American Kennel Club opposed 450+ bills designed to help dogs

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on June 30, 2023 with 12 Comments

New research conducted by our Stop Puppy Mills campaign reveals that the American Kennel Club, a purebred dog registry organization that used to call itself “the dog’s champion,” has opposed more than 450 bills that aimed to help pups since 2008. What’s more, its opposition has escalated, at the same time that dozens of AKC-linked breeders have appeared in our annual Horrible Hundred reports on problem puppy mills, and others have been charged with or convicted of animal cruelty.

When we began tracking the AKC’s opposition to humane legislation in 2008, we found that, through its government relations arm, the organization opposed at least 15 bills designed to help dogs in puppy mills, such as breeder licensing bills in Washington, D.C., New Jersey, Michigan and Virginia, and a bill in South Carolina to limit the amount of time dogs could be kept in small crates.

Protect puppies from cruel puppy mills!

In 2023, the AKC has opposed at least 26 proposed bills in just the first six months of the year. These included several humane pet store bills that would have stopped the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores, and bills that would help facilitate intervention to seize dogs in suspected animal cruelty situations. In addition, the AKC opposed:

  • A bill in New York to prohibit debarking of dogs.
  • A bill in Virginia that would require dogs to have continual access to water.
  • A regulatory proposal in Oklahoma to allow the state’s department of agriculture to seize dogs from commercial breeders if it has reason to believe the health, safety or welfare of the animal is endangered.
  • An ordinance in Knoxville, Tennessee, that would require owners to give dogs access to adequate exercise space, among other things.
  • A bill on animal fighting in Georgia that would make it an offense to “possess, purchase, or sell ‘fighting related objects.’”

The AKC even expressed concerns over a bill in Connecticut to prevent the sexual abuse of animals, claiming that it could interfere with their breeders’ artificial insemination practices.

In addition to opposing state and local laws, the AKC’s lobbyists have been making the rounds in the U.S. Congress to express opposition to humane laws at the federal level. One of their main targets is the Puppy Protection Act (H.R.1624), which would require U.S. Department of Agriculture-licensed breeders to provide dogs with better veterinary care, space to run and protection from extreme temperatures. The AKC is also pushing a problematic bill, the Healthy Dog Importation Act (H.R.1184/S.502), that is in line with their repeated attacks on animal rescue organizations. The bill could make it harder for rescues to save animals, expose them to liability for their lifesaving work, and potentially stall efforts requiring various agencies working together, including those that help animals in disaster, emergencies or cruelty investigations.

With the AKC drawing its income from the staggering quantity of puppies registered in its books, it’s no wonder why the organization habitually opposes laws designed to curb massive, irresponsible breeding, and is interfering with the good work of nonprofit animal rescues.

Despite the AKC’s established history of opposing animal protection laws, decision-makers in government often do not understand that the AKC is not an animal welfare organization, but a dog registry that profits from the mass production of puppies. Taking advantage of such misperceptions, AKC lobbyists mislead government leaders by claiming that the group self-inspects its breeders, when in fact most breeders who register with the AKC are not inspected, and many of the AKC’s “inspections” are primarily paperwork reviews. For example, the AKC’s “inspections” of Petland stores, parts of which HSUS investigators have filmed undercover, are not humane inspections: Instead, AKC representatives visit the stores to review their registration documents. But shoppers who see the “AKC inspected” signs in Petland’s stores are apt to wrongly infer from the signs that Petland’s puppies are all from AKC-inspected breeders.

Of course, some AKC-registered breeders are responsible, breed sparingly and take excellent care of their dogs. But the AKC has done little to address the bad apples among its registrants. Our Horrible Hundred reports have featured AKC-linked breeders who had underweight dogs, excessive roaches and feces and other egregious conditions.

We hope someday the AKC will join us in championing some basic common-sense laws to prevent animal cruelty. Until then, we will continue to educate the public about what AKC really stands for: protecting the profits of the puppy mill industry.

You can ask your representatives to co-sponsor the Puppy Protection Act, which would help save thousands of dogs from suffering.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Companion Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Kathy Casino says:

    People who aren’t dog lovers should not have puppy mills. If they don’t take care of the dogs, they are only in it for the money. It’s inhumane.

  2. Patricia M. Summers says:

    For years and years, the more I’ve read about AKC, the worse the organization sounds. And I strongly agree w/ what you say here about dog registration and its income, rather than dog welfare being, far and away, AKC’s focus. AKC is an old-line org., and needs to be known more widely, chastised and cancelled!

  3. Jake Ridings says:

    I will never donate a cent to the American Kennel Club again I hope they go bankrupt and I hope this canceled culture takes them out and wipes them from the face this Earth it’ll be the last time I watch one of their dog shows or purchase anything even related to their websites without money without funding they go broke and they go away so close your pocketbooks and just let these people do stupidity on their own part and they’ll eventually run out of their own money. The fact that they won’t even sponsor a bill to curb sexual abuse of an animal shows you who these people are and what kind of mindset of perversion they have

    • Lisa Keller says:

      Do your own homework. AKC is not the villain here.
      HSUS needs checks and balances in the ways they may harm the rights of people enjoying purebred dogs and

      • Aimee Cadiz says:

        Opposing a bill to allow drinking water to an animal is pure abuse. There is no excuse for puppy mills in the name of “harming the rights of people enjoying purebred dogs” What does one have to do with the other?

  4. Louis Mazzella says:

    We shouldn’t even have puppy mills there’s to many dogs already most are in shelters that are overcrowded .

  5. Helga says:

    AKC are just capitalist pigs.

  6. Cheri Boston says:

    The AKC is just a bunch of money hungry people who couldn’t care less about the welfare or treatment of dogs. Their purpose has deteriorated over the years and I refuse to have anything to do with them. SHAME on them!!!!

  7. Anne Grice says:

    The AKC is an insult to human decency , animals and the whole democratic society ! This is a weakness , a fault and a huge let down in animal welfare ! It is a weakness of the American political system ! Not many countries would tolerate this dysfunctional system in animal welfare!

  8. H Strasser says:

    I would never give them a dime. How many breeds have they ruined??? Such hypocrisy. I have a gorgeous GSD with pure GERMAN lines. I would never waste my time giving anything to the AKC registry!!

  9. Amanda Shryock says:

    Even beyond the AKC, dog breeding shouldn’t be allowed PERIOD!! That’s your argument? ENJOYING purebred dogs??? Do you think English bulldogs enjoy not being able to give birth vaginally and requiring c-sections because breeding has resulted in their pelvises being misshapen and therefore unable to allow the passage of her offspring?! Not to mention EVERY single other breed that we have caused inherited diseases in due to INBREEDING!! Ban breeding and the AKC!!

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