Report on the December 2021 AKC Delegates Meetings
To: Lara Hill, Peg Shaw, Kathy Nusz, Ten-y Smalley, Carolyn Stmnge, Karen Cooper, Patricia Buckelew, Dr. Sophia Kaluzniacki, Bev Fen-is, Tara Richardson, and Shelley Hennessy
From: Neil H. Butterklee, Esq.
Date: December 27, 2021
As the American Chinese Crested Club’s (“ACCC”) new delegate to the American Kennel Club (“AKC”), I participated in the December 16 and 17, 2021 meetings of the AKC Delegates in Orlando, Florida. Committee meetings were held on Thursday, December 16th and the official Delegates meeting was held on Friday, December 17th. This report is a summary of significant events from those meetings.
Among the highlights, the AKC Delegates approved a rule change that would give clubs the option to divide the Bred-by-Exhibitor Class into Puppy (which are dogs that are six-months of age but under twelve-months of age) and Adult. Previously, puppies and adult dogs had to be shown together in Bred-by. This rule change will take effect on March 29, 2022.
Both the Canine Health Committee (“CHC”) and the Parent Club Committee held discussions of the AKC’s efforts to form a Semen Preservation Bank for breeds that are rare or endangered to keep those breeds from disappearing. The AKC is looking for parent clubs to support this effort by creating technical standards for the use of the donated sperm. In response to my questions, AKC staff indicated that they anticipate that the spe1m bank could be up and running in six to 12 months.
The CHC also rep01ied on the problem that breeders are having with veterinarians who insist on spaying a mother dog if that dog needs a Caesarian section. The AKC, aided by CHC committee members, has been conducting outreach to veterinarian schools to explain the drawbacks of spaying an othe1wise healthy show dog.
At the Parent Club Committee meeting, the committee indicated that it has identified several best practices for parent clubs and that it would be developing webinars for each topic.
The AKC Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”) stated that for the nine months ended September 23, 2021, the AKC rep01ied approximately $78 million in operating revenues and approximately $44 million in operating expenses.
Highlights of the Individual Committee Meetings
On Thursday, the following delegate committees met (or attempted to meet): Canine Health, Parent Club, Dog Show Rules, All Breed, Campion Events, Delegate Advocacy, Bylaws, Field Trial and Hunting, Herding, Earthdog, and Coursing, and Coordinating Committee.
The Canine Health Committee meeting covered several grounds. First, it reviewed the report of the Canine Health Foundation (“CHF”). Dming 2021 the CHF awarded 50 research grants totaling $3.4 million. Included in these grants are studies on heart failure, drugs to reduce risk of pancreatitis and other complications associated with diabetes, and a study to dete1mine the safe dose for the use of CBD oil to reduce seizures.
Second, the CHC along with AKC Staff provided an update on the AKC’s progress in developing a Semen Preservation Bank. This project will create a semen bank for breeds that are rare or endangered in order to keep those breeds from disappearing. It was mentioned that the Otterhound Breed Club has had a semen bank up and running for about five years. In response to my question, AKC Staff indicated that they were looking into the lessons learned from the Otterhound Breed Club’s efforts. The AKC is working on creating a 501(c)3 organization to run this effort and hopes to get this up and running within a year. Parent clubs that participate in this effort will be able to create technical standards for the use of the sperm, which will be made available to breeders for a fee. It was noted several times that this is not meant to be a for profit spend bank or one that competes with other sperm banks, rather it is intended to be a long-term method of preserving dog breeds.
Third, the CHC and AKC Staff mentioned that the AKC Marketplace is having some computer issues. Some of the information for individual breeds on the AKC Marketplace may not be up to date or accurately synced with other info1mation on the website. There is a delay between the submittal of new information to the AKC and the listing of that info1mation on the website. The AKC is aware of this and is working to fix the website.
Fourth, it was noted that venture capitalists have been buying vet practices and that has been influencing how dogs are being cared for especially during the breeding stages. Some of the vets in corporate practices been telling breeders that if a dog needs a Caesarian section it has to be spayed. These vets say that they have learned this in vet school. AKC staff noted that vets are legally allowed to say this, but they cannot spay a dog without the owner’s permission. If a breeder is unhappy with a specific vet, their recourse (unfortunately) is to find another vet. Key here is to be a strong advocate for your dog. The CHC and AKC have been including this issue in their outreach to vet schools.
Finally, the CHC discussed low entiy breeds. About 50% of breeds are considered by the AKC to be low entry breeds. AKC considers a breed to be a low-entry breed if there were less than 3,500 entries in all-breed shows in the prior year. This means that a lower number of dogs is required for a major. The average requirement for a major is now six dogs. Looking at this from the perspective of the number of AKC events with a breed entiy, in 2019 the Chinook breed only had an entry in nine events out of a total of 1,443 events. By contrast, Labrador Retrievers had an entry in 1,423 events. Chinese Cresteds are not considered to be a low entry breed since we had more than 3,500 entries in 2019. In addition, we had dogs entered in 1,368 events in 2019.
The Parent Club Committee received a report from its best practices subcommittee which developed a series of best practices on the following topics: corporate structure and governance, judge’s education, club insurance and finances, juniors, club governance and elections, club websites, staging national specialties, membership, looking toward the future, and health regulations. The committee is planning to hold webinars on these topics in the future.
The committee discussed a recent survey regarding parent club membership.
Approximately 35% of the parent clubs that responded rep01ted an increase in membership, 45% reported a decrease, 16% repmted no change, and 4% did not respond to this question. No parent clubs reported incentivizing members to bring in new members. Additionally, most parent clubs reported that they do not actively recruit or seek to bring in new members.
AKC staff discussed Pup Date, which is a newsletter that is sent to all new AKC puppy registrants and subscribers. It provides new AKC registered puppy owners with information regarding puppy ownership. Currently, Pup Date has 725,000 subscribers. The issue here is that parent clubs have to reach out to the AKC to participate in this program. According to the AKC, Pup Date provides free advertising for parent clubs and is a good way to get new members.
Thirty breed clubs have already signed up for this. The American Chinese Crested Club has not signed up.
The Dog Show Rules Committee continued its ongoing debate over what happens when a person or the show committee complains about the health or condition of a dog at a competition. Among the issues debated at the meeting were: (a) who pays for the cost of a vet exam (whether it be on or off the show grounds); (b) who pays for the cost of having a vet on the grounds; (c) what happens if the complaint turns out to be false; and (d) should an exhibitor get to complain about the health of another exhibitor’s dog or should such complaints be limited to the show committee? In addition, AKC staff voiced its concern about having too many false complaints based on rnmors. Unfortunately, nothing was resolved and so the Committee did not propose any changes to the current rules.
Discussion at the All-Breed Club Committee centered on Club membership and the benefits of clubs having a meet and greet event to attract new members. There was also a discussion on the importance of teaching club members and club committee chairs about stewarding.
The Companion Events Committee is studying the issue of allowing three-legged dogs in field events.
The Delegate Advocacy Committee discussed expanding the new delegate orientation to a meet and greet event with AKC staff. They also discussed presenting the New Delegate Handbook at a delegates meeting, producing a new video that reviews the responsibilities of delegates, and developing a mentor training program.
The Field Trial Committee gave a presentation on a detection dog program and discussed retriever breeds that have low entries in events.
At the Herding, Earthdog and Coursing Committee a motion was passed to assign scent work to this committee and change the name of the committee to Herding, Earthdog, Coursing, and Scent Dog Events. This motion will now be forwarded to full delegate body for a vote at the next meeting.
During the Coordinating Committee meeting, AK.C Staff noted that its brand is doing well especially due to its relationship with the Disney and ESPN networks. Several new AK.C shows will be broadcast on those two channels. The AK.C will be hosting Meet the Breeds in several cities around the countiy in 2022.
Finally, the Bylaws Committee did not have a quorum, so no official committee business was conducted.
Highlights of the Official AKC Delegate Meeting
Introductions and Reports
The official meeting of the AK.C Delegates took place on Friday, December 17th. The substantive portion of the meeting started with an introduction of and a short speech by the three cui-rent AK.C Board Members who are running unopposed for reelection. They are:
Christopher L. Sweetwood, Delegate, Trap Falls Kennel Club;
Harold “Red” Tatro III, Delegate, Fort Worth Kennel Club; and
Ann Wallin, Delegate, Atlanta Kennel Club.
This was followed by the introduction of the new AK.C Delegates including me.
AK.C Chairman Dr. Thomas M. Davies’ remarks focused on the outreach that the AK.C is currently engaging in. He noted that the AKC is actively engaging with the public to educate folks about pure bred dogs. Additionally, the AKC is actively lobbying various groups and organizations (such as the U.S. Police Canine Association) to demonstrate how well pure-bred dogs can bond with people and provide necessary services such as K.9 working dogs. He stated that the AK.C developed the canine detection competition, which ties into the notion that working canines relate directly to the AK.C’s goal to help encourage the breeding of more pure-bred canine detection dogs. To that end, the AK.C sta1ied the AK.C Detection Dog Task Force to increase the availability of U.S. bred canine detection working dogs to work in national security and police work. Dr. Davies concluded his remarks by stating that “no matter how much money you may or may not have, having a dog will make you rich.”
AK.C President Dennis B. Sprung stated that there are not enough pure-bred dogs. He also stated that the AKC is working to protect the rights of pure-bred dog breeders and expand junior showmanship.
The President’s report was followed by a summary of the 2021 interim financial results by the AKC CFO Ted Phillips. Mr. Phillips stated that as of November there were 245,718 litter registrations in 2021 which is 17% higher than the 2020 figure of 209,756. There were 619,718 dog registrations in 2021. Registrations represent 45% of AKC revenues. For the nine months ended September 23, 2021, the AKC reported approximately $78 million in operating revenues and approximately $44 million in operating expenses. The AKC has approximately $172 million in total assets of which $135 million is held in cash.
Dr. Charles Garvin, the CEO of the CHF, stated that the AKC has invested more than
$3.4 million in the CHF for 50 new canine health matters. The CHF awarded five new veterinarian residencies and CHF researchers discovered the gene that causes dwarfism in Great Pyrenes. Darin Collins, DVM was introduced as the new CEO of CHF and Jennifer McLay, DVM was introduced as the new Chief Scientific Officer of the CHF. Dr. Garvin also presented the CHF’s 2021 Awards to the Australian Health and Genetics Institute, Retriever News/Entry Express, and Dr. Duane and Connie Butherus.
The following items were approved by the AKC Delegates:
A rule change that would give clubs the option to divide the Bred-by-Exhibitor Class into Puppy (which are dogs that are six-months of age but under twelve-months of age) and Adult. Previously, puppies and adult dogs had to be shown together in Bred-by. This rule change will take effect on March 29, 2022.
The acceptance of the Dog De Bordeaux Club of America as a new parent club.
Edits to three sections of the Charter and Bylaws of the American Kennel Club to remove superfluous language and clean-up language inconsistencies.
Edits to two sections of the Rules Applying to Dog Shows to provide examples of how the age of a dog is calculated for the purpose of dog show entries.
The next meeting of the AKC Delegates will be on March 7 and 8, 2022 at the Double Tree Hotel in Newark. The March 8th meeting will be the official annual meeting of the AKC Delegates.
This concludes my report.
Respectfully submitted, Neil H. Butterklee, Esq.