AKC FAILS TO HONOR CO-OWNERSHIP CONTRACT
We’ve been told that AKC will not intervene in co-ownership disputes unless there’s a signed contract so we present the Davino-Gagnon case.
Long-time Sheltie breeder Marie Davino shows very successfully in breed, groups, and in agility. Her experience is so typical of AKC’s refusal to be involved in anything other than making the not-for-profit corporation profitable that we decided to run the story. Speaking for thousands of breeders, Marie is so articulate that we asked her to tell this story herself!
I went online to look for photos of one of my Shelties who had just made it into the agility invitational and by chance, discovered my co-owned bitch had a 2 ½ year old daughter named Radiance. That was the beginning of my first co-owner problem in 15 years.
After the initial anger faded, I decided to let it go. Neither the litter, nor the pup was registered with AKC. I considered filing an AKC complaint, but it had been 2 ½ years since the pup was born. Patricia Gagnon had never mentioned anything to me about the breeding…not a call, an email about an “oops” breeding, nothing. It hurt but I decided to be kind about it and just leave it alone.
6 months later I got the email from AKC saying “An online litter was submitted on 06/08/11 by Patricia Gagnon. Please note the option to allow the new owners to register the puppies online was selected for this litter.” That affected the breed. I could not in good conscience let that go. I looked up the rules, then immediately faxed AKC and informed them the litter registration was filed falsely, citing AKC’s registration procedure:
"A. DAM OWNERS’ SIGNATURES
All dam owners’ signatures are required to register a litter. All applications without the proper signatures will not be accepted."
"…further, that an application to register such litter is filed with The American Kennel Club no later than six (6) months from the date of whelping of the litter."
Patricia Gagnon completed an online registration which violates two AKC rules, plus I had discovered that this was an artificial insemination, and the application clearly states that AI’s are not eligible for online registration. Three serious registration violations, plus blatant dishonesty affecting me and the registration database.
I emailed Patti and the sire’s owner to inform them that I would not sign any litter registration. Patti called immediately, saying she had been trying to contact me all this time and had not heard from me, that there “must be something wrong with my phone”. An obvious lie as she had no trouble reaching me this time!
I told her what she had done, among other things:
"B. ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES
The AKC requires only one owner of a co-owned dam to submit a litter application online. The owner submitting the application is required to have written permission of all the co-owners of the dam and be able to present the written authorization to the AKC upon request. A Sample Authorization Form is available for review on the AKC Web site. The policy of requiring all the co-owners to sign-off on a puppy transfer is still in effect.
False Online Certifications:
As with paper applications, the AKC requires proper certification from the appropriate parties to register litters or individual dogs via online registration. Individuals who improperly certify to an online registration are subject to disciplinary action."
When Patti Gagnon filed the online registration, she clicked on the section that, in step 2, clearly states: “I certify that I am an owner of the identified dam … and … that I have complete written authority from the other owner(s) to submit this application, that all the representations on this application are true… Any misrepresentation on this application may result in the cancellation of the registration and or the loss of AKC privileges."
Patricia Gagnon clearly demonstrated unsportsmanlike conduct by her deceit and denial of AKC rules. She lied to the vet who performed the AI, to the sire owner, to me, and to AKC, telling all that she had my permission.
Patti could have registered this pup as an ILP to show her in AKC agility. She knows this as an agility competitor. She does not need full registration to show this pup in agility. Patricia Gagnon’s sole purpose in registration is to breed her. How do I protect my years of effort and research as a reputable breeder if I cannot prevent her from another questionable, risky breeding? How can I protect the three year old daughter from similar genetic health and safety risks when she is bred? It is common for whelping difficulties to be genetically passed from dam to daughter.
I turned to AKC to support my contract by withholding full breeding registration on the illegal pup. Even though, according to AKC rules, Patricia Gagnon should have been suspended, I thought it fair to ask only for Limited registration so Patti could not attempt another risky breeding. After several calls and emails between me and AKC’s representatives, including AKC’s VP of Registration David Roberts, I was told that “AKC is just a registry” (which seems to be their mantra) … and AKC would not uphold any contract unless it specifically mentions AKC!!! I was also told that if I had JUST CAUSE, they would consider my request.
Apparently violations of registration rules, including false certifications, were not “just cause” nor was any concern I had for the safety of the bitch if she is bred, and the ONLY thing they would consider as just cause was if my contract stated “AKC registration” or if I filed a court case. Unbelievably, I was also told that the rules stated above really do not mean much…the intention of all the rules stated above is that Patty needs to file the application again…that is all.
Attached is my Letter to David Roberts, VP AKC Registrations. Then, in my final note to David after AKC denied my request, I said:
I think it is truly unfair of AKC not to uphold a written contract between two people...just because it does not say AKC. I am extremely angry that AKC will not support a good breeder. If you say you would uphold a contract if it says AKC, what is the difference in upholding it if it does NOT? I do not think it would be that difficult! I continue to be told AKC is just a registry. Then you should stop all the the "AKC cares" promos on your home page. When I look at it, I see support for -- responsible dog ownership, all kind of legislation, humane fund awards, two ways to protect your rights (PAC), which says" "The rights of responsible dog owners are under attack". Seems to me the rights of responsible breeders are under attack! I do not understand why you would not honor a breeder’s contract when it is SO clear!! I think you CAN UPHOLD IT and YOU CHOOSE NOT to, and that is truly unfair. How much would it take for AKC to say "NO"?
I think this is a clear message to every person that they can and should register ANYTHING out there, which makes AKC papers pretty much a piece of garbage. You are also sending a message to anyone that breaking AKC rules is OK, that they really don't mean anything.
You told me that the rules are not perfect...Why are you not telling HER that and stopping this registration? I see nothing in AKC rules that says you MUST register this litter regardless of anything she does. I see many outs in the rules that give AKC the ability to say NO to her. Seems to me that your "AKC is only a registry" is a cop out to allow you to do whatever you want whenever you want. I think I will be taking my Champion dogs to UKC and my agility to USDAA. What is the point of continuing to spend my $$$ with AKC when it means NOTHING???
To which, David Roberts, AKC Vice President of Registrations, responded that he was sorry, that the case was “under investigation”* and interestingly, he said “The AKC cannot and has never got involved in interpreting contracts between two parties. As such, the AKC must require a contract to contain specific wording in regards to the right to refuse AKC registration.… if you feel your contract has been breached your best course of action is to have it reviewed in a court of law.”
Mr. Roberts’ full letter is included in provided reference but he provided Mrs. Davino with the following link “from the November, 2010 AKC Gazette, “Legal Considerations for Co-owning a Dog”. http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/ac5fd62e#/ac5fd62e/1
Mrs. Davino said she received a letter from AKC asking her to notarize her complaint, which she did. What action AKC takes, if any, remains to be seen.