Tuesday, February 17, 2009

SCA Letter to AKC Board Regarding the "Futures Program"

(originally bred as watch dogs and vermin killers on boats in Belgium)

Cross-posted from Canine Genetics listserv

Fri Feb 13, 2009 5:18 am (PST)

The following letter has been sent to the AKC Board of Directors from theSchipperke Club of America Board of Directors. The opinions expressed beloware those of the entire board without exception.

Permission is granted to cross post.


February 9, 2009

To: AKC Board of Directors:
The minutes of the December 16, 2008 meeting of the AKC Delegates included a report from the AKC President which outlined a "Futures Program." This program was apparently (according to the report) discussed at previous meetings of the AKC Board of Directors, though no specific mention may be found in those minutes. Specifically, President Sprung stated:

"The first priority of the Future Program is the collection of frozen semen for the breeding of outstanding dogs. The second priority is to generate significant revenue for AKC and has four elements

1. fully subsidize all program expenses;

2. fund an endowment to ensure its continuation;

3. be significantly profitable to AKC;

4. provide any residual income to benefit existing programs - for example: CHF, Museum, the Humane Fund and legislative initiatives. The program will benefit our entire fancy for generations and is a worthy reason why it should be supported. Financing will be similar to other sports organizations. It will be through the establishment of an annual activity fee for each dog exhibited, set at approximately $25.00, the cost of a single entry."

The Schipperke Club of America strongly disapproves of this plan and submits the following points for careful consideration: The $25 "activity fee" is actually a "pay to play" plan, an additional fee for the privilege of paying fees to enter AKC events. This proposed $25 fee per dog exhibited per year amounts to a tax on the already rapidly rising cost of exhibiting dogs. It is yet another example of the increased fees imposed upon clubs and individuals to host and exhibit in AKC events. Add to this the changes in requirements to host dog shows (which were not approved by the Delegates) which result in increased expenses for the AKC licensed and sanctioned clubs and it becomes an increased burden. There is a point of diminishing returns, which might just be reached sooner than the planners predict. Some points to consider would be who will keep track of which dogs have "paid for the year" and how many additional staff will be required to implement and maintain the records? This attempt to extract the "gift that keeps on giving" may well result in exhibitors turning to events offered by the UKC and CKC. The collection and maintenance of frozen semen "for the breeding of outstanding dogs" would be a nightmare to administer. The determination of those deemed worthy of collection by any group of individuals would be difficult at best, considering the politics of the dog show game. Two issues of great concern are the ownership of the stored semen and the recipients to whom it would be made available. The private sector currently offers owners the option to freeze and store semen of dogs they own and to control the release of that semen. Under the AKC plan, who would own the frozen semen and determine its recipients? The answer is presumed to be AKC. A frozen semen program based upon "top dogs" could perpetuate the "popular sire syndrome". Specifically, genetic diversity within a breed is advisable in order to insure the long term health and well being of the breed. Would AKC take upon itself the responsibility for health testing of the semen donor? What about health testing for the bitch recipient of the semen? What about genetic testing for conditions that were not available at the time of donation but were identified later, before frozen semen was released? The liability for all of this deserves further exploration. The AKC Board of Directors, over the last several years, has shown an increased desire to associate with commercial breeders. This position is one generally opposed by the breeder/exhibitor and the all-breed and parent breed clubs to which they belong. The codes of ethics of most AKC memberclubs actually stipulate that such associations are undesirable at best. ThePetland contract is but one example of the business alliance favored by some members of the AKC Board of Directors. Many in the dog world believe that the issue is not over. Delegate Pat Laurans addressed the September 9, 2008 meeting of the Delegates as follows:"I wish that we had been provided with more information regarding thePetland issue. If we had, I think that the reaction might have been different. I still do not believe that we have been provided with information as to whether there is a contract, whether there will be registration done by the employees in Petlands, and whether Petland is the only pet chain store that you are interesting in targeting. I am still not ready to take back all of my reservations, and I hope that we will hear more in terms of how and if you are going to pursue this at any cost. The President's response to me was: "Pat, it is not at any cost. We are not going to go away from our care and conditions or any of our policies.Nothing will be lessened or lowered. There are no contracts and there is no exclusivity to any other group or chain."It should not go unnoticed that the AKC Board passed a motion, at its August 2008 meeting, "to direct management to aggressively pursue all registerable dogs in the commercial sector where all AKC rules, regulations, and policies are followed and to authorize the Chairman and the President to take all necessary steps to provide for the support of management and staff to pursue this objective." The Fancy will be watching anxiously to see what exactly will be pursued as a result of this motion. It is understandable that the AKC Board of Directors is concerned about its decreased revenue due to decreased registration. The Schipperke Club ofAmerica, as an AKC member club, understands the implications this fact has on the future of the Fancy. However, rather than court the commercial breeders, we suggest other avenues be pursued. One example would be the"mixed breed program" which President Sprung presented to the Delegates at their June 9, 2008 meeting as follows (emphasis added):"As you will recall, I presented a blank page at the December 2006 Delegates Meeting concerning the possibility of creating a listing service for mixed spayed and neutered dogs and, further, to explore the possibility of their being eligible to compete in separate classes at Companion Events. After a great deal of input from the Delegate body and many others, that page became partially full. Staff has addressed this issue with the Delegates on six previous occasions prior to today and we are appreciative of your input. The reasons to offer this voluntary participation program are:1. Enhance AKC's ability to influence legislation;2. Promote responsible dog ownership to a larger audience;3. Advocate on behalf of more dog owners;4. Educate more people to become involved in AKC events, and share the joys and passion of participating in Companion Events, potentially motivatingthem to add a purebred to their family; 5. Improve AKC's image with the public, veterinary schools, veterinarians,elected officials and shelters;6. Increase opportunities for sponsorships with endemic and non-endemic corporations;7. Allow AKC to attract a growing market that is already being served by competitive registries;8. Reach out to the more than 50,000 4-H participants who own and train mixed dogs;9. Create an additional revenue source, which is the least of our concerns. In my opinion, a program of this nature should serve to advance our overall objectives and not take us off course."This "mixed breed proposal" was disapproved by the AKC Board of Directors at its August 2008 meeting. The AKC Delegates overwhelmingly supported a resolution at their September meeting that "the AKC Board of Directors reconsiders its decision not to pursue the creation of a mixed-breed listing and, in particular, for allowing spayed and neutered mixed-breed dogs to participate in AKC companion events." The Schipperke Club of America urges the AKC Board to consider the sentiment of the Delegates on this issue. Finally, several burning questions must be asked regarding the assertion that "the (Futures) program will benefit our entire fancy for generations" .1. Would the AKC sell the frozen semen acquired from top dogs, paid for by the proposed activity fee imposed by AKC upon every dog exhibited everyyear? 2. Would the buyers of that semen include commercial breeders? 3. Would the owners of those dogs who provided semen for the program be compensated? 4. Would the owners of those top dogs be obligated to furnish semen asa result of paying a participation fee? 5. Would this not be placed upon the backs of the event exhibitors? We are not in favor of this sort of socialized dog breeding program. While this might provide incentive to commercial breeders to register their product with AKC, it would certainly cede control of the individual studowner to the AKC.

For the Board of Directors:Donna Kenly, PresidentOlga Joanow, Vice PresidentMelissa Chonos, TreasurerMark Antonucci, DirectorAmy Gossman, DirectorAmy Halterman, DirectorBeverly Henry, DirectorUrsula Hutton, DirectorFrances Keyes, DirectorMaryann Simanek, DirectorMelody Mischel Stockton, DirectorBetty Jo Patrick, AKC DelegateSigned:Lee Ann StusnickSecretary Schipperke Club of AmericaCc: Dennis Sprung, AKC President & CEOJames P. Crowley, AKC Executive Secretary

Forwarded here by J B Reed

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