American Kennel Club Criticized for Connections to Bad Breeders

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The American Kennel Club is the place to go to register purebred dogs, and it's also the governing body for dog shows, including the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which is currently in New York.

But some breeders who sell dogs registered with the club have been raided by police on animal abuse charges, and critics believe that the Kennel Club does not do nearly enough to inspect breeders it supports, according to a startling expose in the New York Times.

At this year's Westminster Dog Show. Take the example of Margaret and James Hamilton, described as a "dog power couple" in the story. Margaret was a breeder and a dog show judge who owned prizewinning Chihuahuas. James was prominent member of a local A.K.C. Rottweiler club.

RELATED: Puppy Mills and Backyard Breeders

Yet in 2011, according to the story, police "found 38 dogs that were under James' care, mostly Chihuahuas, living in small crates filled with fur and feces, the cages stacked on top of one another in a dark basement, according to court documents. A radio was blaring, drowning out the sound of barking, and many of the dogs were malnourished and had eye diseases and overgrown toenails, according to investigators. Thirteen dogs were euthanized the night of their rescue because of incurable health problems, including severe periodontal disease."

"It was a Silence of the Lambs scene down there," Kim Koon of Pasado's Safe Haven said. "Those animals were in horrible shape."

That same day, police seized 62 dogs from the Hamiltons' residence in Issaquah, WA. One was later euthanized.

RELATED: Responsible Dog Breeders Are Rare, But I Found One and So Can You

The A.K.C. acted swiftly, stripping Margaret of "all A.K.C. privileges" including judging and fined her $2,000.

According to the Times, critics say that the A.K.C "is lax in performing inspections and that it often lobbies against basic animal rights bills because they could cut into dog registration fees," which make up roughly 40 percent of the A.K.C.'s $61 million annual revenue. "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."

One of those critics is the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

President and and chief executive Ed Sayres said a majority of the commercial breeders in the raids the ASPCA has participated in "have had ties to A.K.C.-registered litters."

"The irony to the consumer is that they're paying a lot for a fake Rolex," he said, adding that some of the dogs are "genetically compromised" and come from "traumatic environments."

Puppy mills? Traumatic environments? When you went with a breeder that registers dogs with the A.K.C., that's not what you signed up for, is it?

RELATED: Important Questions to Ask a Breeder

The A.K.C., meanwhile, disputes the allegations, and says that it is not a law enforcement agency and can't be responsible for all breeders, but it is "proactive in ferreting out animal abuse," says Lisa Peterson, the communications director for the A.K.C. The group has nine field agents who inspect breeders.

The Times story goes on to give examples of breeders who were shut down after raids, with one owner even sentenced to prison, despite repeated inspections by A.K.C. field agents in previous years, who found the kennels "in compliance."

A.K.C.'s associations with low-quality, high-volume breeders are causing some people to distance themselves from the group. Will you be next?


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The AKC organization is only there to be a registry/ stud book / breeding log for pure bred dog breeds. That is all. Anything they do on top of that is icing on the cake. They educate the public and new breeders. They are an educational charity, not a law enforcement agency. The bills their members fight enforce negative breeding practices such as forcing breeders to keep new litters in cages instead of whelping boxes in the home.

If people want good puppies, they should take a minute to educate themselves with the many resources available and find a good breeder. One who has dogs that are CHIC certified for health testing, health guaranteed, and that you've met at least the mother of, and know that they were raised in the home with plenty of attention and exposure to new things.

February 17 2013 at 12:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Be Still

You know what you people do? Believe everything "media" tells you. You have NO clue about the truth concerning AKC rules and regulations. They are EXCELLENT! Read up on WHO reported those breeders to the authorities...YEP, AKC...duhhhh.... Get your heads out of the sand and LEARN the truth before you open you BIG DUMB mouths. It is pathetic how much people believe AND judge just because media twists the truth. Oh GOD, help America!

February 13 2013 at 11:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is the exact reason why I no longer have any respect for AKA, when an organization will turn a blind eye to the puppy mill breeders among them they lose all creditability. I've quit watching Westminster Dog Show and other dog shows.

February 13 2013 at 5:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Troy Simmons

The AKC Needs to clean up its act and enforce its rules and strengthen then them.

February 13 2013 at 1:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

AKC is a JOKE. They inspected this alleged puppymill

A local citizen, who has been reported for running an illegal breeding kennel in a residential neighborhood, is now applying for a zoning variance to continue operating that kennel legally in said residential neighborhood.

The humane officer's report on the conditions of the facility, which is a matter of public record, is horrific. In the humane officer's own words, it is a "puppy mill". The report shows incredible neglect of the animals. I have reproduced the humane officer's report below, word for word (including her emphases and quoting). It's important to know that as shocking as the report is, it is the first-hand report of a Fauquier County Humane Investigator, on file and available to the public at the county offices, and is not hearsay.

As you read it, keep in mind that the person responsible for that facility is applying for a permit to legally keep and breed 40 dogs. As you will see in the report, 48 dogs are already illegally there living in the described conditions, and the facility produced at least 99 puppies last year alone without a kennel license. The conditions there are like something out of network news exposé, and it is happening right here in our county.

If the issue of animal neglect and overbreeding is important to you and you have the time, please attend the hearing this Thursday and speak up about what you will read below. People need to speak up because the humane investigator's final recommendation does not seem to be severe enough, given the circumstances. Also, there is a site visit before the hearing, and odds are good that the situation the county officials will see on Thursday's planned visit will look very different than it was during the investigator's two unplanned visits. It's entirely possible that the officials will focus on whatever improvements have been made while forgetting the deplorable conditions the animals were kept in before the owner was reported.

The following link has the logistical information:

If you don't have time to attend the hearing, then please send an e-mail with your thoughts on this to the county official in charge of the case, Don Del Rosso, at before Thursday.

If you don't have time to send an e-mail, please call Don Del Russo before Thursday during business hours at 540-422-8210 and tell him what you think.

All letters, e-mails and phone calls received by the county before the hearing will be reported to the zoning board to consider in their decision. So every e-mail and phone call counts.

Please keep in mind that the fact that this application is making its way through the process is not the county's fault, so please be respectful to county officials if you contact Don Del Rosso and/or go to the hearing. The county is required by law to consider every application and put them all

February 13 2013 at 1:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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