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The Problem with Westminster Kennel Club's View of Pet Adoption

The annual dog show could have served as an imperfect model of the love the Church could offer.

In some ways, the story made a decision much easier for me. No longer would I be tempted to duck out of a family birthday celebration early to catch Westminster Kennel Club's (WKC) 136th Annual Dog Show. Now I would gladly miss it.

Why? The WKC's decision to part ways with longtime sponsor Pedigree. The reason? Because the ad campaign famously highlights and encourages the adoption of shelter dogs in its often sad-eyed—but beautiful—commercials.

"We want people to think of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show as a celebration of the dogs in our lives," David Frei, the club's director of communications and the host of the show, told The New York Times. Frei felt the Pedigree ads shamed people (a technique I have also criticized) instead of celebrated dogs.

The Pedigree folks see it in a different light, of course. Melissa Martellotti, a brand communications manager for Mars Petcare US, the makers of Pedigree, told The New York Times, "They've shared with us, when we parted ways, that they felt that our advertising was focused too much on the cause of adoption and that wasn't really a shared vision."

That the WKC didn't share a vision with rescue organizations is something I have long realized. Where humane societies urge the adoption of homeless dogs of all ages and stripes, sizes and mixes, the WKC encourages the purchase of purebreds from reputable breeders or adoption of purebreds from reputable rescues. Where humane societies rightly celebrate the wonder of all dogs—purebred ...

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