Thursday, April 18, 2013

New York Times Looks at AKC Misery Puppies

Misery Puppies.

It's a term I coined a few years back when I was writing about the number of pet shop and puppy mill dogs registered by the American Kennel Club and how the AKC relied on puppy mill registrations to subdize the millions of dollars a year that they lose on dog shows.

Yes, every ribbon you get at an AKC dog show is made possible by bitches that are crammed into crates and "bred until dead," even as their puppies are swept up at the age of 6 weeks and launched into a mixing bowl of other puppy litters.  Predictably, distemper kills scores of thousands.

The New York Times has finally caught up to the story, and they write:

[T]he A.K.C. is increasingly finding itself ostracized in the dog world, in the cross hairs of animal protection services, law enforcement agencies and lawmakers who say that the club is lax in performing inspections and that it often lobbies against basic animal rights bills because they could cut into dog registration fees.

As recently as 2010, roughly 40 percent of the A.K.C.’s $61 million in annual revenue came from fees related to registration. Critics say a significant part of that includes revenue from questionable breeders like the Hamiltons, or so-called puppy mills, which breed dogs en masse with little regard for basic living standards...

...On its Web site, the A.K.C. says that it had an “ongoing routine kennel inspection program” and that since 2000, A.K.C. field inspectors had conducted more than 45,000 inspections nationwide.

That included inspections of Mike Chilinski’s kennel in Montana, which had A.K.C.-registered litters. But when it was raided in 2011, officials found 161 severely malnourished malamutes living off their own feces in small cages, according to court documents. Many of the dogs had diseases; one had advanced cancerous growths. Dead dogs were stacked outside small kennels, and empty, dirty water bowls were littered about, officials said. Five of the rescued dogs died within weeks. Authorities seized 18 pregnant female dogs, and half of their litters died of lack of nutrition upon delivery. At least one malamute that should have weighed 85 pounds weighed 25 pounds....

.... The A.K.C. inspected the kennel of Joseph and Cynthia Williams in Wilson, N.C., months before the police raided it. On May 17, 2012, an A.K.C. inspector said that the 34 Great Danes and mastiffs under the Williamses’ care were in “acceptable” conditions, with only 2 of the 15 categories marked “needs improvement,” for the construction of kennels and signs of “untreated, visible wounds.” The A.K.C. inspector found that the Williams kennel over all was “in compliance with A.K.C.’s Care Conditions Policy” even though the dogs did not have access to daily exercise outside their cages and pens, according to court documents.

Three months later, Wilson County officials seized 28 of the Williamses’ dogs, a majority of them in “poor” condition, suffering from illnesses, injuries and living in “unhealthy conditions,” according to court documents. A veterinarian told the court that the rescued dogs had ailments that ranged “from serious to severe” and that “most of the injuries appeared to be chronic, having been in existence for a substantial period of time.”

After the Great Dane Rescue Alliance filed a civil suit, the Williamses reached a settlement with the group.

“My clients are glad that they settled,” Will Farris, a lawyer for the Williamses, said, but he added that some of the accusations in the civil suit “were in disregard of the facts.”

He said, “My clients initially began their work with Great Danes in a rescue and breeding capacity, which led to numerous dogs being surrendered voluntarily and my clients’ working with the sheriff’s department to assure a safe and compliant environment for the breeding of dogs.”

Peterson of the A.K.C. warned against reading too much into spot inspections, saying they were only “a snapshot” in time. She added, “These very sad cases are not very reflective” of the A.K.C. The A.K.C. took no disciplinary action in the Williams case, Peterson said, adding that the group does so “based on substantiated allegations.”

... Critics say the A.K.C has opposed legislation that would improve conditions for animals and reduce the number of abusive high-volume breeders. The A.K.C. and its members are active in Washington and in state politics, spending thousands of dollars in campaign donations and influencing efforts including specific caps on the numbers of litters kennels could breed, and some codifications of minimal living standards and the use of tethers, including efforts in Oregon, North Carolina, Georgia, New York, New Hampshire and California.

Among the legislation the A.K.C. opposed was a Rhode Island bill that would prevent dogs from being placed in cages or tethered for more than 14 hours a day.

...In Louisiana, the A.K.C. opposed a bill that would have prevented the stacking of wire-floored cages.

“Crates or other cage-type enclosures are commonly stacked in a safe and sanitary manner in veterinary offices, kennels, sporting events, homes, shows and during transportation,” Peterson said. “Prohibiting the use of these configurations, could result in greater expenses for owners and animal-related services or sports without any improvement in animal care.”

Read the whole thing.

This is the AKC.

This is who they are. This is what people who show, breed, and register AKC dogs are supporting and defending. If you think otherwise, you are not part of the solution; you are part of the problem.
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