Westminster Dog Show 2023 Live Updates: Cider Wins the Sporting Group

Credit…Calla Kessler for The New York Times

The dogs competing at Westminster’s varied events typically arrive in peak condition, their eyes shining, their coats glossy, their laps around the ring perfectly practiced. But with thousands of dogs competing over the course of a few days, some canine competitors are bound to get sick or injured, just like any other athletes.

When they do, veterinarians from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, in Ithaca, N.Y., and the Cornell University Veterinary Specialists, in Stamford, Conn., are on hand to provide quick medical assessments and render basic first aid.

Typically, that’s all that’s needed, said Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro, an emergency and critical care specialist who was manning the temporary veterinary clinic on Monday. “The majority of things that we see, fortunately, are broken toenails and muscle strains,” she said.

The veterinary team is equipped to clean small wounds, apply bandages and treat allergic reactions, among other simple services. “No one has broken their leg, but we could put splints on and do pain control,” Mazzaferro said.

They do get the occasional canine emergency. In previous years, Mazzaferro said, the team saw one dog with a twisted stomach and another with an infected uterus, both of which are potentially life-threatening. In those cases, the on-site veterinarians sent the owners to local emergency hospitals.

The veterinarians do sometimes find themselves treating two-legged patients, especially during the agility competition, which requires dogs — and their human handlers — to navigate a sometimes-slick obstacle course. “We have seen handlers wipe out, so they will come to us for an ice pack,” Mazzaferro said.

Last year, a young handler dropped a crate on her foot shortly before she was due in the show ring for the Junior showmanship competition, which is open to children between the ages of 9 and 18. The girl needed stitches, but Mazzaferro cleaned and bandaged the wound so that she could compete first. “She said to her mom, ‘I’m at the vet tent, they’re taking good care of me,’” Mazzaferro recalled.

For the veterinarians, Westminster is a fun opportunity to see rare dog breeds, Mazzaferro said. But as a pug owner, she does have her own rooting interest, she confessed: “I always say, ‘May the best pug win.’”

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