Dogs and Exhibitors Help Contribute to Columbia Economy

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BOONE COUNTY - The Columbia Missouri Kennel Club kicked off the first day of its annual dog show Saturday. More than 900 dogs and exhibitors gathered at the Central Missouri Events Center to compete for the "Best In Show" title. About 150 breed groups are represented at this year's show. Dogs are competing in confirmation, obedience and rally obedience categories.

The Columbia Missouri Kennel Club Dog Show has taken place since the 1940s and helps contribute to the local economy. Many exhibitors stay in local hotels, eat at restaurants and shop throughout the community. The American Kennel Club estimates a show the size of Columbia's contributes more than $400,000 to the local economy. Thirteen vendors also set up at the competition to sell items such as dog accessories, food and t-shirts.

Exhibitors could sign their dogs up for cardiac and eye exams. Certified and licensed veterinarians from the University of Missouri Veterinarian School provided the examination services. Debi Bell is the 2014 show chairperson and said dogs should typically have both heart and eye exams annually.

"One of the things we do partly as a service to exhibitors is hold some health clinics," Bell said. "Responsible breeders spend a lot of time researching the genetics of their dogs and making sure they do health testing to hopefully ensure that, to the extent possible, their breeding the healthiest dogs they can and dogs who won't pass on any hereditary diseases."

Bell said the event is also a great place for people to learn about dogs and consider getting one of their own.

"It's a great place to come out and look at the dogs, get to know breeders, find out about the dogs' personalities, activity levels, shedding and all the things that make a difference when you're trying to fit a pet into your family," Bell said. "They can watch the dogs and talk to people who spend their lives learning about these dogs and living with these dogs, to sort of interview potential breeders."

The competition will continue throughout Sunday and begin at 8 a.m. The show is open to the public and admission is two dollars per person. Children 12 and under are free.