American Kennel Club investigator Keith Russell drew applause at a Clermont County Kennel Club, (Ohio) meeting recently when he explained the new humane policy drafted by AKC and told the audience that the registry would suspend privileges of any breeder who donated a dog or puppy to a raffle or auction.
Russell is the regional field inspector for AKC; his job is to check out records, identification, and conditions at breeders' homes, commercial kennels, and pet stores.
The AKC requires breeders to keep detailed records on the dogs they own, breed, and sell in order to maintain the integrity of the stud book. These records specify the origin and lineage of each dog, information that is crucial to keeping purebreds pure and protecting against genetic diseases.
In the past, inspectors were only allowed to check records and identification of dogs. They reported substandard conditions to local humane societies, but they had no authority to withdraw registration privileges as long as those records were in order.
No more; based on a policy approved by the AKC board in early 1997, inspectors can now suspend registration privileges if dogs are in poor condition or if kennel conditions threaten the safety of the dogs.
Russell explained the inspection process. Kennels are chosen for inspection in three ways: if they produce more than five litters a year, if they are the object of a complaint about potential recordkeeping violations, or if the privileges have been suspended pending re-inspection.
Inspectors generally call on breeders, pet stores, and commercial kennels unannounced. They look at the dogs first, then examine the records. If the conditions are poor and the records sloppy or nonexistent, the inspector recommends suspension until the conditions and records are improved.
If the breeder, kennel owner, or shop proprietor refuses to allow the inspector on the property, suspension is automatic.
Re-inspections can be scheduled within 45 days, but inspectors may not get to them for a couple of months. During the period between the inspector's first and second visits, the breeder, kennel, or store cannot breed, sell, or show any of the dogs in his name.
The inspector reports his findings to the AKC board, which determines the length of suspension. Breeders can be suspended for up to 10 years and be assessed with fines of $500 or more.
Suspended breeders are prohibited from registering dogs with AKC, but the organization has no authority to prevent breeders from breeding and selling dogs without registration. Marie Bybee of Cincinnati, Ohio, was suspended from AKC privileges two years before she was charged with animal cruelty. She continued to breed dogs and operate a kennel during that time.
Russell said that pet stores are required to have supplemental transfer forms for the AKC-registerable puppies they buy from private breeders, commercial kennels, or dealers. These transfers go with the puppy at the time of the sale. If for some reason the transfers are not available, the pet store must provide the following information to the buyer: the puppy's breed, sex, color and markings, date of birth, litter number if available, names and numbers of sire and dam, name of breeder, and date sold or delivered.
Pet stores or dealers who sell puppies bred by others must also keep records on all dogs on the premises, including individual identification information and name and address of the person they acquired the dog from; name and address of the person they sold the dog to, the date of birth, the kind of papers involved, and the date the papers were provided.
Dogs may not be registered in store or kennel names; only people can own dogs. The chain of ownership must be traceable; if a dog with AKC papers becomes the property of a shelter or rescue, the papers may not be given to the adopter of the dog but instead should be marked VOID and returned to AKC.
Some charities have included purebred puppies in their auctions and raffles. Donation of a puppy to an auction breaks the chain of ownership and Russell said that AKC will suspend breeders who do so.
Since people at charity auctions are often more interested in supporting the cause than in acquiring a family companion, puppies purchased at auctions or won in raffles frequently go through several homes before they find the right one. A Beagle pup won in a local Cincinnati event nearly two years ago had three homes within two days because neither of the two top bidders really wanted it. WCET-TV (Cincinnati, Ohio) has stopped accepting animals at the annual Action Auction for this reason.
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