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New York, NY – Earlier today the American Kennel Club® and many proud dog fanciers took part in the annual Columbus Day Parade on New York City’s Fifth Avenue which is the world’s largest celebration of Italian-American culture. For the first time ever in the parade’s 65 year history, the procession included rare Italian dog breeds, recognizing Italy’s great contributions to the dog world and celebrating the upcoming Meet the Breeds event at the Javits Center on October 17th and 18th where pet lovers can meet 200 breeds of dog and cat.


The one million parade spectators enjoyed watching a group of over 30 marchers and 13 furry friends including the Bergamasco, an ancient shepherding breed with a striking coat of dense, flat mats that reach the ground; the Lagotto Romagnolo, a dog from Northwest Italy with thick curly hair and a history dating back to the 16th century and the only two native Italian gun-dog breeds, the Bracco Italiano and Spinone Italiano.

“We are so pleased to have taken part in this wonderful New York City tradition,” said Gina DiNardo, spokesperson for the AKC and the Meet the Breeds event. “Parade spectators enjoyed seeing these four-legged marchers in amongst the 35,000 people, while the owners of these dogs were proud to celebrate their heritage and invite those who want to learn more to visit these dogs at the Javits Center this weekend.”

Meet the Breeds is the world’s largest showcase of dogs and cats and will be held on October 17-18, 2009, at the Javits Center in New York City. From the Afghan Hound to the Turkish Angora, the event will showcase both AKC registered dog breeds and Cat Fanciers’ Association registered cat breeds in booths individually decorated to depict each breed’s country of origin, historical purpose/function, and attributes as a family pet.  The family-friendly event is an opportunity for potential pet owners to interact with responsible breeders and play with dogs and cats while educating themselves about responsible pet ownership and choosing the right pet for their lifestyle.   Event hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Tickets allow admittance for one day and can be purchased at

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