Top dogs will have to wait as Westminster dog show postponed due to COVID
Surging COVID-19 cases in New York cited for delaying usual January date of competition
Aspiring top dogs (and their owners) will have to wait for the next annual Westminster dog show, the kennel club says, pointing to rising COVID-19 cases in New York.
The Westminster Kennel Club's annual dog show, which typically begins in January, has become the latest event to be postponed or cancelled in New York as the number of coronavirus cases surges.
A record high of 82,350 new cases were reported in the state on Dec. 26 according to Johns Hopkins University, though that figure dropped to 47,100 on Tuesday.
The club announced on Wednesday that its board of governors "made the difficult decision" to postpone the 146th annual dog show to an undetermined later date in 2022, "due to the surge of the Omicron variant in New York City."
A new date would be announced once it is confirmed "when we can safely convene," the kennel club said.
The dog show attracts competitors from primarily the U.S. but also Canada and other countries around the world. The final event usually takes place in February at Madison Square Garden.
This year, it was moved to June, to a riverside estate north of New York City, where it was held outdoors for the first time since its inception in 1877.
Spectators weren't allowed, and human participants had to be vaccinated or newly tested.
A Pekingese named Wasabi won best in show, beating out a whippet, a French bulldog, an old English sheepdog, a German shorthaired pointer, a West Highland white terrier and a Samoyed.
WATCH | Westminster 2021 working group winner has a Toronto connection:
Wasabi's grandfather, Malachy, won the best in show title in 2012.
The Samoyed, named Striker, won the working group at the 2021 show. His owners, Marc Ralsky and Correen Pacht, live in Toronto.
The Westminster Kennel Club hosts the all-breed Westminster dog show, which is the second-longest, continuously held sporting event in the U.S. The longest is the Kentucky Derby, which launched in 1875.
"We appreciate the community's continued interest and support as we delay the show to a time when we can safely convene," the kennel club said in its statement.
Other pandemic-induced changes to events in the Big Apple include a reduced capacity to New Years Eve celebrations in Times Square by 75 per cent. As well, at least 12 Broadway shows have cancelled performances, including Jagged Little Pill, which announced earlier in December that it would close permanently.
With files from The Associated Press