Another year, another scandal at Crufts! This year, judge Di Arrowsmith is facing accusations of family favouritism after the prize for the Best of Gundog Group was awarded to James (Sh Ch Lourdace Fulcrum JW) – a Gordon Setter – co-owned by her sister, Josie Baddeley.
For those not in the know, Crufts began in 1891 and is now one of the largest dog events in the world. Having now expanded from purely being a dog show, the event attracts many exhibitors from all over the world who travel to England in order to take part.
In the past few years there have been a few scandals reported from the show, whether from competitors attempting to sabotage each other’s chances of winning, or scandals from those who are involved in the actual running of the show.
With a scandal at Crufts 2016, we thought we’d take a look back over the list of Crufts scandals from the past.
It has been rumoured for many years (even decades) that dogs have been drugged whilst competing at Crufts by other dog owners attempting to sedate their competitors so that they wouldn’t perform as well in the arena. There were also other tactics allegedly used, such as people sticking chewing gum in other animal’s fur.
In 2004, a Doberman was taken ill just before he was meant to compete. It was later discovered that the dog had been drugged, probably with some meat that had been laced with a sedative, in order to sabotage his performance. Then in 1993, it was alleged that a prize-winning Italian Maremma was fed poisoned beef while at the show.
As well as these drug allegations, there are also numerous scandals surrounding animal welfare. In 1995, the Kennel Club was criticised for refusing to mark down dogs that had their tails docked, despite a respected Vet saying that it was a cruel practice done only for aesthetic purposes. Crufts finally stopped dogs with docked tails from competing in the show in 2007.
In 2004, it was reported that one of the judges for the Best in Show category had been a puppy farmer in the past, and she was therefore forced to step down. Then, in 2008, the RSPCA said that they would no longer run stalls at the event because of allegations over inbreeding. This occurred the same year that the BBC said that they would stop broadcasting Crufts, because of similar controversies over inbreeding and animal welfare. Until this point, the BBC had been broadcasting the event for forty years.
An animal rights protestor also voiced his concerns about animal welfare at the event last year after running onto the show floor holding a sign that read ‘Mutts Against Crufts’. The animal charity PETA backed up this young man’s protest against animal cruelty at the show by saying that we only see one side of the story when we watch Crufts, and the health problems that are caused by inbreeding cause a lot of suffering and pain for the animals.
The rights group also commented that nearly all pedigree dogs unfortunately suffer from much higher rates of disease than other dogs, and they have much shorter life spans than their mixed-breed cousins. One of the main problems with inbreeding means that many Bulldogs, Pugs, and other brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs have severe breathing problems because of their unnaturally shortened airways.
Crufts was always known to ban the use of beauty products on dogs entering the competition. However, in 2013, they decided to change their rules for the first time since the 1920s to allow some performance enhancing products to be used, such as hairspray. This could therefore be the first step towards competitors being able to use many different beauty-enhancing products, which would probably then cause some protests from animal rights activists.
Rather ironically, in 2013, an Akita who had just won the Good Citizen Award, attacked a nearby woman in such a vicious manner that she had to have surgery.
Five Chihuahuas who were collectively worth more than £30,000 were stolen and later found abandoned in 2014, showing the danger that can come from owning these prize-winning dogs.
There has also been speculation over the number of foreign dogs allowed to compete, especially since the number of overseas entrants has tripled over the last six years. This seems to cause some annoyance amongst contestants as they claim that foreign rivals have an unfair advantage because they have different rules on grooming and behaviour. Some critics even directly accused The Kennel Club of encouraging foreign dogs only because they are so interested in making money rather than taking an interest in pedigree dogs.
Overall, even though this is a prestigious dog event which should just bring joy and pride to those who are lucky enough to win, these scandals also highlight how dangerous the competition has become, and that competitors should be very careful when taking care of their dogs at the event.
What do you think? Did James the Gordon Setter deserve to win? Let us know your thoughts about this year’s scandal in the comments below.