Nor does it affect all breeds or breeders, many of whom are as passionate about health as appearance. But where problems do exist in the U.S., the AKC, which gov- erns the sport of dog showing, and breed clubs, which control the “standards,” have long been in denial. In Sweden and other Nordic coun-

tries, those involved in breeding and show- ing have collaborated on health-conscious breeding strategies for every breed. They have identified 39 breeds as high-risk, in need of special attention. There are approx- imately 780,000 dogs in Sweden, out of which about 70 percent are pedigree dogs and registered with the Swedish Kennel Club (SKK). The organization registers about 50,000 puppies each year. The International Partnership for Dog

(IPFD) is registered in Sweden as a non- profit organization. Its mission is to facili- tate collaboration and sharing of resources to enhance the health, well-being and wel- fare of pedigreed dogs worldwide. The AKC is part of this organization. One would think an organization

dedicated to dogs would enthusiastically support legislation targeting puppy mills. However, the AKC is spending resources a completely different way, and publicly opposing legislation supporting limits on pet store sales. “There’s no responsible breeder—

those are the good guys—that ever sells to a pet store.” said Steve Dale. “So where are pet stores getting their stock? If it’s not the good guys, it’s the bad guys, most notably mass breeders (puppy mills and commer- cial facilities).” More than 200 communities across

the U.S. and Canada—ranging from Chicago to Austin to Toronto to Albuquerque—have legislated that no dogs or cats (and, in some communities, rabbits) can be sold at pet stores. Almost 60 munic- ipalities in Florida have bans as well. In October 2017, California became the first state to ban the sale of animals in pet stores. The AKC uses language on their website like “anti-breeder animal rights extremists” who will ultimately “lead to outright bans on all animal breeding and ownership…” Steve Dale said, in response, “Because

I disdain where pet stores get their puppies, I am now an extremist? Veterinary Professionals Against Puppy Mills, of which I am a co-founder, supports purebred dogs if

they are from responsible breeders.” Also, this from the AKC: “Proponents

make inflammatory allegations about abuses by breeders whom they collectively call “puppy mills.” The proposed solution from animal rights groups to these ills urges banning the sale of purpose-bred pets in lieu of sales of animals obtained from shelters and rescues.” To which Dale responds, “There is

some truth there. Certainly, many people in the movement to ban pet store sales of dogs and cats only seek to support adop- tion and rescues. Others, like myself, sup- port adoption, rescue and responsible breeders. Again, very simply put, no responsible breeder ever sells to a pet store anyway. This is the AKC’s way of scaring breeders by saying people are out to get them. And, sometimes people have been out to get them. But, I’m not one. I am, however, out to get puppy mills.” Do dog shows fuel the puppy mill

industry? Dog shows are a form of enter- tainment enjoyed by countless dog enthu- siasts. Animal welfare advocate Arianna Pittman said, “People love watching differ- ent breeds compete across the show ring. National dogs shows are marketed as promoting “the best of the best” of pure- bred dogs. But some animal advocates believe the shows also help promote over- breeding and puppy mills by encouraging people to purchase purebred dogs based solely on popularity instead of whether the breed is the right fit for them.” The dogs who compete in professional

dog shows are registered with the AKC, and while dog shows and the AKC don’t outright promote puppy mills, the Club has been known to fight pieces of legisla- tion focused on regulating the commercial breeding industry and protecting animals. According to the Humane Society of the United States, the AKC has opposed over 150 proposed laws throughout the U.S. that were introduced to help protect animals from inhumane conditions in breeding facilities and require that problem breeders face tougher consequences for abuse and neglect. Its breeder inspection program has

also been known to have issues, as was demonstrated when an AKC “Breeder of Merit” was arrested and charged with two counts of animal cruelty after 70 dogs were pulled from their breeding facility. The

dogs were found living in a shed that was so filthy, they were forced to stand and lie in their own excrement. Both reputable breeders and puppy

mills use the AKC and other registries. And while registration papers may notate a puppy’s breed and lineage, they don’t guarantee that the puppy came from a place where animals are treated well and raised in humane conditions. You can’t trust an internet site either.

Unless you’re on the property, you don’t know whether what’s being advertised for sale is real. Visiting the breeder on-site is the single most important step in choosing a puppy — purebred or otherwise. At no time should you ever purchase a puppy from anyone who wants to meet you at an offsite location –– like a parking lot or at a flea market.


Sources for this article: Barbara J. Andrews, Editor-in-Chief of

The Dog Press, the first digital dog news site. She has also written for Dog World, Working Dogs, Kennel Review, The Canine Chronicle, AKC Gazette and ShowSight Magazine and has authored eight breed books. Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior con- sultant (CABC) and pet journalist. He is the host of two nationally syndicated radio shows, Steve Dale’s Pet World and The Pet Minute. Amy Fernandez, member of the World Dog Press, past president of the Dog Writers Association of America. Arianna Pittman, animal advocate and freelance writer for One Green Planet. Pete Wedderburn, known as Pete the Vet, is a practicing small animal veterinarian and well known journalist writing and broadcasting about animal welfare, behavior and health.

An excellent article we often refer to, BowWow Ouch, by Benoit Denizet-Lewis, for The New York Times Magazine, November 2011. It is an eye-opening and excellent piece of journalism on the overbreeding of the English Bulldog. For more information on puppy mill

legislation in Florida, visit Animal Defense Coalition at, a 501c4 non-profit created by Michele Lazarow, Hallandale Beach.

Spring 2018 THE NEW BARKER 37

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