In closing the September AKC board meeting, Chairman Ron Menaker summarized where the AKC was coming from in terms of its funding history and its current dilemmas with Petland:
Mr. Menaker: Your Board does have responsibilities and one of those is fiduciary responsibilities, but let’s not walk out of here tonight suggesting that this staff or anybody else has come up with something that we haven’t been doing for the past 122 years. Indeed we have been registering AKC eligible puppies from Petland, and every other company selling AKC registrable puppies. We have been registering those puppies and we have collected millions of dollars.
This is not a new phenomenon. What is happening is: As the registrations are going down, and many of you are screaming about why this is, our registrations have been pirated by other organizations. That means, and I’ve explained this to Gretchen this morning, that these pet shops take an AKC registrable puppy and convert it to another registry.
We need to decide whether we are going to stop registering puppies that come from these puppy brokers or Pet Shops and the like. I say “stop,” because, yes, Gretchen, we have been registering puppies from pet shops.
That’s not new. While I certainly don’t endorse brokers or pet shops selling puppies, it is a fact of life and the numbers continue to grow.
What I’m saying is there are several options. One is to make a conscious decision to no longer register “all” AKC puppies. By the way, some of them make their way to pet shops from all types of Breeders. That’s one alternative.
To tell you the truth, Judi, I would almost prefer to raise the registrations and the event fees and be able to say, “Effective next month, we are no longer going to register those puppies.”
However, not only would we lose those registrations, but we would lose a large number of potential constituents and that would impact our ability to influence legislation and over time, our numbers might simply make us just one of 23 registries. So that’s Option Number 1.
Option number 2 is we continue to register any AKC puppy — as we have been doing in the past. And please don’t make it sound like we haven’t, because the data shows we have been doing so on a large scale. However, in this option, we make no attempt to stop the pirating of those AKC registrable puppies and we allow our registry and registration dollars to simply decline.
The third option was the option that the staff was trying to present — and blame the Board; don’t blame the staff. I understand you can un-elect us. But believe me, we put our heart and soul into this sport as much as I believe you all do. Our intention was not to support or to endorse Pet Shops, but rather to stop the conversion of our AKC puppies. The fact of the matter is that pet shop AKC puppies were being registered when Judi Daniels was a director and when she was president, right, Judi? We have always been registering those puppies. Now they are getting pirated and they are ending up in other registries and they are no longer part of our AKC. The people who own them may never have an opportunity to be part of the AKC family. If bred, they are no longer part of our care and conditions.
What we have learned is that competing registries are paying bounties to convert AKC registration papers to ACA papers or the like. And all we simply did, with this recommendation from the staff, and which the Board approved 12 to 1, was to attempt to prevent this trend from continuing.
You have communicated to this Board today that you do not want us to pursue this route. Indeed, we will come up with other ways to pursue revenue shortfalls. One way is to raise fees in order that we make up for the shortfall that occurs when registrations decline. There’s no simplistic answer. We are all emotional. But the fact of the matter is there are many components to this whole issue, and there needs to be a way of dealing with it. One lady asks if they are all limited registrations? Well, the question you have to ask yourself is, did the breeders make them limited registrations? As far as I’m concerned, they ought to all be limited registrations. So the real question is: As the registrations continue to decline and as AKC puppies are converted to other registries, we have to make a decision as to whether or not we want to try to go after them, or whether or not we want to try to turn away from them and look for other sources of revenue. That’s what it boils down to.
This initiative was not to endorse or support those people or the conditions that most of us are opposed to. It was never done for that purpose. It was taken because in the past we were registering those puppies, and they accounted for a large number of our registration numbers.
In any event, I can assure you the Board has received your message. We will reconvene on that subject and you will hear back from us. I assure you, it was not a decision taken lightly, nor was there any intent to do harm to the ethics and values that most of us believe in. Thank you.