Second Chance: Worst in Show

Second Chance: Worst in Show

As a gorgeous Black & Tan Coonhound I’ve dreamt of competing in the Westminster Dog Show. This national competition of breeders and trainers has been a popular event for years. But not so much for dog lovers anymore. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has recently exposed the fact that, sadly, one of the major players at Westminster is not what the public might ever imagine.

Willow hound

Willow hound

In order to compete at Westminster, dogs must be registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC), which holds itself out as “the dog’s champion.” But according to an HSUS investigation, the AKC regularly fights laws designed to stop puppy mills and protect against animal cruelty. When the HSUS’ 2012 report was published, the AKC had opposed more than 80 different laws around the country that would protect dogs from puppy mills. Since then, that number has climbed to more than 150.

Through its political action committee (PAC), the AKC has funneled thousands of dollars in donations to some of the most aggressively anti-animal welfare politicians in the country. Why?  Simply put, the more dogs registered with the AKC, the richer the organization gets. Therefore the organization’s PAC fights many laws that would protect dogs. The more puppies high-volume breeders produce and then register with the AKC, the better for the AKC’s bottom line.

Additionally it is being reported that two former AKC “Breeders of Merit”— who had just passed their AKC inspections —were found to be keeping dogs in dismal conditions. The AKC says that it inspects its high-volume breeders. But the cases of those former “Breeders of Merit” indicate its inspection system is broken.

One breeder pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges. The other sold more than 100 AKC King Charles Cavalier spaniels at a dog auction in the heart of puppy mill country, just as public complaints began to mount about her dogs’ living conditions.

This isn’t a new problem. In 2012, an AKC “champion” malamute breeder was charged with animal cruelty after 161 emaciated and diseased malamutes were found on his property. Under oath, he testified he felt confident he was obeying all laws and the stricter AKC rules, since an AKC inspector had twice recently found him to be in compliance. He was convicted of 91 counts of animal cruelty and sentenced to 30 years in prison with 25 suspended.

Many AKC-registered pups sold at pet stores and online later turn out to be sick or have expensive, painful genetic defects. The same is true for other dog registration organizations, such as APRI (America’s Pet Registry, Inc), the CKC (Continental Kennel Club) and others. But because the AKC and its member clubs sponsor many Best in Show competitions such as Westminster, consumers are duped into thinking AKC papers denote a healthy, well-treated animal. But these days, AKC papers guarantee nothing in terms of animal care—nothing about a dog’s health, quality, behavior, or even whether the pup’s parents were kept in humane conditions.

I hope the AKC will one day shift its focus to supporting humane, quality breeders. But in spite of rhetoric about caring for the health and welfare of dogs, it’s been moving in the opposite direction.  AKC may be the largest and richest dog registry in America, but it can no longer lay claim to being “the dog’s champion.”

That’s why I’m giving the AKC the Worst in Show award. I have lost all interest in ever participating in the Westminster event and instead, aiming my sights on Second Chance’s upcoming Wine & Whiskers Weekend (March 10 & 12).  The word is that pure American Shelter Dog registered dogs like me will get our turn to strut the catwalk during the evening’s highlight, the Fashion Cabaret.

(Unless I am adopted first…).


Editor’s note: It’s no secret. The Telluride region is dog heaven. Well, pet heaven. Unless you are one of our furry friends who gets caught in the maw of neglect and abuse. Then heaven is on hold until Second Chance Humane Society comes to the rescue. Second Chance is the region’s nonprofit dedicated to saving animals’ lives and promoting responsible pet parenting and human-animal bond. In her weekly blog, executive director Kelly Goodin profiles at least one, generally two of the many animals now living at the no-kill shelter, Angel Ridge Shelter, a dog and a cat, hoping to find them loving permanent homes. The column is sponsored by Ted Hoff of Cottonwood Ranch & Kennel, who from time to time exercises his skills as a dog whisperer, partnering with Kelly and her staff to help train a particularly challenging animal.

Ted Hoff & Mae

Ted Hoff &  Magnificent Mae

By the by, there is no better place to park your pup than Cottonwood whenever you head out of town (for locals) or are heading to town and staying somewhere that does not allow pets. Consider joining Ted’s Very Important Dog (VID) Club for added benies. (Details on Ted’s website.)

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shop are both located in Ridgway, but service San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other Programs. View the shelter pets and services online:

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