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Should the AKC be Regulating Breeders?
The Today Show sparks a heated debate on the AKC's kennel inspections

The internet has been buzzing about the Today Show's segment on the American Kennel Club's negligent inspection of dog breeders. I've since seen the topic fiercely debated among my dog friends on Facebook and on mailing lists.  My Sheltie, Nemo, is from an amazing AKC registered breeder and we participate in AKC sanctioned sports like rally obedience and agility. In many regards, the AKC is doing a lot of good for dogs. They raise millions of dollars each year for canine health research and educational programs, their affiliated clubs run many of the breed rescue organizations referenced by the Today Show, and they promote relationship building activities like dog sports and the Canine Good Citizen test.

But since people think they can rely on the AKC "stamp of approval" for picking a breeder, their inadequate kennel inspection program is particularly troublesome. The AKC only has nine inspectors for the entire country, so it's inevitable that some breeders will fall through the cracks. And there have been reports of breeders who passed the AKC inspection, but were found by local law enforcement to be raising animals in deplorable conditions.  

Given that the AKC is in the business of profiting from puppy registrations, they're clearly not in the best position to objectively evaluate and regulate breeders, particularly large operations who are generating a lot of income for the AKC.  

This conflict of interest is also evident in the fact that the AKC has a history of opposing legislation that could potentially regulate puppy mills. I agree that a small kennel can have inhumane conditions and a large kennel can be well maintained, but in general someone with less animals will be able to devote more attention and resources.  

Besides the high cost of properly caring for dogs, it takes a lot of time to make sure puppies are well socialized. My breeder played sound tapes, took the puppies to experience different people and environments, and brought them along on trips to get them used to the car. This is hard work and would be almost impossible to do if you had multiple litters born at around the same time, which most large kennels do.

Dogs are members of our family, not a product you buy off of a shelf. You can't and shouldn't rely on a "stamp of approval." It's up to you to determine if a breeder is responsible.  Even if the AKC significantly improved their inspection program, I would still extensively do my research on any breeder before getting a puppy from them.

What do you think about the AKC's inspection program?

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.
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Submitted by Stacy L. | May 8 2013 |

In 1996 I purchased an AKC-registered toy poodle in California (wanted to adopt, but this was pre-Internet and shelters were few & far between) and assumed the breeder was reputable. I don't know if she was or wasn't, but my puppy not only came to me with a heart murmur, but she ended up going totally blind from cataracts at age 1 1/2, then shortly thereafter developed glaucoma that was so uncontrollable I ended up having her eyes removed. Blessedly she lived another happy and (relatively) healthy 13 years, and I'm glad I adopted her instead of some moron who probably would've had her euthanized rather than spend the $$ for all of her medical care. I remember at the time trying to find the breeder again, but I paid cash for my puppy (her name was Cookie) and I had moved and long-since gotten rid of the paperwork after I had her re-registered with the AKC. Obviously the world is a very difference place now and it was a much different process adopting my next two puppies. I'm a staunch advocate for adoption versus purchasing dogs now, but I do defend myself for buying my poodle pup. It took me six months to find her, and that was after getting another pup from a shelter who ended up having parvo...and I had to have her euthanized two days after adopting her. Short story long, I'd love to see a little more regulation and inspection when it comes to AKC breeders. I don't think it necessarily would've helped my Cookie, but it could've shut down her breeder. Who knows how many other litters of pups were born there with the same congenital issues Cookie had.

Submitted by BARK re-homing ... | May 16 2013 |

I am sorry about you having to loss your puppy. Parvovirus is horrid. Rescues like breeders need to be regulated! Like the AKC many rescues are just a lot of "window dressing". A good rescue would have taken the pup back and admitted it to a vet hospital. The pup had parvo before you adopted it. Please do your research before adopting. Many breeders and shady rescues use the term rescue to tug at your heartstrings while they are digging in your wallet.

Submitted by LJ | June 5 2013 |

She stated the dog was purchased from a breeder, not adopted from a rescue. Either way, sad story.

Rescues are already heavily regulated in many states. Breeders are barely regulated, but stricter regulations are needed. AKC inspections are basically a joke--they have only a handful of inspectors that could not possibly cover the number of breeders in this country. AKC makes a LOT of money off puppy mill registrations and consistently lobbies against any legislation which would regulate these mills. AKC's hands are dirty. They are not part of the solution, the are part of the problem.

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