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February 21, 2012

An Editorial from our Rover Reporter, Ernestine

I know that sometimes I have an attitude when I write my weekly column for the blog. For this post, I am going to talk to you straight. I am a 9 year, 10 month old, pure bred Jack Russell Terrier. My parents, Bradley and Stephanie, were looking for a dog when a friend presented me to them. They fell in love immediately (didn’t know then I would have to work for my kibble!)

Now some facts:
In the last 10 or so years, the dog population has multiplied out of control. We hear more and more sad, inconsiderate and mean stories of people surrendering, deserting and abusing dogs. A large percentage of these dogs are just fine other than not having homes. Consequently, dog shelters are always full and a staggering 3-4 million dogs are euthanized annually.

On the positive side, the number of dog rescue organizations is expanding and there is much work to make existing shelters no-kill shelters. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah is the largest rescue in the USA. They have initiated and supported many educational and legislative programs nationally; the largest is ‘No More Homeless Pets’.

The reason I am barking particularly loud about this today, is that the recent Westminster Dog Show got me going. I am going to turn my show over to Francis Battista, co-founder of Best Friends Animal Society.

“After 24 years, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show has changed sponsors from Pedigree to Purina because the club doesn’t like Pedigree’s very effective “Adopt a Shelter Dog” ad series. The ads, widely regarded as the most effective adoption promotions ever, have helped Pedigree raise millions of dollars that have gone to the cause of pet adoptions. The ads were a redeeming feature of the Westminster TV presentation.

Westminster feels that the commercials are too serious for their broadcast. David Frei, head of communications for the club and on-air voice of the show, told the New York Times, “Show me an ad with a dog with a smile. Don’t try to shame me. We told them that and they ignored us.” Frei added, “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.”

However, the Pedigree ads have been celebrated because they don’t portray shelter dogs as victims, but as unique individuals. The ads’ tagline says it all: “Don’t pity a shelter dog. Adopt one.” Dogs are shown in a kennel environment but not behind bars. The Pedigree spots are a class act. The dogs are serious and their level gaze doesn’t impose guilt but rather asks the simple, straightforward question, “Will you help?” The voice-over by David Duchovny is equally measured: “Shelter dogs aren’t broken. They’ve simply experienced more life. If they were human, we would call them wise. They would be the ones with tales to tell and stories to write.”

The dog show world, is pretty accurately portrayed in the film “Best in Show”: it is a world of pampered excess, political maneuvering, and money.

Westminster Kennel Club is sanctioned by the American Kennel Club. Their decision to distance from the reality of shelter animals is right in line with the AKC’s staunch support of puppy mills. They can be counted on to oppose any progressive legislation anywhere that seeks to curb the abuses of puppy mills because the AKC makes its money by registering purebred dogs regardless of their health, the conditions under which they were bred, or any consideration whatsoever for the well-being of the dogs. The AKC makes big bucks from puppy mills and the pet trade. They couldn’t care less that millions of dogs, many from AKC-registered breeders, are dying in our nation’s shelters.
Sad, but true.”

As much as I (kind of) get, that some people feel they want a genetically proven, more perfect, dog, who DOES that anymore? All of my brothers and my foster pups have been rescues and THEY are perfect. And, just for the record, I would NEVER eat Pedigree or Purina, but I totally support Pedigree ads.


Later, Ernestine

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