You have to hand it to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA); they know how to make a scene.
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The group caused a bit of a stir when two protesters caused an incident at Crufts by storming on to the arena floor. It all happened just as Tease the whippet was being crowned the winner of the show.
The pair of protesters forced their way into the arena carrying signs which read “Crufts canine eugenics”. They didn’t get much chance to relay their message as security promptly tackled them both to the ground.
Cameras captured the entire scene live on television. It certainly makes for some amusing viewing. Tease’s owner Yvette Short snatches her pooch out of the way, while an attendant grabs the trophy.
From there, the scene just becomes a pile-on as multiple suited security men launch themselves into the fray.
— Ryan Love (@RyanJL) March 11, 2018
And here’s what the audience saw.
Crufts protest or something? I’m unsure what happened but omg pic.twitter.com/xbFZ6U0rau
— Ciara//King of my heart♥️ (@ThePerksOfCiara) March 11, 2018
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Eventually, Peta claimed responsibility for organising the protest on their official website. However, it was actually a pair from the activist group Vegan Strike who actually held the protest.
What have Peta said about the incident?
In their official statement, Peta writes:
Through its obsession with ‘purity of breed’, Crufts glorifies canine eugenics, rewarding breeders for producing dogs with “ideal” physical traits with little or no regard for their welfare.
This extreme breeding puts the animals at a high risk of suffering from a frightening array of painful diseases, birth defects, and congenital health conditions.
They specifically reference the stretched spines of Dachshunds, Cavalier King Charles’ flat skulls, and the pushed in faces of bulldogs and pugs. All of these issues cause a range of health problems for pedigree dogs.
Peta also notes:
The culture of breeding also has wider implications for canine welfare. Because breeders are churning out litter after litter of unhealthy pedigree puppies, thousands of healthy, adoptable dogs in animal shelters are denied their chance at a loving home.
The RSPCA has publicly condemned Crufts in years past. PETA encourages those who share their views to get in touch with Alex Mahon, Channel 4’s chief executive. They hope activists will encourage him to rethink Channel 4’s decision to broadcast the show.
What have Crufts said about the whole thing?
In a widely released statement, a spokesperson for Crufts blamed the activists for scaring the dogs.
“It appears that protesters from Peta gained unauthorised access to the ring in the main arena at Crufts, and in doing so scared the dogs and put the safety of both dogs and people at risk in a hugely irresponsible way.
“Our main priority at the moment is the wellbeing of the dogs that were in the ring, who are being looked after by their owners and show officials.
“The NEC Group have extensive security procedures in place at Crufts and we, along with the NEC Group, will be reviewing what happened as a matter of urgency.”
Crufts did not provide a rebuttal to Peta’s points about canine eugenics.
Why it matters:
This incident is just the latest in a long history of protests against certain kinds of selective dog breeding.
While they may all look different, every single breed of dog are all the same species: canis familiaris. The reason we have different breeds of dog is due to selective breeding. This is the process by which certain traits in dogs are exaggerated through generations.
For example, a breed of dog designed to have small ears would be bred by selecting two dogs with small ears and breeding them. The offspring would have an increased likelihood of having small ears. The offspring with the smallest ears could then be bred again to produce offspring with even smaller ears, and so on.
Ultimately, selective breeding results in two major problems.
The first, as Peta point out, is that it can lead to vastly exaggerated features on certain dogs. For example, a dog bred to have small ears might be totally deaf after a few generations. This can obviously cause its own problems. For example, many modern pugs can barely breathe because their faces are so squashed and some can’t blink because their eyes are so bulbous.
The other major issue with selective breeding is that it leads to various genetic defects.
There’s little genetic diversity in a dog’s family tree when it is bred with its own relatives. As a result, certain dog breeds are predisposed towards particular illnesses. For example, around 70% of dalmatians suffer from some kind of hearing disorder.