The American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) are fighting like cats and dogs over a proposal designed to close pet industry regulation loopholes that have enabled unscrupulous breeders to dodge animal welfare regulations crafted before the invention of the Internet.
Puppy Mills are Often Legal Retail Outlets
Retail pet outlets are generally exempt from animal welfare regulations because the customers themselves are thought to be regulators by demanding good treatment of the pets on sight. Now many pets are purchased sight unseen through the Internet and national magazine ads. This has enabled puppy mills to do a brisk business, sometimes sending sick, unsocialized, and substandard puppies to unsuspecting buyers.
Penalizing Hobbyists and/or Breed Champions?
On the other hand, modern trade practices have also enabled responsible breeders to have a broader quality customer base to champion their chosen breed through. This has been particularly helpful for the promotion and propagation of rare breeds. And this is the position that the AKC is coming from. They fear that steep regulations could force breed enthusiasts out of a business that is rarely profitable as it is.
Under the proposed rules, any breeder with more than four breeding females would be subject to USDA inspection and oversight. The definition of breeding females is somewhat vague. Does that apply to unalterd females being raised and evaluated for health and constitution for future breeding purposes? And this is just one of the concerns of the AKC, who believes they are already doing a lot to regulate AKC breeders with their own inspections.
The HSUS believes the AKC has become a stumbling block to any legislation that promotes animal wellfare, having opposed more than 80 state and local regulations to crack down on puppy mills. Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the HSUS states, “This is mindboggling that the American Kennel Club, that says that it’s a dog’s champion, is opposing basic standards. We’ve got to really question what the AKC is doing. We’ve got to demand that they become part of the solution and no longer be part of the problem.”
See the HSUS video commentary on the AKC:
For more information on this topic, please see: http://images.akc.org/governmentrelations/documents/pdf/usda_alert_dog_shows_june2012.pdf
Puppy mill rescue photo courtesy of Josh Henderson.