This morning, the TODAY Show ran a hard-hitting exposé on the American Kennel Club, revealing that the nation’s largest purebred registry group, one that self-identifies as “the dog’s champion,” is connected at the hip to the puppy mill industry. The program, as reported by Jeff Rossen, highlighted a report released by The HSUS that revealed that the AKC has now opposed more than 90 state and local bills to establish some minimum humane breeding standards for the care of dogs over the last five or so years. The central problem, also picked up in today’s news report, is that the AKC is financially beholden to the puppy mill industry through its puppy registration program. It is estimated that about 75 percent of its constituency are commercial puppy producers. The TODAY Show broadcast includes a variety of scenes from HSUS raids of squalid, overcrowded puppy mills that were registering puppies with the AKC.
This sort of exposure – which reminds people that AKC papers are essentially meaningless to anyone interested in acquiring a dog – is helping to drive consumers toward shelters and rescue groups and to more responsible breeders as the source for the new animal in their lives. That’s as it should be. More resources are readily available for consumers, such as the Shelter Pet Project for adoptable pets, and our guide to finding a responsible dog breeder.
Diane Lewis/The HSUS
Sales of dogs in pet stores, one of the primary ways puppy millers sell their dogs, have been steadily declining as a result of our investigations, consumer education and outreach campaigns, and policy reforms. The country’s two major pet supply chains – PetSmart and Petco – do not sell dogs from breeders, and make dogs available for adoption from shelters and rescues. In Canada, Petland stopped selling puppies completely because it is no longer profitable. More than 2,000 independent pet stores have signed our pledge not to sell puppies.
Lambriar, Inc. was one of the largest puppy brokers in the country until last summer, when it shut down because of pressure from our community. And even malls are telling puppy-selling pet stores to either stop selling dogs or move out.
Some of the largest Internet sites are making changes, including Facebook, which prohibits advertisements for puppies, and eBay, which displays a warning about online puppy sales and links users to The HSUS’ information about puppy mills. The HSUS is anxiously awaiting a final rule from the Obama administration to bring Internet sellers of puppies under the regulatory authority of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to meet minimum animal care standards under the federal Animal Welfare Act.
Thirty-five states now have some regulation of commercial dog breeders and countless localities have taken their own actions against the industry. But with the American Kennel Club opposing almost every piece of legislation (local, state and federal), these changes have been hard-won.
The battle to stop cruel puppy mills is by no means over, but the work of The HSUS and millions of advocates has already improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of dogs raised for the commercial pet trade. We intend to redouble our efforts, and TODAY’s exposure should provide compelling and somewhat startling information to millions of Americans.