Monday, June 29, 2009

A Letter to AKC

I've been communicating with the AKC both privately and otherwise since 2003, when I wrote President Dennis Sprung a letter. I wrote Chairman Ron Menaker the next year. Those letters were polite if forceful: I figured they were just not seeing the big picture.

I have tried to be reasonably polite in public since then, although recently I've started to call their leadership 'incompetent' because they still don't seem to get it and this failing seems to me to be willful. It looks like "Yeah, we know we're helping to ruin the future of purebred dogs but so what? We're very well paid and that is what matters to us."

Well, maybe it's something else -- maybe it's "This board of directors is just so bad that we can't do a thing."

You know what? When good people at the top are hamstrung by an incompetent board (or whatever), when they've worked year after year and gotten nowhere, they resign. When you stay at the top of a rotten organization you are part of the problem simply because you are still there. You are keeping the organization from confronting its problems and it begins to look like the only thing that really matters is your paycheck.

At this point I don't think the AKC or its top people deserve our support. We are going to have to live without the AKC anyway, ten years from now: Either they'll have shrunk to where they just register a few thousand purebreds a year for the wealthy, or they'll be working for HSUS. Or -- if they can't downsize fast enough and HSUS doesn't want them -- they'll have vanished. The sooner the dog fancy comes to understand that grim future, the better.

Here's my latest letter to them. I have changed a very few words to clarify and added definitions in one place.


Dear Doglaw:
You really STILL don't get it, do you? If the breeding of purebred dogs is made impossible, then there isn't going to be an AKC. PLEASE, go back and re-read that last sentence. It is difficult for you, I know, but it is the key to everything else, especially YOUR FUTURE.

If the COMMERCIAL breeding of dogs is made illegal -- five states now? Six? And California likely to join them within a few weeks? -- then your efforts to bring commercial breeders back into the AKC fold will have been a total waste of time and money. Illegal breeders may occasionally register with you now, but as the enforcement net tightens, breeding operations go 'moonshine,' and purebred dogs fade, they will stop doing so.

Federations of dog clubs are no more than federations of DOG CLUBS. They start out utterly clueless about legislative matters and the result is that they all fall into the same traps, one by one. When you sit back and say "Oh well, we're just here to support the federations" you are being grossly negligent.

What? Your toddler is playing in your front yard and you let him run into the street because "We're just here to support our kids"?

Probably not, and it's the same for the federations. You should offer training in legislative matters -- not just a cheerful seminar on how useful the AKC is, but actual nuts and bolts of the AR strategy and tactics and how they can best be countered. Then if a federation insists on being at the table by hopping on the table and spreading its legs, you do not have to simply say "Oh, we're just here to support the federations." You should take your own (AKC) position which reflects your own broader concerns, and perhaps knowledge ... well, you could have broader knowledge.

Shame, shame on you for your performance in Tennessee. Enablers, that's what you are. "Federation Honey, I'm so sorry you're an alcoholic. Here's another case of Clueless Lite beer for you." A suggestion: Have someone in the legislative group join the NRA and donate to the NRA-ILA and NRA-PVF as well. That'll get you on the mailing list for everything they do and you'll see how serious organizations do what you dabble in.

[NRA-ILA = Institute for Legislative Affairs -- the lobbying arm NRA PVF = Political Victory Fund -- the PAC]

You know who is more hated than dog breeders? Gun owners. And you know what group has not a single national level candidate in either party who has run recently on a program of restricting its rights? GUN OWNERS.

You know why? Because the NRA has made restriction of gun rights such a hot potato that politicians don't mess with us. We gun owners are actually winning new rights from year-to-year. "Must issue" concealed carry licenses (unless there is a specific reason to do otherwise a locality must issue a CC license on request) are one frontier. (You think you could ever wrap your thinking around a "must issue" home kennel license allowing 10 dogs regardless of local pet limits? No ... I thought not.) 'District of Columbia vs. Heller' established that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own firearms: You think that would have happened without the NRA?

I get mailings from the NRA telling me what to do at least weekly. It's a damn nuisance, but you know what? I DO IT -- at least the part that doesn't cost money -- because I know they are effective and I want to see our rights preserved.

Having to defend breeding rights without substantial help from the AKC because you are too lazy to help yourselves really pisses me off. What will you do when the whole works craters? Are all the resumes there up to date? Or will you be happy working for HSUS, assuming they want your name badly enough to put in the money to keep you afloat?

Or are you counting on us to save your chickens? Hahahaha ... Well, we'll try.

Don't give me that "We don't have the money to defend breeding" rubbish. The NRA MAKES a lot of its money defending gun rights. Dog breeders are crying out for you to do the same and if you could ever get past the clueless stage, you could.

Given the elephantine pace of change at the AKC it's unlikely you could get there in time to save the breeding of purebred dogs but if us grassroots folks are able to do it for you, you could help immensely in the mopping up phase, five or eight years from now.

Walt Hutchens
Timbreblue Whippets