show glaring at him and making a disapproving remark about Cruz having been debarked, a process in which a dog’s vocal cords are removed.
Chaffin admitted there was no evidence that Cruz had been deliberately poisoned, and no confirmation that poisoning was even the cause of death.
No necropsy was performed.
Lynette Blue, one of Cruz’s owners said she declined a necropsy because she was confident that he swallowed poison. Blue says she called New York City police after Cruz died to report possible foul play.
Cruz, 3, died on Feb. 16 in Lakewood, Colo., where he was competing in another show. He began vomiting blood, and Chaffin took him to Animal Critical Care and Emergency Services in Lakewood, where he was hooked up to an intravenous drip and received oxygen, but died shortly thereafter.
“We have been devastated and in shock,” Blue said. “This is one of the most painful experiences of my life.”
Molly Comiskey, the Colorado veterinarian who treated Cruz, said his symptoms resembled those of a poisoned dog, but that his cause of death remains unclear. She saw no reason to believe he’d been intentionally poisoned.
“Dogs are dogs. It’s not anyone’s fault. They eat stuff; they get into things; they make bad decisions,” she said.
The Times article points out the possibility that Cruz may have had an undiagnosed genetic disorder, but quotes Blue as saying he had no history of such. The lack of answers, it seems, is leading to some pretty wild speculation.
“We keep thinking of the various scenarios, and it’s starting to feel like something we may never know,” Blue said.
Given his owners passed on a chance to help solve what they see as a whodunit — namely, having a necrospy performed — that might very well be the case.
(Photo: Lynette Blue)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 28th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: activists, animal rights, animals, blamed, colorado, cruz, death, died, dog, dog shows, dogs, evidence, handler, lakewood, mouse poison, owners, pets, poison, poisoned, purebred, rat poison, robert chaffin, samoyed, suspected, westminster, westminster kennel club dog show, whodunit
For the 21st year in a row, the Labrador retriever is America’s most popular purebred dog — at least in terms of American Kennel Club registrations.
German shepherds repeated as second most popular, while the beagle climbed into the number three position, according to the annual list of the most popular among the 173 breeds the AKC recognizes.
Yorkies and shih tzus both dropped a notch or two, while Rottweilers made the top 10 for the first time this century. Those breeds rising quickest on the AKC list since 2000 included French bulldogs and Havanese.
“While the Labrador retriever has been proven once again to be a family favorite, this year clearly belongs to the beagle,” AKC spokeswoman Lisa Peterson said in a press release. “The beagle’s merry personality combined with his love of outdoor activities makes him such a wonderful family pet that I wouldn’t be surprised to see this spunky breed sniff his way to the top list next year.”
In Baltimore, the Labrador Retriever topped the list of AKC registered dogs, as they did last year, followed by German shepherds, boxers, golden retrievers, bulldogs, Yorkshire terriers, poodles, Rottweilers, pugs and Siberian huskies.
Nationally, the AKC’s most popular breeds were:
1. Labrador retriever
2. German shepherd
4. Golden retriever
5. Yorkshire terrier
You can find the full list, see which breeds have risen and fallen over time and get more information here.
(Photo by John Woestendiek)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 1st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: akc, american kennel club, animals, baltimore, beagle, boxer, breeds, dogs, french bulldog, german shepherd, havanese, labrador, labrador retriever, labs, list, most popular breeds, pets, popularity, purebred, purebreds, registrations, rottweiler
The RSPCA and The Dogs’ Trust withdrew their support of Crufts. The BBC refused to broadcast the competition. And Pedigree, the pet food company, canceled its sponsorship of the event after more than 40 years.
(Pedigree — coincidentally? — was excused this year as a sponsor of the Westminster Dog Show, also after 40 years.)
After the documentary aired in the UK, the Kennel Club began taking some steps to revise the physical standards, used in judging, that many argued were leading to issues like cancer, epilepsy and breathing problems in certain breeds.
But how much did things actually change? Three years later — during which time, public indignation never seemed to fully drift onto U.S. shores — the answer seems to be not substantially and not quickly enough
That’s one conclusion of ”Pedigree Dogs Exposed: Three Years On,” which airs on BBC tonight, and is likely to trigger a new firestorm — and just in times for Crufts, the prestigious purebred dog show that runs from March 8 through March 11.
The new documentary was making news even before it aired.
In one interview in the program, Gerhard Oechtering, a veterinary professor at Germany’s Leipzig University, called for pugs and bulldogs to be banned, saying it’s unethical to keep producing members of a breed that can’t breathe properly. Dr. Oechtering called for flat-nosed breeds to be mated with long-nosed ones so that new generations do not suffer from blocked airways, reported the Daily Mail.
Another expert, in a call bound to distress many purebred breeders, goes so far as to urge the public to turn to mutts. “The best solution overall would be to popularize mixed breed dogs as pets because they are much less likely to be afflicted with the genetic diseases that are associated with pedigree dog breeding,” Cambridge University’s Nick Jeffery is quoted as saying in the Telegraph.
Jemima Harrison, producer of both the original and the sequel, said in an interview with the Sunday Express that there have been many positive changes in the three years that have passed.
In the aftermath of the documentary, bans were imposed on mating mothers with sons; fathers with daughters and brothers with sisters. The Kennel Club reviewed breed standards for over 200 breeds and made changes to 78.
The Kennel Club now permits Dalmatian cross breeding in order to normalize the breed’s uric acid genes. Currently, high levels caused by inbreeding can cause stones that make some dogs unable to urinate, leading to bursting bladders.
Still, in the eyes of Harrison, some of the changes in standards have been only minor, like changing the preference for a pug’s muzzle from “short” to “relatively short.”
“The Kennel Club is just tweaking; it is fiddling while Rome burns. We have still the problem of dogs being bred within very small gene pools. You can still mate a grandfather and a granddaughter… They are still being bred to win in the show-ring and the show-ring still has no health criteria. It’s the prettiest dogs that win and it’s at considerable cost to the dogs.”
Harrison is particularly pessimistic about the fate of the bulldog, whose breeders, she says, are “adamant that there’s no need for change”– even though the breed’s shape has become such that mating often requires “mating cradles” or human manipulation, and 80 percent give birth by caesarean section.
“Pedigree dogs are heritage breeds and something to be proud of, but too often their health and welfare are compromised. Fundamental reform is needed before we can be proud of the pedigree dogs we produce in this country,” she said.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 27th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bbc, breeds, bulldogs, crufts, dalmatians, documentary, dog show, dog shows, dogs, dogs trust, genetic, health, jemima harrison, pedigree, pedigree dogs exposed, pets, problems, pugs, purebred, rspca, standards, three years on, westminster
Wonder why you’re not seeing any ads for Pedigree dog food during the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show?
Apparently, mutts like Roscoe (above) — especially homeless ones — aren’t viewed by the club as sending the right message, so they’ve cut their ties to long-time sponsor (as in 24 years) Pedigree dog foods.
Apparently, some of Pedigree’s ads — the ones promoting dog adoption, the ones featuring sad-eyed mixed breeds as opposed to well-coiffed, prancing purebreds – were just too hard-hitting and depressing for the kennel club’s tastes.
“We want people to think of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show as a celebration of the dogs in our lives,” David Frei, the club’s director of communications and the host of the show for over two decades, told the Associated Press.
“Our show is a celebration of dogs. We’re not promoting purebreds at the expense of non-purebreds. We celebrate all dogs. When we’re seeing puppies behind bars, it takes away from that. Not just because it’s sad, but it’s not our message … Show me an ad with a dog with a smile; don’t try to shame me.”
Pedigree’s ads, club honchos agreed, were getting too heavy-handed.
Frei said the kennel club had expressed those concerns to Pedigree: “We told them that, and they ignored us.”
Taking a look at the newest series of ads that are part of Pedigree’s continuing efforts to encourage dog adoptions — you can see them here — I don’t see much sadness. They seem more an expression of pride. They come right out and say don’t feel sorry for me. They seem to say the shelter mutt is just as valuable, and will make just as good a pet (and we’d argue maybe even better) than a purebred.
Maybe that’s the kennel club’s problem. Maybe they want television coverage of Westminster — the big show began yesterday at Madison Square Garden — to keep the focus strictly on purebreds, which are, for it, the money makers.
Granted, some of Pedigree’s earlier adoption-oriented ads were pretty bleak in tone; and everybody (attention ASPCA and Humane Society) is getting tired of those ads that, while cool for the first two viewings, continue to tug so blatantly and repeatedly at our heartstrings we now switch the channels instantly when they come on.
Granted, too, the Westminster Dog Show is free to choose any advertisers it wants, and the American Kennel Club does fund research and offer programs that benefit all dogs, purebred or not. And, to keep things in context, it’s not necessarily dissing mutts with this particular action; it’s dissing downer, guilt-inducing adoption ads.
But it all comes across a little like snobbery; a little like denial, when it comes to the millions of dogs euthanized each year; a little like let’s stay here in our private fantasy world — not open to the unwashed masses, or those who might be of mixed breeds, even though every purebred, except the wolf, is in fact a result of mixing.
Pedigree has been replaced with Nestlé Purina PetCare, whose ads of peppy, happy dogs are more to the kennel club’s liking. The new partnership was announced last spring.
“They’ve shared with us, when we parted ways, that they felt that our advertising was focused too much on the cause of adoption and that wasn’t really a shared vision,” said Melissa Martellotti, a brand communications manager for Mars Petcare US, which makes the Pedigree brands. The kennel club, she said, is “focused on the purebred mission.”
Martellotti said the partnership had been a boon to Pedigree’s adoption initiatives. In 2007, $500,000 in pledges were received after its ads were broadcast over the show’s two days.
Nearly 3.5 million people watched last year’s show, broadcast on the USA Network and CNBC.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 14th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption, ads, advertising, animals, campaign, celebrate, company, david frei, dog food, dog show, dogs, dogs in advertising, dropped, euthanized, kennel club, message, mutts, pedigree, pets, purebred, sad, shelters, sponsor, westminster, woof in advertising
That’s the slogan of a new RSPCA campaign aimed at shifting the emphasis when it comes to breeding purebred dogs — from looks to health.
The campaign launched yesterday, with this ad — featuring a pug as the poster child — in the Daily Mail.
It’s directed mostly at breeders, who the RSCPA asserts often seek to meet dog show breed standards that place appearance above canine health.
But it’s also meant to change the thinking of consumers, who help create the demand and often aren’t aware of the genetic health problems many purebreds face.
“Everyone needs to be aware of the serious health and welfare problems affecting pedigree dogs and that dogs bred for looks are born to suffer,” RSPCA senior scientist Claire Calder said.
“A cute-looking puppy or dog can be hard to resist, but the result of not looking beyond this can be thousands of pounds spent on vets’ bills and a pet with long-lasting health and welfare problems. This is one of the biggest challenges facing dog welfare in the UK today.”
As we’ve written before — here and elsewhere — it’s one of the biggest challenges in the U.S., too, even though it rarely seems to rise to the forefront.
One major exception came last month, with an in-depth article in the New York Times magazine about the plight of the purebred bulldog.
But, by and large, the UK is leading the debate, which, while long-lurking in the shadows, was retriggered by Jemima Harrison’s documentary for the BBC, “Pedigree Dogs Exposed.”
Between its impact, and the efforts of the RSPCA, there have been some changes, mostly in kennel club’s breed standards that seemed to place appearance above health.
The RSPCA website elaborates on some of the problems those standards have led to:
“According to scientific studies some of the UK’s favourite breeds of dogs have been bred to such extremes that they can no longer breathe or walk normally. For example, dogs with short, flat faces often have narrow nostrils and abnormally developed windpipes. They can often suffer severe breathing difficulties and may have difficulty enjoying a walk or playing.
Dogs with folded or wrinkled skin are prone to itchy and painful skin complaints, and dogs with bulging or sunken eyes are prone to injury, pain or discomfort. These are only a few examples and a recent study showed that all of the 50 most popular breeds have some aspect of their body which can cause suffering
Recent research by the RSPCA shows the public is prone to thinking buying a purebred dog ensures that dog will be healthy. But dogs “bred for their looks,” the RSPCA says, ”are vulnerable to unnecessary disease, disability, pain or behavioural problems.”
Among those quoted in an RSPCA press release is Victoria Stilwell, dog trainer from the TV show “It’s Me Or The Dog.”
“I have nothing against dog showing and nothing against responsible breeders, she said. “But what I do have something against is breeding animals just for the way we want them to look, even though that animal is compromised both physically and, a lot of the time, mentally. So we have to change. Why are we destroying these animals just because we like the way they look?”
Unlike in the U.S., where interest seems to rise and fizzle, the issue isn’t likely to go away anytime soon in the UK.
Harrison is now working on a sequel to “Pedigree Dogs Exposed,” which promises to be just as hard hitting, or maybe harder hitting, than the first. You can keep up with those developments on her Pedigree Dogs Exposed blog.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 19th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, appearance, awareness, breathing, breed standards, breeders, breeds, bulldog, campaign, dog shows, dogs, genetic, health, health problems, jemima harrison, pedigree, pedigree dogs exposed, pets, public, pug, purebred, purebreds, rspca, trainer, uk, victoria stilwell
A company whose candy you’ll probably be handing out next week announced the introduction today of a genetic diversity test, aimed at allowing dog breeders to lessen the chances of bringing unhealthy pups into the world.
“Optimal Selection,” despite its somewhat eugenic-sounding name, is a first-of-its-kind tool that actually seeks to broaden the gene pool of various breeds, and thereby avoid the kind of purebred health problems that have become too common as a result of inbreeding closely related dogs.
With the new test from Mars Veterinary, a division of Mars Inc., breeders will be able to select the physical and behavioral traits that are important to them, then, through a DNA test on the blood of potential mates, compare chromosomal similarities and differences.
Based on those results, Mars said in a press release, “the breeder is given the opportunity to diversify the genetic makeup of their puppies and reduce the risk of recessive medical conditions.”
A story (written by me) on those risks and problems, and how, as an issue, they’ve never seemed to reach a tipping point in the American public consciousness, appears in the current issue of The Bark.
Pet products and tests are not new ground for Mars. In addition to pet foods (Pedigree, Whiskas, Sheba, Cesar and Royal Canin), Mars Veterinary was one of the pioneers in doggie DNA testing, coming out with a test to determine what breeds are in a dog, and later with tests to verify the heritage of purebreds and designer dogs.
For mutts, Mars Veterinary offers both a swab-based mixed breed test, called Wisdom Panel Insights, and a blood based test, Wisdom Panel Professional. The company says those tests can help predict a dog’s future health problems, based upon the breeds that are in him.
With the Optimal Selection test, though, Mars seems to have stepped beyond appeasing dog owner curiosity to actually addressing the kind of health problems that inbreeding has led to — from bulldogs with heads too big to be born naturally to spaniels whose brains outgrow their skulls.
“For centuries, dedicated breeders have worked to improve the temperament, conformation, and health of their purebred dogs,” their press release says. “However, this can cause a decrease in genetic diversity leaving the breeding community to contend with concerns such as smaller litter size, puppy mortality, and other health issues, in addition to a negative consumer perception around breeding practices.”
The analysis provided by Optimal Selection ($95) uses a scoring system based on the compatibility of the chromosomes of potential mates.
“We have leveraged our extensive knowledge of the genetic structures across breeds to closely examine the DNA of dogs within each breed and help owners take their breeding programs to the next level,” said Dr. Angela Hughes, Veterinary Genetics Research Manager at Mars Veterinary.
“Optimal Selection has the potential to transform dog breeding so that the genetic diversity within a breed or family line can be protected and maximized,” she added.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 24th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, breeders, canine, chromosomes, designer dogs, diseases, diversity, dna, dogs, genetic, health, health problems, hybrids, inbreeding, linebreeding, mars, mars veterinary, mates, mating, maximize, mixed breeds, mutts, optimal selection, pets, practices, product, purebred, test, wisdom panel
Bulldogs, pugs, and other short-of-snout breeds accounted for about half of the purebred dog deaths on airplanes in the past five years, the data shows.
Overall, 122 dog deaths — 108 of them purebreds — were reported between May 2005, when U.S. airlines were required to start disclosing them, and May 2010, the Transportation Department says.
All the dogs died while being shipped as cargo, as opposed to flying in the cabin.
English bulldogs accounted for the highest number, with 25 deaths. Second highest were pugs, 11 of which died. Seven golden retrievers, six French bulldogs and four American Staffordshire terriers died while flying as cargo in that period. And boxers, cockapoos, Pekingese and Pomeranians accounted for two deaths each.
You can see the full list here.
The Department of Transportation says dog owners should consult with veterinarians before putting their dogs on planes. It believes that the deaths represent a tiny percentage of the pets shipped on airlines.
Short-nose breeds — known as “brachycephalic” — in addition to being less tolerant of heat, have a skull formation that affects their airways, Dan Bandy, chairman of the Bulldog Club of America’s health committee, told the Associated Press.
“The way all dogs cool themselves is basically through respiration, either just panting or the action of breathing in or out, is a method of heat exchange for them,” Bandy said. “A dog that has a long snout or a long muzzle has more surface area within its nasal cavity for that heat exchange to take place. So breeds like labradors or collies or those types of dogs with the long muzzles have a more efficient cooling system.”
Bandy said that in addition to trying to cool themselves, dogs may also pant excessively in the cargo hold because of stress or excitement. But he believes dogs shouldn’t be given tranquilizers before flying because that makes them less able to manage their own cooling process. In addition, airlines generally do not want pets tranquilized, he added.
In all, 144 pet deaths were reported by airlines over the past five years, along with 55 injuries and 33 lost pets.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 18th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: air, air travel, airline, animals, boxers, bulldogs, cargo, deaths, dog, dogs, federal, flight, flights, flying, government, health, length, news, nose, pekingese, pets, pugs, purebred, risk, safety, short, snout, transportation, travel
Here’s the lowdown on America’s new top dog, courtesy of the American Kennel Club.
Breed: Scottish Terrier
AKC Name: CH Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot. (Sadie’s father and his littermates were all named for cars.)
Age: 4 years
Residence: Rialto, California
Biggest Wins: “National Champion” at the 2009 AKC/Eukanuba National Championship; Best in Show at both the 2009 Montgomery County Kennel Club and Philadelphia Kennel Club Dog Shows; won the Terrier Group at the 2009 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Seventy-nine Best in Show wins in 2009.
Favorite Pastime: When she’s not at home playing in the backyard or snuggling on the couch with her handler, Gabriel Rangel, Sadie loves being at dog shows. She loves the attention, the roar of the crowd and the treats she gets in the ring, the AKC says. When judges look at her, she looks back and makes it clear that she expects to be admired.
Favorite Treat: Sadie loves hot dogs made from organic chicken.
Exercise regimen: A long walk in deep grass in the morning and afternoon workouts on her treadmill
Beauty Regimen: Daily brushing, with a hair trim early in the week; on the morning of a show, she is bathed and blown dry.
Pedigree: Sadie is descended from the 1967 Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show winner Ch. Bardene Bingo. Bingo’s handler, Bob Bartos admires Sadie so much that he lets Sadie use Bingo’s show lead.
Fetishes: Sadie has a penchant for footwear. If a closet door is left open, Sadie helps herself to the lining of Rangel’s shoes.
Best friend: A Chihuahua named Tad.
Sleeping habits: In bed with her human family.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 18th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: akc, american kennel club, animals, beauty, best in show, california, dog show, dogs, exercise, family, fetish, grooming, habits, mercedes of maryscot, owner, pets, purebred, rialto, sadie, scottie, scottish terrier, shoes, statistics, trainer, treats, vital, westminster, westminster dog show
The primp is on.
The 134th Westminster Dog Show got underway yesterday at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Here’s some video of dogs getting prepped for the big show. For a nice series of behind the scenes photos, check out the Los Angeles Times “Unleashed” blog.
Tonight, the show will be televised from 8 to 11 p.m. on the USA Network.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, best in show, dog, dog show, dogs, madiosn square garden, new york, pets, purebred, schedule, televised, television, usa network, video, westminster
In the process of tallying the numbers of purebred dogs in America — or at least those that are registered — the American Kennel Club detected some interesting trends, such as how the nation’s most popular dog, the Labrador retriever, is losing ground in some towns.
The fastest climbing breed, meanwhile, in terms of popularity, is the Havanese.
According to the AKC figures, more U.S. cities featured a breed other than the Labrador Retriever in the top spot this year than in 2008.
The German shepherd took over as No. 1 in Columbus, Detroit, Honolulu, Memphis, Miami, Providence and West Palm Beach.
The Yorkshire terrier bumped the Lab in Oakland, Tampa, New York City and Philadelphia.
And the bulldog became top dog in Los Angeles (despite other surveys that say Chihuahuas are the most predominant breed there). The AKC says celebrity bulldog owners — Adam Sandler, Kelly Osborne and John Legend among them — might be a reason behind the bulldog’s rise.
In what strikes me as a particularly odd tidbit, the bull terrier — 57th nationally — is the most popular breed in Newark, N.J. (Please feel free to explain that to me if you know the story behind it.)
To find out where your dog ranks nationally (keeping in mind the nation’s most popular dog isn’t a breed at all, but the mutt), click here.
There was only one city in America where the Labrador retriever didn’t factor into the Top 5 – Providence, R.I. In 2008, the Lab was No. 2 in Providence.
Over the past 10 years, the AKC says, the fastest growing breed nationally is the Havanese, having risen from 92nd to 32nd. Also rising quickly in national popularity have been the bulldog (from 21st to 7th); the French bulldog (from 73rd to 24th); and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel (from 58th to 25th).
Working K-9 breeds favored by law enforcement and the military have shown modest gains as pets over the same period, with the Belgian Malinois seeing its popularity rise from 95th to 81st, the border collie going from 71st to 52nd, the bloodhound rising from 51st to 43rd, and the Doberman pinscher climbing 23rd to 15th.
The AKC suspects easy-to-groom breeds are becoming more popular, as evidenced by the mastiff climbing from 39th to 27th and the Rhodesian ridgeback going from 56th to 48th. Higher maintenance breeds, meanwhile, such as the Komondor, the Puli, the Irish terrier and the Sealyham terrier, have all seen their AKC popularity ranking drop in the past 10 years.
Even pre-Bo, the AKC, the Portuguese water dog was on the rise in popularity. The breed chosen by the First Family ranked 80th a decade ago and climbed to 60th in 2009.
(Photo: The Havanese, America’s fastest growing breed/Courtesy of AKC)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 28th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: akc, america, american kennel club, belgian malinois, bloodhound, bo, border collie, breed, breeds, bull terrier, bulldog, cavalier king charles spaniel, chihuahuas, cities, city, doberman pinscher, french bulldog, german shepherd, havanese, komondor, labrador retriever, mastiff, obama, popular, popularity, portuguese water dog, puli, purebred, rhodesian ridgeback, trends, u.s., yorkshire terrier