Crime & Punishment
An Abuse of AKC Power?
Fred Lanting, 40 years SV, International and AKC judge, noted author, in-demand lecturer… until his Judging approval is SUSPENDED FOR LIFE in a gotcha non-event!
July 2007 | TheDogPress.com
Gini Addamo, Dog Show Reporter
Life was good for Mr. Fred Lanting but he was disturbed about the failure of the AKC to protect the purebred dog and began writing about it back in the 60’s. Was publicly expressing his opinions his downfall? You decide.
Who could imagine that a nonprofit organization in the United States of America (you know, land of democracy, and the Bill of Rights) would arrogantly demonstrate a total lack of justice and fairness towards one of its own?
Mr. Fred Lanting got his first German Shepherd Dog (GSD) in 1947 and became an active breeder in 1966. His devotion to the breed eventually led him into authoring what some might say is the book on the GSD breed. Other notable books on major health issues followed. He created Canine Consultants, which deals in the area of canine orthopedics. Mr. Lanting’s commitment to dogs also led him to become a AKC breed and group judge. He judged regularly in other countries where he also gave lectures and educational seminars.
Years go by and Mr. Lanting is doing what he loves, dedicating a major part of his life to dogs. It all started to unravel in January 2000, in of all places, Pakistan. Mr. Lanting was there to give a seminar on orthopedic diseases. After the seminar, one of his consulting clients asked him for help in finding a Rottweiler bitch and a Labrador Retriever bitch. Upon his return home, Mr. Lanting, happy to help, looked up some people and got their email addresses from The Rottweiler Quarterly. He sent an email to seven people asking for assistance in finding the two dogs. The fact that Fred was so open about what he was doing clearly demonstrates that he honestly did not know he was doing anything wrong!
Judging the following day, he put out two signs stating that a Rottie and Lab bitch were wanted for a good friend overseas and anyone interested in exporting were to contact him. Mr. Lanting also had an order form on the stewards table for his book. The signs were up for an hour or so when the AKC Rep approached Mr. Lanting's ring and admonished him. The signs and order form were immediately removed. The Rep. informed Mr. Lanting that his actions would be reported to the AKC. From that moment forward the situation went spiraling out of control.
Mr. Lanting’s contention is that some people at AKC were just waiting for him to make a mistake. There was going to be retribution for those critical articles written years ago. It didn’t matter how big or how small the mistake was, he was going to be eliminated.
He received a letter from the AKC dated March 6, 2000. The letter inferred that Mr. Lanting was trafficking in dogs by quoting the Occupational Eligibility Addendum which states that individuals who trade or traffic in dogs are occupationally ineligible to judge AKC events. Further, the letter referred to the addendum that states, “No judge may advertise or in any manner make commercial use of his judging approval.” The letter requested that Mr. Lanting submit a written explanation by March 20, 2000.
Mr. Lanting’s explanation was simple. A friend who was an orthopedics consultation client in Pakistan wanted to improve his gene pool in Rotts and Labs and asked Mr. Lanting to find breeders who could help toward that goal. Mr. Lanting made an honest, albeit, dumb mistake by putting his request out at the show he was judging. His position was that he was only trying to establish communication for a good dog person in a distant country. Mr. Lanting did not ask for, nor was he expecting any payment for assisting his friend in Pakistan. In fact, Mr. Shahid A. Khokhar, Executive Member of the Kennel Club Pakistan, wrote to the AKC (June 1, 2000) on behalf of Mr. Lanting. In the letter, Mr. Khokhar describes his (and other’s) distress for being a part of Mr. Lanting’s troubles. He states specifically, “There is absolutely no remuneration or return favors involved, expressed or implied, and we are shocked that his attempts to reach as many people in as short a time as possible has been interpreted as brokering or dealing in dogs, which he says are terms used by your employees.” There was no evidence to support the accusation that Fred Lanting was trafficking in dogs. In fact, the contrary was true and he had corroborating evidence supporting that.
If trying to help a friend find a dog is “trafficking in dogs”, then I think we can all agree there are probably hundreds of judges that need their licenses revoked for life!
The AKC Board of Directors finally had their man. They revoked his license “indefinitely” on grounds that he was: (1) an intermediary in the trafficking of dogs (for helping a foreign friend), (2) emailing exhibitors he thought might be at the show, (3) for displaying the signs and finally (4) providing an order form for his new book.
Mr. Lanting filed appeals in which he apologized, acknowledged he made a mistake and promised never to do it again. He asked for mercy. Many upset fanciers wrote letters stating their opposition to the excessive punishment of Mr. Lanting. Some people at the AKC were not happy about receiving that kind of mail, in fact, Dr. Thomas Davies was reported to have stated that he had received numerous letters on Mr. Lanting’s behalf and that it was the wrong way to appeal the case. He personally was not interested in hearing from anyone on Mr. Lanting’s behalf.
All appeals produced the same result until February 2006 when, after continued pleadings, the board considered his case again and decided that Mr. Lanting’s judging privileges would be reinstated on May 15, 2015. According to Mr. Lanting, he will be “dust and ashes, and they know that!” Fred will be 79 years old in 2015.
Let’s put this in perspective. The two signs and the book order form were in the public eye for about an hour. Fred had never “trafficked in dogs.” He was doing what all judges do, particularly those who judge in other countries where language and distance present communication problems. He was helping an esteemed friend establish contacts for new breeding stock. How many other judges who help breeders get suspended? Who can believe that his well-intended actions deserve a life sentence? Mr. Lanting had no prior or mitigating problems with the AKC that would justify such disproportionate discipline. This “justice” is tantamount to losing your drivers license for life for an illegal lane change!
We all know there are two sides to every story; often both sides can be argued quite convincingly but in our judicial system, people are innocent until proven guilty. If there is reasonable doubt, the person must be acquitted. Is it too much to expect that our rights will also be protected and respected by the AKC? Mr. Lanting acknowledges that in his zeal to help a friend, he made some errors in judgment but he denies the charges of which he was accused and convicted. Sadly, the AKC is not obligated to follow the rule of law, which automatically, in my opinion, puts any accused at a disadvantage. If the AKC took the high road and changed the way they do things, wouldn’t it project a more honest and fair organization instead of the appearance of corruption and politics as usual?
I asked the question earlier, did Mr. Lanting’s outspoken articles of the sixties come back to haunt him? Did the AKC take an innocent mistake and turn it into a capitol crime in order to take revenge or make an example of Fred?
Would not a reprimand or a year’s suspension have been more appropriate for such an innocent mistake in judgment? It’s been six years, isn’t that enough? Was punishment meted out in an evenhanded way? A lot of you remember the AKC judge who was selling an herbal supplement at dog shows where she was judging. Does anyone recall a suspension for her? She’s still judging. We all know judges that have helped friends obtain dogs by either giving a referral or making a phone call. I’ve been told that it is common knowledge that some well-known judges participate in the buying and selling of dogs and they receive commissions. If true, why are they still judging? Perhaps they have not been publicly critical of the AKC?
How many know judges who are still breeding dogs? Do they sell their puppies? Is it okay for some judges and not others? Are judges allowed to buy/sell dogs/puppies? Chapter 7, Sec. 1, states, in part, “…persons who buy, sell and in any way trade in or traffic in dogs as a means of livelihood in whole or in part,…” are ineligible to be a judge. Do you think that the reason Chapter 7, Section 1 was ambiguously written was to deliberately give wiggle room so the AKC could enforce it based on personal relationships instead of with fairness and equal justice?
The issue of proportionate discipline could be interesting. What would happen if the AKC had to stand trial for its transgressions against you and me and the sport of dogs? For starters, how about ignoring the AKC Mission Statement and allowing the stud book to be a worthless disgrace? What would be a fair sentence for knowingly sending out false registration papers? What would the sentence be for refusing to correct the stud book when there is incontrovertible evidence that fraud has been committed?
What would the sentence be for discouraging AKC field inspectors from reporting the conditions and the accuracy of breeding records at certain kennels? Just one case in point so you can see the disparity. Bob Hufford, a former AKC Investigator, was interviewed by 20/20’s Tom Jarriel. Mr. Hufford reported performing an inspection in which 109 breeding dogs were in wire cages, had no identification and there were no other records on the property. Mr. Hufford stated that most of the puppies were registered with the AKC despite the lack of identification. In this case, the AKC’s own internal trial board recommended that well over a hundred earlier litters produced by those breeders be canceled. The AKC refused to do it!
In 2006, a once-prominent handler was convicted of over 300 counts of cruelty. The AKC suspended him for only six months. It took national publicity for AKC to do anything even though the “big bad wolf” was averaging a litter per week of multiple breeds. He was supposedly inspected but always was found “in compliance.” The three-part story on The Big Bad Wolf made headlines in TheDogPress.
Do you think the crimes committed by the AKC against the sport are more or less serious than putting out two signs for less than two hours? Does it bother you that people at the AKC can stand in unopposed judgment of people like Fred Lanting whose crime was a lapse of good judgment? Many people have written to say that the dog world has lost a great and wonderful man. Others feel the dogs themselves have been denied a great man, particularly the GSD. What do you think?
Mr. Lanting has accepted that the AKC will not reinstate his license. I wonder if they find some kind of perverse pleasure in hurting a man who speaks the truth, loves his breed, an educator and a man who feels his calling is to help people. To date, Mr. Lanting has been suspended for over six years. Is that long enough? Not enough?
Is it time for the fancy to stand in judgment of the AKC’s arrogance and smugness? According to the transcript of the 20/20 broadcast in 1994, the AKC President responded to 20/20’s request for comment regarding the content of their story by stating in a letter that if the AKC canceled more litters and more dogs, it would hurt the innocent dog-buying public. You have to shake your head at this logic. Was he saying the public would be better off buying allegedly purebred dogs with fraudulent registration papers? How does defrauding the public NOT hurt the public? When did the mission of the AKC become protecting the public instead of protecting the integrity of the stud book? Doesn’t logic tell you that if the AKC was doing its best to protect the stud book, the innocent dog buying public and the purebred dog would be less hurt? Isn’t it time that people stop buying the senseless propaganda?
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