Saturday, April 18, 2009

AKC to Mutts - Your Money's Good Enough, But You Still Aren't

The AKC has announced a new program for mixed-breed dogs. From their website:

The mixed breeds program will be implemented in three phases. As of October 1, 209 owners can begin enrolling their pets and receive an AKC ID number.

Then beginning April 1, 2010 enrolled dogs will be eligible to compete in mixed breed classes at stand-alone AKC Agility, Obedience and Rally events. Soon after they will have access to benefits such as discounted AKC Companion Animal Recovery Lost and Found service, a free AKC Canine Good Citizen® certificate for dogs passing the CGC test, a free initial veterinary visit, a trial offer of pet health insurance and discounted coupons for dog supplies.

The third phase will offer a dedicated Web site where dog owners can interact via an online community with discussion forums and access dog care video downloads, advice from experts and the most up-to-date news on canine health and welfare. The site will be continually enhanced with new features and benefits in order to respond to the changing needs of pet owners.

I was excited when I heard, last year, that the AKC was mulling allowing mutts into AKC events which measure skill instead of conformation. I was disappointed to learn they'd decided against that. And now I'm just disgusted. The first and third phases are worthless - an ID number and a website, what riches. The second phase sounds good, but you have to realize what it really means - a pointless political separation. To make it even more desperately pathetic, there will be mutts in the regular rings - if you have a dog who strongly resembles a known breed but have no papers, the dog can be registered with the AKC as an Indefinite Listing Privilege (ILP). So Buddy the AKC-registered Labrador Retriever will be running against Sally the AKC-sanctioned ILP-registration Labrador Retriever who is really a Lab mix whose Spaniel parentage isn't visible, and Rex, is a Lab/Spaniel mix whose spaniel parentage is evident in his silky leg feathering, will be in the next ring over.

I'm sure some people will say this will prevent the unscrupulous from breeding mutts for performance sports (agility and flyball, for example), but that's already happening. - the Border Stack page (Border Collie/Pitbull/Jack Russell mix)
And the Border Stack here (Border Collie/Jack Russel mix)

Kellen Kennels page

And from the poorly named muttpuppiesontrial (nothing wrong with mutts, it's people who create mutts deliberately for cash that should be on trial) blog, a comment on the Border Jack.

(I've heard the arguments for the breeding of non-AKC or non-conformation dogs as long as the breeders were trying for 'working' dogs. I have reservations about those arguments, but that's irrelevant. None of the arguments apply to hobby sports like flyball and agility. Simply put, the desire of Jim Smith to win an agility class is not important enough to start creating a race of agility dogs when thousands of solid agility prospects die in shelters every day. This is not Thoroughbred racing, this is not a ranch filled with sheep who need a herding dog, there is no business and no livelihood to be protected here; this is a hobby.)

So, to get back to the original issue - thanks for nothing, AKC. And a question - if, as you always say, you're "just a registry," without any sort of moral authority or responsibility to the breeders you serve, then how is it that you've arrived at this decision? If you were truly only a registry, you'd be happy to register a Persian cat as long as the owner sent in the fee. God knows you've registered mill puppies sight unseen for decades. And you've been winking at ILP mutts for years too. I wonder if this decision was to protect the good breeders of AKC dogs, or the millers, who use the word 'pure' more often than your average Klansman.

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