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Puppy Mills and the American Kennel Club

Sometimes you literally cannot believe your ears. When a friend told me that the American Kennel Club had made a substantial financial contribution to the Missouri Pet Breeders Association I did not think that could possibly be true. This is, after all, probably the largest puppy mill organization in the world and represents everything that hobby breeders and dog lovers — those we usually think of as AKC’s core group — abhor. Commercial mass production of puppies is not something that any dog fancier would want AKC to be linked to.

Well, believe it or not: it’s true. Once I saw the press release sent out by MPBA asking for money, proudly listing the American Kennel Club as one of the main sponsors of a new study with an object to, among other things, recruit new participants in “the industry,” there was no denying it. The sum, $10,000, may not be large by AKC’s standard — this is an organization that pays its top executives annual salaries in the high six figures — but it is nearly as much as the Missouri Farm Bureau ($15,000) and the MBPA itself ($11,000) have donated. In addition AKC is also a “Platinum Sponsor” for an upcoming MBPA event together with such embattled puppy factories as Petland and the Hunte Corporation. Among other sponsors are the Continental Kennel Club and America’s Pet Registry, neither an organization I thought AKC would be happy to be associated with. (The United Kennel Club, notably, is not on that list of sponsors; nor are any of the respected canine health organizations such as OFA, CHIC, the Canine Health Foundation, the Morris Animal Foundation, or the Animal Health Trust.)

Let’s make it clear that the Missouri Pet Breeders Association is not a gathering of amateur hobbyists. They continually refer to themselves as an “industry,” and on their website proudly claim to be “the nation’s oldest and largest professional pet organization,” founded in 1987. Since Missouri is the biggest puppy mill state in the country, and the U.S. is the biggest puppy mill country in the world, I guess that really does make MBPA the largest puppy mill organization anywhere.

If the study that AKC is helping finance were trying to find out how to make life better for puppies raised in high volume kennels, or what their impact is on the health, temperaments, etc. of puppies raised there — that would be one thing. That’s not the case, however. This study is clearly the result of the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act that was passed in Missouri just a few years ago and obliged breeders to, among other things, allow their dogs access to outdoor exercise and disallowed dogs to be housed on wire flooring — pretty basic stuff. The passing of this act had the effect of closing down more than 1,000 commercial dog breeding operations; about 50% of the total. In the hearing for a preliminary injunction some commercial breeders made it clear that they would rather kill their dogs than comply with the new rule. (And tragically, some of them in fact did.) A lot of the evidence at the hearing is frankly sickening.

Dog Breeding “A Sector of Agriculture”

This is not to suggest that all MBPA breeders are monsters of callousness. I’m sure many genuinely feel that dogs are just another form of livestock and convinced that they should be treated as such. The Missouri Farm Bureau is heavily involved in the study; there are references making it clear that dog breeding is simply considered a “sector of agriculture.” Terms such as “professional dog breeding organizations and suppliers” (to pet shops, of course), “economic impact studies,” “operational income and expenses,” etc. make it clear that we’re not talking about fanciers who breed dogs as a hobby and invest all the money they have in making sure their dogs are happy and comfortable.

It turns out I was pretty naive thinking that AKC would not be involved in an organization like the MPBA. Instead of being thrilled that the commercial dog breeding business is losing ground and more states keep introducing a “no puppies in pet stores” policy, AKC has, according to informed active fanciers, poured “endless money” into trying to defeat the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act.

I was frankly confused. Many dog fanciers like me no doubt believe — regardless of any personal grievances we may have against AKC — that the organization that governs so much of our daily activity is basically a gathering of dog lovers. I decided it was time to get some answers from an official source and went straight to the top, writing to AKC Chairman of the Board Alan Kalter and AKC President Dennis Sprung.

This is what I wrote:

Hello Alan and Dennis,

I have been informed that AKC has made a substantial donation ($10,000) to help fund a study by the Missouri Farm Bureau/Missouri Pet Breeders Association into among other things how to recruit more commercial breeders, how “overregulation” has negatively impacted puppy mills/commercial breeders, how better to “educate public policy makers” about the importance of high volume dog breeders, etc. I found this difficult to believe but have checked the MPBA website, and it indeed appears to be correct. AKC is even listed as a major sponsor for a future MPBA get-together.

The above will obviously generate publicity, but before proceeding further I would like to ask you for a comment on AKC’s reasons for the donation and to know if the decision was subject to a Board decision? Were the AKC Delegates informed, and what was their reaction?

I would appreciate your comments as soon as possible.

Thank you.
Bo Bengtson

A Response From AKC

Let me interject that although I am not close friends with either Mr. Kalter or Mr. Sprung, I know them well enough to say hello and have conducted individual, in-depth interviews with both of them in the past few years.

That there was no direct response from either did not surprise me. It has happened before when sensitive questions were raised that the individuals with the most responsibility clam up and instead let somebody else do the talking.

In this case it was left to AKC’s polite and pleasant Public Relations Director, Hillary Prim, to answer my questions. To the best of my knowledge she is not a dog person; she joined AKC about a year ago. It is therefore difficult to believe that Ms. Prim can be held personally responsible for the contents of the email I received.

Here’s the response:

The AKC regularly sponsors activities in conjunction with various state breeder groups, including health clinics and testing, educational conferences and genetics and best practices symposia. In 2014, AKC is focusing on health testing at all meetings and conferences, including the Hunte conference in September of this year.

It is also important to make a determined distinction between your use of the term “puppy mills” and large scale kennels that are breeding with the dogs’ welfare top of mind. It is unfair and untrue to label all high volume breeders as “puppy mills.”

The Missouri Canine Industry Economic Impact Study, being performed by the University of Missouri and facilitated by the Missouri Farm Bureau Canine Interest Workgroup, originated in part because there are no credible statistics available in regards to what this breeder segment adds to the state’s economic engine. The AKC believes contributing to this study will assist our organization’s long-term goals to protect the future of all responsible purebred breeders and the purebred community. For example, the economic data resulting from the study will be used to educate public policy makers and the general public about the importance of responsible breeders. AKC hopes this study will serve as a pilot program, encouraging breeders across the country to implement similar academic studies in their home states. The analysis may also serve as precursor to the examination of the regional economic impact of dog shows, helping to preserve the rights of AKC breeders nationwide.

Was the decision subject to a Board decision?
No – the Board provides staff with overall direction and decisions such as this require due diligence, not approval.

Were the AKC Delegates informed, and what was their reaction?

So there you have it. AKC “regularly” involves itself with what is called “state breeder groups” — what you or I may call puppy mill organizations. AKC makes it sound as if the focus is on health testing; this of course is not mentioned at all by MBPA and is also contradicted by the negligible support of health-related organizations in helping fund the study. The statement that this will help “responsible breeders” everywhere, even eventually have a positive effect on dog shows, is frankly incomprehensible. This seems like garbled logic in the extreme: how would helping puppy mills be good for responsible hobby breeders? Isn’t there an inherent conflict between the two camps?
Ms. Prim takes me to task for using the term “puppy mill” and feels I should make a distinction between them and “large scale kennels that breed with the dogs’ welfare top of mind.” Excuse me, but NO commercial kennel breeds with “the dogs’ welfare” as the primary consideration. If you did you would immediately cease to be commercial!

Stating the Obvious 

Let’s state the obvious: dogs should NEVER be bred as a commercial commodity. It is impossible to maintain a commercial dog-breeding operation and simultaneously keep the dogs’ welfare “top of mind” for the following reasons:

1. No commercial kennel can afford to hire enough qualified individuals to properly socialize a large number of dogs and puppies.
2. No commercial kennel can afford to perform the strict health testing required to maintain breeding stock that is certified clear of all hereditary defects.
3. All commercial kennels will be tempted to cut corners (and costs) when it comes to the dogs’ living quarters and general well-being — as vividly demonstrated in their objections to the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act.
4. No commercial kennel has the time and resources to weed out unsuitable puppy buyers. For the same reason, pet stores are obviously not a suitable avenue for puppy sales, and pet stores are a major outlet for commerical kennels.
5. No commercial kennel would willingly take back —and provide a refund for — a puppy whose owners tire of it or mistreat it.
It’s pretty straightforward: you should only breed dogs if it’s your life interest, your all-consuming hobby, a never-ending fascination. Not all hobby breeders take great care of their dogs, but most would walk through fire for them. Some hobby breeders make a short-term financial windfall once in a while, but most lose money — and dogs should NEVER be bred commercially!
It is also interesting to note that AKC’s board of directors is not consulted in questions of such importance as this. I wonder how many of the directors are even aware of all that’s done in AKC’s name. Certainly I would be surprised in more than an occasional AKC Delegate is aware of the donation.

Of course AKC needs all the registration income they can get: the numbers have been dropping for many years now. (A few years ago AKC stopped making the annual registration figures public, but at its peak in the 1990s more than 1.5 million dogs were registered per year. Now it’s reportedly less than 400,000.) Do those puppy mills register so many pupppies that it justifies AKC’s support of them? Isn’t their acitivity something that AKC, conversely, ought to condemn?

What was that AKC slogan again? “Not just Champion Dogs, but the Dog’s Champion.” Was that it? I wanted to be sure, so Googled the AKC website and entered it in the Search engine. It didn’t come up… I hope that’s just my bad luck and does not indicate a change in AKC’s priorities.

Written by

Bo Bengtson has been involved in dogs since the late 1950s and judged since the mid-1970s in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Holland, Italy, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Japan, China and Russia. He has judged twice at Westminster, twice at Crufts and four times at the FCI World Show, as well as the U.S. national specialties for Scottish Deerhounds, Whippets, Greyhounds and Borzoi.
  • AKC
    Anono Forthis June 27, 2014 at 8:48 AM

    What a crock of BS this blog is! Been to any of these commercial kennels lately? Talk to any of these breeders lately? They have just as much right to breed as you and your elitist dog show snobs do. And yes, they do love and care for their animals. Just because you don’t agree with how they breed or sell their dogs doesn’t make it wrong. They have a demand for them and a demand that no show/hobby breeder would ever be able to fill. Their industry is our industry. Dog breeding as a whole is an industry unless you only breed and keep for yourself and never sell pet dogs to anyone, we are all “breeders”. There is plenty of room for all of us. The biggest threat we have now is not only from the Animal Rights Groups who call all breeders that term you so callously like to throw around, but us. Yes, us, we are our own worst enemy. We use that term on each other to slam and put down other breeders we don’t like within the fancy. The AR groups use that term when trying to pass legislation and the public hears it, we hear and no one wants to see substandard kennels exist, but by stereotyping and making blanket statements about breeders you have no first hand experience with is just plain gossiping and does no one any good. We hear that term in the laws that are being introduced, want to stop those types of breeders and blindly support those bills without reading the fine print. Need I remind you of the APHIS rules that were recently put in place? Those rules were pushed by the HSUS, gained support by using that derogatory breeder hate slur and guess what? It includes MOST breeders! Hopefully it will be over turned, but I can no longer ship an occasional puppy because I have three breeding bitches and two younger bitches that I growing out. That puts me over the limit. I would then have to join the ranks of the “Commercial Breeders” and comply with all the regulations of the USDA. Never mind I have been licensed and have had annual inspections in my county under their hobby breeder permit scheme for 25 years! When will we learn to stop judging others because they breed differently from us? When will stop spouting the rhetoric of the AR Fanatics who wish to stop all breeders? And when will we stop throwing around the emotive terms they use and which we use on each other and other members of the show fancy? This blog is just garbage.

    • Sookey Capote July 1, 2014 at 4:30 AM

      There is a constantly growing huge demand for pets, especially cats and dogs, in this country. Either that demand can be filled by highly regulated (state and federal) commercial breeders in conjunction with private hobby breeders, or it can be filled with a totally unregulated black market. The black market consists mostly of shelters filled with dogs imported from third-world countries where farmers raise dogs for the American shelter market. The shelter is mostly unregulated, because it allegedly performs a humane service, whereas the commercial breeder works for a profit.

      Let’s get a few things straight. The commercial breeder wouldn’t stay in business a month if he couldn’t consistently month after month ship to market a healthy, typey, good-natured product, IOW, a nice purebred puppy. The shelter stays in business as long as there are naive buyers to support it with no health screening, no requirements for preventive care, no knowledge of even the breeds of dogs it sells, and rampant disease and bad temperament among its stock.

      Second, the shelter doesn’t worry about being put out of business by animal rightist groups that want to end all domestic animal breeding by enacting restrictive anti-breeder laws. The shelter will stay in business, anyway, selling crap products. The rest of us will be legalized out of business.

      We should be sitting down at the same table as the commercial breeders and figuring out how we can help each other continue to raise and breed sound, healthy dogs. The commercial breeders are skilled lobbyists and skilled fund-raisers. They can look after their own interests a lot better than most of us do.

      So….with whom does out future belong?

    • wendy scott January 16, 2015 at 7:11 PM

      The abomination is that the breeders never stopped and pawliced their industry when in fact they knew that the standards of the AWA and the USDA/APHIS are below disgusting. The millers have just decided to operate unlicensed. The AKC is in attendance at some of the most horrific auctions in the midwest (“the dogs are in pretty bad shape”- a quote from the director of missouri state ag) where the dogs are registered before they return to br bred to death and then the puppies are easily registered. Sadly, an organization that in the past had prestige and was held in high esteem has sunk so low. They are complicit with the promotion of “puppy mills” and are anything BUT a champion of dogs. it’s not complicated…..

    • Diane Siveny April 4, 2015 at 9:38 AM

      Just the fact that you commercially breed and sell to pet stores make you abhorrent….and with my dying breath I will seek justice for your cruel treatment of dogs. You can take that to the bank

  • Terri Kordulak June 27, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    Very well written column. A few years back , at my grooming shop a client came in with two Yorkies. On the crate there was a sticker, “the Hunte Corp.”.(live animals) At that time I was involved in Breeding Belgian Sheepdogs., and my worker was a retired Irish Terrier breeder of 35 yrs. We became intrigued with this sticker and decided to investigate. We contacted the Hunte Corp.and were told that they could get any breed of dog at any time, and they were all AKC registered pups. Besides being infuriated by that fact, but we could clearly see the photos of the massive commercial breeding bldg. We took it upon ourselfs to contact the AKC and question this, as we are at the responsible breeders you speak of in your column. To Our Dismay and Disgust, we were told that indeed they support the Hunte Corp, who supply pet shops, and there was nothing wrong with what they were doing, even though they admitted , one simple rule both my friend and I followed, Health checks before breeding. By end of conversation, my friends expression to the AKC rep was, “so what your telling me is, all the testing and careful breeding I have done is useless and I may as well wipe my butt with the registration papers”… the answer was “YES”!!! We further requested a return phone call from someone of higher statue, but to this day never got one. This had to have been 5 yrs ago or more. Very sad ..

  • Ingrid Mylemans June 27, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    President of the belgianpugdogclub and the belgianfrenchbulldogclub
    How is this possible??
    Reputable breeders who love their breed, devoted to their breed for a lifetime can not understand this. What is happening to our much loved breeds? It is difficult enough to breed one or two breeds. How can “ppuppy mills” take care of so many breeds?

  • Ingrid Mylemans June 27, 2014 at 9:37 AM

    President of the belgianpugdogclub and the belgianfrenchbulldogclub
    How is this possible??
    Reputable breeders who love their breed, devoted to their breed for a lifetime can not understand this. What is happening to our much loved breeds? It is difficult enough to breed one or two breeds. How can “puppy mills” take care of so many breeds?
    We see the results of mass breeding in our vet.surgery every day…..So many tears of the owners…So many beautiful breeds ruined….
    Ingrid Mylemans

  • catrens
    CMall June 27, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    WOW! Talk about someone who is as bigoted as you can get against a legal industry. I live in Missouri. I know what the division of all animal lovers does. It allows the ARs to come in and regulate you out of your hobby!

    How do you know these puppies are not socialized or that enough employees are not hired? Have you visited any of these kennels to see the care that is given to the dogs and their puppies.

    Health testing – excuse me but I know many commercial breeders who do more health testing then show hobby breeders. Besides what does health testing really prove but the health of the parents? It does not guarantee that the resulting offspring of two health certified adults will pass that same testing. It does show there is a higher probability that the genes that will cross may not bring about the genetic disease. The only genetic diseases that can be absolutely guaranteed against are those that have been identified with Simple Dominant/Recessive heritability factors, i.e., PRA in poodles. But even this can be thwarted by human negligence in processing the genetic tests and result in offspring and lines carry defects that were thought to be free of such.

    What constitutes suitable and unsuitable owners? For you it may be one thing for another something else. This is an elitist attitude that indicates that only a privileged few deserve to own dogs. Well, if you want to limit your possible owners to a specific set of rules you set down, that is fine and your right. But if another does not, that is also their right. But to condemn people for not following your mindset is wrong. It shows a complete lack of tolerance for the rights of others.

    Taking back puppies – I was just in a conversation about this very thing recently. Where is it written but in the annals of animal rights archives that a breeder has to take back a puppy? Animals are property and as such when sold that property ownership and responsibility is transferred to the new owner. This is the law. In some states there are lemon-laws protecting pet buyers which is no different then protecting owners of buying cars, boats, etc in that the owner is guaranteed if there is a manufacturing defect that can be proved to be negligent on the part of the manufacturer, that product must be fixed or replaced. Substitute the word breeder for manufacturer. When you sell a pet you are transferring ownership to that person and thus responsibility for that pet also. If you do not, you are only allowing them to “rent” the animal until they violate your contract. If anything, perspective pet owners should be vary wary of any contract that allows the breeder the type of access to the animal as it is nothing but a rental agreement or co-ownership.

    What is wrong with making money off of breeding and selling pets? Most big kennels prior to the animal rights movement showed their breeding stock while selling their puppies to the public either through pet stores or directly and made money. This made it possible to continue showing and allowed the middle income people to become involved with dogs instead of only the wealthy elite.

    It is articles like this that destroy the dog breeding world as it allows divisions to occur so we may no longer be a united front against the animal rights organizations that are out to destroy ALL ownership and breeders.

    I am sorry you feel this way and you are entitled to opinion. But as your opinion is not the only opinion, I hope you show me the same courtesy.

  • eshever
    Carlotta Cooper June 27, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    Dear Bo,

    I often enjoy your articles but this time you are out of touch. AKC, state federations, and many breed and local kennel clubs have not only been aware of these activities but strongly supporting them for years. Our problems are not centered around commercial breeders, many of whom are very responsible and do provide good care for their dogs. Our problems are with the animal rights movement which seeks to put an end to all dog breeding.

    While you may applaud the move toward ending the sale of puppies in pet stores, it’s a short step from banning retail sale in pet stores to banning the sale of all puppies (other than shelter dogs) which would stop the sale of puppies from hobby breeders. Keep in mind that the APHIS rule considers all of us “retail pet stores” even when we sell puppies from our homes.

    Instead of castigating AKC for working with all breeders, we should be congratulating them. AKC is working to gather information and improve conditions for all dogs. All breeders need to be working together for our future. Otherwise, the animal rights movement will put an end to dog breeding as we know it today.

  • Rita Rice June 27, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    I am a legislative liaison and also active in state politics for breeder’s rights. Originally, the “party line” was that we hobby breeders should join with commercial breeders to help prevent restrictive legislation.

    Personally, I am beginning to feel the opposite -we hobby breeders need to find ways to distinguish ourselves from commercial breeders, so that when legislation is passed, it targets the large scale breeders who need regulation, rather than every hobbyist who’s ever bred a litter. We need to develop talking points for hobbyists, and perhaps consider working with groups in favor of regulation, rather than automatically being against any bill that develops controls (that is the AKC’s current stance). The AKC won’t help us in this regard -revenue from those sources is critical to their bottom line, and their bottom line does help all of us.

    Any help you might be willing to offer in the legislative world would be appreciated!
    Rita Rice

  • JSD June 27, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    I understand your concerns Bo, but I’d like to enlighten you a little about what many of us in the Midwest (specifically Iowa) are dealing with legally. In the State of Iowa if you own 4 intact dogs of either gender and sell ONE puppy you are required to be licensed as a Commercial Breeder. Most serious show/hobby breeders I know meet those requirements and many of us are licensed in order to be “legal”. That means we are commercial breeders as much as the high volume kennels are and many of us have had to join forces (reluctantly) with the pet producers in order to fight the laws that would destroy our breeding programs. There is always a lot more hidden in these laws than the exercise and housing requirements. I don’t know what it’s like in all the other States, but here in Iowa I am a commercial breeder which means my home is subject to 2 inspections per year, lots of licensing fees and unrealistic requirements for me and my house/show dogs. I’ve had just one to two litters a year and multiple high ranking show dogs over the years. The legislation being pushed by HSUS and their ilk is shutting down not only the “puppy mill” but also the dedicated hobbyist in some States. When you use the terms puppy mill and commercial breeder interchangeably you inadvertently paint us with the same brush as those sub-standard breeders. I know that’s not what you intended but it comes across that way to those of us in the trenches.

  • Carol Suggs June 27, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    Where have you been Mr. Bengston?

    The AKC has had a separate Commercial Breeder Dept. since 2009. They announced the new Dept. in the Feb/ March 2009 issue of Kennel Spotlight magazine on Page 32. Kennel Spotlight is published by the owners of the Southwest Auction Company. You can read the article yourself by going to :
    http://www.kennelspotlight.com Click on Archives, then click on past issues in PDF.

    Kandy Hale, now an AKC Breeder Field Rep auctioned off some 600 dogs before joining AKC. Phyllis King also an AKC Breeder Field Rep sold over 300 dogs at auction before joining the AKC.

    David Roberts, former AKC VP of Registration and Customer Service now works in the Commercial Breeder Dept., he attends Commercial Breeder events representing the AKC and holds AKC sponsored events for Commercial Breeders.

    While you are late to the topic, I’m glad you are here now.

  • Rhoda Springer June 27, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    Once again Mr. Bengston, you have brought to light an important aspect of the AKC that all fanciers and concerned hobbiest need to know of. I appreciate your dedication (and engaging writing style).
    Thank you,

  • Lynne Park June 27, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    Next to last paragraph first sentence says it all – AKC wants the $$$. No one who cares about dogs believes anything else.

  • Barb Bristol June 27, 2014 at 5:11 PM

    Great article! I have heard that the AKC has actively courted puppy mills (er, large scale commercial breeders) for their registration $$ for many years. I think the time is coming that the AKC will have to decide what it really stands for. Cutting ties with the commercial breeders would be a financial hit – but many of them have already jumped ship and “register” their pups only with the Continental KC or the APR. I, for one, would be willing to pay a higher fee for registration, entries etc if it meant that the AKC was TRULY “the dog’s Champion”.
    However, one correction in your reasons that a puppy mill can’t have the dog’s welfare uppermost: #2 about health testing: Right now, no matter how much testing you do, it’s not possible to certify that ANY breeding stock is “clear of all hereditary defects.” The parent clubs and other organizations are working on all sorts of genetic health testing, but even when we have definitive tests for the most serious diseases it’s doubtful that any dogs will be found to be clear of ALL possible hereditary defects. Harmful recessive genes are everywhere – the best we can do is get the information necessary to avoid reinforcing them.

  • Stormy Hope June 27, 2014 at 5:38 PM

    For over 20 years, I have campaigned for the rights of ALL breeders to be able to breed their dogs (and other animals) THEIR way. Mr. Bengtson, in this article you have attempted to wipe out thousands of hours of work. When dog breeders, large, small and in between, realize that it is ONE fight, and we’re all in it, we will have a chance of bringing the purebred dog back into prominence.

    • Liz Lufrano July 1, 2014 at 11:51 AM

      As I see it, ALL breeders must unite against the common foe who has infiltrated American government: HSUS. Until this foe is defeated, we do not have the luxury of the separatist sentiments of which you write. Doing so, you are playing into the AR strategy of “divide and conquer”. We must fight with tooth and nail in order to win this war… and we must also fight our feelings of superiority over other breeders.

  • Mariah (@Khaibitu) June 27, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    This piece is friendly fire against the small/hobby breeder, unintentional I’m sure but VERY damaging. More ammunition for the animal rights movement marching against us all, breeder and pet owner alike. This plays right into the AR divide and conquer tactic, the LAST thing needed. Mr. Bengston, as someone who’s always had great respect for you I ask that you please do more research. “Puppy mill”, “backyard breeder”, “responsible breeder”, ALL terms coined by the animal rights movement in their attempt to divide and conquer, and it continues to work beautifully, as evidenced by your article. To the animal rights movement, ALL breeders are the same. There is no distinction. Commercial kennels are highly regulated and most do a fine job of producing happy, healthy animals. Are there less than stellar ones? Of course. Just like there are less than wonderful hobby breeders, handlers, veterinarians, pet owners and rescues, to name just a few. It’s unavoidable, it’s found in all walks of life and in all industries and hobbies BUT it’s also in the minority. Please realize that it’s the H$U$ writing legislation to further cripple small breeders. They’re against ALL breeding and ALL animal ownership, your article serves only to further their agenda. Why is it that EVERYONE in the animal industry, from groomers to veterinarians to dog magazine publishers, are allowed to make a profit but breeders aren’t? Just because the USDA considers our dogs livestock doesn’t mean anyone treats them as such. Most don’t, including commercial breeders. You have just put another nail in the breeder’s coffin, small “hobby” breeders and otherwise.

  • Randie Blumhagen
    Randie June 27, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    I do not know what I find more disturbing– the article or the breeder/owners who agree with this bigotry. I am appalled, embarrassed and disappointed. Good job Mr. Bengston– the Animal rights groups are thanking you for handing us over to them.

  • Elizabeth Brinkley June 27, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    10 Things You Didn’t Know About Puppy Mills

    1) BREEDERS are NOT responsible for the presence of dogs in shelters. “Producing” dogs due to failure to be a responsible owner and “breeding” dogs are not the same. We have a problem with a lack of responsible ownership, poor shelter management and poor pet distribution. Education is the key to improvement in this area.
    2) It has been PROVEN there is NO PET OVERPOPULATION. Since 2005 the birthrate for puppies has not been meeting the demand. Many rare breeds are declining to the point of extinction due to anti-breeder laws. According to the USDA more than 300,000 dogs were imported in 2013 from foreign countries by SHELTERS. If the current rate of laws and decline continue within 20 years your only source for a puppy may be a shelter “mutt” from Mexico, China or Puerto Rico with possible behavioral issues and NO health testing. http://www.shelterproject.naiaonline.org
    3) In our modern day of instant access to information it is almost impossible for anyone to raise dogs without being under scrutiny. Those horrendous photos you see in commercials for the “Humane Society” are mostly outdated or a 1 in one million exception to the care given animals by breeders everywhere. The photos are intended to shock and horrify you into giving money. Any photo can be photo shopped into looking really bad. Be skeptical. If you didn’t see it with your own eyes take it with a grain of salt.
    4) There is no such thing as a “puppy mill”. “Puppy mill” is not a legally defined term, it is slang invented by the “animal rights” extremists to denigrate any and all breeders — small or large, standard or substandard. It’s the “N-word” of breeders. The phrase “puppy mill” has been promoted in the media by the animal “rights” movement, people who want to end all animal ownership. It is applied indiscriminately by these fanatics to anyone who breeds dogs.
    5) There are three main types of breeders: Commercial, Pet and Hobby/show breeders. Every one of these can be a large-scale breeder, every one of these could be a substandard breeder. Commercial kennels are subject to state and/or federal oversight. Substandard care can be found with all types of breeders. It is about the standard of care, NOT the numbers. Most commercial breeders have state of the art kennels that meet USDA standards and the standards of their state laws. They are inspected at least yearly and must meet or exceed stringent standards far higher than those expected of the average hobby breeder.
    6) “Sick” puppies do not sell. It is counterproductive for any industry to produce a defective product and expect to stay in business. Any dog can have health issues. It’s about Mother Nature NOT lack of care or numbers.
    7) Passing laws intended to outlaw “puppy mills” will not solve any problem. Most substandard breeders are already in violation of existing laws and don’t care. New, stricter laws will only affect those who are already working to follow the laws. The only way to have any effect is to provide the funds and manpower to enforce the laws that are already on the books.
    8) All the hobby breeders in this country cannot produce enough puppies to meet the demands of the American market. Recent changes in laws are NOT stopping substandard kennels from continuing. It is closing down reputable breeders who work very hard to produce healthy purebred puppies by making it more difficult and expensive for them to continue in their HOBBY.
    9) A shelter dog is NOT for every family. Shelter dogs come with baggage that can require an EXPERIENCED owner. Shelter dogs have NO health testing and frequently have behavioral issues that take years of training to overcome. Obtaining a dog should be a time for rational decision making–not an excuse for moral preening. If ‘adopting’ a shelter dog makes you feel ‘better about yourself’, you don’t need a dog. You need a therapist.
    10) You are more likely to purchase a dog with health or behavioral issues from a shelter than a pet store.

    For more information:

    • Garnet June 30, 2014 at 4:06 PM

      Elizabeth Brinkley

      For more information:

      You do realize that that most of the websites you mention are corporate front groups run by Rick Berman?

      • Stormy Hope July 1, 2014 at 8:47 PM

        It’s difficult to understand how out of touch some of us are. all animals are at risk, not only dogs, by various groups of Animal Rights, whose agenda is to stop all animal use. And yet the propaganda is swallowed without a second sip.
        For more information:
        An excellent group who have concerns about ALL animals and animal enterprises. No affiliation with any group.

        AhA.. indeed, Mr. Berman started this and thank goodness.
        He has challenged HSUS to find ONE line that they have printed to not be the truth. It hasn’t happened.

        Probably Mr. Winograd has too much ego to accept belonging to ANY group, much less Mr. Berman’s. Wrong again.

        Sportsmen and Animal Owners Voting Alliance… nope, no affiliation, never has been.. a very independent group who does more for your animals than all the blue ribbons ever given out.

        An AKC California Federation. Sorry, wrong again. But they probably like Humane Watch as much as I and CaRPOC (another CA Group that is trying to save YOUR dogs)

        When you find the association between this group and Mr. Berman, please let NAIA know, as this was the beginning of a billBoard campaign to same YOUR rights to own and breed your dogs YOUR way.

        So there you have it, and maybe everybody might go check out these websites and learn something!
        Stormy Hope
        Likes Human Watch, not affiliated

      • kayla
        kayla July 2, 2014 at 5:14 AM

        Hi, thank you for writing and being part of Best In Show Daily’s community. For our readers’ education, could you provide more detail on Rick Berman and why it’s relevant to the discussion. It would be invaluable to have more context as not everyone knows Rick Berman’s work..

        Thank you, Kayla

  • Elizabeth Brinkley June 27, 2014 at 8:23 PM

    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A “PUPPYMILL”!! I am going to repeat that for those who aren’t sure I really said that. There is no such thing as a “puppymill”. The word “puppymill” was invented by the animal rights fanatics. It is a made up word that never existed before the AR groups made it up. My spell check still questions the word. The agenda of the AR movement is to “end all animal ownership”. END. Not reduce or control but END. These extreme fanatics don’t believe anyone should have an animal or use an animal in any way including pet ownership. So they invented this word as a way to insult breeders – all breeders, any breeders because they don’t believe anyone should be breeding. They invented the word as a convenient LABEL to slap on breeders and they have convinced the general public that it is a real crisis, a problem that needs to be addressed to stop these nasty breeders and end pet overpopulation so dogs don’t have to die in shelters. Yes there are poor quality breeders raising dogs in substandard conditions but they aren’t puppymills because that is NOT a real word – it is an insult aimed at ALL BREEDERS. No breeder should be using this word that was invented to destroy us all unless you want to participate in your own destruction.
    Here’s another myth buster – THERE IS NO PET OVERPOPULATION. Dogs dying in shelters is not about overpopulation. It is about poor shelter management, poor pet distribution and poor owner retention. When the United States Department of Agriculture is showing that SHELTERS in this country IMPORTED more than 300,000 dogs last year from foreign countries how can anyone believe in pet overpopulation? Shelters don’t want you to know that since 2005 there have been fewer puppies born in this country than there are available homes. They don’t want you to know that 70 to 80% of all American pets are spayed/neutered. They don’t want you to know that some breeds are in danger of extinction within the next 10 years. Why? Because shelters have worked so hard to eliminate breeders and pet shops under the name of eradicating “puppymills” that shelters are now the new pet stores. Some shelters are making thousands of dollars importing young adoptable dogs from other countries or other states. So one has to wonder what is happening to the local dogs – older, less “adoptable” dogs, at these retail shelters? Are they killing those local dogs – the big, black dog, the pit bull, the old dog – the ones nobody wants because they aren’t cute, cuddly puppies anymore?
    Meantime, the public is being told breeding dogs is BAD. Breeders are bad people who are abusing dogs for “profit”. Horrors, that someone should make money by selling a dog!! They are being told they should “adopt, not shop” and the people telling them this are the people who just conveniently happen to have some cute puppies at the shelter. Where did all these cute puppies come from? Some of them are being born at shelters. Some of them are seized in raids and the owner is forced to sign them over because they can’t afford a long legal battle. Let’s face it – very few of us in dogs could afford the kind of legal fees we would have to pay to fight “city hall” and they have free lawyers. Dogs and puppies are trucked across the country from overcrowded shelters in the rural South, in cages piled high in U-haul trucks to be sold at a shelter up north where there are no young puppies. Here’s an invented word for you – a lot of us have started calling these transporters “retail rescue” and one man recently admitted to an income of over $300,000 a year transporting dogs to shelters. Nice work if you can get it. The shelters are selling these dogs for hundreds of dollars. YES I said “selling” not adopting, because if money is given for a dog IT IS A SALE not an adoption. And the shelters are telling the public that they are such good people for “adopting” this poor homeless animal that has been rescued from the big bad breeders. If acquiring a dog is a moment to make you feel good about yourself, you probably need a therapist more than the dog and you have gotten a dog for the wrong reason. Shelters SELL dogs. And that is the truth not a myth.
    A lot of this is things I have said before. But it bears repeating and it needs to be passed on. The only way we are going to win this war to keep our dogs away from the animal rights corporations with their big bucks and multi-million dollar publicity campaigns is to educate the public. PROVE to them the lies and convince them that buying a dog is about making a choice of what fits in their life – not a moment to “feel good” about themselves. A “rescue dog” is NOT a breed and it probably wasn’t rescued at all. Shelters SELL dogs. And that is the truth not a myth.

  • doug williams June 27, 2014 at 10:29 PM

    are you sure you don;t work for the HSUS Bo?

    • lunarmagpie lunarmagpie
      stellaluna July 11, 2014 at 2:44 PM

      doug williams
      are you sure you don’t work for the HSUS Bo?

      Oh my, this is priceless! Bo Bengtson has been around dogs for a long, long time, and is very well respected by those who are familiar with him as a breeder, judge and publisher of breed magazines. The above is exactly the sort of personal dig that comes from those with nothing of any other value to say. It’s no better than the kind of insults that come from the animal-rights activists. It’s also sad to see how low so much of the fancy has sunk in its desperation to defend itself from any and all changes…

  • Karissa L. Ketelhut June 27, 2014 at 10:53 PM

    One thing I want to make clear to those on this page.

    Pet store are being banned, and a “new” type of pet store is moving in. Yes, I am talking about the “shelters” now allowed to sell dogs from a pet store. Some how stores that sell dogs as “rescues/shelter dogs” avoid the bad reputation. Now why is this? those dogs are still being sold from a store and are shipped in from all over to meet the demand and by far have a lower standard of care and health requirements needed for them to be sold. On the other side commercial breeders are complying with high care standards and many are yes health testing. Not to mention submit themselves to kennel inspections all of which must be met before they get an okay to sell their dogs. these “new shelter stores” have to meet what? and who inspects where those dogs come from or how they are treated on the way to these new stores? I am disgusted at this article and Bo Bengtson, attacking not only the American Kennel Club but breeders the world over.

    Bo you are not helping anyone by posting such a bad article. You are furthering the problem, fanning the flames, feeding fellow breeders to the animal rights zealots like slop to pigs. Your article is biased, crude and elitist. I am sure you have no back ground in journalism? Maybe dirty journalism. I don’t see any sources cited in the lest. You’re running your mouth without regard to truth. Using animal rights terms and leaving out everything good AKC has ever done and is still doing. How disrespectful of you to throw AKC under the bus and for what? Your elitist pride? AKC protects your rights to own and breed dogs and you do this? for what gain? What do you seek by trying to defame the AKC. If I didn’t know any better I would say you are part of animal rights yourself.

  • Nancy June 28, 2014 at 7:35 AM

    A direct quote from Wayne Pacelle, CEO of HSUS: “All dog breeders are puppy mills and all farms are factory farms”. “ALL DOG BREEDERS” includes those of you in support of this elitist opinion blog. Do you understand that?
    Have any of you watched the “documentaries” done by animal rightists denigrating what show breeders are doing to the health of animals for the sake of looking good in a show ring?
    How many of you have been to any commercial kennels to be able to judge how they care for their animals, socialize their animals, exercise their animals, health test their animals, or do anything else with their animals?
    Are you aware that Hunte Corp and several Pet Breeder associations each hold annual seminars that are FREE to attend and feature speakers who are experts in the fields of grooming, canine reproduction, canine anatomy, canine health, etc.? I’m guessing not or this blog would not exist.
    For those of you who think USDA commercial breeders need more regulations I would challenge you to go read the regulations they live under and point out afterward where they need more. Read It carefully because if you have 5 breeding age females, sell even one litter, ship one puppy and each and every one of your pups produced are not show quality and some or most of that litter is sold as pets, YOU will be required to become a USDA licensed dealer. YOU will be a commercial breeder.
    In the state of Iowa if you have more than 3 intact dogs (that includes both male and female) and you raise one litter of pups and sell even one and give the others away, YOU are a commercial breeder and are required to license through the state. No exemptions for showing or selling pups for show. It’s strictly by the number of intact dogs and doesn’t matter if you only raise one litter per year or one every 2 or 3 years.
    AKC understands these things. That is why they are doing what they are and donating as they are. It is not only a percentage of hobby breeder AKC registration fees that go to health research and training of SAR, therapy, seeing eye and hearing ear dogs, etc., but from everyone who registers litters through the AKC. Frankly, you would have to pay some very much higher fees to replace all of those you think are not worthy of registering their dogs and pups in what you consider to be YOUR registry.
    The fact is that you have no idea how many commercial breeders (state or USDA) guarantee the health of their pups or take back pups, replace them or do refunds. You can’t know that unless you visit each of them. You have no idea whether or not they screen buyers.
    While you are busy primping your dogs for shows and writing and/or supporting blogs like this one, I hope this fact will stick in your minds, AKC and the very breeders you are denigrating are in the trenches every day fighting for their rights to breed their way and also for YOURS.

  • Carol Suggs June 28, 2014 at 8:31 AM

    It is surprising how many Commercial Breeders read BIS Daily. I know of one pair who advertise here regularly, but obviously there are quite a few more.

    I like Rita Rice’s suggestion that Hobby Breeders/Parent Club members find a way to distance themselves from Commercial Breeders when it comes to fighting Legislation that is not in our best interest. The AKC is not, they are fighting for the Commercial Breeder, we don’t register enough dogs. And yes, they do need the money from Commercial Breeder registrations to keep the AKC going.

    However, what percentage of Commercial Breeders actually register their dogs with AKC? When you go on sites like Next Day Pets and Pets 4 You, not many.

    How do you suggest we begin Rita? Getting the Parent Clubs on board will be difficult.

    • Karissa L. Ketelhut June 28, 2014 at 8:18 PM

      Some “commercial breeders” advertise here? are you sure you just don’t have a problem with someone who breeds more then “you” believe they should? so you jump to name calling, as if it makes you the better person… elitism will not help you. your personal beliefs do not make you a stellar breeder, only your actions. only how you treat your dogs. not the number of dogs you have or the number of litters or titles or health tests. numbers are numbers they don’t make you better then anyone.

    • kayla
      kayla June 29, 2014 at 9:41 AM

      Hi Carol,
      thank you for reading Best In Show Daily and writing us. We do need to make one factual correction as your post is a little misleading. Commercial breeders do not advertise their operations on our site; i.e., we do not offer puppies or dogs for sale. Owners of AKC registered dogs that are competing advertise their dogs and their wins on our site and every other major dog publication. It’s a very large distinction.

      all the best, Kayla

  • Mark Francis Jaeger June 28, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    Sad to say, but given the deep pockets of HSUS (even my own mother was suckered into sending them a contribution), purebred breeders need all the help they can get to fight back in state legislatures. Throw away our natural allies and HSUS will win.

  • dc June 28, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    In 1981 an idea was hatched to systematically end the use of animals for food, for clothing, as companions and as work mates. One group feels that abolition and no compromising is the only way to go. A faction of that group is even willing to commit crimes to end animal use and draw media attention. The other group believes that baby steps to the goal are the only way to get everyone to go along. Those baby steps include marginalizing each small group of animal “users” to the rest of the animal users so they will help stamp them out. So first, comes seal hunters. They are bad. Then ladies wearing fur…evil. Then people who hunt for trophies….bad guys. Then people who hunt with dogs…horrible for the animals hunted. Then people who eat meat but only on Monday. Next, people who use horses but only for carriages and only if they are paid to do so. ….See where I’m going with this? You are next and you are helping them do it. But it’s okay. I helped them for years because I didn’t know about the abolitionist end game to take my cat. I know better now.

  • Robert E Hufford June 28, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    It was with great interest that I read Bo Bengtson’s blog regarding the American Kennel Club’s contribution of 10,000 dollars to an organization representing dog breeders in Missouri. Once again we witness the AKC and its minion’s policy of attacking the messenger.

    The American Kennel Club’s registry is rife with registrations that should have been purged years ago. Many of these registrations orginated from the puppy mills operating in Missouri. I can speak to this subject having been employed by two organizations as an investigator and field agent, the USDA and the AKC. To deny the existence of these deplorable operations shows either ignorance or a concerted effort to cover up the facts. Mr. Bengtson should be applauded for his exposure of this situation. Instead, he has been castigated for his efforts. These vicious attacks are unwarranted. The finger should not be pointed at Mr. Bengtson, but rather at the hierarchy of the AKC and the numerous show breeders involved in this conspiracy.

    Robert E Hufford

    • Dana Esquibel
      Dana Esquibel June 29, 2014 at 11:56 AM

      Thank you Bo Bengston for writing about this important issue. And thank you Robert Hufford for bravely speaking out as a former AKC staff member. It only scratches the surface of the mountain of evidence of AKC’s failure to comply with their own Mission Statement:

      “The American Kennel Club is dedicated to upholding the integrity of its Registry”

      The parent clubs and delegates need to face the reality that the AKC registry has been corrupted due to AKC’s loopholes and attitude to do whatever it takes to bring in $$. And then do something to clean it up!

  • Brad B. June 28, 2014 at 9:32 PM

    Do you honestly trust that the government can be responsible enough to care for animals as much as the hobby breeder does. Our country is divided and dysfunctional enough based on politics and bureaucracy. You cannot honestly believe that the government is going to make sure that these dogs are safe nor clearly the AKC….. Sadly commercial kennels and commercial breeders of dogs are the source of the issue giving leverage and traction to organizations like HSUS and PETA ….
    How many of you who wrote responses vote. How many of you are so frustrated with the dysfunction of our government to think that we can trust them or clearly the AKC to do the right thing, you are asking people in some cases with no experience with animals particularly dogs to make decisions based on not having knowledge or experience of such ,misinformation from organizations that are the source of the issue, to make educated decisions on the future of dogs. That’s truly the question….
    Beau, please keep writing articles like that their informative and people should know. I’m behind you 100%. Brad B

  • Vicki Kubic June 29, 2014 at 4:41 AM

    Where exactly do you expect the supply to come from for all the pets that the public wants? Show breeders can not fill that demand. Period. So now we have dogs being smuggled into this country from other countries and regions under the guise of “rescue”. Dogs bringing diseases and parasites not native to the USA.

    Commercial breeders are very regulated in this country. They do not deserve the bad rap we continue to give them. You have drunk the koolaid that HSUS, Peta and other animal rights organizations have feeding us for 40 years. The horrible breeding facilities of decades ago are almost non-existent.

    Don’t you understand that they are gunning for ALL of us?? Regardless if we have one litter every other year, or many. The perception is that ALL dog breeders are bad.

    We need to stick together, not continue to pick apart and destroy our future by focusing on a few bad apples.

  • Bob Baker June 29, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    Excellent article! You can tell from the many responses that you hit a nerve. The AKC was founded for the “betterment of pure bred dogs.” Few, if any commercial breeders are breeding dogs to improve the breed. Unfortunately, it is all about the money, in too many instances, and regrettably the AKC no longer exists for the betterment of purebred dogs. It exists now, for all practical purposes, as simply a commercial dog registry. Its dog shows are subsidized by registration revenues from commercial breeding establishments. Sadly, even Westminster is not self sufficient but relies on money from puppy mill breeders.

  • kayla
    kayla June 29, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    Just a little friendly reminder from our publisher and editorial board. Best In Show Daily has a world-wide following of “serious” dog folks, hobbyists and pet owners that love purebred dogs. We bring a variety of new content every day that explores all aspects of the purebred dog. Sometimes controversial but always designed to be helpful to our varied audience. We have a standard for our comments on all our socmedia feeds and article replies. To participate, you agree that comments intended for display on our site and written by you will not include content that is illegal, indecent, profane, threatening, defamatory, invasive of privacy or otherwise injurious to others. We reserve the right to reject submissions and comments including, but not limited to: personally identifiable information about other people, such as phone numbers, street addresses or e-mail address(es); or information that could result in an invasion of others’ privacy or their harassment. We value courtesy, good manners & sportsmanship. You also are required to identify yourself by name to publish comments on our site. If the comments do not further the discussion or are redundant to other comments, we do not publish them.

    We will bring article discussions that create heat & light and we do appreciate everyone’s participation and following the rules.

  • Marybeth Duerler June 29, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    Responsible Pet Owners Alliance Texas Outreach (RPOA Texas Outreach) has been battling animal rights extremists in Texas as a state federation for 23 years and we know them well. However HSUS is winning in Texas and will continue to do so if we can’t circle the wagons instead of the circular firing squads. RPOA Texas Outreach (with the help of many other groups) killed the HSUS misnamed “Puppy Mill” Bill in 2009, but the extremists came right back in 2011 and succeeded in getting their bill passed with lies to media and legislators, threats to other legislators, and many procedural irregularities. The words “commercial or puppymill” were removed somewhere along the line before passage. Several dog breeders (with AKC’s blessing) sat down with HSUS’ bill sponsor Senfronia Thompson to “negotiate” HB 1451 line by line before the House Committee Hearing and learned a bitter lesson. No one wins sitting at the table with these fanatics. I know because we’ve done it for many years. This is a national legislative agenda intended to end all use, breeding and sales of animals for any reason. They do their homework behind the scenes — not at the table. RPOA Texas Outreach is writing our own really truly “commercial breeder” bill to repeal and replace HB 1451 at our Texas Legislative Session which convenes mid-January. Performance Standards for Care will be contained within the statute — easy to understand. No Engineering Standards; such as USDA regulations, which HSUS knows can’t be met in our homes. Everything will be covered in the bill, not left to any enforcement agency to write the rules and regulations later. HSUS and Texas Humane Legislation Network know we’re coming so this will be a herculean task and will take coordination with every animal interest group in Texas. If successful, other states can emulate our situation in Texas to get changes to their onerous anti-breeding laws. But if we don’t stop the backbiting, we all lose. Let’s become proactive instead of always “reactive!” Remember it’s all for our animals.

    • Christi June 30, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      So are you saying that we should support AKC’s involvement with the study in Missouri? I’m not being sarcastic, I’m asking a sincere question. I’ve been frankly surprised by the comments to this article — I thought “real dog show people” would be rabidly opposed to AKC’s contribution — but perhaps, in spite of being fairly well informed, I’ve been short-sighted. Maybe hobby breeders do need to stop trying to separate ourselves from commercial breeders, and instead seek solutions that will benefit all of us, and hopefully at the same time stop PETA and the HSUS from achieving their ultimate goal of doing away with all dog breeding.

  • daugust
    Deborah June 30, 2014 at 7:51 AM

    It is both fascinating and horrifying to see the responses to this excellent, timely article. Clearly, commercial breeders are well organized and prepared to attack anyone who dares to disagree with their mission.

  • S. Smith June 30, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    Thanks Bo for reminding the fancy of the financial support AKC gives commercial breeders. Many people worked very hard here in Missouri to see prop B pass by a clear majority of voters only to have MPBA and their very deep pockets immediately kick up the pressure among the “good ole boys” political system to chip away at the progress made to give animals in puppy mills better lives. Did I say puppy mills? Yes Virginia, it is a real word or rather two words to be exact. Well, at least Merriam Webster seems to think it is. Having been in use for about the last 40 years, Webster defines the term as “a commercial farming operation in which purebred dogs are raised in large numbers”.
    I hope that the average common sense hobby/show purebred breeder who is the backbone of the fancy can realize that if they accept that the animal rights extremists are in fact out there plotting and planning to ban dog ownership from the face of the earth, they can also agree that at the opposite end of the issue are the alarmists screaming at you that if you do not join forces with the AKC and commercial breeders to fight all legislation that requires you treat animals humanly, you will lose all rights to own dogs. We do not need scare tactics from either side!
    Again, common sense should tell us something. In 2011 Care2 reported that Americans spent over 50 billion (with a B) on their pets. That is on their pets (not for their pets) such as food, veterinary costs, pet sitting, grooming, boarding, pet hotels, polo shirts, wigs, dresses, costumes, rain and snow gear, boots, hats, the list could go on and on. You get the idea, pet ownership is not going anywhere in America but up. At least 63% of U.S. households owned at least one pet in 2011. Studies show dog ownership can improve health and people are more likely to exercise more, young children exposed to pets have fewer allergies, therapy dogs are invaluable in so many situations as are highly trained police and military dogs. What I am saying is that dogs are not going anywhere any time soon. Don’t be intimidated into abandoning your ethics and agreeing with commercial breeders out of fear. Take every opportunity to let AKC know you don’t agree with their standing.
    You know, I agreed with the writer that suggested maybe it is time for a new organization of hobby/show enthusiasts, breeders who hand raise their puppies, make sure they are socialized, are as healthy as possible, giving attention to pedigrees and heredity, carefully vet potential owners, place pets with breeding restrictions, are willing to take back puppies if necessary, are active in their breed rescue and willing to educate people to their breeds suitability for them. Then, I had to smile at how naïve I was to think I had been part of an organization that championed the small hobby/show breeder in all these endeavors and it was called the American Kennel Club.
    We must always remember that the AKC is a corporation in business to make money through the registration of dogs. The more they register, the more money they make. So, I urge breeders to use common sense, don’t be intimidated into fighting the commercial breeders fight and undermine what legislation we have in regard as to how these animals are cared for. Most of you would never consider raising your puppies without compassion and individual care, why would you support it in others?

  • Swan Mulligan June 30, 2014 at 8:41 PM

    Bo, great article, you have touched on something really important, please keep pursuing this story.
    I am the type of person that likes to think outside the box and come up with solutions to complex problems. I have some ideas on how the AKC can win the PR war against the HSUS, generate more revenue outside of registrations, and enhance the general public’s knowledge of pure bred dogs.
    Americans love dogs, this is a statistical fact. We are living in the golden age of television where shows about storage auctions, pawn shops, and the Kardashians draw millions of viewers. The AKC could leverage their relationship with the dog community to create and produce an incredible amount of compelling TV viewing. Imagine the possibilities? A reality show that follows around some of the nations best handlers and captures the highs, the lows,the drama, and of course the dogs. The AKC could cover events like flyball, earthdog, agility trials, and conformation shows like sporting events (this has already started to happen but I say up the ante and cover more). Features about courageous dogs, remarkable dogs, remarkable breeders etc. I feel like the possibilities are endless here. Put the focus on the good people who are doing amazing things with their dogs everyday. Ordinary people with extraordinary relationships with their dogs. People will tune in and watch, because Americans love dogs. Its a fact.

    • Christi July 2, 2014 at 6:06 AM

      THIS is the best PR idea yet! There is more to cover in the world of dogs than could be programmed in 10 years. Whoever gets this done is the hero… and will probably get rich to boot.

  • bestuvall June 30, 2014 at 10:42 PM


    Elizabeth Brinkley
    For more information:

    You do realize that that most of the websites you mention are corporate front groups run by Rick Berman?

    really which ones.. Patti Strand ( NAIA)would be surprised to know this so would Nathan Winograd and Susan Wolf of Saova.. as for Mr Berman thanks to him the animal rights machine of factory fundraising and deceitful programs duping people out of millions has been exposed to the public.. thanks to al of these people for demanding the truth instead fo swallowing the animal rights kool aide as the author has

  • becky July 1, 2014 at 6:44 AM

    You are naive Mr. Bengtson. To the animal rights proponents ALL breeders are puppy mills and should be shut down. That would include those for who it is an “all-consuming” hobby. Like you for instance.

  • Charlotte Allmann July 1, 2014 at 7:36 AM

    THANK YOU, Mythbuster! I read this blog with a sick heart. What have I been working so hard for the past 10 years fighting anti-breeder, anti-dog owner legislation? Apparently there are still people in the fancy who don’t yet “get it”. Mr. Bengston, you are living in a bubble, at least 15 years in the past. I don’t know what AKC you are talking about – certainly not the same organization that I have been working with for 5 years as legislative liaison for my parent breed club, and most definitely NOT with the Government Relations Department. It seems to me that the GR folks are like Atlas, holding our world on their capable shoulders – and you are kicking at their feet. Please stop it. The reason that the Animal Rights movement has been so effective in undermining the dog fancy is because they understand the importance of Unity and Singleness of Purpose. The network. We just snipe, name call, nit pick, gossip, and sabotage each other at every turn. We feed the alligator hoping it will eat us last. If we don’t stop this behavior, we deserve to go under – and it may even be too late already. Some days I say I am glad that I am as old as I am, because I won’t see what the next generation will be like without our beloved well bred dogs.
    We need all the friends we can get at this point. That means that the conformation breed shows need to be much more welcoming of the many performance events, per Pat Hastings. I became active in legislation through performance events – where we all need really GREAT dogs. We can’t expect to find all these great dogs in shelters. We have to support “pet” breeders, these are the gateway folks to a deeper involvement in the fancy. We need to make friends with commercial breeders, they have a lot to offer us, including money and lobbyists for fighting onerous laws. Take what we like and leave the rest. We don’t have to go to bed with any of these folks, we only need to be in the same room for awhile. Let’s not give “bitch” a bad name.
    Here’s some excerpts from my club’s newsletter report on the second AKC Legislative Conference this past January. Quote:
    “The common enemy is nimble and well funded, which demands effort and creativity on our part if we are to preserve our beloved dogs.

    The unimaginative and dystopian view of the animal rights movement seems to me to be created by the artificial separation of animals from people described in the precepts set out by groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). For most of us, a glimpse into their future is all the motivation we need to throw that vision out with the dog poop and cat litter, and find our strength to fight this thing with everything we’ve got. The AR movement is unsustainable.

    We can fight this negativity by acknowledging that the source of our strength goes beyond the bond we share with animals. WE care about people. We who love and respect animals for who and what they are far outnumber the confused, conflicted and angst-ridden people who need to turn farmers, hunters and dog breeders into monsters in order to hang on to their rationalizations and blame. They see animals as in need of “rescue”, and as a source of money, power and political influence – lots of it. ”
    Here’s some excerpts from my club’s newsletter report on the second AKC Legislative Conference this past January:

    Elizabeth Brinkley
    10 Things You Didn’t Know About Puppy Mills
    1) BREEDERS are NOT responsible for the presence of dogs in shelters. “Producing” dogs due to failure to be a responsible owner and “breeding” dogs are not the same. We have a problem with a lack of responsible ownership, poor shelter management and poor pet distribution. Education is the key to improvement in this area.

  • Mary LaHay July 2, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    Dear Mr. Bengtson,
    Thank you for this insightful blog. I live in Iowa; home to the 2nd largest number of USDA-licensed commercial dog-breeders in the nation. I started an organization, Iowa Friends of Companion Animals, to work on fixing this horrendous industry in our state (see damning photos of kennel conditions on our website – http://www.iafriends.org). I was so naive. I actually thought that if I could just open people’s eyes to the problem, it would get fixed. Instead, I’ve learned that this commercial dog-breeding industry is a highly protected and highly profitable scam. The USDA regulations are abysmal and our state’s laws are worse. So I also formed Iowa Voters for Companion Animals so we could lobby for legislative changes. Our first roadblocks were thrown up by Farm Bureau. I couldn’t believe it. It took a lot of work on our part (gathering USDA inspection data and photos) but it appears that they’ve come to realize that this industry isn’t one they ought to associate with. Now AKC is our primary opponent in our state’s Capitol. I’m shocked and saddened. Their legislative group disseminates false information to breeders in our state; fanning unwarranted flames of fear that we’re out to stop all dog breeding. Don’t people realize how stupid that sounds?? A prior respondents comments on this blog are indicative of the destructive effect that the AKC legislative group has had here.
    Per 2012-2014 data, our state’s pet association, Iowa Pet Breeders Association, has approx 80 USDA-licensees as members. Approx 31% of those breeders have been cited for violations to the Animal Welfare Act. And based on USDA data, these breeders keep a combined 7700 adult dogs. That comes out to an average of 96 dogs each. As evidenced by auction records, many of the dogs in these kennels are AKC registered. With the recent crackdown on breeders by the USDA, along with increased state-level scrutiny, the number of USDA-licensees in our state has gone from 450+ to ~230. Many of these kennels ought to also be put out of business, based on their inspection reports. We’ll continue to work on that.
    The consumer protection aspect of this whole fiasco is astounding. Contrary to one respondents comment, these breeders do indeed stay in business by distributing sick puppies. I receive calls from devastated people every week; they purchase a pup from a pet store or online and it gets sick within hours or days or purchase. Puppy buyers all over this country end up with sickly puppies; costing them hundreds, even thousands, in vet bills. Yet no breeder is held accountable. And just try to verify that these breeders who sell direct are paying sales tax. A majority of them aren’t.
    Don’t reputable breeders see that this commercial industry is polluting the blood lines and contributing to the spread of terrible disease? Canine brucellosis is epidemic!
    Little wonder the AKC is nervous. Their revenues have taken a hit and that’s likely to continue. But they’re likely taking the wrong tack. This industry is dying and they’ll take AKC with them unless AKC leadership sees-the-light sooner rather than later.

  • JA Johnson July 2, 2014 at 2:34 PM

    WOW you really missed big time on this.
    AKC has every right to support whoever and where ever they want. I think it’s great opportunity for AKC; not only to educate large scale commercial breeders but also the general public that their seminars/fairs bring in.
    Don’t forget that according to USDA; anyone owning 4+ intacted females SHOULD be a Commercial breeder. There are thousands running under the radar. with absolutely NO oversight.
    STOP promoting US vs THEM.

  • Lynn O. July 8, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    Anyone who thinks large scale commercial dog breeding is just fine and dandy should attend a dog auction in Missouri. I have personally rescued dogs with every manner of health problem and deformity, as well as simply being a living carcass of an animal from overbreeding with mammarian tumors. They all came from these auctions and were from puppy mill breeders. I’ve gotten dogs with recessed testicles, dogs missing lower jaws, dogs who didn’t know how to walk on grass and were terrified, a male dog with an untreated tumor on his side the size of a softball and the list goes on. And through it all, there was the AKC representative on site with blinders on. What an organization. Champion of dogs? HA! What a laugh. They’ve sold them out.

    Some day, AKC will find its ethics with both hands and realize they’re ruining their own industry. –Lynn O.

  • lunarmagpie lunarmagpie
    stellaluna July 11, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    Richard Berman is quite an interesting person. There is a lot about him to be found online, but here are a couple of basics…

  • Candace Nagle January 15, 2015 at 9:04 PM

    In less than two months, 6,400 people have signed the petition to the American Kennel Club to Limit Registration of Dogs Sold At Auction. Here’s a link to the petition: https://www.change.org/p/american-kennel-club-limit-registration-of-dogs-sold-at-auction?recruiter=10939371&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition
    Just in December and January, 36 AKC breeds will have gone to auction. No breed is safe. Here is the Heartland Auction catalogue of the Jan. 17 auction: http://www.auctionflex.com/showlots.ap?co=4902&weid=53150&weiid=0&archive=n&lso=lotnumasc&pagenum=1&lang=En It’s time for the AKC to limit registration of dogs sold at auction for the betterment of the breed!

  • Christy Degeorgis January 16, 2015 at 9:03 PM

    Can we also address the issue of the AKC having just nine inspectors nationwide? Recently an AKC Breeder of Merit auctioned her dogs to the highest bidder in Missouri. They were in deplorable shape but are now in the hands of rescue. The American public had to step in because AKC inspectors don’t do their jobs. I would also like to see their non-profit status challenged. They are truly a disgusting organization and the better breeders need to break away. They ACK calls itself the champion of dogs but really they are a non profit defending the rights of puppy mills everywhere. Please come join me in my Facebook group, Dog Lovers United Against Puppy Mills.

  • certified vet tech February 16, 2015 at 8:14 PM

    A constantly growing huge demand for pets? That’s why millions of unwanted cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters each year? Oh wait. Those animals are crap products imported from third world countries. What kind of drugs are you on? Have you ever stepped foot in a shelter? Those shelters are full of dogs, a lot of them purebred, that are healthy, loving, loyal, and deserving of a good home. They are not “crap product.” Shelters don’t make a profit. Money is not their motivation. The well being of the animals is. Anyone breeding dogs for profit is not doing is for the love of the dog, is for the love of money. All of my dogs (and cats) have been rescues and have been amazing cats. I will never buy a pet from any breeder.

    Sookey Capote
    There is a constantly growing huge demand for pets, especially cats and dogs, in this country. Either that demand can be filled by highly regulated (state and federal) commercial breeders in conjunction with private hobby breeders, or it can be filled with a totally unregulated black market. The black market consists mostly of shelters filled with dogs imported from third-world countries where farmers raise dogs for the American shelter market. The shelter is mostly unregulated, because it allegedly performs a humane service, whereas the commercial breeder works for a profit.
    Let’s get a few things straight. The commercial breeder wouldn’t stay in business a month if he couldn’t consistently month after month ship to market a healthy, typey, good-natured product, IOW, a nice purebred puppy. The shelter stays in business as long as there are naive buyers to support it with no health screening, no requirements for preventive care, no knowledge of even the breeds of dogs it sells, and rampant disease and bad temperament among its stock.
    Second, the shelter doesn’t worry about being put out of business by animal rightist groups that want to end all domestic animal breeding by enacting restrictive anti-breeder laws. The shelter will stay in business, anyway, selling crap products. The rest of us will be legalized out of business.
    We should be sitting down at the same table as the commercial breeders and figuring out how we can help each other continue to raise and breed sound, healthy dogs. The commercial breeders are skilled lobbyists and skilled fund-raisers. They can look after their own interests a lot better than most of us do.
    So….with whom does out future belong?

  • Candice Spring May 8, 2015 at 9:49 AM

    I was just wondering, do you think that the once beautiful Maltese mommy, after having given birth to a litter of pups after every heat cycle, never checked by a vet, never allowed out of her cage, so skinny and sick she has lost all her once gorgeous fur, at 6 years old has lost her “productivity” and is ready to be killed, will she ever win your coveted best of show? She is a real dog, her name is Hope, she was rescued by Hearts United for animals. There is NO justification for puppy mills. Shame on the AKC. Your standard of the perfect breed, has lost ALL its glory.

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