Pedigree’s pound puppies too sad for Westminster Kennel Club

When the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show kicks off tonight from Madison Square Garden in New York, it will do so with one very notable omission: Pedigree, a 24-year top sponsor of the Westminster Kennel Club’s canine spectacle, has been cut from the event.

Too depressing for WKC? A shot from Pedigree’s popular “Echo” commercial.

Though motivations may be in part due to cost or additional factors, WKC Director of Communications David Frei told the Associated Press last Friday that Pedigree got the axe because their ads promoting shelter dogs were too depressing.

Pedigree’s familiar commercials feature mixed-breed dogs looking out from behind the bars of shelter kennels as people pass them by. A famous Pedigree ad (see video below) has actor David Duchovny’s somber voice tell the viewer, “For every dog that gets adopted, there’s one that doesn’t.”

Frei commented that Pedigree’s homeless dog ads were in contrast to the tone of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and that the WKC had urged Pedigree to alter their message to something more festive in the past.

“Show me an ad with a dog with a smile,” Frei was quoted, “don’t try to shame me.”

The blogosphere and social media have been atwitter since news of the split broke, with many people criticizing the WKC’s decision to abandon Pedigree’s adoption mission, especially in light of sobering statistics about shelter dogs.

According to reports, Pedigree’s partnership with the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show had proved a profitable one for The Pedigree Foundation, allowing them to reach a wide audience of potential donors.

The two-night Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show airs February 13th and 14th on the USA Network and CNBC.