AKC Board Chairman Ron Menaker today commented on the seizure of several hundred dogs from a kennel in Chester County, PA, citing it as an example of the need for more comprehensive legislation to protect pets.
“This very sad case is an example of why we support the Pet Animal Welfare Statute (PAWS),” said Menaker. “It is a case where the AKC, through its mandatory inspection program for high volume breeders, took action against a breeder who was found not to be in compliance with our regulations. After the AKC disciplined him, he dramatically reduced the number of litters he registered with us and therefore was no longer subject to AKC inspection. However, although he had been disciplined by the AKC and, according to press reports his state license had been revoked, he continued to operate a sizeable breeding operation 'under the radar'.”
According to news reports, 337 dogs found to be living in squalor were seized by the local SPCA. Kennel owner Michael Wolf was charged with 337 counts of animal cruelty and his partner, Gordon Trottier, was charged with 65 counts of animal cruelty.
Until 2004, both Wolf and Trottier registered a sufficient number of litters with the AKC to be designated as “high volume breeders” under the AKC's Compliance program. Through 2004, their dogs and facilities were inspected by the AKC in accordance with AKC policy. According to the most recent AKC inspection report, dated May 2004, Wolf claimed to have only 45 dogs and 8 puppies, which were determined to be maintained in acceptable conditions.
However, Wolf was suspended by the AKC based on the results of routine DNA testing. The tests indicated incorrect or faulty record keeping. After a six-month suspension and paying a fine, Wolf was reinstated by the AKC. After his suspension, he only registered a nominal number of litters with the AKC, thereby avoiding the mandatory inspection for high volume breeders. From 2002 until his suspension in 2004, Wolf registered 94 litters with the AKC. Following his reinstatement, he applied to register only three litters with the AKC.
“This is a pattern we see all too often,” continued Menaker. “Breeders stop registering with us in order to avoid inspection after we take disciplinary action against them. Unfortunately, however, many of these people continue breeding and selling dogs, and register them with a for-profit registry that has no inspection requirements to monitor care and conditions standards.”
The AKC started mandatory kennel inspection of high volume breeders registering with the AKC in 1991. Menaker noted that since this time, approximately 2,000 high volume breeders have stopped registering with the AKC. He said that today, more than 20 for-profit registries exist in the United States, many of which were created to accommodate the very breeders who had abandoned AKC registration and its inspection standards and requirements.
For more than 30 years the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) has required persons who breed and sell dogs at wholesale to be licensed and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The AWA presently exempts breeders who sell exclusively at retail. With the increase in Internet commerce, many high volume breeders have converted to online retail sales, thereby escaping federal regulation. PAWS would amend the AWA to make high volume retail breeders and persons who import dogs for resale subject to USDA licensing and inspection. It would exempt breeders of dogs and cats who are in compliance with the standards of a third party inspection program certified by the Secretary of Agriculture which have standards that provide at least the equivalent protection to those promulgated by the USDA. The AKC has endorsed PAWS, saying it will provide important and essential protection for pets in commerce.