PA Kennel and Obedience Club cancels weekend dog show due to COVID concerns

Club president said they had precautions in place for a safe show, but recent case numbers made it impossible to go ahead

Liana Maloney grooms Mary Kay, a champion Sheltie during a dog show in Prince Albert on March 10, 2019. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

The Prince Albert Kennel and Obedience Club has cancelled a four-day dog show scheduled to start on Friday due to the increase in COVID-19.

The organization made a formal announcement on their Facebook page on Tuesday, telling prospective attendees the dramatic increase in cases made it impossible to host the show. A maximum of 125 exhibitors and volunteers would have been involved, with no more than 200 dogs in attendance. The dog show typically draws exhibitors from as far as British Columbia, and Quebec.

Kennel and Obedience Club president Liana Maloney said it wasn’t the outcome they hoped for, but given the circumstances, cancelling the show was in everyone’s best interests.

“With COVID rising like it was, it really wasn’t the best time for all of this to come to a head,” Maloney said during an interview on Wednesday. “We understand the reason why it had to be cancelled. We’re a little disappointed, but there are a lot of worse things than not being able to go to a dog show.”

Maloney said the club worked closely with the health experts to make the event safe. They had written approval from the Saskatchewan Health Authority, and required all attendees to sign a waiver saying they did not have COVID-19 and had not come into contact with anyone who did.

When the club opened up event registration in October, the demand for entry spaces was so strong it crashed their servers. Typically, it takes around 48 hours to fill out a 200 dog show. Maloney said they hit their cap in just four minutes.

“We had over 800 exhibitors trying to enter online,” Maloney explained. “It was like trying to get tickets to a Garth Brooks concert.”

She said the COVID-19 shutdown has been hard on those whose livelihoods depend on dog shows. The average handler works three out of every four weekends, but Maloney said there were maybe five dog shows held in the entire country since the start of the pandemic. Most of those people are eager to get back to normal.

The Kennel Club has received questions about its decision to host a show in the first place. Maloney said they wouldn’t have tried to host a show if they didn’t think they could do it safely.

“Our club was doing everything (we could) to do the protocols right,” she said. “We wanted to do the right thing. We know the priority is people’s health and well-being, and we certainly understand that.”

The November dog show isn’t the only event on hold. The Kennel and Obedience Club has also cancelled agility dog and rally trials that were scheduled for later this month.

Despite the setbacks, Maloney is confident the dog show circuit will bounce back stronger than ever.

“You can’t keep us down for long,” she said. “We’re a tenacious bunch.”