Did You Know This About the AKC?

The AKC has many programs and activities that can make our lives easier as owners and breeders, but not all of them are well known to the fancy.

By Michael Dugan | January 22, 2014

Oklahoma Animal Resource Center
Tom Sharp (right) presents a donation check to Heather Clay (Center) of Oklahoma State University Vet School with Barbara Lewis (left) of Oklahoma City's Animal Resource Center. Photo courtesy Michael Dugan.

Those of us who are committed to the world of purebred dogs know that the existence of our beloved sport continues to be under attack. People and organizations who purport to care about the health and safety of pets, particularly dogs, use outrageous tactics and false data to portray the dog fancy as the enemy in the world of dogs. Every day some new ordinance or piece of legislation is proposed to regulate and diminish the ability of breeders of purebred dogs in this country.

It's getting worse. A new technique used by people called "Humaniacs," who I've heard about from my vet, other breeders and from other lobbyists in the California legislature, works like an old-fashioned bait and switch. A legitimate breeder will get contacted by a potential buyer of a purebred dog who will ask to visit to see their dogs. Once there the Humaniac tries to find some reason to call the local animal control officer to inspect their property and shut down the breeding program, whether justified or not. As a result, most AKC breeders now have to use extreme caution about who can visit their homes or kennels.

Recently, the New York Times published an exposé of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in a July 6 article titled "PETA Finds Itself on Receiving End of Others' Anger," about their single shelter in the US. That's right; the highest-profile group that allegedly protects dogs and other animals has one shelter in Virginia. At that shelter, virtually all dogs and cats are euthanized, more than 2,000 per year. Few animals are adopted; 19 cats and dogs in 2012 and 24 in 2011. Yet, PETA is a prime mover in the phony campaign to destroy the world of purebred dogs and cats.

The AKC has many programs and activities that can make our lives easier as owners and breeders, but not all of them are well known to the fancy.


AKC Breeders

While it is true that AKC registrations have declined substantially over the years, conformation dog shows are showing signs of health and growth as we climb out of the current recession. We know that ethical breeders have done much in the last 50 years to make our dogs among the healthiest and well-cared-for dogs in the world. The AKC Breeder of Merit program has enrolled more than 12,000 breeders nationwide who have to adhere to strict standards and exhibit long-term expertise and experience in their breeds. That core group continues to produce the best of the best that compete in a wide variety of activities including agility, conformation, carting, obedience, tracking, therapy, search and rescue, water work and educational programs for children with special needs.

The AKC has led the charge for purebred dogs for more than 100 years. It has earned its share of criticism over time, and AKC Breeders of Merit are among the most vocal about those areas where the AKC could do better. Still, it's our AKC, and the organization remains as our best chance to improve and enhance our sport.


AKC Reunite

AKC Reunite
Sugar and her family are reunited at the Animal Resource Center after the Oklahoma tornado in 2013. Photo courtesy Michael Dugan.

Did you know that the AKC operates the largest nonprofit microchip and recovery service in the nation? Called the AKC Companion Animal Recovery (CAR) program since 1995, the program has reunited more than 400,000 pets with their owners since the program's inception. Today, over five million animals in more than 35 different species (including iguanas, baboons and ostriches) are enrolled in the AKC CAR service, now called AKC REUNITE. Tom Sharp, CEO of the program since 2007 and part of the AKC since 1996, says, "Our mission is to promote responsible pet ownership in every way we can. We're all about getting pets back to their owners safely and quickly." The mission of the program is to keep pet recovery costs affordable, so the program has no annual fees. But that's just the start.

The AKC REUNITE program offers incredible value to pet owners, breeders, veterinarian, clubs, animal shelters and students. The AKC CAR Operating Fund supports the animal shelter community by providing low-cost microchips; microchip scanner donations to animal shelters and rescues; free recovery service enrollments to active military and service animals and more than $800,000 in veterinary student scholarships.

Dog owners can enroll their dog and its microchip in the national CAR database with an affordable one-time fee. CAR's toll free number (1-800-252-7894) is available 24/7 to help ensure that lost pets get home safely. Owners can enroll dogs online at akccar.org. There they can update pet records, transfer ownership of pets, and report a lost or found pet. The program also offers a variety of tags and collars designed to get pets home as soon as possible. The online "Pet Emergency Planning Guide" takes owners step-by-step through preparation for their response to an emergency or disaster in their area.

The AKC recommends using the new SpotLite 2.0 GPS along with the AKC CAR service. The SpotLite pet locator has revolutionized pet recovery by offering the latest technology for owners and their dogs. As an owner using the SpotLite pet locator, you can find and pinpoint the location of your dog using Google Maps, and it will also send you text and email alerts should your pet wander outside of its "SafeSpot" boundaries that you set for your pet's safety.

Breeder Tool Kit

The "Breeder Tool Kit" offered by CAR allows breeders to manage the dogs in their breeding programs to ensure that they are microchipped in compliance with the latest ISO standards. It provides breeders with the ability to microchip their dogs themselves, enroll the litter in the CAR database and track their dogs' safety in the future. Breeders can ensure that the owner and the breeder are both listed in case the dog becomes lost. There is no annual fee for the owner, and the owner can also enroll in the Pet Poison Helpline for a one-time fee of $19.95.

This really works! A couple of years ago we were at Westminster and received a call that a dog we had bred had become lost and taken to a local veterinarian in northern California. The primary contact was unavailable, so we were called by the vet while we were in New York City. We were able to reunite the lost Portuguese Water Dog with her owner within three hours after we received the call.

Breeders also received a scanner that can detect all types of microchips. For example, these scanners are currently used around the nation at health clinics sponsored by kennel clubs and breeders to confirm the identity of individual dogs before they are tested for a wide variety of possible illnesses, such as Optigen, CERF, JDCM, GM-1, AKC DNA and other breed-specific diseases.

This year's Responsible Dog Ownership Day program on September 21 promoted many temporary microchipping clinics set up as fundraising events all over the country with a major clinic at the AKC in Raleigh, N.C. For clubs, owners, shelters, vets and breeders, this is a clear, public way of declaring our commitment to dogs and answering criticism from the Humaniacs out there.

Check out AKC REUNITE's new website at akcreunite.com and its new Facebook page at Facebook.com/akcreunite. The AKC REUNITE hotline stays the same at 1-800-252-7894 as well as the program's address at AKC REUNITE, 8051 Arco Corporate Drive, Suite 200, Raleigh, NC, 27617.


Canine Support and Relief Fund

After the Twin Towers fell on September 11, 2001, the AKC CAR program expanded to support animals in need. In 2002, the AKC CAR Canine Support and Relief Fund was created as an ongoing charitable fund to support the needs of volunteer Canine Search and Rescue organizations and provide our nation's pets with life-saving disaster relief resources during hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and wildfires.

In 2013 alone, the Canine Support and Relief Fund gave grants of nearly $500,000 to 144 organizations in 45 states, most of which were K-9 Search and Rescue (SAR) teams. Since 2002, more than $4 million in donations have been used in natural disasters and other emergencies, such as Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast. Each year, the program evaluates grant applications from all over the United States from a variety of organizations that are IRS 501(C)(3) charitable organizations. A straightforward application process that can be completed online provides an opportunity for clubs, veterinarians and shelters, and clubs that relate to search and rescue activities to win a grant for up to $5,000.



After 9/11, the AKC coordinated efforts to assist the SAR handlers at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa. The Canine Support and Relief Fund was launched with DOGNY, America's Tribute to Search and Rescue Dogs, supported by a public art initiative. The symbol for the tribute was the DOGNY dog, a German Shepherd Dog sculpted by Robert Braun and cast at the Meisner Gallery. While many breeds are used for search and rescue, the German Shepherd was used as a long-time representative of the work. More than 100 sculptures were produced, and more than $100,000 was raised at auction at Sotheby's for SAR organizations nationwide. Multiple corporate sponsors have assisted in the effort, including IAMS, Petco, FedEx and others, plus hundreds of AKC clubs, dog owners and breeders.

The AKC SAR's grant program seeks to support both professional and volunteer teams around the country who find lost children, Alzheimer's patients who have become lost, victims of drowning, avalanche, flood, tornadoes and other disasters. Most are volunteers who work in their local communities. Training requires twice-a-week practices for an entire year and includes land navigation, map and compass, wilderness survival and other skills.

The AKC also initiated the DOGNY Heroic Military Working Dog Award to honor a working dog and handler team to acknowledge their dedication, sacrifice and commitment to US armed forces and citizens. Recipients have included German Shepherd Dogs, Labrador Retrievers and their handlers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From the 2014 Annual issue of Dogs in Review magazine. Purchase the 2014 Annual digital back issue with the DIR app or subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs in Review magazine (print and digital versions).


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