On August 8, the American Kennel Club (AKC) Board of Directors unanimously approved a new Canine Legislation Position Statement on Pet Choice. The statement (below) takes a strong stand in support of pet choice, education and responsible pet selection as a foundation for successful long-term pet ownership. It also affirms AKC’s opposition to legislation that restricts freedom of choice in selecting a pet or requires individuals or retailers to obtain pets solely from shelter or rescue distributors.
The American Kennel Club emphatically supports freedom of choice in selecting a pet. AKC actively promotes efforts to ensure that people are educated, understand the demands of responsible ownership and have access to a pet that is right for them. AKC strongly opposes any measure that restricts choice by compelling people and/or retailers to obtain pets solely from shelter or rescue distributors.
Background: For more than 18 months, the American Kennel Club has monitored dozens of proposed ordinances in local communities and several state bills that ban the sale of purpose-bred puppies from licensed breeders in retail pet shops and require retailers to sell only animals sourced from rescues or shelters.
Such laws regressively punish licensed breeders of purpose-bred pets, while harming pet owners, small businesses and the general public. Ironically, they ban the single most regulated and vetted sources of pets (including breeders and handlers subject to federal licensing) while promoting the sales or adoption of pets obtained from sources that have little or no regulatory oversight and that are not subject to federal oversight, state consumer protection laws or other consumer guarantees.
When regulated sources of healthy, purpose-bred puppies are banned, it creates a vacuum that is filled with dogs from unregulated sources that may lack even basic health and temperament checks. It also opens up local markets for the importing and sale of unhealthy or temperamentally unsound dogs from overseas, such as the recent import of rabid dogs from the Middle East.
Bans on pet choice slash the opportunities for individuals to obtain an appropriate pet for their lifestyle. Matching a pet to the lifestyle of the owner is one of the most important factors in assuring long-term success for a pet in its new home. When governments attempt to limit the legitimate sources from which a person may obtain a pet, it not only interferes with individual freedoms, it decreases the likelihood that prospective owners can find the right match for long-term success and increases the likelihood that the pet will end up in a shelter.