Don’t Let the American Kennel Club Pander to Puppy Mill Interests

Target: Chairman of the Board of the American Kennel Club Alan Kalter

Goal: Take a stand against cruel puppy mills by supporting common-sense legislation to improve the welfare of commercially bred dogs.

The American Kennel Club (AKC), the world’s largest purebred dog registry, has been under fire for failing to protect dogs from horrific abuses at large-scale commercial breeding facilities, commonly referred to as “puppy mills.” Although the majority of AKC members are smaller, high-quality breeders, the organization has been giving in to pressure from puppy mill breeders, and has actively opposed over 80 bills and proposals in the last five years that would have ensured humane standards for large-scale commercial breeders. The AKC must reverse its course in order to ensure that innocent dogs aren’t suffering at the hands of callous puppy mill breeders.

Shockingly, some puppy mill breeders charged with animal cruelty passed AKC inspections, clearly demonstrating the organization’s reluctance to take a stand against these irresponsible breeders. In the late 1990s, large-scale, commercial dog breeding facilities threatened to boycott the AKC registry and since then, it has dedicated significant resources to fight against laws that would regulate those facilities.

Examples of regulations the AKC asked its supporters to oppose in 2012 include laws in several states that would have forced puppy producers to comply with basic animal care standards, legislation in three states that would have prohibited debarking for non-medical purposes, an ordinance in Tennessee that would have prevented dogs from being left in hot cars, and a Louisiana bill that would have banned breeding facilities from keeping dogs in stacked wire cages.

The AKC calls itself “The Dog’s Champion,” but with such opposition to basic animal welfare standards, it’s hard to see how the organization puts the dog before the moneyed interests of irresponsible puppy mill breeders. Tell the AKC to sit its priorities straight and return to supporting small, premium breeders who put their dog’s best interest first.


Dear Mr. Kalter,

I am shocked to learn that your organization actively advocates against basic animal care standards for large-scale, commercial dog breeding facilities. Although a majority of your members are small-scale, high-quality breeders who put their dogs’ best interest first, you continue to be influenced by the moneyed interests of irresponsible puppy mill breeders.

It’s no secret that these large-scale facilities threatened to boycott your registry in the late 1990s. Since then, the AKC has actively opposed regulating these breeders.

Your opposition to common-sense animal care standards is outrageous. How could any animal-oriented group oppose an ordinance that would prevent dogs from being left in hot cars, or the banning of debarking for non-medical purposes? It’s clear where your interests lie.

The AKC hails itself as “The Dog’s Champion,” but because of your opposition to over 80 common-sense animal care bills in just the last five years, you’re a champion to no dog. That honor belongs to the humane societies and animal welfare organizations that work tirelessly to protect dogs, rather than moneyed interests. It’s time to set your priorities straight and return to supporting small-scale, responsible breeders.


[Your Name Here]

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  1. These puppy mills must end. why do they persist, with all the awareness?

  2. George Eigenhauser says:

    This rule change isn’t just about dogs being sole on the Internet. It covers anyone, including rescue, who places pets for a fee. The only ones exempt are municipal shelters. USDA says they aren’t targeting rescue groups and not to worry but the literal language of the regulations still prevent rescue groups from doing offsite placements such as adoption vans, temporary displays at shopping malls, etc. Protecting the health of dogs is good. Writing such bad regulations that they require rescue groups to get federal licenses goes too far. They need to withdraw this proposal and talk to people who work with animals to write something that fixes the problem without impacting people who love animals.

    • Are you kidding? Everyone involved should be regulated. Apparently, we can’t just trust people to treat animals with basic humane care on their own. If any rescue shelters have an issue with such an “inconvenience” then they don’t care about animal welfare in the first place. Sorry buddy… There’s just not any gray area here.

  3. In response to concerns about thousands of dogs who are denied basic humane care at large-scale commercial breeding facilities, The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published a proposed rule that would close a gaping loophole in the Animal Welfare Act regulations. The rule would require large-scale breeding facilities that sell puppies sight-unseen over the Internet, by phone, or by mail to be licensed and regularly inspected for basic humane care standards. The USDA is seeking public comments on the proposed rule, and you can submit comments here. :!submitComment;D=APHIS-2011-0003-0001 Please take a moment to speak up for puppy mill dogs!

    • Julie Blackwelder says:

      Educate yourself. Inspections by the USDA are a joke. Do some research online. Learn how to look at copies of the actual USDA inspection reports and the pictures documenting some of the findings, that is when the inspector has the guts to report the truth. I advise you to do it on an empty stomach and early in the day. I was nauseated and did not sleep well for several nights after viewing only a few.

  4. Laura McFarland-Taylor says:

    Under the proposed regulations dog breeders who maintain more than four females biologically capable of having puppies and who sell a puppy to just one person at a distance would be regulated as commercial breeders under the proposed regulations. But it goes further than that: the regulation would control breeders who sell online with 4 or more females of ANY SPECIES. So, if someone breeds rabbits and dogs and has four females that COULD be bred (again, they don’t have to actually be bred), this would affect them. Included in the count are any animals that are co-owned (very common among show dogs) and that don’t even live on your property.

    As a sample of the unrealistic requirements that would be applied to small home-based breeders – Section 3.1. of the regulations requires that:

    “Animal areas inside of housing facilities must be kept neat and free of clutter, including equipment, furniture, and stored material, but may contain materials actually used and necessary for cleaning the area, and fixtures or equipment necessary for proper husbandry practices and research needs.”

    Obviously, a home contains furniture and stored material and other equipment not related to animal care. A private home is not an acceptable licensed “animal area” under the proposed regulations. Most home-based breeders will not be able to have a separate animal facility or “animal area”, and will be unable to comply with this regulation. If they can’t comply with ANY ONE PART of the proposed regulations, they can not only lose their license, but can be fined. And fines can go up to $10,000.

    This proposed regulation will have NO effect on ‘bad breeders’ because nearly 100 percent of the impact will fall on people who are now in full compliance (most of them GOOD breeders) but who will be reported by animal rightists, do-gooders, or people with personal grudges causing APHIS to fine them for the purely technical violation of not being licensed when they had over four breeding females – again, includes all pet-type animals on their premises and co-owns – AND delivered a sold animal at a show, to the new owner’s home, or at some other mutually convenient place.

    In case you think this won’t affect you, think again: the regulations WILL also apply to RESCUES and breeders of many different species, not just dogs, including: cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, gophers, chinchilla, domestic ferrets, DOMESTIC FARM ANIMALS, birds, and coldblooded species.

    Please make your comments in opposition here:!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2011-0003-0001

  5. Kristin Harkness Kristin Harkness says:


    I’m not sure where it says in my petition that all breeders are puppy mills. In fact, I advise that the AKC returns to supporting high quality small-scale breeders. Of course the AKC isn’t going to outright oppose humane care practices–it would be suicide for them. But the AKC did outright oppose legislation banning leaving dogs in hot cars and banning 24/7 dog chaining, this I find confusing. I can’t speak to each and every piece of legislation, but the bottom line is that it’s the puppy mills we’re trying to go after. The USDA doesn’t currently have enough agents even to inspect all the puppy mills, so how are small breeders going to be at risk? In order to determine the effectiveness of the legislation, it is best to look into its history. Take Pennsylvania, after the dog law was enacted there, 3 dozen kennels lost privileges since 2002, including some of the most notorious puppy mill breeders. (AKC had no part in reporting these cruelties.) However, the number of small breeders remained unchanged. Something needs to be done to combat puppy mills and small breeders have nothing to worry about. The AKC doesn’t want to lose money, as is obvious from their change in stance after the 1990s boycott. (They used to support this type of legislation.) And please don’t group me in with animal rights activists–although I personally would rather find my next pet at a shelter, I have no issues with small scale breeders who care about the welfare of their animals.



    • Kristin Harkness Kristin Harkness says:

      And please take notice of my petition’s goal: to get the AKC to support smaller premium breeders rather than puppy mills. I was not advocating for the passage of any specific legislation, so I’m not sure why everyone is citing such detailed legislation.

  6. Eileen Goodman says:

    Puppy mills are nothing more than factories, propelled by
    greed. They are prison camps for dogs, and
    the owners are inhumane. It’s time to close them down for good.
    Here in Pa. (one of the worst states for animal rights)… the regulations are ignored, and the tragedy goes on.

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