Two of Crufts’ major sponsors have advised staff to stay away from the show amid fears of spreading coronavirus.
Royal Canin UK and James Wellbeloved staff were advised not to attend the show as part of a ‘global’ decision by the parent company Mars Petcare UK, reported the BBC.
The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) has also decided not to attend.
However, Crufts organisers the Kennel Club said that, following further discussions with the Department of Health and with the Chief Veterinary Officer of Defra, it was satisfied the show should open today (Thursday) as planned.
This was in spite of speculation concerning an isolated dog that had tested ‘weak positive’ for the virus, it said in a statement last night.
“Dogs of course are the heart of Crufts and the Kennel Club and we have enhanced measures and precautions at the show to protect them, and our advice to our visitors and exhibitors must be to follow the most up-to-date advice from the medical experts.
“We continue to monitor the situation with the Department of Health and Defra, and any further updates will be issued on our official social media channels and website.”
Crufts, the world’s most famous dog show, is held at the NEC Birmingham every year. It attracts around 160,000 visitors and 21,000 competing dogs, of which last year 3,611 were from overseas.
A spokesperson for Mars Petcare UK, the parent company of Royal Canin UK and James Wellbeloved, said that as a global business, it has a ‘responsibility’ to protect the health of its staff and prevent the spread of the virus.
As a result, the company has ‘decided to restrict international travel and not participate in large events through March 31 unless it is business critical’.
The firm said it remained ‘committed’ to Crufts and hoped to be participating ‘to the usual extent in the future’.