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Westminster Dog Show 2012 Sparks Stray Pets Debate (PHOTOS)


First Posted: 02/14/2012 1:48 pm Updated: 02/14/2012 2:20 pm

As thousands of show dogs swarmed New York for the yearly Westminster Dog Show this February 13 and 14, millions more in the U.S. will be euthanized this year.

The 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is taking place at Madison Square Garden, and an estimated 2,000 purebred dogs are competing for the title Best in Show.

Animal rights activists have debated the competition's influence on helping dogs. While some argue that dog shows encourage people to adopt animals, others disagree. In 2010, two women walked into the center ring with signs reading "Mutts Rule" and "Breeders Kill Shelter Dogs' Chances."

The disputed indirect link suggesting that purchasing a bred dog means more shelter animals will in turn die, has been supported by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. This year, their website claims, "Westminster Won't Even 'Like' Mutts on Facebook." One of their past ads asked, "If you buy a dog, what will you do with the shelter dog you kill?"

According to ASPCA, nearly half of the dogs that are sent to shelters are killed because nobody will adopt them. The Humane Society estimates that 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters each year.

Meanwhile, the Westminster dog show has axed Pedigree's sad ads which were reportedly "too focused on adoptions."

The Westminster Kennel Club does stand against puppy mills, writing on their website:

As we have for many years during our televised broadcast, The Westminster Kennel Club will continue to make the following announcement: "If you are planning to add a dog to your life and have come to look over the best of the best, please note, no dog you have seen here (yesterday or today) came from a pet shop, or was the 'product', if you will, of a puppy mill. If you want a dog, go to the people who care - the dedicated specialty breeders who have made dogs like those you see here - a lifetime effort. Talk dogs with dog people who care and understand."

Check out some photos from the Westminster Dog Show 2012 below:

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  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Pekingese Malachy poses for photographers after winning Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Samoyed Grand Champion Mcmagic's Candied Ham of Pebblesrun competes in the Sporting Group at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Pekingese Malachy carried by David Fitzpatrick, co-owner and handler, are congratulated by runners up after they win Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • A handler holds down the tail of a Portu

    A handler holds down the tail of a Portuguese water Dog in the judging ring during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012 in New York. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Irish Setter Grand Champion Shadagee Caught Red Handed, winner of the Sporting Group, is handled by Adam Bernardin at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • Malachy, a Pekingese, after winning Best

    Malachy, a Pekingese, after winning Best in Show during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Doberman Pinscher Grand Champion Protocal's Veni Vidi Vici (R) wins the Working Group in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • Malachy, a Pekingese, after winning Best

    Malachy, a Pekingese, after winning Best in Show during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Doberman Pinscher Grand Champion Protocal's Veni Vidi Vici wins the Working Group in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Irish Setter Grand Champion Shadagee Caught Red Handed, winner of the Sporting Group, is handled by Adam Bernardin at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Irish Setter Grand Champion Shadagee Caught Red Handed, winner of the Sporting Group, is handled by Adam Bernardin at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Pekingese Malachy carried by David Fitzpatrick, co-owner and handler, are congratulated by runners up after they win Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Irish Setter Grand Champion Shadagee Caught Red Handed, winner of the Sporting Group, is handled by Adam Bernardin at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Pekingese Malachy is held for photographers by David Fitzpatrick, co-owner and handler, after winning Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • Raaza, a Komondorok, waits to go into the ring during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012 in New York. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • CJ, a Newfoundland, in the backstage area during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A Dogue de Bordeaux waits to go in the

    A Dogue de Bordeaux waits to go in the judging ring during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Jackson, a 6-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel from Argyle, Texas, is photographed at the Spot Suite at the Affinia Manhattan hotel, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 in New York. There are 2,000 top dogs in town for Monday's start of the 136th Annual Westminster Kennel club show. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Elvis, a 4-year-old Bearded Collie works out on a dog tread in the Green Room Salon and Spa at the Pennsylvania hotel, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 in New York. There are 2,000 top dogs in town for Monday's start of the 136th Annual Westminster Kennel club show. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Westminster Kennel Club Director of Communications David Frei, right, leads a dog procession across 7th Ave with last years' champion Hickory, a 5-year old Scottish Deerhound, ahead of a news conference, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012 in New York. The Westminster Kennel Club introduced six new breeds in advance of the Westminster Dog Show.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Hoss, a 5-year old Entlebucher Mountain Dog, is photographed during a news conference, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, in New York. The Westminster Kennel Club introduced six new breeds in advance of the Westminster Dog Show. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Lorraine Shore, of Sequim, Washington, grooms Dazzle a 2-year-old Papillon at the Green Room Salon and Spa at the Pennsylvania hotel, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 in New York. There are 2,000 top dogs in town for Monday's start of the 136th Annual Westminster Kennel club show. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Jenna, a 4-year-old Great Dane from Japan takes advantage of the facilities at the Spot Suite at the Affinia Manhattan hotel, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 in New York. There are 2,000 top dogs in town for Monday's start of the 136th Annual Westminster Kennel club show. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

  • Sitting in the lap of her costumed owner Gena Oddo, of Carriere, Miss., Sophia Oddo, a white pomeranian, attends the 2012 Pre-Westminster Fashion Show Friday Feb. 10, 2012 in New York. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)

  • This undated photo courtesy of Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show shows a Cesky terrier. Six breeds will make history this year as the newest breeds eligible to compete at Westminster. (AP Photo/Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show)

  • Dog Fashion Show Held Ahead Of Next Week's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 10: Miu Miu, a Chihuahua, poses at the pre-Westminster Fashion Show at Hotel Pennsylvania ahead of next week's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 10, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • Dog Fashion Show Held Ahead Of Next Week's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 10: A dog rides in a stroller at the pre-Westminster Fashion Show at Hotel Pennsylvania ahead of next week's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 10, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • Dog Fashion Show Held Ahead Of Next Week's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 10: Sophia, white Pomeranian from Mississippi, sits on Jena Oddo's lap at the pre-Westminster Fashion Show at Hotel Pennsylvania ahead of next week's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 10, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • Dog Fashion Show Held Ahead Of Next Week's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 10: Grace Forester, who stars in a reality series 'Doggie Moms,' holds Rosie (L) and Portia (R) at the pre-Westminster Fashion Show at Hotel Pennsylvania ahead of next week's Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 10, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • This undated photo courtesy of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show shows an Entlebucher mountain dog. Six breeds will make history this year as the newest breeds eligible to compete at Westminster. (AP Photo/Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show)

  • This undated photo courtesy of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show shows an American English coonhound. Six breeds will make history this year as the newest breeds eligible to compete at Westminster. (AP Photo/Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show)

  • This undated photo courtesy of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show shows a Finnish Lapphund. Six breeds will make history this year as the newest breeds eligible to compete at Westminster. (AP Photo/Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show)

  • Michelle Paulin and Storm,a Dogue de Bor

    Michelle Paulin and Storm,a Dogue de Bordeaux, in the judging ring during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012 in New York. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Ripley, a Golden Retriever, during the

    Ripley, a Golden Retriever, during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012 in New York. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Dillon, a Sealyham Terrier, during the

    Dillon, a Sealyham Terrier, during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012 in New York. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Bentley, a Cocker Spaniel, in the backs

    Bentley, a Cocker Spaniel, in the backstage area during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012 in New York. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Trinity, a Neopolitan Mastiff, waits to

    Trinity, a Neopolitan Mastiff, waits to go in the judging ring during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Champion Sandale-Paj Captain Barbosa, a Great Dane, rests at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Dogs go to the bathroom at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • World's Top Dogs Compete At Westminster Dog Show

    NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 14: Dogs and their significant others ride in the freight elevator as they leave Madison Square Garden on the last day of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 14, 2012 in New York City. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was first held in 1877, is the second-longest continuously held sporting event in the U.S., second only to the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

  • A young girl watches judging during the

    A young girl watches judging during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show held at Madison Square Garden February 14, 2012 in New York. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A "Dogs Against Romney" press event in f

    A 'Dogs Against Romney' press event in front of Madison Square Garden during the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show February 14, 2012 in New York. The protest is sponsored by Dogs Against Romney - and will seek to focus more public attention on the fact that US presidential candidate Mitt Romney forced his dog to ride for 12-hours on the roof of his car. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

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Filed by Joanna Zelman  |  Report Corrections