In my book, The Bond, I wrote about some organizations that set up roadblocks to progress on animal welfare. Near the top of the list, surprisingly, is the American Kennel Club, the oldest and best-known of the breed registry groups for purebred dogs.
Without question, there are many deeply committed dog people within the ranks of the AKC. Its CAR Canine Support and Relief fund assists with search and rescue and helps pets displaced in disasters, and its Canine Health Foundation helps fund research into diseases affecting purebred dogs. Unfortunately though, the organization has veered sharply away from animal protection sensibilities and worked actively to undermine legislative proposals to establish minimum standards for commercial dog breeders. The AKC says it’s “the dog’s champion,” but its work in state capitols and other legislative settings tells an entirely different story.
This breeding operation was closed by North Carolina
authorities in May 2012. The operator had registered 91 litters
with the AKC since 2008 and the kennel had been inspected
by the AKC in 2011. The owners have been charged with
Yesterday, The HSUS released a new report revealing that over the past five years the AKC has opposed more than 80 different bills and ordinances designed to provide stronger protections for dogs in puppy mills, including Prop B in Missouri in 2010. The AKC even stood in the way of anti-puppy mill legislation in North Carolina, where its center of operations is located—and where HSUS has raided multiple puppy mills and showed a link between AKC and these squalid, overcrowded, unhealthy mills. Our new report reveals that some of the worst mills had actually been “inspected” by AKC, and one of them had registered more than 170 litters of puppies with AKC.
Then there’s obstructionism that truly makes no sense. The AKC, over the past few months, has opposed measures as benign as an ordinance in Shelby, Tenn., that would prevent dogs from being left alone in hot vehicles, and a Rhode Island bill that would prevent owners from caging a dog for more than 14 hours a day. AKC said the measures were “unwarranted” and “burdensome.”
One of the things that’s less obvious is AKC’s inaction, and its negative contributions, to the chronic health problems of purebred dogs. So many breeds have genetic and hereditary problems because of reckless breeding practices, driven by AKC’s conformation standards and not by concerns related to the underlying health and well-being of the animals. English bulldogs, Labrador retrievers, Great Danes, and so many other breeds have shortened lifespans, a proclivity to certain diseases and conditions, and other disorders because of these breeding practices. The AKC could help turn this problem around, but it’s not doing enough and not acting with the urgency that this situation requires.
Our report shows that the AKC’s business model is part of the problem. It collects registration fees from high-volume breeders, and it’s loath to criticize them. In short, the organization is making money from the very set of individuals it should be holding accountable. It’s providing political defense for the worst of the worst.
In its latest act of hostility to animal welfare, the AKC is trying to drum up opposition to the proposed USDA rule that would regulate Internet puppy sellers under the federal Animal Welfare Act. AKC’s chair described the regulations as "onerous," even though the proposal includes exemptions for small home breeders.
It’s deeply saddening to see this turn of events, and I don’t like calling them out. But facts are stubborn things and the conclusions, in this case, are painfully obvious, as our report makes plain. Read our full report here and watch the video here.