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Thursday, 7 March, 2002, 15:52 GMT
Crufts attracts more overseas entries
Doberman and owner at Crufts
The show is expected to attract 21,000 dogs
Top dogs from all over the world are gathering in Birmingham for the start of Crufts.

The 111-year-old event at the National Exhibition Centre is the world's largest and most prestigious canine show.

Crufts is expected to draw more than 21,000 dogs, 15,000 owners and 120,000 visitors over the four-day event.

This year's show is also a showcase for the Animals in War memorial fund to raise 1m for animals that die every year in what the organisers call "human conflict".

Bearded collies at the NEC
The best-in-show title is awarded on Sunday

Vanessa McAlpine, chief executive for organisers the Kennel Club, said: "Crufts 2002 will continue to be a showcase of all that is positive about dogs and our relationship with them.

"This event is unrivalled throughout the world and visitors seem genuinely amazed by its size and scope.

"We envisage, as usual, that Crufts will certainly not disappoint visitors."

The show, which was founded in 1891 by entrepreneur Charles Cruft, will feature more than 300 foreign dogs and is expected to pull in more than 5,000 visitors from outside the British Isles.

Last year the show was delayed because of the foot-and-mouth epidemic.

A spokesman for the organisers said: "We have 343 overseas competitors, the Pets Travel scheme came into force two years ago so now dogs don't have to spend time in quarantine for six months.

"Having fulfilled rabies requirement they can come and have a great day and then go home without all the problems of the past."

More than 170 different breeds are expected to compete for this year's best-in-show title, which will be awarded on Sunday.

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