American Kennel Association (AKC) is accused, criticized, and slammed hard by animal protection services, law enforcement agencies and lawmakers. Here’s the scoop, from three newspaper articles, The Seattle Times, Philly.com, and the New York Times.
I found a response to these accusations from American Kennel Club (AKC) in my email this morning:
February 10, 2013
Dear Fellow Dog Lover,
The New York Times published an article using unsubstantiated, anecdotal episodes to paint a grossly misleading and biased picture of dog breeders who register their dogs and litters with the AKC. In addition, they relied on opinions of other animal rights organizations, without facts to back them up, in an attempt to refute the AKC’s good working relationship with law enforcement, animal control officers, lawmakers and others who care about animal welfare and reporting animal cruelty.
AKC Respected As An Animal Welfare Organization
The article states, “But the A.K.C. is increasingly finding itself ostracized in the dog world, in the cross hairs of animal protection services, law enforcement agencies and lawmakers who say that the club is lax in performing inspections and that it often lobbies against basic animal rights bills because they could cut into dog registration fees.”
- The truth is the vast majority of breeders are responsible; in fact, over 99% of the 55,000 that the AKC has inspected since 2000, have been found to be in compliance. When AKC does discover substandard conditions, our policies require that we immediately report them to local, state and federal officials.
- AKC has a productive, working relationship with local animal controls, state and local law enforcement, state departments of agriculture throughout the country, as well as the USDA, and works cooperatively with all of those agencies to ensure the enforcement of cruelty and neglect laws, as well as the provisions of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
- In fact, in many instances, the highly publicized raids for which animal rights groups take credit in the media have come about as a direct result of AKC’s reporting to law enforcement.
- AKC is well respected by lawmakers who consider us credible experts on dog issues, and rely on our thoughtful and considered advice when it comes to legislation that will impact dogs and their breeders and owners.
- Misguided Opinions Versus Facts
The article also quotes ASPCA President and CEO Ed Sayres who says “a majority of the commercial breeders in the raids that his group participated in had ties to A.K.C.-registered litters.” But, there is no proof or numbers given to back up this charge. He goes on to state “The irony to the consumer is that they’re paying a lot for a fake Rolex.” and that he thinks “dogs are often genetically compromised and come from traumatic environments.” Both of these statements are opinions that were printed erroneously as fact.The ASPCA has a history of such tactics. Recently they reached a legal settlement with Feld Entertainment, Inc., the producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, agreeing to pay Feld $9.3 million to settle all claims related to ASPCA’s part in more than a decade of manufactured litigation brought by animal rights interest groups that attempted to outlaw elephants in the company’s Ringling Bros. Circus. This settlement applies only to the ASPCA. Feld Entertainment’s lawsuit, including its claims for litigation abuse and racketeering (RICO), continues against the remaining defendants, the Humane Society of the United States, the Fund for Animals, Animal Welfare Institute, Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute, Tom Rider and the attorneys who were involved. Discovery in the initial lawsuit uncovered over $190,000 that these animal activist groups and their lawyers paid to Tom Rider who lived off of the money while serving as the “injured plaintiff” in the lawsuit against the circus.AKC is a Leading Not-For-Profit Organization
The article also states, “As recently as 2010, roughly 40 percent of the A.K.C.’s $61 million in annual revenue came from fees related to registration. Critics say a significant part of that includes revenue from questionable breeders like the Hamiltons, or so-called puppy mills, which breed dogs en masse with little regard for basic living standards.” We gave the reporter statistics that dispute this claim but they were not used. In fact, less than 5 percent of our total revenue comes from commercial breeders who register dogs and litters with us.
- The AKC, for 129 years, has been committed to responsible dog ownership and responsible breeding of dogs, and we will continue our proactive efforts to further those goals, even when those efforts impact our bottom line.
- AKC saw substandard breeders leave the registry in droves in the mid-1990’s when it instituted a care and conditions policy, and more leave when we sought to insure the integrity of the registry through DNA testing.
An Incomplete Picture Portrayed
Hamilton Case: While the article inaccurately portrays Hamilton as a high volume breeder or “puppy mill,” court documents make clear that this was a situation where “hoarding is likely a factor in what was occurring as the Hamilton’s were clearly unable to part with dogs that they had collected over the years.”
Williams Case: The article fails to mention that Mr. and Mrs. Williams were charged in July of 2012 with one count of cruelty, and that charge was subsequently dismissed in September of 2012, based on the judge’s determination that the warrant that led to the illegal search of the Williams’ home and seizure of their dogs and the filing of the single charge was invalid. The Williams engaged in civil litigation to retain custody of their dogs from the “rescue” organization involved in the illegal seizure.
This is similar to the more egregious case of Dan Christiansen in Montana who is suing the HSUS for $5M over a 2009 “raid” of his hunting dog kennel. A judge later ruled that the warrant for the raid was obtained based on intentionally misleading information, and all of the cruelty charges against Mr. Christiansen were dismissed.
Chilinski Case: Likewise, the story fails to acknowledge that along with the seizure of Mr. Chilinski’s dogs, law enforcement seized over 200 marijuana plants that he was growing on his property, a vocation which likely led to the deterioration of his kennel and his overall ability to care for his dogs in the two years between his last AKC inspection and the raid of this property.
Voice Your Opinion
While the AKC’s critics may be vocal, they are few, led by extremist national animal rights groups who see their legislative influence and massive fundraising abilities diminished by growing recognition that the focus of their efforts is not bettering the lives of dogs or enhancing our relationship with them.
Nonetheless, AKC continues to:
- Spend millions annually on a kennel inspections program
- Donate millions for the advancement of canine health research
- Continues to give millions to canine search and rescue and disaster assistance
- Continues to support the rights of responsible breeders to breed and raise dogs, and fight for the rights of responsible individuals to own them.
It is important to note that in any enforcement and regulatory program, there will be those who approach the regulated activity with a disregard for compliance with the rules. As a result, there is always a risk that those non-compliant few will reflect negatively on the vast majority who are in compliance. Nonetheless, the AKC remains committed to its inspection program and its belief that the AKC is helping breeders achieve compliance through education regarding best practices for breeding and caring for dogs.
Please share with your friends and family the facts and go to the NYT website and take the opportunity to post your comments about your commitment to responsible breeding and ownership of dogs.
Chairman of the Board
American Kennel Club