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The PAWS "Breeder" Exemption


Was the whole PAWS battle just a charade to make a billion-dollar USDA inspection deal palatable? Is that why the AKC Chairman testified in support of the PAWS bill?


December 28, 2005

Barbara "BJ" Andrews, SAAB Member


Sen. Rick Santorum, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Research, Nutrition and General Legislation, is blamed for the infamous PAWS bill which has raised the hackles of dog and cat people in record-setting numbers. Santorum gets the blame, AKC gets the credit. Bad guy, good guy? You decide.


The National Rifle Association, SAOVA, and other powerful lobbying groups that are well represented in local and state economy/tax/license structures are vigorously fighting PAWS.  Most notably, we were NOT backed by our organization.  Is it possible that the unusually effective opposition from hunters and sportsmen was the only unexpected glitch?  So the "PAWS exemption" was cleverly turned into a pacifier for a gullible dog fancy?


If so, it worked.  We were thrilled with being exempted even though (predictably) we didn't read it or don’t understand it.  Oh "they" know us.  We’re told it was a victory by the very people who want PAWS passed. We've been spoon fed the idea that PAWS was inevitable. We’re told AKC fought for us every step of the way and that ultimately those efforts brought about an exemption for us elite show breeders.


But wait, the only significant change is in this statement from AKC. “The modifications include an additional exemption for breeders who sell dogs and cats only at retail and are in compliance with certified kennel inspection standards, such as those of the AKC.”   That sentence is loaded!  The fact is, if you breed more than six litters OR (note the word is "or" not “and”) sell more than 25 dogs you are not exempt.


There was also some re-wording to exempt a “non-profit organization that receives federal approval” or “a shelter or rescue organization that does not import for resale or operate for profit.”  Expect a rush of non-profit applications from every toy breeder who might exceed six litters or hound breeders who can exceed 25 pups in three litters!  Note shelters are exempt and yes, they will continue to import saleable dogs while killing thousands of not-as-adoptable dogs.


But here’s the kicker, direct from AKC. If you exceed the 6 litters or 25 dogs exemption, if it PAWS becomes reality, the "hobby breeder" exemption would apply only “if you are inspected by a non-profit organization that receives federal approval such as AKC.


For you, nothing has changed. There is no exemption for co-bred litters.  If your name is on the sale or breeding of more than six litters or 25 dogs, you must expose your sales records and your home to inspection!!!  What has changed is that now, presumably as planned from the very beginning, you will be inspected by AKC and that service will be paid for with a never-ending flow of tax dollars.  The most common phrase now (sadly) associated with AKC is "it's all about the money."  I predicted last Sept. 2005 that PAWS fit that phrase.  So did a handful of other journalists who feared PAWS more than the wrath of AKC.


Our backs went up over AKC's embrace of the puppy mills (otherwise known as the HVBC) and even though in the end, show breeders rolled over, PAWS was not as easily swallowed.  Consequently, a little more care is now being taken in how things are marketed to an increasingly wary dog fancy. A recent AKC press statement is a great example “’These problems need to be addressed for the sake of dogs and the pet buying public,’ said Menaker. "However, it is also essential that we maintain the sport and hobby of purebred dog breeding and exhibiting as it is today, an activity regulated by our own rigorous compliance standards. The new exemption provision and other changes secured through AKC’s work with Sen. Santorum and other interest groups helps PAWS achieve that balance.”


The verbiage is deliberately confusing. In October 2005, we dared speculate that AKC would benefit from a never-ending flood of PAWS-generated money. The December AKC press release indicates that will be a done deal!! Twelve words buried in glowing text state  AKC's kennel inspection programs and standards are certified by the Secretary of Agriculture. Yep, there ya go. The stage is set.


Rolling right on past that earth shaking statement, AKC proudly points out “The kennel standards certified by the Secretary must be at least equivalent to those required by the United States Department of Agriculture under the Animal Welfare Act.” Amazing, we're told after-the-fact and matter-of-fact, as though its no big deal.


While digesting that bit of news, one might wonder if that “standard” is the same one which proscribes calling the puppy mill to notify of an inspection appointment? Would those be the standards that ignore incredibly inhumane conditions despite “USDA inspection” as recorded and broadcast a few years ago a two-part special entitled  Doomed Dogs Of Missouri? Have things changed significantly? Well yes, if we believe the AKC officials who were the guests of the ever-growing, mega-miller Hunte Corporation…


These are my opinions based on both solid AKC information and the knowledge that the new inspection deal represents a fountain of funds that never run dry. If PAWS isn't defeated in its entirety, we will rue the day big business and political handshakes put hobby breeders in the same category as puppy mills, oh, excuse me, High Volume Breeders.


So go ahead, talk to yourself. Ask yourself (and answer) some questions before you register your next litter with the American Kennel Club, which notably, is the only registry participating or benefiting from PAWS.  Others may cave, but only the American Kennel Club wants PAWS.


I have happily invested forty years exhibiting our dogs. I would never knowingly misjudge AKC. I am told by a higher-up in AKC that I’m “known to be critical of AKC” and I plead guilty but it is my self-inflicted job to question and report what AKC does!  I've done so in my columns since the late sixties and if I’ve ever been wrong (on any observation regarding AKC), it has not been brought to my attention by anyone, least of all by the AKC.  Questioning the method and motivation behind PAWS makes me less than popular at the moment but like any hot potato, it needs to be opened up.


BARBARA "BJ" ANDREWS BIOWhen journalists report something sick and the bad guys are excised for the overall good of the people it’s like cutting away a cancer. It may be painful but it's healthy in the long run. Having been told I’m fighting a hopeless battle and been warned to “stay out of it” signals something inherently wrong with PAWS and the motivation behind it.


You should make up your own mind. To that end, I share this self-congratulatory quote from the American Kennel Club, AKC is extremely pleased with recent developments regarding PAWS. As Mr. Menaker stated in his Chairman’s Report last month 'The success of any legislation in Congress is uncertain, but we will continue to represent the needs and voice the concerns of our breeders in this legislative process. We are proud to continue to sit at the table as an equal, as we have since the introduction of this legislation, and strive to make a real difference that benefits our responsible breeders and the welfare of all dogs.”’


I direct you to the AKC website for more information - (offsite link, copy and paste URL in browser)

Be sure to check in at Project: PAWS for the latest news and progress or go back to the Editorial Index


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