Tonight, in front of millions of dog lovers in New York City and around the World, a new Westminster Champion will be crowned.
Every dog shown over the past two days represents generations of thoughtful breeding by responsible breeders dedicated to the preservation and advancement of their breeds. To be sure, all the dogs in the ring will be primped and fluffed for the big event, but the show is far more than a beauty pageant. It’s a showcase for preserving and protecting our precious dog breeds and the characteristics that make them unique. These characteristics reflect the peoples and cultures that developed them. They are a snapshot not only of canine history, but our own.
Judges will be assessing each dog against its own set of unique breed characteristics. For dogs whose original job no longer exists (think Scottish Deerhounds), the breed judging ring is one of the few places where an expert can judge a dog, based on its written breed standard, of how capable it is of doing its original job. Since there aren’t deer to hunt in Scotland anymore, it’s the best we can do.
Responsible breeding is all about recognizing and providing proper care for dogs and their unique needs and characteristics. Unfortunately, a bill currently in Congress would undermine all this. The Puppy Protection Act (HR 1624) establishes arbitrary and unworkable one-size-fits all standards that would harm many small specialty and hobby breeders who recognize the unique needs of their breeds. To protect our breeds and responsible breeders, this bill needs to be stopped.
Many well-meaning dog lovers support the bill because they‘ve been told the bill will eliminate irresponsible breeders who keep dogs in horrific conditions. However, the vast majority of irresponsible owners/breeders are already in violation of existing negligence and cruelty laws. New laws with arbitrary kenneling requirements like the Puppy Protection Act aren’t likely to change this, but it will undermine the flexibility responsible breeders need to provide the best possible care for their dogs.
The American Kennel Club supports strong enforcement of the federal Animal Welfare Act and additional resources for USDA (including an additional $4M appropriated in 2023) to protect animal welfare and the characteristics that make each breed unique.