December 2014 Chairman’s Report

-- Providing Education for All Breeders --  

New York, NY – This weekend we will have the pleasure of watching the top national and international dogs compete in the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. This spectacular event will feature more than 4000 dogs consisting of 191 breeds and varieties, with one thing in common – a dedicated responsible breeder bred each.

These few thousand breeders, whose dogs are participating this weekend, represent our much larger family of breeders involved in the sport. They are breeders who adhere to the motto of “Breed to Improve.” This larger family of breeders shares beliefs that guide their breeding program for a lifetime – no matter what the breed.

There is no doubt that these responsible breeders – in their efforts to protect, preserve, and improve their breeds with every litter – embrace the advances in health screening and tests. These breeders apply their understanding of the science of genetics by utilizing the screening and testing protocols designed to aid in the selection of a sire and dam.

These breeders understand that education is the most powerful tool one can use to improve a breeding program. So they invest in lifelong learning to keep their commitment to continuous improvement.

These breeders are accountable for their breeding programs. One merely has to search the OFA database to appreciate the magnitude of that commitment.

These breeders assume the responsibility for the safe environment and well-being of their dogs. That model of commitment led to the AKC Care and Conditions Policy, which has become the gold standard of maintaining dogs.

These breeders are part of a long tradition of passionate people with a common purpose involved with the American Kennel Club, who keep proving that anything is possible.

For over 130 years the American Kennel Club, its parent clubs, and responsible breeders have been dedicated to canine health. The very existence and continuation of breeds in this country depend on a foundation of puppies bred for type and function, and sound in body, mind, and spirit. AKC is intensely committed to publicly and strongly standing up for purebred dogs, their breeders, and their owners. AKC takes very seriously its responsibility to provide proven advice, up-to-date resources, and significant funding for canine genetic research. AKC’s three-pronged commitment to helping breeders reach the highest standards includes supporting AKC Parent Clubs, creating and supporting the AKC Canine Health Foundation, and dedicating AKC staff and resources to breeder education.

For those of us who have been breeding dogs for a while, we have forgotten when we learned what we know – we just know it. But we can all remember the experience of our very first litter. I think Rod Stewart put it best – “I wish I knew what I know now, when I was younger.” That wistful thought sums up the opportunity we must seize to help assure there will be breeds for future generations to enjoy as part of their families.

AKC Staff and Board have been working on a program to be launched next year. The essence of the program is built on the principles embraced by our most experienced breeders today – health, education, accountability, responsibility, and tradition. The program will allow us to engage and educate a wide scope of breeders on best breeding practices, while also creating an identifiable resource for the general public to find puppies from responsible breeders who are demonstrating a validated commitment to health testing. Breeders in this program must agree to the following:

  • They must certify that applicable health screens as recommended by the Parent Club for that breed are performed on their breeding stock and they must be prepared to supply proof of such compliance upon request.
  • They must comply with the AKC Care and Conditions Policy, including inspections by the American Kennel Club.
  • They must comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding the ownership and maintenance of dogs.
  • They must complete continuing breeder education courses provided or approved by the AKC on an annual basis.

Additionally, under this program, AKC is creating the best free of charge online resource for breeder education in the world. This resource will continue to grow in depth and breadth, serving the needs of all breeders and potential breeders, from 4-H and FFA youth to the most experienced AKC Breeder of Merit.

 

Non-breeding, dog-loving households will likewise benefit from the educational offerings as they learn more about the decisions a responsible breeder must make in order to raise happy, healthy puppies, bred for type and function.

Most importantly, as AKC embarks on new initiatives designed to reinforce our commitment to canine health, it is essential that we educate and support all breeders who are doing the right thing for dogs – regardless of the size of their programs or their involvement in the sport. Responsible breeders come in all shapes and sizes; what they share is a high level of care for their dogs and a true dedication to the health of their puppies. AKC intends to do all that it can to support those breeders who share our commitment and are willing to accept the responsibility of continuous improvement for the good of all dogs.

I believe this program presents more than an opportunity. I believe it is the responsibility of the American Kennel Club to provide this education for all breeders.

Robert Benchley observed that a dog teaches us fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down. While some of us might not adhere to the latter, we all have fidelity and perseverance when it comes to caring for the breeds we love so much. Those qualities keep us working hard at breeding after we get tired doing the hard work we already did.

Educating breeders to ensure the future of purebred dogs is a big job, but I don’t know anyone more capable of doing it, nor more committed to achieving it, than all of us.

As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome at atk@akc.org.

Sincerely,


Alan Kalter
Chairman