New York, NY – This month I would like to focus on a program which is integral to preserving the integrity of our registry and greatly affects our reputation both with our core constituency and the general public – AKC Inspections and Investigations (I&I).
As fanciers, we often concern ourselves with the differences between how hobby breeders raise their dogs versus how commercial breeders do so. While there is much distinction and contrast between the two in terms of their end goals, through our I&I program the AKC upholds clear standards concerning breeding and record keeping as well as the care and conditions of all dogs registered with us.
Our I&I department falls within the Compliance division, along with DNA Operations, Compliance Support and Case Management. In 2003, our staff of 13 field inspectors conducted approximately 4,800 inspections of dog kennels, individual breeders and pet stores and is on track to complete the same number or greater in 2004. This makes us unique. The AKC is the only purebred dog registry in the world that maintains a systematic and sustained effort to ensure compliance with standards that support the health, safety and welfare of dogs and the environment in which they are maintained.
The board’s recognition of the importance of this work led to the approval of new hires this year, rounding out the total number of field inspectors to 15. While we are always seeking to increase the number of inspections we conduct annually, we don’t lose sight of the fact that there are ways to continually improve the process and communicate our ideals as an organization to the individuals we meet with.
For instance, our First Time Inspections program now provides instruction to customers who have never before been inspected on how to comply with AKC rules and regulations. Increasing their understanding of AKC standards allows them to improve breeding practices before penalties are brought against them. Immediately suspending those not in compliance creates a disincentive for breeders to register with us, resulting in a loss of the customer to an alternate registry that maintains no requirements or standards – this doesn’t help the AKC or the dogs.
Recently, there have been numerous occasions where AKC inspection records have helped local authorities take action against those who violate animal welfare laws and on behalf of puppy buyers who are victims of fraud or irresponsible breeding practices. Working closely with animal control and law enforcement allows the AKC to heighten awareness of our standards while amplifying the scope of our influence.
By maintaining high standards and utilizing the one-on-one customer contact that our inspections program allows, we have an incredible opportunity to impact the welfare of all purebred dogs registered with us. We continue to use our resources to the best of our ability and raise the standards of what puppy buyers expect from an AKC registered dog. I am proud of our efforts thus far and know that the board and staff will remain committed to seeking ways to further enhance our I&I program.