Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pet-Food Tainted AKC Solicits Puppy Registrations from Breeders

Earlier blog entries detailed the dramatic decline in AKC purebred dog registrations over the past 20 years.  The AKC is losing ground to other registries and losing credibility with the general public, who no longer see the AKC as a venerable nonprofit organization.  AKC partnerships with commercial pet-food and drug companies have tarnished their once-shining reputation.

Loss of purebred dog registrations is not only a moral blow but a huge financial defeat for the AKC.  So, how to turn around their finances?  First, they decided to register crossbred dogs (aka mutts) to participate in AKC obedience, agility, and other performance activities -- first in separate classes from purebreds but later accepted into the general fold.  Every mutt registration nets AKC at least $20, and every mutt entry into an event, more dollars.

Second, they decided to lean on breeders who register litters of purebred puppies to reveal information on their puppy buyers.  Here's their pitch:

Dear Sandra Scarr,
As part of the "front lines" of purebred dogs, we rely on our loyal breeders to communicate the benefits and importance of AKC registration to their puppy buyers. To ensure a strong future for you, your fellow breeders, and all purebred dogs, we need all of our breeders to make a concerted effort to ensure that every puppy in each litter you have bred gets registered with the AKC. We have implemented a new initiative to help you accomplish this goal.
The AKC has begun sending all breeders who register a litter an email asking them to provide us with their new puppy buyers contact information. The email includes information on our new Online Litter Record Service. This service allows breeders to supply AKC with new puppy buyer contact information online in an easy to use format. If the breeder does not want to use the new online service a link to a printable version of the litter record is also available. The new puppy buyers will then receive an e-mail or letter from AKC detailing the benefits and importance of AKC registration.
The new puppy buyers will only be contacted by the AKC. Their names will not be sold or used for any other promotions or marketing when given through this initiative. As you have experienced, puppy buyers tend to be more concerned about caring for their new puppy at the time of purchase, and often forget about one of the most important steps of responsible dog ownership – AKC registration. Our aim is to reinforce their decision of purchasing an AKC puppy and to educate them on the many benefits that they can receive with registration.
The AKC is dedicated to promoting responsible dog ownership and educating new puppy buyers about registration benefits and the important programs that registration supports. Registration dollars help the AKC fund important educational programs, support the research of health issues through donations and continue to subsidize AKC events. Our registration numbers also help us to maintain legislative influence and ensure that like-minded organizations continue to support the AKC through alternative revenue programs and sponsorships.
With your support, and by working together, we will be able to take the necessary steps to ensure AKC's long and healthy future as the nation's preeminent purebred dog registry.
For more information or to use our new Online Litter Record Service please visit us at akc.org/litrec; or e-mail us at dogreg@akc.org (please use "Litter Records" in the subject line).  Please note this service can be used for recent or past litters.
Sincerely,
David Roberts
VP, Registration and Customer Service
I did not comply with their request, for reasons stated in my reply to Mr. Roberts.

Hello Dave Roberts,
Let me be painfully honest.  I do not promote AKC registration for my puppies, because my puppies are raised on the raw-meaty-bones diet, which puppy buyers pledge to continue.  AKC's close connection with (aka financial dependence on) pet-food companies is very disturbing, and I do not wish you to inflict distasteful pet-food advertisements on my puppy buyers.
I am appalled that the venerable, nonprofit AKC sends me blatant advertisements for various kinds of cooked carbohydrates that masquerade as dog food.  Surely, the AKC knows dogs are a subspecies of wolves, who evolved to eat whole prey.  Surely, the AKC knows that starchy commercial pet foods destroy dogs' health.  One can only be appalled that the AKC, whose mission is to promote the interests of purebred dogs and their owners, stoops to endorse Iams, Eukanuba, and their ilk, to the huge detriment of canine health.
I follow the AKC's financial travails with interest.  Self-inflicted wounds are painful to watch, and the AKC continues to self-destruct.  I offer some unsolicited advice to address AKC's financial decline.  I wrote these ideas some months ago on my blog (http://rmb4healthypets.blogspot.com):
 I were CEO of the AKC, I would be alarmed (at the large, documented losses of registrations and revenue) and contemplate what changes need to be made in my organization.  Let me offer a few suggestions:
  • AKC can improve the health of purebred dogs by incorporating new genetic information in their criteria for participation in AKC activities.
  • Intact animals, which participate in AKC conformation shows, field trials, rallies, obedience, and agility events should have clearances as non-carriers of all serious genetic disorders common in the breed.
  • Conformation shows should be restructured to be more about dogs' soundness and breed type and less about the handler and showmanship.  However entertaining spectators find extreme coiffure and runway behavior, the major focus of shows should be to select sound, typey parents for the next generations of the breed.
  • AKC should sever its relationships with commercial sponsors, especially pet-food manufacturers. A less splashy show, not sponsored by Eukanuba, would be better received by many who care about dogs' health.  
  • AKC should cease any partnerships with pet-food and drug companies to "educate" veterinarians about pet care and diets.  Veterinary education is perverted by pet-food and drug companies anyway, and the AKC should keep it's still-good name out of a corrupt morass.
  • AKC should sponsor popular educational programs for pet owners about the evolution of dogs, their identity as a subspecies of wolves, and the implications of these scientifically established facts for dog feeding and care.  A television series on "Know Your Dog" could save the health and lives of millions of pets.
  • AKC can work with breed organizations that have adopted extreme conformation standards that impair the breed's health or alter their natural appearance by mutilation.  Surgical alteration and unhealthy standards have no place in an organization with a mission to improve the welfare of purebred dogs and their owners.
I hope you find this message constructive and helpful.  Please feel free to share it with others at the AKC.
Aloha,
Sandra Scarr
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Aloha Labradors-------------------------------------------------------808-322-9445 telephone
78-6915 Palekana Road--------------------------------------------808-322-9445 fax
Holualoa, HI 96725---------------------------------------------------808-987-5005 cell
www.AlohaLabradors.com-----------------------------------------SandraScar@aol.com

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 If the AKC were to reform itself, I would be happy to support their effort to register my puppies.  The
AKC is so afraid to take proactive stands on extreme breed standards and cosmetic mutilation, for example, it lags kennel clubs in the rest of the world in taking these steps. Ear and tail cropping have disappeared in the UK, EU, Australia, NZ, and other dog-fancy parts of the world.

The AKC still has not accepted into the purebred dog registry Dalmatians with normal urea processing genes, who are now 5 and 6 generations from the outcross that provided the normal gene.  They still register only Dalmatians with defective genes. How is that promoting the interests of purebred dogs and their owners?

The biggest reform, however, would be to sever their commercial relationships with pet-food and drug companies -- especially commercial pet-food companies that use the AKC to sell junk foods that make pets sick.  The AKC has the stature and opportunity to make major reforms in pet feeding, but they don't.

Until they do, they can count me out.

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