Leeds protester dragged off after disrupting Crufts finale
He held up a sign which said ‘Mutts Against Crufts’
Second-year Luke Steele experienced some ruff treatment after he interrupted the awarding of “Best In Show” at Crufts last week.
He ran on to the main floor at the NEC in Birmingham to protest The Kennel Club’s “senseless” breeding of dogs.
The 25-year-old, studying law in Leeds at The Open University, was quickly jumped on by security after holding up a sign which read: “Mutts Against Crufts”.
This was part of a bigger protest by PETA – of which Luke has been a member since his early teens.
He said: “We wanted to draw attention to The Kennel Club’s promotion of breeding dogs senselessly.
“Crufts have been promoting for years and years this emphasis on pure-bred dogs. In essence, showing what could be described as “breedism” – putting a focus on unnatural physical traits so that these dogs end up suffering from genetic defects.
“You see them with hip dysplasia, epilepsy, heart disease. Simply so that they have these enhanced features that they can show off.”
Luke had bought a ticket and sat at the front so that he was in a prime position to rush on stage when it was time for the judges to announce “Best in Show”.
After holding up his sign, he was quickly rounded on by security and arrested before being released without charge. He has now been banned for life by the NEC.
Luke said: “Six or seven guards ran on and dived on me and dragged me off. I suffered a few bruises, but it was worthwhile because it drew attention tot the subject and literally millions of people saw it.”
This year’s Crufts has been controversial, with The Kennel Club investigating an alleged poisoning of a prize-winning Irish setter. Police are currently following up all leads.
There was also an outcry after Best in Show owner Rebecca Cross was shown picking up her dog by his tail.
Luke adds: “I’ve had literally thousands of messages of support from dog lovers saying this cruelty that’s going on in Crufts is unacceptable. I’ve not had a single negative message, only people saying ‘thank you’.”
The activist also said he would continue to protest in the name of defending vulnerable animals.
“As long as animals are suffering, it’s important people stand up and take action and that suffering is abolished. I certainly wouldn’t rule out doing it again.”
PETA Director Mimi Bekhechi said: “Dogs deserve better than to suffer and die for a “beauty” pageant.
“Crufts’ shameless promotion of “breedism” is the dog or cat equivalent to racism, and the consequences are pedigrees born to suffer from abnormally high rates of disease from being bred for unnatural physical traits.”