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Westminster Drops Pedigree

By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

Full disclosure: I was invited to attend the Westminster Dog Show in NYC. I declined because this blog focuses mostly on shelter cats and dogs. I admire many different breeds. Organizations, like Westminster and American Kennel Club, are in the business of promoting breeding. I have a hard time justifying breeding dogs when between three and five million shelter pets are euthanized each year in the U.S. I just can’t support an organization that promotes breeding and wants no part of helping shelter dogs.

Did you know that just under 25 percent of dogs found in animal centers are purebreds?

Westmister’s decision to drop Pedigree as a major advertiser because its ads had become too focused on adoptions struck a nerve. Pedigree was “surprised and disappointed” when it was dropped by Westminster, senior brand manager Lisa Campbell says. “Westminster has been a great platform for us. We were able to tap into a dog-loving audience.”

That dog loving community on Facebook and Twitter is deeply angered by Westminster’s decision. Many are pledging their support to Pedigree. And many of you have sent me personal e-mails alerting me about this unwise decision to drop Pedigree because of its commercials.

“Our show is a celebration of dogs. We’re not promoting purebreds at the expense of non-purebreds. We celebrate all dogs,” says David Frei, Westminster spokesperson. “When we’re seeing puppies behind bars, it takes away from that. Not just because it’s sad, but it’s not our message.”

Purina Petcare steps in as the new advertiser for Westminster, and Westminster will have input into the Purina commercials.

The reason for Westminster dropping Pedigree is sad. I don’t see how they cannot know that almost 25 percent of shelter dogs are purebreds. However, that is not the point. Westminster is in the business of supporting breeders. I was interviewed on National Public Radio’s Marketplace Morning Report about this decision. Click here to hear the report.

A Contest to Benefit Shelter Dogs and Cats
The contest to help Bideawee, one of my favorite animal centers, runs through Friday. Up Country, makers of pet supplies, is generously donating collars and leashes to Bideawee. Click here for the contest.

Back to Westminster
And please leave a comment about your feelings about Pedigree’s commercials and Westminster’s decision. Thanks!

28 comments to Westminster Drops Pedigree

  • Maria Milito

    The most frustrating part of Westminster dropping Pedigree because of the “shelter dogs in ads” is that it’s GUARANTEED that the The Best in Show dog will now be bought, either from breeders or pet stores aka puppy mills, and wind up in shelters across the country 2-3 months from now when people tire of it or realize it’s a responsibility. Shameful.

  • It’s one thing if they want to drop an advertiser – but their reasons for doing so are just ridiculous. I feel like we’re in Harry Potter Land, where we’re looked down on because we’re fans of the “mudbloods.” Oh well. PetsWeekly, at least, will continue our practice of being “non-speciests” and “Non-breedists”. Thanks for coming forward with this, Michelle.

  • [...] to Pet News and Views,  OhMiDog and Marketplace .org for some excellent discussion on this [...]

  • Kim Egan

    I posted this message elsewhere, but it bears repeating:

    The problem with the Pedigree ads is that they did not provide balance. I agree with Frei: if you are a rescue-oriented group that is advertising during a dog show, then you need to further your own agenda in a positive way. Arena football or the Canadian Football League don’t sponsor (not just advertize during) NFL football games and say “Look at our product; it is so much more deserving than the one we’re sponsoring because it’s overlooked by the American market share.” If the NFL won’t put up with it, then why should the AKC?

  • Hi Kim, My dismay with Westminster and AKC goes back a long time. I just think it’s sad that when there are between 3 and 5 million dogs enthanized each year and that almost 25 percent of shelter dogs are pure breeds, that Westminster doesn’t want care about these dogs. Also, breeding does upset me because we need to focus on spaying and neutering cats and dogs–not breeding them. –Michele

  • I’m sorry, but I just don’t agree with Kim. As Michelle mentioned nearly 25 percent of dogs in shelters are purebred. If WKC truly cared about purebred dogs, they would have worked with Pedigree to develop a campaign focused on breed rescues. That would have been a win-win.

  • Thanks Vicki, I totally agree–as I’m sure you know. Best, Michele

  • Kim Egan

    First, the WKC probably received many complaints from breeders, who felt they were being undermined by the Pedigree ad during a show that is supposed to be a celebration of breeding accomplishments. Second, Pedigree was asked to tone down its ads–by its refusal, the company figuratively cut its own throat. Third–how on earth are the people who produce dogs for venues like Westminster contribute to the dogs that are being euthanized every year? Most breeders I know take back any dog, not just puppies, that can no longer live with the owner. That is typical of hobby/show breeders. Also, many breeders and exhibitors in many venues are involved in breed rescue. In addition, the number of shelter animals being euthanized each year has dropped dramatically–what is needed now is better enforcement of current laws and more focus on owner education, with less focus on bans and restrictions that do nothing to benefit animal welfare.

  • Ann

    I agree with you Michele. Weatminster should be focused on all dogs. Pedigress did not deserve to get cut just for trying to help shelter dogs, as well as the show dogs.

  • Buffy

    So many animals needing a home!!! Breeders are not helping the situation. I think breeding should be stopped. Everyone should adopt, only adopt from shelters.

  • I’ve said it a million times. Rescue is my favorite breed! I don’t believe in promoting breeding either while millions of highly adoptable animals are killed every single year in this country. (I don’t like to say euthanized since that is mercy killing. These animals are killed. There is nothing merciful about it.) I have never bought a dog, and I never will. Shame on Westminster and AKC!

  • George G

    Shame on Westminster Dog Show. I wish I could communicate to Purina that I’ll never touch their product … ever!@!@!

    I’m one of those consumers who votes with my feet (and my wallet).

    And I’m now an avid fan of Pedigree (as well as our three Cavalier King Charles Spaniels)!!!!

    Shoreline, WA

  • AWESOME, Michele! Congrats on getting selected for the interview and bravo for your stance. Way to go!

  • Carol Hupp

    I agree with Rhonda!!! rescue!! this is just terrible!!!

  • Shame on Westminster – I suppose they and the breeders consider themselves dog lovers too.

    Regarding a comment in Kim Egan’s last post: perhaps their wouldn’t be so much breed rescue needed if there wasn’t so much forced breeding going on, eh.

  • I also vote with my wallet George!–Thanks, Michele

  • Peggy Reznek

    I hate the snobbery of this…… And I feel that WKC is being silly. I live in Saratoga County (upper NYS) Right now in our local county shelter we have 3 “designer dogs” and 2 pure bred dogs up for adoption……………

    We need to find homes for shelter dogs so they will not be killed. However I also believe that we need to fix our companion animals so they can’t reproduce. This would be a wonderful thing to do and would help to bring down the numbers of shelter animals purebred or not.

    As for dog mills and back yard breeders…………… the answer to this problem is to outlaw this practice.

  • I’m in total agreement with you on all points Peggy! Michele

  • “BULLCORN” Some people treat the dogs they have as special breeds and their right. People who do this are in the Dog World to make money and show off the dogs that their money bought. If a Dog ranks high in these shows it means more money foe selling and breeding of the Dogs they own. A Puppy Mill is a place were people breed dogs only to sell for money. Have you ever asked yourself what happens to the ones that never get sold? Do I really need to tell you? And then there are the people who love dogs so much that they let them run free and never have them fixed. Then they are picked up by your local dog pound and the lucky one get adopted and the ones who are not adopted, WELL, do I need to tell you where they end up? Now if you’ve been reading this then you know what I have wrote is true but not what the money makers want you to here. OH YES, I forgot about the dogs who are sold to Labs to test new stuff on and then discarded when no one is looking. Now if I’m right about all this then you know what this is called! It all for the love of the $$$$$. Do the world a big favor and ADOPT A PET. They have plenty of love just waiting for you. Remember one thing, DOGS ARE MAN’S BEST FRIEND, BAR NONE!!! I love my 3 Adopted Dogs……..Larry “Indian Boy” Grazier

  • Ann Jordan

    Shame on you Westminster!!! Give these homeless dogs a voice and a chance or does that pull too hard on your heartstrings??

  • Jeff Segal

    It’s sad that one of if not the oldest running dog show would stop using an advitiser just because they have changed their ads on TV and Radio to help shed light on a very big problem that we have in this country or the world. And that problem is that dogs and cats are becoming homeless and abandoned due to no fault of their on. yes Westminster Dog Show is for pure breeds but the fact is that most of the dogs or even cats or not pure breeds. And that is also a fact. It is why most dogs or cats are mixed breeds. Another reason why this is happening is the fact that people get the animals and then they either find out that they can not handle any problems that the animal has or that they get the animal without relizing how much work it really takes to care for them. The fact that people are loosing their jobs and money becomes a problem also makes it hard. I’ve been out of work for over 2 years now and I have a dog that I adopted from The AZ Humane Society. I have taken care of my dog and yes he did have problems when I got him but I dellt with them and I’m still dealing with some that he still has. But that is a big part of owning a pet. Yes it would be nice to have a pure breed but mixed breeds also have their place. And more times than not the mixed breeds are better than pure breeds. With a mixed breed you can get the traits of all of the breeds that were in the parents. A shelter pets also need good and loving homes too. As for the fact that Westminster Dog Show stopped alining themselves with Pedigree is a shame just because they have changed their ads to promote the problem this country has with animal over population and the fact that there is a rising number of homeless and abandoned animals in this country and the world. Way to go Predigree.

  • Good for you, Michele! Too bad more people don’t realize just what Westminster, the AKC, and their participants are really about – there would surely be much less support for their events (and dogs)!

  • I am impressed that Pedigree has been running those adds and that they stood behind them despite pressure from Westminster. I am pro-rescue, not anti-purebred dog but the dogs at Westminster are well cared for at worst. Shelter dogs are on death row. If there is ever to be an end to euthanasia for space then everyone in the companion animal world, including purebred dog enthusiasts, needs to come together to educate and advocate for the animals we as a society have let down.

  • Kim Egan has several very valid points. I was blasted in our local newspaper online when I stated raising puppies for profit was evil; I further clarified how very good breeders take back their puppies at any time in their lives. and yes, some people want purebred puppies which puts the burden on us rescues to sway the public to shelter/rescue dogs first.

  • Elsie Au

    For me, dog is dog, if you love them, it should not matter if they are mixed or pure breed. But to adopt ones from shelter, you do save their lives :)

  • Valerie

    I totally agree about the dog shows promoting breeding not adoption. I can’t even justify myself watching it on TV.

  • gunteman

    WKC is founded on very unhealthy principles, and dropping Pedigree is just a logical consequence of that. Actually, it’s a good thing, since it brings to light what an utter disgrace they are.