December Chairman's Report
-- New Programs and Services Introduced in 2010 --
As we wind down the year, I am pleased to highlight programs and initiatives we have introduced in 2010. In April, the first agility, obedience and rally trials open to mixed-breed dogs in the AKC Canine Partners program were held. So far, 853 AKC-licensed clubs have hosted 2,968 trials, and nearly 600 mixed breed dogs have achieved more than 1,200 titles. We received hundreds of positive comments from dog owners who had been waiting years for this opportunity as well as clubs who welcomed the increased entries in their trials. We're excited to welcome these dogs to next year's AKC Agility Invitational and the AKC National Obedience Invitational.
We also sent a team to the FCI Agility World Championships in Germany and returned with many placements, including a Silver Medal for "Rush" and handler John Nys. We hosted the successful 2010 National Agility Championships in Tulsa, OK and crowned 6 national champions in varying height classes.
We launched the Grand Championship program in May. For the first six months of the program we have seen a 9.6% increase in Best of Breed entries over the same period in 2009. So far 3,420 dogs have earned their Grand Championship in nearly every breed. We further enhanced the program by launching a Grand Champion Ranking System that lists the top 25 dogs in each breed determined by the number of grand champion points they have earned.
In addition to this new conformation title, we have also created new titles in the companion and performance arenas with Beginner Novice in obedience and Endurance Earthdog, respectively. For retrievers that pass the Master National Retriever test three times we now have a new suffix title - Master National Hunter - as well.
For breeders, we instituted the Breeder of Merit program this year as a way to recognize, congratulate and thank AKC's core breeders - the backbone of our sport - and to ensure the continued success of our registry.
We continue to welcome new breeds into the AKC registry as well. As of January 1, 2011, the Norwegian Lundehund, Entlebucher Mountain Dog and Xoloitzcuintli will be our newest breeds. We continue to work with FSS and Miscellaneous breed clubs as they strive towards full recognition.
As a new accommodation for Parent Clubs, we now record parent club performance event titles if AKC does not provide a similar title. The Bloodhound Club of America was the first to apply for title acknowledgment with its "man-trailing event" and most recently, we acknowledged the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever's Working Certificate. Our Parent and Member clubs have also continued to donate their historical documents to our newly expanded AKC Archives.
We reached out to the general public this year with our 2nd annual stand-alone Meet the Breeds event. Thanks to our partnership with the Cat Fanciers' Association and Pet Partners, Inc., we welcomed more than 39,000 people through the doors and achieved nearly 500 million media impressions. We also hosted AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Days with more than 550 events nationwide for the public to attend.
Our good works did not go unnoticed as the AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence received unprecedented media coverage this year, with articles in People magazine, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and New York Daily News. Among the canine heroes were dogs that worked in Haiti after the earthquake, rode a surfboard in the ocean to raise money for children's foundations, helped autistic children find service dogs and more.
AKC Companion Animal Recovery also donated more than $400,000 this year to assist organizations across the country with Search and Rescue Grants and disaster preparedness.
Along the business front, AKC has added Lisa Gonzalez to the newly created position of Vice President of Marketing and Communications. In this role, she will provide marketing leadership for the AKC to ensure the long-term sustainability of the AKC brand recognition as well as its future relevance. Her main focus will be growing AKC registrations and Canine Partners enrollments, in line with AKC's mission of promoting responsible dog ownership.
The Board has taken other steps to ensure the future of the sport with its September Board Planning Session that generated many new ideas. And finally, in November the Board formed the "Imagining the Future of AKC" committee to review the needs of the sport and the AKC in the future. The Committee, a blend of board members and staff and chaired by Alan Kalter, includes myself, Vice Chairman Tom Davies, COO John Lyons, VP of Marketing and Communications Lisa Gonzalez and AVP of Registration Development Mark Dunn.
I hope you'll agree that this year has been a very positive year and we look forward to an even brighter 2011.
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