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New York Fair Cancels Pig Race Amidst Swine Flu Fears; Instead Brings in Dogs

NEW YORK (TheBlaze/AP) -- Organizers of the county fair on New York's Staten Island are making a dogged effort to prevent the spread of swine flu.

The Staten Island Advance says this year's Richmond County Fair is forgoing pig races in response to a new swine flu strain. Instead, the Labor Day weekend fair will feature dogs running down an elevated plank and diving into the water.

Former Detroit Tigers pitcher Milt Wilcox owns Ultimate Air Dogs, which is hosting the canine caper. He's encouraging fairgoers to bring their dogs if they like to swim.

"It's like the doggy Olympics. These are amateurs. They will dash down a raised dock, leap into the air, and they are judged on a variety of different ways: They can catch things, on distance, height," Ed Wiseman, executive director of Historic Richmond Town, said to the Staten Island Advance.

Here's more from the Staten Island Advance about the new Ultimate Air Dogs feature:

"We make it a family experience. We're not really competitive; you make new friends and new acquaintances," said Wilcox, encouraging Islanders with water-loving dogs of any size shape or type, to sign up beforehand on the Historic Richmond Town website, or to simply bring their pooch to the fair and give it a try.

[...]

Dogs will be eligible for ribbons and jump certificates for taking part in any of the four shows, planned for each of the three days of the Richmond County Fair -- Sept. 1, 2 and 3.

If a four-legged athlete breaks the pool record of a 21-foot, 7-inch jump, the competitor and its human will take home a $500 prize. Already signed up to showcase his talent at the fair is the record holder, a New York-based German Shorthaired Pointer named Seven, Wilcox said.

If you're still unsure what Ultimate Air Dogs is all about, check out this video from the CMA Festival in 2011:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said the new swine flu strain is relatively mild. Some cases have been linked to fairs, so the health organization has encouraged people not to pet pigs.

Still, in case you're curious, check out this YouTube video of the 2010 pig race at the county fair:

One last thing…
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