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Get Real

A recent Dog News column, along with reports from the last AKC Board meeting, again fanned my thoughts regarding AKC. John Mandeville’s article was entitled “A Boutique Registry in the Making,” which is exactly where we’re heading if somehow a handle isn’t gotten on the situation at AKC. This will happen at our peril. I can’t repeat too often: if we — the AKC delegates and other breeders, exhibitors, handlers, etc. — don’t begin to accept some of the solutions that AKC keeps proposing for increasing revenue, AKC as we know it will be history.

Now, if you’ll be satisfied with an AKC that does nothing but register dogs and manage shows for the very exclusive world of conformation show dogs; an organization that won’t have funds for a legislative department, disaster relief or health research; that, because of its exclusivity and the few who’ll need its services, is going to cost its constituency a great deal more to maintain than it does currently; then we’re headed in the right direction for you.

We repeatedly hear that AKC was founded for purebred dogs and must not have anything to do with mixed-breed dogs; the proposal to allow Mixed Breeds to compete in performance events was rejected by the AKC Board. We hear that AKC is only meant for “responsible breeders” so must not have anything to do with “high-volume” breeders, no matter what care and conditions standards they meet. Never mind that by definition there are high-volume breeders among us, some of whom show dogs on a regular basis, and many who probably take better care of their dogs than “hobby breeders” who produce one litter every year or two. The fact is that there will continue to be a demand for purebred puppies, and people who can’t get a puppy from a “responsible breeder” because those breeders don’t have puppies are going to buy a puppy someplace. Having high-volume breeders fall under the auspices of the AKC and AKC’s care and conditions standards is in my opinion preferable to not. We as breeders are not being made unnecessary by a public that is getting all of its pets from shelters or rescue groups, as the respected Sari Tietjen has implied; we just don’t breed enough to supply the demand for purebred puppies. With our “we’re better than they are” attitude we’ve created a situation where if one of “us” admits to breeding more than one, two at most, litters a year, or if it appears that one of us made a buck from selling a puppy, we risk being called a “puppy mill” by fellow fanciers. But someone has to supply the demand for pet puppies; “we” aren’t even coming close. Isn’t it better if those “suppliers” are monitored by AKC than left to their own devices?

While I’m at it, we all need to get real regarding DNA. We need DNA to protect the integrity of the stud book; otherwise what’s the point of having a stud book? And that means everybody, hobby breeders and high- volume breeders. But it has to be affordable. In our capitalist society I’m certain there’s a way for an organization that is doing a lot of DNA testing to get competitive pricing based on volume. If not, maybe AKC needs to arrange to have its own DNA testing facility. That’s not nearly as ridiculous as AKC having its own entry service.

But the most compelling reason that we must get real is that the world has changed in ways that were unimaginable even a decade ago, and having the power of dog owners — all dog owners, not just the elite group of people who show dogs — behind AKC, when we are in an ongoing battle on the legislative front and in a guerrilla war with the animal rights activists, is exactly what we must cultivate. We need all those people who own mixed-breed dogs and who are sensible people on our side. We need to mean it when we say AKC is “for dogs,” and that means all dogs, not just your show dogs and mine.

It is time for the “constituency” to get real and to accept the fact that our AKC is a business, and businesses aren’t run by delegate bodies. It’s time for many of us to face the reality that the old world of the AKC is over, and we need to come into the 21st century.

                                Christi McDonald, Editor


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