In the wake of one of the largest puppy mill cruelty convictions in history involving an American Kennel Club ‘Champion’ breeder, and with Saturday’s scheduled broadcast of the AKC’s National Championship dog show, The Humane Society of the United States is appealing to the AKC to stop obstructing animal welfare reforms and to join efforts to protect dogs at commercial breeding facilities known as puppy mills, where the breeds made popular at the Championship are often churned out for sale online, through classified ads, and at pet stores across the nation.
The AKC’s National Championship is broadcast on Feb. 2 and The HSUS urges viewers who fall in love with a particular breed they see on TV to learn more about puppy mills before buying a puppy and to find out where the dog is bred and raised before buying one from a pet store or an Internet seller. Recent animal cruelty cases have revealed inhumane conditions at puppy mills across the country, including at AKC-inspected facilities and many that sell AKC-registered dogs.
“The Humane Society of the United States urges the AKC to live up to its promise to protect the health and well-being of all dogs by supporting clear and enforceable welfare standards for dogs at commercial breeding facilities,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “The AKC has opposed more than 90 bills and proposals that would have implemented common-sense protections for dogs and puppies in puppy mills, and it’s time to turn that record around.”
At the 2009 AKC National Championships, at least one of the dogs competing was bred by AKC breeder Mike Chilinski. Two years later, Chilinski’s puppy mill in Jefferson City, Mont. was shut down with the assistance of The HSUS and local authorities. Law enforcement officers testified they found about eight dead adult dogs and numerous dead puppies on the breeder’s property, and dozens of his surviving dogs were severely malnourished. Records show that 145 of the 161dogs rescued from the property were underweight, with many severely undernourished.
Chilinski claimed during trial that the AKC had regularly inspected his kennel and found it satisfactory. Chilinski was convicted of 91 counts of animal cruelty and is currently serving a prison term. He is just one of many AKC-linked breeders who have been found neglecting breeding animals on their properties in recent years and subsequently convicted of animal cruelty. That record calls into question the stringency and effectiveness of the AKC inspections program.
The HSUS has spent about $480,000 for the care and housing of the Malamutes seized from Chilinski’s property. Legislation has been introduced in several states that would require the convicted animal abuser to pay for the care of seized animals during a court case, but the AKC routinely opposes such measures.
In 2012, The HSUS released a report documenting the AKC’s efforts to block measures to protect dogs from the worst abuses at puppy mills. The AKC has yet to respond and continues to block legislative efforts to stop abuses at puppy mills.
Families who are considering buying a puppy are urged to visit humanesociety.org/puppy to learn how to get a dog without supporting the hidden cruelty of puppy mills.
- Puppy mills are inhumane, large-scale dog-breeding facilities in which the health of the dogs is disregarded to maintain low overhead costs and maximize profits.
- The HSUS estimates there are at least 10,000 puppy mills operating in the United States, churning out more than 2 million puppies per year for the pet trade.
- Puppies from puppy mills are sold in pet stores, online and through classified ads.
- Mike Chilinski, an AKC breeder of Alaskan Malamutes, was convicted of 91 counts of animal cruelty in December 2012. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison with 25 suspended.