George Milutinovich, a former restaurant owner and purebred dog enthusiast from Fresno, will serve as a judge at the 147th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show next week.
This marks the second time that Milutinovich has been invited to serve as a judge at the nation’s most prestigious dog show.
Driving the news: The Westminster Dog Show will start Saturday and run through May 9, bringing the sport of purebred dogs to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York – the home of the U.S. Open.
- Milutinovich will serve as the non-sporting group judge on May 8, and the winner that he picks will advance to the best in show ring.
- He first served as a breed judge in 2021, when the show was held at New York’s historic Lyndhurst Mansion.
The backstory: Milutinovich’s love of dogs started on his grandmother’s ranch in Biola and her ranch dog. Some of his happiest childhood memories came at the family farm, which started his love of animals.
- When he was 16 Milutinovich got his first dog, a pug, and quickly taught it obedience and took it to dog shows. He and his wife Cathy, along with their children, have owned several different breeds as their involvement in the sport grew.
- Milutinovich first started judging dogs in 1999 and has traveled to Canada, Mexico, Sweden and China to serve as a judge in the years since.
- His professional experience locally came in the restaurant industry for 47 years, notably as the former owner of The Lime Lite in Fresno.
What they’re saying: “It’s been a wonderful, wonderful sport that I’ve been very proud to be involved in,” Milutinovich said.
- The first invitation a couple years ago came as quite a surprise to him, and the opportunity to return to New York will once again bring him to the mecca of the sport.
- “There is no way of knowing exactly how your name surfaces with the powers that be there,” Milutinovich said. “I remember a couple years ago when the letter came in the mail for my first assignment, when I saw the return address was Westminster Kennel Club I kind of chuckled and I go, ‘Oh they must be looking for a donation or something.’ And then you open it up and it’s this invitation that it’s so unexpected. It’s the pinnacle in our sport, and I’m just honored to have been invited the first time and then invited back. It’s hard to put into words.”