Thursday, December 11, 2008

AKC Registrations Down 53 Percent in 15 Years

In 1987 a reporter for Parade magazine asked William F. Stifel, then the president of the AKC, whether the AKC would register a blind, deaf, three-legged purebred pup with hip dysplasia and green fur. According to Parade, Stifel said, "We would register the dog. AKC [registration] unfortunately does not mean quality."

In the last 15 years, the public is gotten the message, and begun voting with its feet and wallet.

If the American Kennel Club is "just a registry" comprising a stack of papers in a dusty filing cabinet, why pay very much money for that piece of paper?

In fact, why pay anything for it when scientists and dog experts are saying that dogs raised in the American Kennel Club closed registry system with its contrived "standards" and rising coefficients of inbreeding almost guarantee a high percentage of diseased, defective and deformed dogs?

Now comes the latest missive from AKC Chairman Ron Menager in which he bemoans market economics and wonder why the American people are no longer quite so gullible:

The American Kennel Club faces enormous challenges in reversing the continuing decline in registrations. Today, we are losing market share at an alarming rate, especially in the retail sector. We are being challenged competitively and financially. The declining registrations and associated core revenues, if allowed to continue, will fundamentally change our organization going forward. Make no mistake, the very future of the AKC and our sport is at risk. ....

... Today, there are at least 30 All-Breed registries in addition to the AKC, whose combined registration numbers exceed that of the AKC. If This trend is allowed to continue, if we do not stop the hemorrhaging of declining registrations, we will no longer be the premier registry in the world, let alone in our country....

.... AKC used to dominate the marketplace. Even places like Macy's and Gimbels sold AKC puppies. Many pet owners who bought these puppies, and I was one of them, tried their hand at showing and breeding.

For decades we collected millions of registration dollars from AKC pet owners. These millions overwhelmingly subsidized our sport. Today, this scenario no longer exists. Twenty-five years ago almost all of our revenue was registration related. Last year less than one half of our revenues came from registrations. Dog registrations peaked at 1.5 million in 1992. By the end of 2008 it is projected we will register only 725,000 dogs. This is a staggering 53% decline.

... If the current trend continues and dog registrations decline to 250,000 over the next several years, AKC will face an annual revenue shortfall of $40 million. ... a $40 million revenue shortfall would necessitate a reduction of our expenses by two-thirds. This is totally unrealistic.

So what's next? Is the Kennel Club going to go to Congress and ask for a bailout like Ford and GM?

Don't laugh. Everyone else is doing it, and no doubt it is in discussion at the AKC's plush headquarters on Madison Avenue in the heart of New York City.

It is certainly no crazier than their other game plan, which is "partnering" with veterinarians and the pet insurance business in order to leverage more money out of pet owners.

The scam here is simple and tranparent: Get folks to buy pet insurance recommended by the AKC, and then get them to go to veterinarians recommended by the AKC, and then pocket kickbacks from both ends of the deal.

And who is paying for those kickbacks?

You are, in the form of bill padding, more medically unnecessary tests and procedures, and rising pet insurance costs.

1 comment:

stellaluna said...

It wouldn't surprise me in the least if the AKC was to ask Congress for a bailout. They seem to have officially reached the point of having absolutely no shame.

They've already decided to start registering unregistered dogs at $30 a pop, even though the breeder deemed them unworthy of registration.

And they now allow people to change the registered name of their dog for a $25 fee (a big coup for the people who were bound and determined that their dog be known as "King Rex XXIX")

36 years ago I was refused registration on a Whippet that I had gotten out of the local pound after he was deposited there by his owner's mother when the young man went off to Viet Nam. The dog was a double-grandson (yeah, I know...) of Ch. Courtenay Fleetfoot of Pennyworth, according to the pedigree the woman left with the dog at the shelter. She offered to sell me the papers for $100, and I told her to buy herself a nice frame for them.

I contacted the breeder, who was horrified at the mother's dumping the dog, and happy to know that he had been bailed out and was going to be moving on to Whippet racing and lure coursing. She sent a letter confirming registration numbers of his sire, dam and litter, and photos of the dog in her kennel; a positive identification was made via his very distinctive markings.

Yet the AKC refused to issue registration on the dog because he had entered a shelter and therefore there was "the possibility" of a mistake in identification. Integrity of the studbook and all. We had to go with an ILP to do anything with the little guy.

That was 36 years ago... Money changes everything.