We sent Ten Questions to AKC regarding new registration rules that represent an escalating pattern of disregard for show breeders, purebred dogs, and the stud book.
April 1st, 2009 | TheDogPress.com
Registration changes and fee increases are of primary concern as the showing fancy struggles to maintain its identity in the world of purebred dogs. Despite wonderful TV coverage of the Westminster and AKC/Eukanuba shows, the stature once accorded to dog breeders is waning.
Beset by Animal Rights legislation, a drop in puppy sales accompanied by soaring veterinary costs, and other expenses associated with showing and breeding top quality dogs, breeders began dropping out, leaving puppy sales wide-open to puppy mills, or as AKC renamed them, “commercial” and High Volume Breeders.
Now with a failing economy, a proposed $25 per dog/per year show tax, the seven-fold increase in AKC’s event fee passed on to exhibitors in higher entry fees, entries are down so much that some of the largest shows look like fun matches and clubs are desperate, having contracted for judges and venues based on previous entry numbers.
Registrations are down, plummeting like the stock market. More than 50% in the last 15 years but over the last six months, we estimate the rate of decline has nearly doubled! Is that just the economy or is it that breeders are turning to more customer-oriented registries?
We sent these questions to Mr. David Roberts, AKC Registrations Department Vice President. He was gracious in taking my call which no one else would take or return. I am confident Mr. Roberts will make every effort to respond to these most-asked questions.
1. Does AKC honor the Limited Registration designation regardless of subsequent transfers?
2. Must there be written agreement with every party to a subsequent sale/purchase in order to prevent someone from getting full registration papers and breeding the dog?
3. Will AKC honor a signed buyer/seller contract before it has been upheld in court?
4. Will AKC honor a simple written no-breeding agreement on dogs sold at too young or too old an age to safely neuter?
5. How many times can a dog’s name be changed by subsequent owners?
6. I’ve read your statement but what purpose does the name change policy serve other than to increase AKC income?
7. Regarding name changes, does a pet owner’s wish outweigh a breeder’s need to track a dog’s show or breeding record?
8. Regarding AKC’s Administrative Pedigree Research Service, did the board vote on that or who exactly are the “majority were in favor of this proposal?”
9. Other than generating needed income for AKC and enabling puppy mills to upgrade non-AKC registered stock, what does registering non-registered dogs do for “the fancy”?
10. What are AKC’s plans for registering Designer Dogs or other cross breeds?
What follows is a recap of recent coverage on AKC changing policies and administrative decisions. In chronological order, we begin with a significant obstacle to responsible breeding.
April 2008 | The March 2008 rule change complicates pedigree research, prevents responsible breeders from tracking the dogs they produce or keeping up with show wins, and forces breeders to register and name each puppy in a litter in order to gain any degree of protection for their breeding program. It insures more income for AKC and that seems to be reason enough for just about all policy changes going on today.
Update: This "Name Change" rule quietly preceded a monumental decision by the AKC Board to allow registration of non-registered dogs.
New York, NY - The American Kennel Club® (AKC) is pleased to announce a registration rule change that now allows owners of AKC registered dogs to change the official name of their pet. Dogs are eligible if they were born in the U.S., have never been bred, or have not won any awards at an AKC event.
"We have a lot of interest from AKC registered dog owners looking to rename their dogs," said David Roberts, AKC's Assistant Vice President of Registration. "In most cases, the dog is a beloved pet and the owner would like to pick a name that has special value to them. The new rule allows owners to change the name when transferring their AKC registered dog, or to request a name change at any time."
Previously, a policy was in place that only allowed the owner to change a dog's name if the dog had been individually registered by its breeder and the request was accompanied by written permission from the breeder. The new regulation reads:
"The name of a dog registered with The American Kennel Club will be allowed to be changed provided the dog was whelped in the United States and in cases where the breeder(s) first individually registered the dog, their written consent would be required. A dog name containing a Registered Kennel Name cannot be changed without the written consent of the owner(s) of that Registered Kennel Name.
However, no change in the name will be recorded by The American Kennel Club after the dog has produced or sired an AKC registered litter or received an award at an AKC licensed or member event.
Any name change must comply with all AKC requirements."
The service fee for a name change is $25. The Dog Name Change Authorization form is located online at http://www.akc.org/pdfs/ADCG01.pdf. The completed form can be faxed to the AKC at: 919-816-4261 or mailed to the address on the application.
08|05|08 - TheDogPress / Barbara J. Andrews - After approving the name change rule in March, the AKC Board approved the Administrative Pedigree Research Service which to many breeders, is an acronym for capturing:
A) puppy mill dogs registered with a competing registry or
B) pets specifically sold “without papers” by AKC breeders.
Either reason is like dropping the A-Bomb on a show breeder’s kennel! Whether you agree or not, make your comments and VOTE below when you have weighed this information.
Withholding papers to insure the pet dog doesn’t produce “registered” puppies has always been how breeders protected their breed, kennel name, and bloodline. But when there were legal actions, we're told that AKC began quietly registering those dogs. When infuriated breeders found out, that brought more action. AKC found itself in a no-win situation. Then, thanks to this columnist's monitoring of registration problems which included in-print comparisons to the cat associations' equitable registration system, AKC gave us Limited Registration. And all was good, until now.
Somewhere along the way, Rules (see below) were added or changed, absolving AKC from honoring the breeder’s intent unless the breeder has a written agreement with every party to the original purchase. But if the original buyer (or broker!!) transfers the dog to someone else with whom there was no contract? Bingo, registered breeding dog.
AKC has refused to tell us when the current rules were passed. Perhaps one of our Delegate readers knows and will share that information, (anonymously of course)
It is a slippery slope, which in my opinion, can turn into a landslide of non-purebred or genetically defective AKC registered "purebreds". What AKC quietly accomplished is now dressed up with an ambiguous new name, under a policy (?) based on a rule (?) that seemed okay on its surface but like a peeling a rotten banana, looked pretty bad when exposed.
The new Administrative Pedigree Research service was apparently decided by staff, with little or no Delegate input, and presumably no board vote. Because the minutes are now so abbreviated, we can’t be sure if there was objection by anyone on the board even though the damage derived from generations of questionably “registerable” dogs is incalculable.
As of August 1, three months after approval, we were still unable to find definitive information on AKC’s website regarding the revolutionary, history-making new service. It was allegedly leaked to one publication by an AKC Delegate who shared the “FAQs” from the private Delegate portal. The service will generate an extra $30, $10 of which is said to pay for the pedigree research to determine if the dog originates “from AKC registrable stock.” How much "research" can be done in less than an hour? Breeders spend days evaluating a pedigree before deciding on a mating... oh well, you get the point.
So TheDogPress contacted Mr. David Roberts, AVP, Registrations (the person listed as contact for additional information re the new service), Ms. Daisy Okas, AVP, Communications, and Ms. Lisa Peterson, Director Club Communications. The only response was an email from Lisa Peterson, who provided a link to the Board Minutes, which contain only the following:
"BUSINESS AND OPERATIONS David Roberts, Kristi Munchel, Mari-Beth O’Neill and Rosario Vila, AKC Staff, participated in this portion of the meeting via video conference."
"Incorporating AKC Registrable Dogs into AKC Registry
Chapter 3, Section 6 of Rules Applying to Registration and Discipline grants AKC the authority to register dogs of AKC registrable stock. Dogs or litters may qualify for registration if pedigrees show no break in AKC lineage and all dogs and litters originate from AKC registrable stock. Staff advised the Board that without objection it will begin registering dogs of AKC registrable stock lacking litter registration papers provided that the dogs are otherwise deemed registrable by staff. The majority were in favor of this proposal."
AKC’s “no comment” response raises questions for which there may be no acceptable answers. Does this service in any way benefit responsible breeders? We're left to assume that puppies sold with “no papers” due to the possibility they carry a serious genetic fault or were of overall non-breeding quality can now enter the breeding gene pool unless the breeder can furnish a written agreement to the contrary and prove that all parties to the sale know and signed the contract? And here's the big catch - any subsequent owner-applicant would have had to sign a non-breeding contract or the breeder's contract is negated and the dog could be registered. Huh?
The genetic and moral impact of overriding a responsible breeder’s knowledge and judgment is incomprehensible. Consider this; you had a signed non-breeding contract on a potential carrier of a serious genetic disease yet that dog somehow winds up a puppy mill? Or a carefully scrutinized buyer falls on hard economic times, registers the pet dog with another registry so he can breed it to a horrid AKC registered dog owned by a neighbor? All of those puppies and their puppies can then be AKC registered?
Now you understand why no caring breeder playing by the rules to protect their breed and the integrity of the purebred dog could ever accept this artfully named program.
Nor can any Delegate, someone elected to uphold the specific concept of purebred dogs on which AKC was founded and chartered. Is that why the Administrative Pedigree Research Service was staff developed and Board approved without a Delegate vote?
What is the impact of registering “puppy mill” puppies so commercially created they weren't even AKC registered? How does AKC determine pet shop or BYB puppies are purebred even though the odds are significantly higher that such dogs are not from unbroken "AKC lineage"?
AKC says there is benefit for the pet buyer. Baloney! How many pet buyers would pursue getting AKC papers on their unregistered dog unless they intend to breed it? With this new service, it's a walk in the park for greedy pet owners or a nice family uneducated about "responsible breeding." Is that why AKC refuses to really educate the public on the advantages of owning a purebred AKC Registered dog? Has AKC inadvertently blown the lid off something that was only a myth anyway?
Even acknowledging the strategy of a well-run corporation’s marketing department and fiduciary responsibility, this new service portends the end of pretense. Will the Delegates who stopped the Petland deal allow this to happen? Breeders have been denigrated as being "elite" but that's what all breeders of purebred animals strive to be! Anyone can produce slaughter beef or a hack horse but only the elite can breed a herd sire or a Derby winner.
You run into enough unexpected genetic problems no matter how carefully you research but the odds increase astronomically when a dog that was sold with no papers is allowed to contaminate a breed’s gene pool. Ditto a puppy mill or backyard dog that some clerk at AKC decides originated from AKC stock and has “no break in lineage” according to a pedigree the buyer didn’t get? Gimme a break.
In the FAQs (which we couldn’t obtain) AKC says it gets over 400 inquires per week from owners who think their dogs are AKC registrable and 41,000 inquiries per month from owners who don’t have an Individual Dog Registration Application. Let’s see… assuming even one fourth of 42,000 inquiries per month actually result in registrations, that means over 120,000 dogs of inferior and/or questionable genetic quality could enter the AKC gene pool over the next year.
But wait, some of those dogs, bred by top breeders but sold as Limited or Papers Withheld, will become champions and reproduce! So Good Breeder, how would you know that the champion with a wonderful pedigree from a reputable breeder was sold as a pet with no papers for a REASON?
There will be more on this subject. The bomb has not even hit the ground for breeders and Delegates who will never accept bypassing ethical breeders as a good thing. Capturing registration fees on puppy mill produce registered with a competing association may mean more income for AKC and we all want it to be able to have the funds to "do for dogs" but at what cost?
Tell us and other breeders how you feel. AKC has respected reader input in the past and we know there are good people on the Board who will listen. You made your position clear by over a thousand opinions expressed in the Judging poll which we conveyed to AKC's Judging Operations department which is taking appropriate action. AKC does listen.
We encourage you to speak out again.
Click YES – Registration Service if you approve the new service.
If you have reservations or do not approve, click NO – Registration Service.
FYI: Chapter 3, Section 6 of Rules Applying to Registration and Discipline states in part:
"For the purpose of registering or refusing to register purebred dogs The American Kennel Club will recognize only such conditional sale or conditional stud agreements affecting the registration of purebred dogs as are in writing and are shown to have been brought to the attention of the applicant for registration. (emphasis added). The American Kennel Club cannot recognize alleged conditional sale, conditional stud or other agreements not in writing which affect the registration of purebred dogs, until after the existence, construction and/or affect of the same shall have been determined by an action at law."
The only contracts that the AKC will enforce will be the withholding of AKC registration papers until a dog is paid for or altered, if the terms are clearly set out in the bill-of-sale and signed by all parties involved in the sale of the dog, (emphasis added) this is required by our rules.
Also see the new rule allowing owners to change the name of their dog which was approved in March 2008, something not all breeders appreciate!
AKC strongly discourages co-ownerships. According to this cautionary warning on the AKC website, http://www.akc.org/reg/contract.cfm current 3/26/09, if you enter into any kind of contract with a dog person, you’re on your own. Here’s what AKC says about contracts.
“Many AKC-registerable dogs are bred, sold, or transferred on the basis of certain conditions, restrictions, or understood agreements between the interested parties. Some breeders sell their puppies on Spay-Neuter Contracts, which require that the dog be spayed or neutered by a certain age. Others enter into co-ownership contracts with new owners or into Stud Contracts with the owner of a male dog. Some dogs are sold with the agreement that they will be shown to a certain level of achievement in AKC events.
”The AKC does not and cannot enter into arbitration when an understanding between buyers, sellers, or co-owners goes wrong. The AKC will abide by the decision of the court if the case is litigated. We advise that all contracts be thoroughly examined and understood before the transaction is completed. For more information, see our Procedures for Registration Matters.”
And lastly, see this revealing documentation on AKC REGISTRATION FRAUD and then click over to:
Learn what if anything, AKC can say that would make palatable the knowledge that it has or will register dogs which a.) the breeder felt should not be registered or b.) were not bred by the listed breeder or c.) are not the offspring of the listed sire and dam?
Now AKC welcomes breeds no one has ever heard of from countries we can’t find on a world map! Simultaneously, we are expected to believe someone at AKC can somehow verify those imports, BYB or puppy mill dogs registered with a competing registry?
Despite what we’ve been led to believe, AKC doesn’t “have” to register puppy mill produce for legal reasons. Indeed, AKC has actively solicited commercial breeder business. See AKC Letter To Puppy Mills.