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American Kennel Club Chief Operating Officer, John Lyons, announced today that after eight years of service at the AKC, Director of Special Services Jean Hetherington will retire in January 2005. As a result, Mari-Beth O'Neill will take on the title of Assistant Vice President (AVP) of Special Services.

“We thank Jean for her many years of service and wish her happiness in her retirement as she pursues her passion of showing Bulldogs and resumes her judging,” said Lyons. “While Jean will be missed, Mari-Beth is highly qualified to take over the important responsibilities of this position.”

In addition to O'Neill's new role in Special Services, she will retain many of her current responsibilities – including overseeing the National Junior Organization, the Summer Intern Program, Breed Standards and Judges Education.

The Special Services department fields questions and requests from AKC Board members, Delegates, club officers, judges, and others actively involved in the sport. It also manages the Indefinite Listing Privilege program, the Foundation Stock Service, Registered Kennel Names, impure breeding cases and the Breeder Referral Program.

O'Neill will assume her new role on January 3, 2005 and report to David W. Roberts, AVP of Registration and Customer Service, in the Raleigh, NC facility. O'Neill joined the AKC in 1990 and is a former exhibitor, breeder, judge and Delegate.