02/14/2012 01:48 pm ET | Updated Feb 14, 2012

Westminster Dog Show 2012 Sparks Stray Pets Debate (PHOTOS)

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:

Westminster Dog Show 2012