September Chairman's Report
-- Board Planning Session Nurtures Ideas
And Reviews Initiatives to Grow AKC’s Future --
In August the Board added a special “planning session” to the regular Board meeting to discuss a variety of topics including registrations, events, and brand imaging. On Sunday, Sept.12, AKC Vice Chairman Tom Davies, President and CEO Dennis Sprung, COO John Lyons, and I met with the Delegates’ Coordinating Committee to further discuss the “state of the sport” and how the Board, management, staff and Delegates can work together to overcome our many challenges in today’s economic atmosphere.
With more than 5,000 AKC-affiliated clubs, we know the health of our clubs is paramount to growing the sport. We discussed reasons why some clubs are thriving while others are struggling. We explored ways to help clubs create more well-attended events that would drive up exhibitor entries, increase spectator gate and bring them potential new members.
We are continuing to explore many possibilities for dog show enhancements such as:
a Reserve Best-in Show, expanding the number of group placements, adding a 4-6 month-old puppy class, and a separate Amateur-Owner Handler competition.
We have begun discussions with the Coordinating Committee and the respective Delegate Committees but no decisions have been made. We also discussed registrations at length, including the current marketplace and the poor economy.
We talked about how a shift in society’s attitude regarding animal rights groups and the shelter adoption movement has affected the overall number of AKC registrations. Our data also shows us that our “core” breeders have been breeding less over the last decade.
The loss in registered litters continues to have the single largest impact on the loss in registered dogs. We continue to study the reasons for the declining “blue slip” return rate in order to find solutions. During our planning session we also reviewed several staff-developed initiatives to promote registrations including a new registration application and upcoming advertising slicks for clubs.
Further enhancement of the AKC brand to the dog-loving public was another topic of discussion. For example, we have just launched the new Breeder of Merit program. Not only is this a way for AKC to recognize our responsible breeders but it gives breeders a way of distinguishing themselves above the pack and communicating their dedication to the puppy-buying public.
We must continue to highlight all the helpful ways that AKC – and its clubs – bring the responsible dog ownership message to life. For example there are more than 550 clubs and groups holding AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Days this month. We know that our tireless volunteer work in purebred rescue, our club-sponsored training classes and the AKC Canine Good Citizen® program, among many other initiatives, are what set us apart.
As dedicated breeders, club members, and passionate dog owners, we also know the value of educating the new puppy buyer and the lasting impact it has on the dogs, their owners and the community. What better way to ensure AKC’s future than to continue the public conversation about the important role AKC registration plays in the good deeds, educational programs, and volunteer outreach we do for all dogs.
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