Humane Society Accuses American Kennel Club of Protecting Puppy Mills

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The Humane Society of the United States has released a report calling on the American Kennel Club to reverse course and support efforts to protect dogs from the worst abuses at puppy mills. The report also criticizes AKC for pandering to the interests of large-scale, commercial breeding facilities rather than serving smaller-scale, high-quality breeders who make up the majority of AKC.

The report notes that numerous puppy mill operators who have been charged with animal cruelty have been selling AKC-registered puppies and some of them even passed AKC inspections.

“The American Kennel Club bills itself as ‘The Dog’s Champion,’ but our report shows a pattern of activity that is entirely at odds with that self-description,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “The AKC has opposed more than 80 bills and proposals in the last five years that would have implemented common-sense, humane standards of care at large-scale breeding facilities. We are shocked that a group that should be standing shoulder to shoulder with us is constantly lined up with the puppy mill industry.”

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The report is based on information uncovered during HSUS-assisted raids of puppy mills, AKC “alerts” sent to breeders, materials published on AKC’s website, and AKC’s lobbying activities over the past five years.

Among the findings:

  • Humane organizations have assisted law enforcement in rescuing suffering dogs from large puppy mills whose operators regularly registered dogs with AKC. In just the past six months, this includes three facilities in North Carolina where more than 250 dogs were caged in squalor. Ironically, the AKC’s primary office is located in Raleigh.
  • Over the past five years, AKC has opposed more than 80 different state bills and local ordinances designed to provide stronger protections for dogs in puppy mills. The group has opposed landmark measures enacted in Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon, West Virginia, Texas, Washington, and other states.
  • Since the end of the 1990s, when AKC was facing a boycott of its registry by large-scale, commercial dog breeding facilities, the group has dedicated significant resources to fighting laws that would regulate those facilities.
  • In 2012 alone, AKC asked its supporters to oppose:
    • Laws in several states that would have required puppy producers to comply with basic care standards
    • Legislation in three states that would have prevented the debarking of dogs without a medical reason
    • An ordinance in a Tennessee town designed to prevent dogs from being left in hot cars
    • A Rhode Island state bill to prevent people from chaining or crating a dog for more than 14 hours a day
    • A Louisiana state bill that would have prevented breeding facilities from keeping dogs in stacked, wire-floored cages
  • AKC has attempted to deflect independent regulation of large-scale breeders on grounds that it maintains an internal kennel inspections program, but standards for the program are unclear and its results unpublished. The HSUS report discloses that some puppy mills had been “inspected” by AKC but were still the subject of law enforcement-led rescues—with facility operators later convicted of animal cruelty on account of the poor conditions of their dogs.
  • Most recently, AKC has been lobbying breeders to oppose a proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture rule that would regulate Internet puppy sellers under the federal Animal Welfare Act. AKC’s chair described the regulations as “onerous,” even though the proposal includes exemptions for breeders with fewer than five breeding female dogs as well as breeders who sell only to buyers they meet in person.

While the AKC does have beneficial programs such as an annual Responsible Dog Ownership Day and AKC Companion Animal Recovery disaster relief assistance, these make up just a tiny percentage of AKC’s annual outlays. Therefore, the report calls on AKC to distance itself from the large-scale, commercial dog-breeding industry and return to its original focus of representing small, premium, responsible breeders who belong to national breed clubs, participate in dog shows and other events, and have the welfare of their dogs as their top priority.

The report comes a week before the close of the public comment period on the USDA’s retail pet stores rule, a rule designed to ensure that large-scale puppy producers (like the one in the video above) who sell animals online or by mail or phone sight-unseen be regulated just like the producers who sell to pet stores. Concerned citizens can voice their support for the rule at

0 thoughts on “Humane Society Accuses American Kennel Club of Protecting Puppy Mills”

  1. Really Deborah? Are you making this assumption or do you have actual proof of that? The truth is that the AKC has an inspection program that includes requirements for standards of care.

    • AKC and standards of care in the same sentence. Are you this funny all the time or is this just a lucky shot.

      You mean the same AKC whose breed standards have given us dozens of breeds who are now so physically and genetically screwed up that they can’t do the jobs the breed was originally created for?

      • So Funny, there’s a lot of disagreement within the fancier/breeder community for that very reason. I know that it’s especially strong within the Working and Sporting breeds, with people arguing for a return to standards that match what the dogs were originally meant to do.

        (I personally like this idea. I need some serious brains with my beauty.)

    • I believe Deborah may have personal knowledge as many of us caring dog lovers do. Yes, we know AKC does inspections but unfortunately they don’t or can’t make a dent in the puppy mills!

    • The AKC is so large now…Inspections? Does one really think that every one breeding that fills out a form & sends in their money is going to be inspected? I think not. And what about those inspections. I do not hold much credence in it. At persent, I am reading a true account regarding a gentleman that was well known in the ‘dog world’. He was finally busted by law enforcement. A puppy mill. Book title ‘Saving Gracie’ by Carol Bradley. In short, do not count on the AKC organization to save these dogs. Concerned? Write & call your legislatures…get laws changed. Maybe someday, mills/catteries/ and backyard breeders will be totally outlawed (as they should be).

      • Actually, all puppy mills are governed by the USDA and are inspected by the USDA. Further, most puppy mill puppies sold through retailers are not sold with AKC papers but with other breed registry papers. It’s the USDA that stipulates the requirements of facilities for the mills.

    • I then question the fact that was pointed out in this article – several supposed “inspected” facilities were raided as puppy mills. Have you ever met a puppy-mill breeder dog? They are pitiful things, scared of the ground, people, and so screwed up in the head they’ll never be truly normal dogs.

      I personally have never gotten a dog from a breeder. A purebred dog doesn’t make a better companion than a mutt and if you know how to test out things like herding drive, focus and willingness you can find a mutt that can do any job a purebred can.

  2. I would believe this about the AKC…..even the products for dogs they put their name on fall apart so quick…

  3. If you read the report closely, pay attention to the phrasing. They are careful about how they word their claims of any affiliation between AKC and the puppy mills. Their strongest wording is “AKC paperwork” was found on the premises. The only puppymill that they actually give specific information on was one that was inspected by AKC 2 years prior. 2 yrs is long time for a facility to go downhill. AKC spends about 8 million a year inspecting breeders. How about the fact that HSUS conducts these raids, runs in with HSUS t-shirts and news cameras, loads the dogs in their trucks and then dumps them on the local shelter or rescue groups, along with the bill? When the photos of the seized dogs aren’t “bad enough” they use photos from prior raids in their reports. The proposed USDA regulations WILL shut down the responsible hobby breeders. That’s why AKC has an issue with it.

    • The USDA regulations will not shut down responsible hobby breeders. That is simply false. A responsible breeder does not sell online. Have you ever been to an Amish puppy mill? Right now in Missouri there are dogs sitting in metal crates with now shelter in the sweltering heat. I’ve seen the photos and you can to if you go to The Puppy Mill Project on Facebook. The AKC could care less about these dogs. They are at these Amish auctions papering dogs for the cash. I have friends who have bought dogs at these auctions watching the dogs drug by the neck to the auction block, kicked… and don’t forget the Amish breeder bragging that he doesn’t need a vet, he uses a box cutter and does his own C sections. The fact that the AKC could care less about the conditions in these mills is very evident. Go to an auction and see for yourself.


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