By Sheila Goffe, Director of Government Relations
The American Kennel Club (AKC) is a not-for profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the advancement of purebred dogs as family companion and the health and wellbeing of all dogs. For more than 130 years, AKC has been recognized worldwide as the expert on purebred breeding and all aspects of responsible dog ownership.
The AKC is significantly different from other animal advocates because together with our more than 5,000 clubs, we possess unparalleled knowledge, experience and expertise in the science and practice of canine health, care and breeding.
AKC is very concerned about irresponsible ownership and negligence or cruelty involving any dog. It doesn’t matter if a person owns one dog or 100, or whether they breed dogs or not –we believe all dogs deserve kind and loving care.
For this reason, AKC supports strong negligence and cruelty laws (and full enforcement of such laws) that demand responsibility of all dog owners and handlers. We strenuously object to anti-breeder sentiment that ignorantly and incorrectly equates the breeding of purebred dogs with irresponsible ownership. And we are committed to educating the public about the value of responsible dog ownership and responsibly-bred dogs.
The majority of breeders for whom AKC registers dogs are small-scale hobby breeders who play an important role in their local communities and whose expertise and commitment enable others to share in the joy of owning a quality pet. We honor these caring individuals who have devoted their lives to preserving the diversity of the breeds and the quality of their bloodlines.
Experience demonstrates that responsible, high quality dog breeding isn’t about the number of dogs a person owns or breeds, or whether they breed them in a home environment or a professional kennel setting. The heart of the issue is ensuring that all dogs – regardless of circumstances – have sufficient and breed-appropriate care and conditions.
Enforcement of negligence and cruelty laws – such as the felony animal cruelty laws now in place in all 50 states – play an important role in stopping bad actors. But shutting down bad actors alone isn’t enough. AKC’s mission is to advance dogs, so this also means advancing those who love and care for them by ensuring they have the ongoing knowledge, education and expertise to be even better dog owners and breeders.
Through programs like AKC’s new Bred with H.E.A.R.T. (Health, Education, Accountability, Responsibility & Tradition) program, AKC educates, provides resources, and expects those who register their dogs with AKC to maintain a strong ongoing commitment to health testing, continuing education, accountability (including kennel inspections by AKC inspectors, and adherence to our care and conditions policies), responsibility for the health and wellbeing of all puppies, and upholding the AKC’s tradition of commitment to healthy, happy purebred dogs.
We invite you to learn more about the AKC’s commitment to the dispelling the myths of animal extremism, advancing canine health and the science of animal husbandry, and ensuring a bright future for responsible dog ownership. The AKC Government Relations Department is here to assist you. Learn more at www.akc.org or www.akc.org /government_relations or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ed. Note — This article is original to the November 2015 edition of AKC Government Relations’ In Session Congressional Newsletter.