Tuesday, October 27, 2009


H/T to Patrick over at Terrierman for this post about the AKC's streamlined merchandise-handling software for puppy-mill retailers.

Seems that I remember a few years ago, the AKC hacks backed down in the face of a torch-and-pitchfork mob of breed club delegates who objected to a speshul marketing program designed to keep puppymill products on the AKC rolls, the better to profit from the money-for-paper scam that pays those Madison Avenue salaries.

What they did, of course, was just transfer the scheme to an administrative hidey-hole and quietly go forward with their attempt to re-capture market share from the puppymillers' new, no-questions-asked "registries."

Reading the PDF instructions for Petland clerks on how to instantly register "inventory" with the AKC -- a nice cut of additional revenue for the retailer, and the only way Ron Menaker is going to make his boat payment -- I was struck by this clause under "Adding a Dog to the Store."

Dogs can also be added to the general inventory by the AKC based on the AKC’s assessment of the dog’s pedigree. The store will fax pedigrees for non-AKC dogs to the AKC and the AKC staff determines if the dog is eligible for AKC registration within two business days. Eligible dogs are automatically uploaded to the inventory.

Just, wow.

The one thing that AKC could reserve for its dubious bragging rights was a claim of "purity" and "pedigree integrity."

What this meant in paperwork terms was, if an owner neglected to properly register his dog or bitch within the allotted time, if he lost the registration paperwork, or for any reason all the i's weren't dotted and the t's crossed, that dog's offspring could never be registered. Nevermind that the dog was clearly purebred, that the owner had the dog's pedigree, might even own the dam himself. Did not matter.

And puppies from unregistered parents in most breeds could not command anything like the price for registered pups.

Which is, you know, deranged. Regardless, this created a powerful incentive for owners snap to it and fill out the paperwork and send their money to Madison Avenue each and every generation.

This obedience to unelected authority has always been very important to the dog fancy set. A "reputable" breeder has his paperwork in order. A dirtbag BYB doesn't send in his registration fees.

But a puppymiller did -- until the "industry" discovered that they could make things much easier and cheaper for themselves by creating their own "flexible" no-questions-asked money-for-paper schemes.

Now I'm pretty sure that an ordinary pet owner who has a "pedigree" for his purebred dog, but no litter registration slip, is still hosed.

But apparently a pup from unregistered parents can now "qualify" almost instantly for AKC registration -- for inclusion in the "pure" gene pool of whatever breed. Just so long as it came from a puppymill and is being sold at retail from the deli case at a mall near you.

No DNA testing. No photographs. No review by experts from the breed club. No investigation into the paperwork irregularities. No punitive fees for the special case.

Because getting a cut of the profits from the living "inventory" is going to goose the bottom line this week way more than being a stickler for record-keeping is.

As for next week -- well, I guess that depends upon who finds out and what they do about it, doesn't it?

How do you dog-fancier breed-club snobs feel about the Missouri-born inventory getting an instant administrative upgrade to "pure" and "AKC-registered?"

If contemplating each puppy's mother languishing her whole life in a wire-floored crate so that the registration fees for her lifetime production output can help support your dog show habit has no goddamn effect on your conscience.

If you don't give a rat's ass about the health and behavior of these little units of inventory once they are bought and installed into your neighbor's home as "members of the family."

If you meekly accept that you are being held to a higher standard of record-keeping than Helga the Kansas puppy farmer.

Can you at least give a shit that your precious "purity" -- the last thing that your Overlord In Dogs has to offer you -- is being tossed away on the say-so of Tammi at Petland and some faceless clerk in Raleigh?


  1. "...Tammi at Petland or some facecless clerk in Raleigh..."

    Would that be Tammi who dots her i's with a heart? or Tammi who dots her i's with a star?

    I remember very clearly the day that Sparky and I naively wandered into an AKC event at a large park, just to see what was going on. We were new to agility and I was hoping to find some kind of agility demo. She was on leash, right by my side and we were both well behaved. However, I was politely asked to leave with my Obviously Not an AKC Purebred Dog, or "go put her in the car and come back and watch; you might see a breed you'd be interested in." Aack. We got outta there quick.

    Wonder how that show secretary will handle the Tammi registered dogs that begin showing up at AKC events, looking a whole lot like my Obviously Not A Purebred Dog.


  2. There are so many things wrong about this!

    Not only are they fooling tons of people about the importance of blood purity and esoteric standards, behind the scenes they are working with the mass-production people, who actually don't care whether they have really socialized their dogs or not. (Socialization is not picking up a puppy and taking it out of its sterile cage a few times a day. It's actually making certain they know not to be afraid of the world!) They also don't care if the parents have genetic diseases or temperament issues.

    The AKC has assumed everything that is negative about dogs.

    I just had someone comment on my blog about how the AKC has bylaws that regulate breeders. Bylaws are for small time breeders. I'm sure if a Hunte breeder broke those bylaws, the AKC wouldn't say a thing. You don't bite the hand that feeds you.

    What we need is a new registry system-- one that is really a quality control organization that allows consumers (and I hate that word!) to make sound choices about breeders and bloodlines. AKC papers mean very little. At least the puppy mill paper mill registries make no pretense of being something else.

    The AKC has declared itself the "dog's champion." In reality, it is the champion of the greedy and totally bamboozled people who think blood purity and breeding to esoteric standards are the most important thing about dogs. The greedy seem to be using those bamboozled people to defend their interests, which doesn't surprise me one little bit.

  3. Retrieverman said:
    What we need is a new registry system-- one that is really a quality control organization that allows consumers (and I hate that word!) to make sound choices about breeders and bloodlines.

    The English Shepherd Club provides that for our breed. We looked at the available registries (we're non-AKC and still had 3 registries) none of which provided overwisght be people who know the breed or any sort of way to help breeders and buyers make sound decisions - and then we started our own. It is controlled by members of the club and everything is online - pedigrees, health info, photographs.

    I honestly don't see how anyone who loves a functional working breed can support one of the multi-breed cesspools. This new twist with AKC is just more of the same...

    jan hilborn
    National English Shepherd Rescue

  4. I do believe the future is in decentralized registries. I have a plan for one for retrievers, but it would more than just me and a few other people to get it started.

    And I would probably never be able to buy another golden retriever again!

  5. Melinda, that's the heart-dot-Tammi. Star-dot-Tammi breeds Blue-Eyed Gypsy Vanner-Fugaloosa-cross sport horses that she sells on Craig's list for $200.

    Doncha know that AKC now has a nice separate water fountain for your miserable mongrel? You can come to a show and quietly take your seat at the back of the bus now, just don't get all hincty.

  6. Decentralized registries are certainly what will follow the implosion of the all-breed behemoths.

    I'm glad the English Shepherd Club has been able to get our system in place before that happens. For one, we can provide a model and lessons learned as more working-dog breeders strike out into the great registry unknown. Just as ABCA, JRTCA, ASCA, etc. did for us when we were getting rolling.

    Will the decentralization of registries eliminate puppy-mills? It will not. A registry can't do that. But it can take a stand and not be complicit in their practices. And it can serve as an educational resource for potential buyers.

    Anti-breeding laws favor puppymills. Humane laws are at best a holding action against the worst abuses. Licensing just gives the appearance of legitimacy to naive consumers. This is a demand-side problem.

    Puppy mills won't die until consumers stop buying from them.

  7. I agree that this is sickening - and I agree that decentralized registries are probably where things are going to end up, with proper performance standards in place.

    What I worry about is where that's going to leave companion breeds. It's DAMN hard to find a responsible breeder of a toy breed as is- they're horribly outnumbered by the crap ones. But without a multi-breed club that's big enough to put on performance event, I strongly suspect that a lot of companion breeds (Where even in the reputable breeders, the conformation folks outnumber the obedience and agility people so heavily that 'performance' breeders hardly exist as a blip on the radar) will end up with beauty-pageant breed clubs. Agility will survive with multi-breed organizations, but I think competitive obedience will just die, period. (Conversely, though, I wonder if most single breed clubs will open up their performance events to all breeds like ASCA does.)

    I love working dogs, but I love my companion breeds, too. Kaylee will probably be my last collie SD (finding her was a lucky fluke; my next SD will probably be an ES or POSSIBLY a golden). And collies are in better shape than most toy breeds, for example, as far as having a critical mass of performance folks. I don't want the working breeds to get any less working than they already are- but I don't want my companion breed losing anything that causes soundness and trainability to be valued as highly as hair.

  8. I can think of a couple companion dog registries that were successful until the ACK hostile takeovers -- the CKCS Club, and the Leonberger Club.

    Both had strong codes of ethics and exercised control over which dogs could be bred and the offspring registered based on both fancy points and health. They served their breeds and members much better than the current situation.

    I think this can be done, and should be done.

    The future of performance events -- including obedience -- is in open-to-all performance venues. Some are well-established, others will emerge as the AKC establishment implodes.

    In the 80's, no one imagined the rise of agility as a competitive venue, or the popularity of schutzhund and other working dog sports extending to North America, or the birth of competitions such as rally obedience -- all outside of the established GoD (Government of Dogs, as The Donald calls them.)

    Other than a tiny minority of mostly poodle and sheltie owners who competed in obedience, practically all there was for companion breeds was the pageant ring.

    That is less true now, and it will be even less so as things progress.

  9. What makes Tammi who dots her i's with a heart is even scarier is that she doesn't have a clue that the speshul puppiez she sells are any less healthy or well-socialized than the ones that come from an unregulated hobby breeder. 'Cause, you know, she spends all her time at school or at the mall and she doesn't have time to read about puppy mills n stuff - except for those really sad ads on teevee that make her cry (just enough to keep her makeup from running).

    A frightening number of pet owners aren't any better. Between work; driving Tammi to the mall; taking Billy to practice; washing the minivan; pruning the shrubbery and staying current on a dozen or so teevee series - they don't have time to do any real research into complicated stuff like how to select and raise a puppy.

    It's so much easier just to take a quick look at the pretty, glossy ads AKC and Hunte fill cheezy, photo-heavy, content-light dog magazines with and buy the story that AKC papers are the Good Dogkeeping Seal of Approval.

    Pogo had it right. We have met the enemy...

  10. Heather- I'll have to read up on that, thanks. My experience with single-breed clubs for companion breeds has not been so impressive. Trying to get the spitz club going has been like trying to herd cats (only all the cats hate each other); one person refuses to consider ANYTHING but AKC, one just wants ANY registry with shows as a 'parent registry' and me, I'd like a single-breed club but I'd also like to be able to compete elsewhere, so I can live with AKC FSS if we could iron out the variety issue.

  11. Hi Heather,
    Just trying to reach you and can't find an email address. You might want to check out http://happytailsbooks.com. I've mounted a significant effort to raise awareness about puppy mills and appreciate any help I can get in spreading the word. Please tell you friends, family, and readers to check out the website and pick up books about their favorite dogs - they're informative and the proceeds go back to rescue.

  12. AKC has jumped the shark and is now throwing chum in the water. The worst part is that the puppy mill industry and AKC basically need each other to survive. And folks who are humane and ethical in their breeding practices are left between a rock and a hard place when it comes to PR with their fellow fanciers and the buying public.

  13. I soured on the AKC back when they stole the CKCS from the original breed club. That was the beginning of my education into just how morally bankrupt the AKC is. This development is just the icing on the cake... it's sickening.


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