Monday, June 30, 2014

An AKC Judge Discovers the AKC Defends Monstrous Institutionalized Cruelty

Jemima Harrison sent me a link to an article from Bo Bengtson who "has been involved in dogs since the late 1950s and judged since the mid-1970s in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Holland, Italy, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Japan, China and Russia. He has judged twice at Westminster, twice at Crufts and four times at the FCI World Show, as well as the U.S. national specialties for Scottish Deerhounds, Whippets, Greyhounds and Borzoi."

Yow! That's an impressive resume!

You will pardon me if I wonder why then that it comes as new information to Mr. Bengtson that the AKC is ass-deep in the puppy mill industry?

 As I have noted on this blog in the past, this is common and widespread information.

The AKC has not only bragged on the fact that they subsidize dog shows with puppy mills dog registrations, they have also created a special computer software and discount program to help sell puppy mill dogs in pet stores.

But what's gotten Mr. Bengtson upset is the fact that the AKC is writing $10,000 checks to the Missouri Pet Breeders Association. He writes:
Sometimes you literally cannot believe your ears. When a friend told me that the American Kennel Club had made a substantial financial contribution to the Missouri Pet Breeders Association I did not think that could possibly be true. This is, after all, probably the largest puppy mill organization in the world and represents everything that hobby breeders and dog lovers — those we usually think of as AKC’s core group — abhor. Commercial mass production of puppies is not something that any dog fancier would want AKC to be linked to.

Well, believe it or not: it’s true. Once I saw the press release sent out by MPBA asking for money, proudly listing the American Kennel Club as one of the main sponsors of a new study with an object to, among other things, recruit new participants in “the industry,” there was no denying it. The sum, $10,000, may not be large by AKC’s standard — this is an organization that pays its top executives annual salaries in the high six figures — but it is nearly as much as the Missouri Farm Bureau ($15,000) and the MBPA itself ($11,000) have donated. In addition AKC is also a “Platinum Sponsor” for an upcoming MBPA event together with such embattled puppy factories as Petland and the Hunte Corporation. Among other sponsors are the Continental Kennel Club and America’s Pet Registry, neither an organization I thought AKC would be happy to be associated with. (The United Kennel Club, notably, is not on that list of sponsors; nor are any of the respected canine health organizations such as OFA, CHIC, the Canine Health Foundation, the Morris Animal Foundation, or the Animal Health Trust.)

Let’s make it clear that the Missouri Pet Breeders Association is not a gathering of amateur hobbyists. They continually refer to themselves as an “industry,” and on their website proudly claim to be “the nation’s oldest and largest professional pet organization,” founded in 1987. Since Missouri is the biggest puppy mill state in the country, and the U.S. is the biggest puppy mill country in the world, I guess that really does make MBPA the largest puppy mill organization anywhere.

If the study that AKC is helping finance were trying to find out how to make life better for puppies raised in high volume kennels, or what their impact is on the health, temperaments, etc. of puppies raised there — that would be one thing. That’s not the case, however. This study is clearly the result of the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act that was passed in Missouri just a few years ago and obliged breeders to, among other things, allow their dogs access to outdoor exercise and disallowed dogs to be housed on wire flooring — pretty basic stuff. The passing of this act had the effect of closing down more than 1,000 commercial dog breeding operations; about 50% of the total. In the hearing for a preliminary injunction some commercial breeders made it clear that they would rather kill their dogs than comply with the new rule. (And tragically, some of them in fact did.) A lot of the evidence at the hearing is frankly sickening.
To his credit, Mr. Bengtson recognizes that he should have known:

It turns out I was pretty naive thinking that AKC would not be involved in an organization like the MPBA. Instead of being thrilled that the commercial dog breeding business is losing ground and more states keep introducing a “no puppies in pet stores” policy, AKC has, according to informed active fanciers, poured “endless money” into trying to defeat the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act.

I was frankly confused. Many dog fanciers like me no doubt believe — regardless of any personal grievances we may have against AKC — that the organization that governs so much of our daily activity is basically a gathering of dog lovers.

Yep, you would think.  But NO, you would be wrong.  As I once noted in a post entitled "Who Speaks for Dogs?":

Who speaks for the dogs? A lot fewer organizations than you might imagine!

In the world of dogs, mixed motives, hidden agendas, and naked economic self-interest are the watch word.

A lot of people, for example are shocked to discover that the American Kennel Club has a 50-year track record of profiting from puppy mills, embracing breed standards that create dogs that are defective by design, and embracing crackpot 19th century eugenics theories.

What? The AKC? I thought this was an organization for dogs?

Nope. This in an organization built around rosettes and salaries. The way to keep the business going, so far as they can see, is to double down on puppy mill registrations while maintaining a closed registry system which too often results in rising coefficients of inbreeding.

The welfare of dogs? It never enters the picture.

Mandatory health tests? They're not only not required, they're prohibited!

Pet shop sales? The AKC supports that!

Puppy mills? They are a major source of AKC registrations, and always have been.

All of this comes as new information to some people.
Yep. Including some AKC judges. Imagine that!


Garnet said...

I read the article and figured that there would be someone having a meltdown over "animal rights" groups in the comments.

And yep, the first commenter does that.

I hardly think a show dog judge can be called an "animal rights fanatic."

Donald McCaig said...

Dear Patrick,
When we were fighting the Dog Wars (trying to prevent AKC recognition (stalking) of the Border Collie, I met many fine AKC members and officials who had been members for years and years, deplored the stupid AKC policies and were trying to change things from within. Although I wasn't optimistic about their prospects, they took real risks and faced hard criticism from their doggy peers. I did and do admire them.

Donald McCaig

PBurns said...

I agree that it takes courage to fight the AKC -- I too saw some of that when AKC announced they were going to register puppy mill dogs at Petland”.

But the flutter faded pretty quickly.

Yes, people were willing to send a letter or two, and cluck privately. A very few were willing to speak from the floor at an AKC board meeting.

But the AKC is insulated from criticism and simply rolled forward.

The AKC does not have true members, and if someone leaves a breed club they are replaced faster than a drug runner on the streets of Baltimore. In the end, the best anyone can do is what has been done here -- post a piece in the show and trade journals decrying what the AKC has done to dogs, and/or send it around to the blogs. And, of course, the AKC simply waits for that to sink below the surface.

Of course, most of the show magazines and web sites will not print dissent, or will not allow very much of it. It's a bit like the Catholic church and pedophilia -- the folks who subscribe to and post ads in the National Catholic Register are not going to be too thrilled to read about boy buggery, and the same is true for puppy mills and pet shop horrors.

THOSE people exists, both sides sniff, and **really** the church must “do more,” but it has nothing to do with us.

And then they pay their fees, pass the plate, and the abuse rolls forward. Because with their feet, and their wallets, they sanction it. It's the Big Wink, and it's been going on for more than 50 years.


Robert Ballard said...

So glad for your insight on these matters. So many "dog men" are knee-jerk right-wingers. I have followed the puppy mill thing in Missouri via some working hound websites, and have to "deconstruct" to get what's going on. In my own state of North Carolina, I feel trapped between the liberals( pro PETA and HSUS and anti-hound sport, but I am a Democrat) and the bulk of my fellow beaglers, who are politically anathema to me, but,by and large,are my allies on most hound issues. I took bitter pleasure when our Republican governor turned coat recently and squeezed all dog men in order to,ostensibly,fight puppy mill excesses. Thanks, again, for your sane and incisive analysis of these issues. Also,glad to see you got two pups. Two raise easier than one.