Many of you have seen AKC's licensing program come to life via toys, treats and other canine products sold at more than 5,000 stores nationwide such as Wal-Mart, Target, Petco and Petsmart. Our program began in 2004 with six licensees and has now grown to over 30, offering unique, high quality products that address the varying needs of dog owners with everything from outdoor kennel runs to puppy training pads.
By far, our most popular products are the plush dog toy collection from JAKKS Pets Inc., one of the top five U.S. leaders in toys and leisure products. JAKKS has introduced numerous AKC-licensed lines, including the recent Green Planet series that uses recycled materials and offers the most life-like representation of the natural world from otters to owls to lemmings. As of February 2008 more than 8 million units of AKC-licensed toys, treats, apparel and beds manufactured by JAKKS have been sold since 2004. In addition, AKC licensed toys and treats from JAKKS were amongst the first pet products introduced to Toys R Us stores earlier this year.
Beyond these popular staples, many licensees are coming up with very innovative ways to promote the AKC brand. Recently we were very proud to have an AKC licensee, The Meisner Gallery, featured on The Martha Stewart Show. As part of the live segment, canine art expert William Secord discussed the AKC's extensive collection and offered information about www.AKCGallery.com, a site that allows canine art lovers to select their favorite pieces from the AKC's collection that they can enjoy in their own homes.
Meisner is the exclusive publisher of these limited edition reproductions of works by renowned artists such as Maud Earl and Arthur Wardle. As Secord pointed out, each piece is made to order and hand-embellished with colored glazes replicating the artist's brushstrokes. The canvases are stretched and framed by hand and each painting reproduction comes with a certificate of authenticity. As an aficionado of canine art, I know how much joy it brings me to see breeds that I admire portrayed in these historic works of art. I am so pleased that through our licensing program we can offer dog lovers everywhere the unique opportunity to own these limited edition reproductions.
Whether you choose to own a Wardle, or just a stuffed dog toy from the Green Planet collection, know that you are getting products that are made with care and that support the AKC, and in turn, our dogs.
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