Choosing a dog can be a challenging task, and though there are many shelters and rescue organizations with dogs that need homes, some people choose to go through a breeder thinking that they they are more likely to get a healthy dog and know more about it’s history. For this, a great many people rely on the American Kennel Club (AKC) for breeder recommendations, operating under the assumption that when the AKC endorses a breeder it means that breeder is taking excellent care of their dogs, following a high health standard, and indeed breeding healthy animals.
Evidence is mounting that this is not the case at all, that in fact certification by the AKC means very little, except that the breeder in question has paid a a fee to the AKC. When Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States was asked whether seeing “AKC approved” on a breeders website or facility meant you were getting a healthy, humanely raised dog he said this “Absolutely not. It really is just a piece of paper without any value for dog welfare.”
Lillian Devera found this out first hand when she bought a puppy from what she thought was a reputable breeder, with an “AKC-inspected” kennel. Instead she got “A very sick puppy.” The dog had intestinal parasites, an upper respiratory infection and a congenital eye defect, though records showed that the facility had been inspected only weeks before. Law enforcement went in 2 months later and rescued over 20 dogs.
This is not an isolated incident. It turns out that the AKC has only 9 inspectors on staff, for the entire United States. When asked, they refused to comment on what percentage of breeders actually get inspected, though they did say they had conducted 55,000 inspections since 2000. The AKC is also known to have opposed laws that would regulate breeders based on the number of dogs they have, and require new standards or inspections.
When asked why, Lisa Peterson, Director of Communications for the AKC said, “We oppose breeder limit laws, because it’s not the number of dogs that you own, it’s the care and conditions in which they’re kept.” But evidently that is not well regulated either.
So, when it comes time to add a canine to your family, do the research as you would for any large purchase. Even though a dog doesn’t cost as much as a car or a house, it is a family member. Check out the facility yourself, talk to people who have gotten dogs from that breeder, and if the breeder won’t share information or let you tour the kennels, think twice about getting a dog from them.