AKC on the wrong side of the puppy mill debate – in a huge way

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The American Kennel Club continues to stand on the wrong side of the push to shut down puppy mills. The last straw is the movement in my home state of North Carolina, where HB930 made through a full vote in the state House by a huge margin. But the bill is currently stalled in the Senate.

The measure contains guidelines based on the AKC standards of care. Yet the AKC is now in a position of opposing a movement to set these standards statewide.

An article that ran April 4 on the WGHP website quotes from a statement offered up by the AKC –

“The American Kennel Club believes that devoting more resources to enforcing current laws is a better solution than more regulation. North Carolina’s Animal Welfare Act already provides laws to govern the care of animals. Recent law enforcement actions against substandard kennels demonstrate that these laws work. The priority should be on providing local law enforcement with the resources they need to properly enforce these laws.”

There are some real problems with this statement. One is the fact that law enforcement offices all around the map are calling for clear-cut standards and often we see that conditions have to reach a horrible level before they can step in.

To suggest that current laws are enough in states like North Carolina is to loose all credibility. It is just not a statement based on the facts at hand. Yes, we need to see the laws enforced. But the regulations are currently very weak in NC.

In addition, we have a system of inspections in place for rescue shelters – yet nothing like this at all for breeding operations. Yes, the people and groups who rescue dogs and those who take in dogs pulled from puppy mills are inspected. But the puppy mills are not.

HB930 does not contain a system for inspections. I wish it did. But you can be sure that groups the AKC would throw full tantrums if inspections were in the bill. The last thing they want is for breeding operations to face improved standard of care and inspections.


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AKC continues to oppose puppy-mill regulations

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I read an interesting article from WCNC out of Charlotte, NC – back in late February that I saved to soak in and then comment on later.

The headline was – “AKC leads lobbying against NC’s puppy mill law.” The proposed law is in the form of House Bill 930, which is currently held up in the North Carolina Senate.

As the article notes, this is a compromise bill and from previous reports contains standards of care that follow those published by the American Kennel Club. Yet the AKC is now in a position where its lobbyist are opposing those standards.

WCNC reports all other industries dropped their opposition to the NC legislation, while the AKC continues to fight anything that might cut into the numbers produced by mass-breeding operations; you know – puppy mills.

Kim Alboum of the HSUS in NC is quoted as saying – “The American Kennel Club actually receives money for all the puppies that [are] registered through them.” Yes – that is the key.

And we are reminded that the New York Times recently reported the AKC “often lobbies against basic animal rights bills because they could cut into dog registration fees And “Roughly 40 percent of the AKC’s $61 million in revenue came from fees related to registration.”

And then a statement from the AKC is included, one based far more on wildly-inaccurate propaganda than facts.

For example, the claim is made that the bill would make the job of law enforcement more difficult. This flies in the face of law enforcement statements from around map, where officials are calling for better tools to fight this sort of abuse.

The AKC tosses out the tired old claims about the regulations being based on numbers and that they don’t cover hobby breeders such as hunters. But the huge reality is this – IF a bill ever included ALL breeders, the AKC would be first out of the box to scream that is wasn’t fair. This crying about the bill not covering everyone is pure nonsense from groups like the AKC.

The NC bill passed in the House 101-14, but some twisting by a few Senate members has it held up there – unfortunately. Another big item of note in the WCNC article is the AKC campaign donations to Senator Bill Rabon, who is a ringleader in blocking the legislation.


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HSUS board member reviews 2013

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A view of the year 2013 for the Humane Society of the US, written by board member Cathy Kangas, was publish Tuesday on the Huffington Post website.

While the list Kangas features contains a number of important facts, some of the information really deserves highlights.

The public also became aware of the American Kennel Club’s ties with the puppy mill industry.

The HSUS also successfully advocated for passage of amendments to the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations bills to defund horse slaughter inspections, which if retained in the final FY 2014 spending bill, will restore the ban on horse slaughter in the U.S.

The HSUS won a big victory in securing an amendment to the farm bill that makes it a federal crime to attend an animal fight.

Let’s hope we see a huge range of success in the area of animal welfare in 2014.

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USDA announces crackdown on online puppy mill sales

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Finally, we might be seeing a move at the federal level to go after puppy mills.

The USDA has announced new regulations to bring dog breeders who sell puppies online or through the mail or by phone under the same guidelines imposed on wholesale breeders. This will be the case for breeders who breed four females or more.

The Associated Press story notes these breeders will need to apply for federal licenses and can be inspected by officials with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

And here’s more great news from the AP piece:

The Agriculture Department estimates that up to 4,640 dog breeders could be affected by the rule, along with about 325 cat breeders and up to 75 rabbit breeders.

Those oppose to the new rules claim the move will put many breeders out of business. GOOD. Those who cannot comply with basic, humane standards of care should not be allowed to operate at all.

Naturally, the AKC opposes the move by the USDA, as reported by the AP:

The American Kennel Club said it is dismayed by the rule, which is “overly broad and will do more damage than good,” said spokeswoman Lisa Petersen.

The AKC always opposes new regulations on puppy mills. Any move to actually force bad breeders to shut down brings the AKC out in force. And get this, the group claims the term “breeding female” is too vague. They probably think the term “compassion” is too vague.

Global Animal puts it this way – “Dog lovers rejoice!”

And on his blog, Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the US says tens of thousands of dogs housed in puppy mill will gain protection under the new regulations.

Pacelle explains the HSUS, the Humane Society Legislative Fund and the Doris Day Animal League have been pushing for the change. And they believe “… it was fundamentally unfair that people involved in the same underlying business enterprise (breeding dogs to sell for profit) would face entirely different regulatory standards.”

At minimum, why can’t officials at the AKC understand even this fact?

Pacelle goes on to add:

We thank the Obama administration and the USDA for bringing new standards of care to thousands of puppies, but also to kittens, rabbits and other warm-blooded animals who are often raised in inhumane facilities and sold as pets over the Internet, by mail or by phone, sight-unseen.

We must impose a system of inspections for commercial breeders. Those found to be abusing animals should be immediately shut down and those found to be operating without a license should be immediately shut down.

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Pennsylvania legislature passes new animal-welfare bill

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Despite some setbacks across the map, the animal-welfare movement is seeing forward progress and some key wins. Pennsylvania joined the list of positive results this week, with the passage of its “Cost of Care” bill in the state legislature. And reports indicate Governor Corbett will sign it into law.

The legislation means those accused of animal cruelty will be required to pay a set amount of money to help cover the cost of food and medical care for animals seized in these cases. As it stands now, animal shelters are forced to cover the costs of care as the cases make their way to completion.

If those accused of crimes challenge the payments, a hearing will be held where “humane officers must prove their case,” according to a post Wednesday on the Philly Dawg blog on Philly.com.

Philly Dawg noted the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau pushed to exempt farm animals and dogs in puppy mills. And as expected, the American Kennel Club urged the Governor to veto the bill (big surprise, right?). The AKC reportedly suggested that despite the hearing system, the law would violate the due process rights of the accused.
Again, we have groups fighting to protect those who abuse animals. Those of us fighting to protect animals from abuse, torture and neglect are disgusted by these efforts to defend the abusers.
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Another editorial on puppy mills and the AKC

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Op Ed News ran an editorial May 2 by Suzana Megles, under the headline – “The AKC and Puppy Mills.”

Megles cites information from the Humane Society of the US that states the AKC has opposed 90 state and local bills for the for the past five years. She rightfully notes PetSmart and Petco stopped selling puppies some time ago and over 2.000 independent pet stores have signed the HSUS pledge to no longer sell puppies.

And I was happy to see the information about Facebook not allowing advertisements for puppies and eBay’s warning about on-line puppy sales.


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Today Show reports on AKC and puppy mills

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This one is huge. We are seeing more media coverage on puppy mills, but the national media needs to step up to the plate. The Today Show’s Jeff Rossen is one of the best right now at exposing all sorts of important news – all sorts of important wrongs.

Early today, his Rossen Reports segment focused on the American Kennel Club and how puppy mill breeders are being uncovered, who are AKC registered and inspected.

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During an interview, HSUS president Wayne Pacelle called an AKC registration, “Really just a piece of paper without any practical value to dog welfare.”

Rossen interviewed an AKC representative who said she does not know how many breeders are registered with the AKC. She couldn’t answer a question about the percentage of breeders who are inspected each year. She claims the AKC has conducted 55,000 inspections since the year 2000. That’s about 350 inspections per month for 13 years – with nine inspectors total for the entire country. Using the current claims and numbers, that comes to about 38 inspections per inspector per month.

So rounding down, that’s about one inspection per day, every day for nine inspectors.
The AKC promotes its inspection system as great. But the AKC is inspecting breeders who have a vested interest in not being shut down by the very organization the registration money for its puppies goes to.

And Rossen also notes animal-welfare groups’ concerns about the AKC’s effort to stop new breeding regulations from being enacted. The AKC does not want a system of inspections and it now continues go after legislation that limits the regulations to breeders with a minimum number of breeding dogs.
But these minimum numbers placed in the bills and laws are typically included by compromise, due to the concerns of others who oppose breeding regulations. So this argument is a catch-22 from the AKC.

Sure, animal lovers would love for the regulations to cover all breeders. But for example, the effort in North Carolina is a compromise measure. We have to take what we can get and we can’t NOT protect dogs in breeding operations with 10 or more females merely due to number crunching.
We need to protect as many dogs as possible as soon as possible.

This is why I am supporting the NC bill.

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Is the AKC changing its tune on puppy mills? – We’ll need proof

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In researching information about the new puppy mill legislation in North Carolina, I ran across the American Kennel Club’s statement concerning the bill. And then I found an editorial about the AKC from June of 2012, on the Global Animal website.

The AKC is actually supporting the animal care standards in NC House Bill 903. The bill’s provisions include required access to daily exercise; fresh food and water; veterinary care; preventative care; protection from extreme weather and better flooring for cages.

But the AKC is knocking the bill in regard to not covering breeders with fewer than 10 breeding females – in stating:

AKC believes that animal cruelty statutes should cover all dogs regardless of the number or reason owned.

But the problem is the AKC’s previous and consistent work in battling breeding regulations across the country. Global Animal went after the AKC’s efforts in an editorial posted on its website in June of last year.

The piece includes this statement:

According to Friends of Animals and multiple other animal welfare organizations, it’s estimated that up to 80% of the AKC’s annual income comes from puppy mills or “high volume breeders.”

I hope the AKC is changing and will really go after breeders who register their dogs with the group, but are actually nothing more than puppy mills. I will need to see positive actions that tell me the AKC is changing before I change my take.

Too often I’ve read where a puppy mill has been raided that was selling AKC registered puppies.


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AKC judge and dog breeder will not get his breeding dogs back

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This story is quite telling. Troy Clifford Dargin has been charged with 37 counts that include animal neglect and operating an illegal dog-breeding facility. Dargin is also reportedly a judge for the American Kennel Club.

A Pottawattamie County judge ruled this week that Dargin will not get his 19 shih-tzus back. The dogs were seized earlier this month from what is being called a puppy mill. In a WHOTV.com article, the director of the local animal control office was quoted as saying the dogs were “living in filth, feces and urine.”

The breeding operation was found in his parent’s garage. Did I mention this guy is reportedly an AKC judge? WHOTV.com also reports the local authorities note the accused “has a long history of illegal dog breeding.”

Did I mention he reportedly is an AKC judge?


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Writer agrees with me – big dog shows and popular breed lists are marketing tools

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I’m glad I ran across a column earlier today, headlined – “Beware: Westminster Dog Show Picks Will Also Become Puppy-Mill Favorites” – on the Opposing Views website.

Phyllis M Daugherty notes Westminster Dog Show this week comes on the heels of the release of the most popular dog breeds by the AKC. And it’s all marketing. And she rightfully notes puppy mills operators will be gearing up to sell puppies people see on the list and in the show.

So uniformed people will watch and then run to the web to look for breeders in their area or they’ll run out to a store to buy a puppy. And they’ll do this while millions of purebred dogs and mixed breeds are waiting in shelters or with rescue groups for new homes.

And it is the rescue dogs who are the greatest dogs in the world.