December Chairman's Report
The recently completed sixth AKC/Eukanuba National Championship was a wonderful way to close our year by showcasing the best of the American Kennel Club, both for the dog fancy and the general public. We hosted nearly 3,000 dogs for the weekend’s three events. All 165 AKC breeds and varieties, all 50 states and 16 countries were represented in competition and 145 Parent clubs participated in the ever-popular AKC Meet the Breeds.
We are delighted that this year the Bred-By Exhibitor competition represented nearly 40 percent of our total entry. These numbers clearly illustrate that this event has become “the” breeder’s showcase.
Further recognizing the importance of this competition, the entire Bred-By Exhibitor group competition is available on streaming video on the AKC web site. This added coverage of our Bred-By Exhibitors means fanciers and the public will be able to enjoy this facet of our sport. Next year, we plan to offer same-day coverage of the seven Bred-By Exhibitor groups via streaming video.
We also highlighted the purebred dog breeder in our on-air ceremony featuring the Breeder of the Year Award. All of this public exposure clearly demonstrates our continued support of and pride in our breeders.
And now that this year’s show is behind us, I’d like to focus on some of AKC’s other highlights for 2006.
Certainly one of the busiest areas has been our Canine Legislation Department with breed-specific legislation continuing to be an issue across the nation. We have tracked more than one hundred breed-specific ordinance introductions this year. Because of the concerted efforts of our dog fanciers at the local level, seven out of ten governmental entities are now rejecting breed-specific proposals. I want to applaud the many fanciers active in their states and communities combating mandatory spay and neuter ordinances, dog ownership limit laws, and state level breeders bills that threaten the right to own and breed dogs responsibly.
On the federal level, AKC endorsed the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standard Act (PETS), recently signed into law by President Bush. PETS requires that state and local emergency plans include provisions for persons with pets and authorizes appropriations for the planning and construction of emergency shelter facilities.
Earlier this year we added a staff position to coordinate disaster preparedness. A national protocol is evolving which dictates that all responders now work through their local officials. We have contacted every “Office of the State Veterinarian” and every Veterinary School Dean to learn what particular requirements their state may have so that we may best integrate all of our resources. The AKC/CAR Canine Support and Relief Fund also awarded grants to Mississippi State University to fund a mobile emergency response unit for its veterinary medical assistance team or “VMAT”; and to the North Carolina State Animal Response Team and to the University of Florida to purchase temporary shelters for future emergencies.
In the event area, 2006 has seen much activity. Overall, events will be up approximately 12 percent and we predict entries to top 3 million. Our newest companion event, Rally, has grown over 60% from 2005 and we continue to welcome Coonhound enthusiasts into the AKC fold. In Agility, we were proud to have one of our World Team members receive a silver medal at the World Agility Championships in Switzerland earlier this year and this month we held the inaugural AKC Agility Invitational which encouraged all breeds to show off their skills.
Beyond our ongoing publicity and advertising campaigns which continually highlight our programs, services and expertise to hundreds of millions, we continue to discover creative ways to reach dog owners with our message of responsible dog ownership. For example, we worked with Buena Vista Home Entertainment to place breed inserts into the DVD releases of two highly successful films featuring dogs -- Eight Below andThe Shaggy Dog. This initiative is continuing with the upcoming DVD release of Air Buddies, which will contain an insert about theGolden Retriever.
We also reach the public via our growing licensing program which has resulted in AKC-branded products in over 4,700 retail stores nationwide including Target, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Costco, Petco, Petsmart and Walgreen's.
New dimensions were added to this year’s fourth annual AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day via our AKC Pet Promise, which allowed owners to pledge their commitment to providing the basics of responsible pet care. We were also pleased to dedicate our Fourth Quarter Community Achievement Awards to clubs which held RDO events. And as always, we are proud to recognize all facets of the dog community with our varied award programs such as the Breeder of Year, ACE, and the Lifetime Achievement Awards.
And finally, I wanted to touch on our direction in 2007. I want to reiterate that the goal of the AKC Strategic Plan is to strengthen the AKC. This is a critical time for the fancy and the AKC that will no doubt present future challenges. We are in the midst of evolving from a registry and regulatory body that enjoyed the status of “only game in town” for much of the last century to being one among a bevy of animal welfare and animal interest organizations as well as numerous registries vying for the public’s attention.
The Board’s strategic plan emphasizes a more proactive approach to dealing with this new environment. We are moving towards that as an organization but as with any change, there will always be healthy debate. To face the challenging issues we need to address, it is imperative that we work together. Therefore, I want to state my intention of keeping the delegates and the broader constituency far more engaged as we pursue our strategic direction. I know we need to foster a productive dialogue regarding all issues that affect the way the AKC is perceived and that reflect on the values we stand for as a whole. I know all of you in the fancy are very invested in seeing the AKC prosper and remain healthy and your input and participation is crucial in assisting the Board and staff to work toward achieving that goal.
I personally would like to thank the entire board, the delegate body, and the wonderful staff for all their hard work, dedication and contributions to the sport of purebred dogs this year. I feel honored to work with all of you and I look forward to a productive 2007.
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