The Jack Russell And The Fight Against Fox Hunting
In the late sixties and early seventies, the free love movement also brought along with it a number of new animal rights groups that protested the inhumane treatment of animals. These groups set their sights firmly on the practice of fox hunting; targeting it as cruel and inhumane to the fox, and also raising issues about the ethical treatment of the dogs used in the hunt as well.
The main point of contention was that many hunters considered a dog to be beyond its usefulness once it was beyond five years old. Many hunters would put down healthy dogs, based solely on their age and the possibility of having outlived their usefulness. Public outcry against the practice of fox hunting quickly resulted in the popularity of the sport to decline. Critics declared publicly that the sport was barbaric and uncivilized; causing it to fall out of fashion with many of Britain's elite and wealthy. The sudden drop in the popularity of the very sport that Jack Russell's were famous for meant that a number of trainers and breeding operations went out of business. The number of Jack Russell's being born every year plummeted and their total numbers hit an all-time low, endangering the beloved breed.
The sport of fox hunting did survive, and the Jack Russell continued to be bred by remaining fox hunting enthusiasts, the fox hunting industry as a whole is just much smaller than it once was. With the drop of popularity in sports considered to be "uncivilized", a renewed interest arose in hobbies and activities that were considered acceptable. One such hobby that experienced a new surge in interest was dog showing. As previously mentioned, the Jack Russell Terrier has always had a strange relationship with the dog show.
Most Jack Russell owners have resisted any sort of grading of their animals based on their appearance, mostly because the value many owners find in the breed is not in their looks, but their working and problem solving skills. It is for this reason that most organized events for Jack Russell's consist of field trials and jumping exercises.