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Great Weekend of Wins Overshadowed by an Awful & Unethical Fundraiser

This blog should have been filled with joy. We have so much to celebrate. For starters, Serena took her 7th Baby Puppy of Group. We should be rejoicing that Tinky made her debut in the Neuter Class, and took the Best Bitch CC and the Best Neuter of Breed. We should have been cheering on our visitors from the North Island. Fleur and Lavinia from Warlaven Kennels (Mojo's breeders) and their wins with The Mighty Thor, who took 3 Best of Breeds, a Reserve Best of Breed and a NZ Bred of Group, as well as Mojo's brother, Jagger, taking 3 Best of Breeds in the Smooth Coats and a Best Puppy of Group as well. We should have been celebrating Ava's 3 Best Bitch CC's, too, and her 3 Reserve Best of Breeds. Or that Tracey and Ben made it to the finals of the Owner, Breeder, Handler Stakes at the NCKA show.

And while we were thrilled with our results, everything was overshadowed by the horrifying discovery, on arriving at the MacKenzie A & P Showgrounds for the dog show on Easter Monday, that over at the main fair, the local MacKenzie Pipe Band were raffling off 3 8-week-old puppies as a fundraiser.

Let's put aside for a moment, that it is illegal to raffle livestock in NZ without a permit from the Department of Internal Affairs. Let's ignore, just for now, that in New Zealand, any raffle with prizes in excess of $500* requires a permit from the NZ Lotteries Commission, and that tickets cannot be purchased by anyone under 16, because legally, raffles are gambling. Let's even disregard the fact that these only partially-vaccinated 8-week-old pups were in a pen on the ground at an Agricultural Show where all the dog show exhibitors at the dog show had been forbidden - in writing - to take their dogs onto the main grounds due to the known risk of the sheep measles tapeworm being transferred to other livestock...

What the hell were they thinking?

We get fundraising is hard, but where was the adult in the room at the MacKenzie Pipe Band committee meeting when they decided this was a great idea?

Did nobody think for a moment that their raffle winners might not be prepared for the responsibility of a pet?

Did anybody wonder what would happen when a kid given fifty bucks to entertain themselves at the show for food or rides while their parents watched the horse trials, might blow the lot on tickets for the cute puppies in the pen and then arrive back with a dog, proudly announcing, "Hey Mum and Dad, look what I won"?

Did anybody think to ask how they could tell if the winner was prepared, financially or emotionally to take on a puppy with no information about its origin, breed, temperament or health status?

Did anyone spare a thought about the danger to the pups with only one vaccination on board either from parvovirus or sheep measles dosing requirements the dog show exhibitors had been warned about?

Did anyone care about how stressed the pups were as they were mobbed by children for hours on end wanting to pat them and buy tickets so they could win one and take it home?

Did anybody ask, or care, about how they could tell if the winner of the raffle was a suitable owner or was going to dump the puppy on the nearest rescue the very next day because they only bought the ticket to support the band's fundraiser and absolutely did not want to win a dog?

The answer to all of the above would appear to be: apparently not.

Anyway... you can imagine the reaction of the Dogs NZ breeders at the dog show - most of whom check their potential owners out with the same thoroughness you might face if you were applying for a job guarding the Crown Jewels - when they learned of the puppy raffle.

One after another, we descended on the Show Secretary's office to complain and try to have the raffle shut down. To start with, the organisers were very defensive, insisting it was neither illegal nor unethical to raffle off puppies. We felt a bit sorry for the poor volunteers behind the counter as exhibitor after exhibitor marched into their little office to demand something be done to help those poor puppies. We get why they didn't want to talk to us. The band members are locals and their friends and here they were confronted by all these irate, big-city interlopers trying to shut down what had up until that point, we are certain, seemed like a grand and original idea to raise money.

We soon had two camps going - the visiting dog show people trying to shut the raffle down, and the locals who wanted us to just "f*** off, mind your own business and let them raise money" (exact quote, BTW).

One passionate defender who confronted us explained it was a great idea because somebody "too poor to buy a dog" might win and wouldn't that be wonderful? They did not appreciate us pointing out that if they were too poor to buy a dog, then they might also be too poor to feed it, take it to the vet, or provide proper care for it, which was the complete opposite of "wonderful".

For her part, Lavinia (well into her 70's for context, and still walking with a crutch from a recent operation) marched over to where the band was playing, walked into the middle of their performance, demanded they stop playing, and proceeded to tell them all they were despicable for allowing such a travesty.

It was getting pretty tense...

Over on the dog show grounds, there was still a dog show going on, but we had just about forgotten all about that, in our determination to see justice done and those poor puppies rescued.

It did happen eventually, but we can't claim any credit. By then the police had been called. The compliance officer from Internal Affairs had been contacted and finally, we heard on the grapevine that a call was made from someone much further up the food chain than us or the other horrified breeders at the show, who was able to explain the ethical, and possibly legal ramifications of not shutting the raffle down, and action was finally taken.

We left the show grounds not knowing that the raffle would soon end thanks to the efforts of other caring Dogs NZ members who were able to get it done, so it cast a pallor over an otherwise great day. (Also, seeing an irate Lavinia at full throttle is something to behold.) We did stop in Pleasant Point for some awesome coffee on the way home though, and all hail Google Maps who found us a detour that avoided the 10 km long crawling traffic jam in Ashburton from all the people returning to Christchurch after the 4-day long weekend.

So, an interesting weekend at the very least, the highlight of which was probably the free beer, wine and pizza at the North Canterbury Kennel Club shows on Saturday before the Best in Show judging. Now there's a club that knows how to throw a party.

*Although mongrel pups, because they are fluffy and cute and have some absurd "oodle" type name, they sell for upwards of $2000 on TradeMe.


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