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AKC SUSPENDED RECORDS ERRORS, OMISSIONS
The American Kennel Club is incredibly inconsistent on suspension of privileges, who, and for how long SUSPENDED, and not keeping good records!
October 2009 | TheDogPress Club News
Delilah Penn, Staff Reporter
I’m a reasonably intelligent person but working on the SUSPENDED section for The Dog Press was enough to make me feel retarded. How AKC presents information is really confusing. Dennis said go to the AKC website and I did, but found huge discrepancies between the AKC Secretary’s Page and the AKC Board Minutes.
That made me wonder if AKC keeps a compiled list of persons that are suspended or owe fines?? I called Jack Norton, he’s the AKC Head of Compliance, and he said AKC “does not” keep a running list of those suspended. He said the only way to find out if someone is suspended is to go to their website and look it up. Well duh! That was the problem.
If AKC had a list of suspended people (how long and what for), it would be a great public service, that’s what they are about right? It would even help AKC employees because then they would know who was or had been suspended and it might prevent confusion for their staff because the more I looked, the worse it looked! After speaking with Mr. Norton, who was really nice and represents AKC well, I couldn’t help thinking about the inconsistencies. Maybe you all can help me out, being in the sport. I don’t show or breed but if I were a buyer or show dog owner, I’d want to know… It would make my job on compiling SUSPENDED a lot easier.
1. How does AKC keep up with Judges, Handlers, and Breeders that are suspended?
2. How does AKC know if the fines have ever been paid?
3. How does AKC know if folks have circumvented (ignored) their suspension?
4. What does AKC do to protect dogs from getting harmed by known dog abusers?
5. Does AKC have some sort of rules or guidelines it goes by when sentencing people?
The reason I’m asking is because what started as idle curiosity about an assignment has become a challenging puzzle. Let’s start with Margaret Mickelson from Richmond, VA. listed in the July Secretary's Page. She is a judge who was suspended effective, April 20, 2009 for having made “inappropriate and inaccurate statements in articles published in The Dog Press between February 10, 2006 and July 1, 2008.” Her penalty was one year suspension from all privileges and a $200 fine. Since she’s a judge, I thought that was pretty harsh, especially when compared to handlers who are only deprived of income for a month or people known to abuse dogs who get no penalty at all!
So I went back to TheDogPress and used their search tool and found Ms. Mickelson hadn’t even written anything since 2006 when she wrote about AKC's contract with Petland Pet Shops. Shouldn’t her suspension have been back dated to 2006? Whose fault was it that it took over three years to prosecute her? Whatever the answer, why wasn’t she sentenced to TIME SERVED. That’s what they’ve done for other people. I asked why they got one handler handled so fast that no one knew about it until after the 30 days was up, Andrew Green was his name, and the boss just rolled her eyes and said that was an “exceptional case.”
I also found it odd that when people get suspended by a show committee, they (sometimes?) continue to show for the rest of that show and even at other shows until it gets to the AKC board. What is the point of having a "bench" committee if when the person appeals to AKC, the sentence is finally handled as TIME SERVED, and amounts to no penalty, unless there's a fine.
So back to the Ms. Mickelson example. Three years? How long does it take to get a Trial Board? Even though she was allowed to keep judging while waiting, who would hire her? We heard that some shows reneged on her assignments because they thought she would be suspended and unable to fill her assignment. In real court, we are guaranteed a “speedy trial” so what was the holdup with Ms. Mickelson? I guess AKC suspends people at will, with no time limit to charge someone, like no statute of limitations?
Here’s a weird example that makes Ms. Mickelson’s crime look like child murder. In the July 2003 Board of Directors Minutes, Alexis Holmes Kiefer was suspended from all AKC privileges for five years and they gave her a $1000 fine, but they made the suspension effective July 22, 1997. Huh?? That’s 5 years AGO. Charges were for “prejudicial conduct” in connection with her animal cruelty conviction in California Superior Court. Was she allowed to keep up the cruelty for another six years?
It isn’t like she just went the wrong way around the ring. So why was Kiefer sentenced to "time served"? Was she a puppy mill that was registering lots of dogs? Or did AKC forget about Ms. Kiefer and once she was convicted it reminded them about the 1997 charges? Maybe AKC waited until her case worked its way through the courts from 1997 until she was finally convicted in 2003? We have to wonder if she was actually out of dogs or was she allowed to keep being cruel to her dogs during the intervening time? And did she then keep registering with AKC since they only gave her time served?
I ask because I keep stumbling over similar examples. TheDogPress.com made it easy to spot that Irene Meuser (Bethpage, TN) was suspended again while she was already suspended. Get this, in December 1999 the Minutes said she was “suspended from all AKC privileges for ten (10) years and fined $500 for record keeping and identification" and for keeping her dogs and facilities in a way the American Kennel Club found objectionable. But then in February 2007, only 8 years into a ten year suspension, the Board Minutes said she was suspended from all AKC privileges for fifteen years with a $3000 fine for Cruelty to Animals as convicted in the General Sessions Court of Sumner County at Gallatin, TN. It sure looks like she just kept right on breeding and registering dogs with AKC until she was again convicted of cruelty.
Makes you wonder how many litters Meuser registered in the 8 years she was suspended! Last time I checked my math skills, if you are suspended from all AKC PRIVILEGES for TEN YEARS in 1999 that means you’re suspended until um…ahhh.. December 2009 right? Not only that, the conditions must have been really bad as compared to the Big Bad Wolf guy which AKC inspected many times but didn’t really suspend until he was convicted of 337 counts of cruelty to animals conviction in Chester County, PA. Really!
And lastly (for now) in October 2000, the AKC Board denied a request by Dennis Snyder, Topeka, KS, for reconsideration of the term of his suspension which was for five years (and $500) for exhibiting a Golden Retriever with bands on its teeth. It drove me crazy because there was no effective date listed, nor was there an original charge to be found in Board Minutes as far back as January 1999. One would have to assume he was appealing a former decision, but then why wasn’t his first offense notated?
The reason this one stood out is that in August 2007 he was AGAIN suspended but it said that the determination “may come under appeal or be reversed.” Then in October the Minutes got around to saying that in JUNE 2007, the NW Trial Board heard charges against him for cruelty and neglect of a dog in connection with the Muskogee Kennel Club’s May 2005 event. (WHAT!! 2 years later?) Anyway, the Trial Board sustained the charges and suspended Mr. Snyder from all AKC privileges for ten years and fined him $2000 (effective June 2007).
So if the 5 year suspension in 2000 for banding the dog’s teeth was considered cruelty, they should have thrown the book at him as a repeat offender on the second offense in 2007. But here’s the kicker; if he was suspended in October 2000, what was he doing showing a dog in May 2005? And furthermore, shouldn’t he have been suspended in 2005 for an additional 10 years on top of the remainder of his 5 years plus additional time for circumventing his suspension, not two years later for a new term of 10? That’s where my math and reasoning skills failed me.
With what's going on now, everyone wonders if AKC has to wait for a conviction of Animal Cruelty to suspend someone or can they be suspended sooner, like if someone sees it first hand at a dog show? That could save other dogs from cruelty, even death! Everyone is talking about the Mary Wild case. There’s no question those seven dogs died while she, calling herself a professional handler, slept in after partying the night before. That’s not neglect? Why would they not suspend her from at least, all show privileges? They tell me she can keep right on taking unsuspecting client dogs to shows! As unbelievable as it sounds, not everyone knows who she is or what she did even with exposure in The Dog Press. AKC should protect other people and their dogs by suspending her immediately, for at least 10 years, long enough for her to grow up!
Anyway, I hope this helps with making sense out of SUSPENDED. A little heavy reading but I found it well worth the effort and a real education about a system I knew little about but one which seems NOT to be working!
I wish AKC good luck in finding a resolution and keeping up with suspensions. It would sure be good and protect dog people or potential buyers if suspended people were on a public, searchable list. I’d be more than happy to help AKC. Just getting the Minutes and the Secretary's Page to agree would be a good place to start! Times are tough so I'd do it for free because it's tough for dog owners too and if AKC won’t protect them, who will?
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