Birmingham (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Tens of thousands of dogs and their owners — minus Russians — flocked to the world’s biggest dog show on Thursday, as Crufts made a comeback after a two-year absence.
Before the global coronavirus outbreak and as Britain prepared to depart the European Union following Brexit, the most recent edition was published in March 2020.
This time, the four-day festival is marred by the invasion of Ukraine because organizers The Kennel Club forbade Russian owners and their dogs from attending.
As a sign of support, several owners wore ribbons with the Ukrainian flag’s primary colors of yellow and blue.
Sara Davies, 63, from northeast England, who is attending Crufts for the first time with her black German shepherd, Laxi, said, “It’s my way to indicate I’m thinking of the Ukrainians.”
“Really, it’s revolting. I can at least go about my regular business normally. They cannot; “As Laxi laid at her feet, she spoke to AFP.
The decision of the Kennel Club affects 51 dogs who were scheduled to compete in the show, which was originally staged in 1891, as well as roughly 30 Russian owners and breeders.
It said, “It is with a heavy heart that we have decided not to accept exhibitors from Russia to compete at Crufts 2022 in view of the quickly shifting circumstances.
“Our friends in Ukraine, along with their dogs, are in dread for their lives, and we will take whatever action we can to help them in any way we can.”
It is donating £50,000 (60,000 euros, $66,000) to help partner organisations in Ukraine, Poland and Hungary help breeders, owners and their dogs affected by the conflict.
‘A little bit of joy’
Despite the conflict in Ukraine, the chief executive of The Kennel Club, Mark Beazley, said Crufts was “a little bit of joy in some pretty sad days for the world at the moment”.
Lockdown restrictions, which forced last year’s Crufts to be cancelled, increased stress and isolation for both humans and their four-legged friends.
Stacie Young from Kent, southeast England, who was attending her second Crufts with her imposing Newfoundland, Bumbee, stated, “The pandemic was really challenging.”
“During shows, she used to interact with other dogs frequently. All of a sudden, nothing at all happened. We would meet in the park with some pals to practice when we were eventually permitted to congregate in a group of six.”
When the final coronavirus restrictions were lifted in England last month, few people were observed watching a procession of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels while wearing masks.
It will take time, according to the organizers, for the show to return to its prior level. In 2020, almost 150,000 people attended.
The epidemic and changes to pet travel following Brexit have made it difficult for many devoted Crufts attendees to go this year.
At the enormous National Exhibition Centre near Birmingham in central England, more than 20,000 dogs are expected to compete on appearance, obedience, and agility.
There are about 16,000 canines competing from 38 different nations for seven slots in the famous “Best in Show” finals, which will be determined on Sunday night.
Just over 1,800 of them are foreign competitors, which is much fewer than the more than 3,000 foreign competitors in the show’s numerous categories two years ago.
Since the UK’s official withdrawal from the EU in January of last year, there are stricter entrance restrictions for visitors from Europe, including their dogs.
The winner of the 2020 Best in Show was Maisie, a wire-haired dachshund.