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AKC Bites The Hand That Feeds It


You know the American Kennel Club as sponsor of the prestigious Westminster Dog Show but few know that AKC helps fund itself through what many call extortion. Comments invited!


April 29, 2019 |

Betty Ackerman, Guest Reporter


Here’s how that can happen. For a nominal fee, anyone can file a complaint with the AKC Compliance Department – true or false – if they have a grudge or wish to retaliate against a competitor or just need to divert attention from something they themselves need to hide. The complaint is turned in, a case is opened, it is “investigated,” and the defendant is ordered to turn over everything the AKC requests.


Failure to comply makes the defendant automatically guilty and they are then punished.


Defendants are treated like they are guilty until proven innocent. The AKC accepts, in fact encourages, evidence from all parties to make their case – even if it is gotten by questionable means. The AKC itself will attempt to gather evidence - potentially damaging a business/client relationship. They will accept information against the accused even if it is not verifiable. The American Kennel Club may even go so far as to harass your adult children.


The AKC board will look at allegations from many years past, thus turning in a complaint is a great retaliation tool for a vindictive person since they don’t have to hire an attorney. The AKC will almost always hear the case because they get both an up-front fee ($) and often, a ($) settlement.


It’s a win-win for all but the defendant – who’s reputation is damaged or ruined from the allegations having been publicized even before matters are settled.


If you disagree with the Compliance Department findings you are turned over to the AKC Legal Department. The accused has a choice of paying a “settlement” or dragging it out by asking the matter be taken to an AKC Trial Board. If you think that will get you justice, remember the Trial Board is appointed and paid for by the AKC.


The AKC officials tend to get angry if you stand up to them. Various pressures are applied to get you to “pay up.” True example: If you had a child’s name on a dog’s registration papers years ago, say for Junior Showmanship purposes, they will send threatening letters to your children offering to also “settle” with them (again, thousands of dollars), even if they were or are still minors when the alleged allegations supposedly happened.


Even before anything is “settled” the AKC can decide to put you on “Event Suspension” or “Registration Suspension” designed to get you to stop showing or stop your breeding program.{ref 1} To apply more pressure they will also publish your name in the AKC Gazette that they are pressing charges against you – a sure way to ruin your reputation.


Another pressure tactic: the AKC will send out letters with a request for information giving 10 days to comply but those letters may arrive on the actual compliance due date. If you are lucky, the AKC legal department may give you an extra few working days to comply with their requests.


It does not matter what your life circumstances are at the moment or if your attorney is available. Complaints may be drawn out for two years and it’s all the better for them if your witnesses have died or disappeared.


The Compliance and Legal Departments say they keep their evidence confidential but often start by offering to “settle” with the accused – for thousands of dollars – while withholding anything they base their allegations on. They state they do not have to comply with rules of evidence because they are a club not a court of law – yet they will “press charges” and mete out punishment as if it were a court, with or without their Trial Board system. The American Kennel Club says they can do (get away with) this because they are a “club” and that you agreed to their rules and regulations every time you entered a dog show or registered a litter.


They protect themselves by a statement in their procedures brochure that states (the Trial Board Chair may direct) the AKC to provide the document or records to the defendant provided it is relevant to the charges (they decide) and that providing (such information) does not jeopardize the AKC in legal proceedings with some third party.


This means the American Kennel Club can use evidence received by any means, legal or not, and the AKC does not have to show it to you as would be the case in a court of law.


Of course you also can sue them – a very expensive proposition. This puts justice in the hands of the well-heeled only. Most people just pay the “fine” or “penalty” to avoid suspension of their AKC privileges if they want to continue in the sport of dog showing. This is a form of extortion.  It makes you wonder if the Legal Department gets bonuses for the amount of “settlements” they bring in.


If you think the AKC Trial Board is the end of it I suggest you look up AKC vs George Boulton.{ref 2} George was an AKC judge and one of the few that won (at great expense) a Trial Board. The AKC did not like that decision and nailed him with a fine and suspension anyway.


The AKC can rule by fear because they are the only game in town. If you want to register quality dogs and preserve the quality of a breed, the AKC dog shows are what dedicated breeders and conformation participants take seriously. There are other kennel clubs that put on shows but they are small, often lack real competition and the name recognition of the American Kennel Club.


AKC’s income from registrations and show entries is falling. This was once a sport that the whole family could participate in. The American Kennel Club focused on the art of producing and showing quality purebred dogs. Today the AKC’s falling revenues have them accepting mixed breeds into competition, giving registration discounts to high volume breeders (aka puppy mills) and selling dog toys and supplies to make up the shortfall.


The sport of dogs has become very much a money game and extortion is apparently very lucrative.


Reference Information: {1} AKC Suspended Records   ~   {2} George-Boulton-vs-AKC


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