AKC Judges Guilty of Animal Cruelty in PA

AKC judges Mimi Winkler and Jim Deppen had been charged with a combined total of 60 counts of cruelty and related charges after local authorities found sick and dead dogs at their PA show kennel.  Although cleared of most charges, they were found guilty on some of the counts in court yesterday:

District Judge Rod Beck found Winkler, 71, and Deppen, 46, guilty of three cruelty counts against bichons frises, one cruelty count against a border collie and one count of operating an unlicensed kennel. Winkler was also found guilty of making a false statement to a dog warden.

Each guilty count carries with it – brace yourself – a $200 fine.

While the judges’ defense attorney described the entire case as a waste of time over “dogs having a bad hair day”, prosecution witnesses testified otherwise:

Prosecution witnesses included veterinarians, bichon frise experts and the three dog wardens who said the dogs needed veterinary attention, not grooming.

The original police report indicated dogs at the kennel were “living in unsanitary conditions and had heavily matted coats, long nails and open tumors on some of the dogs that were untreated”.  The Border Collie was described by police as “emaciated and sickly”.

Do the words “open tumors”, “emaciated” and “sickly” sound like dogs that needed a spit shine and a-little-off-the-top?  Maybe the judges should have placed satin bows over the open tumors and hid the Border Collie’s rib cage with a cute sweater.

The defense attorney says he will appeal the convictions.

37 thoughts on “AKC Judges Guilty of Animal Cruelty in PA

  1. I have difficulty believing anything that comes from a Pennsylvania dog warden. What can we prove actually existed and was wrong to the point of being criminal?

      1. That’s been a recurring problem. Judges take the word of the most disreputable people if those people have titles.

    1. There was a very damning video that was shown behind closed door to the judge, the prosecution and the defense. My understanding is that this video proved massive abuse. There were also still photos shown in the court room.

      Animal abuse IS a crime. They can’t defend themselves from abusive owners.

      The owners of this kennel were given three days notice of the inspection. They could have cleaned up the dogs or have removed them from the premises for the inspection. Instead, they went to a dog show.

  2. I think this is a sound explanation for why the dogs would not be let out of their kennels.

    “Beck heard testimony Wednesday from Deppen, who demonstrated how easily a bichon frise’s hair can get dirty from simply walking on gravel.”

    Eye on the prize, literally.

      1. there is no problem keeping a non-show Bichon short by just taking a #3 blade to the body on a regular basis. You can keep the head longer by scissoring the head to give it that “bichon look”. It really doesn’t take all of that much time if it’s done on a regular basis.

  3. Just one more reason for me to hate the AKC more than I already do. People who treat dogs like this don’t live in a vacuum. People had to know and those people who allowed this to happen, beyond the two judges, are equally culpable in my mind.

    Sometimes I hate our society. We put ourselves forth as better than other cultures in which dogs are consumed as food. We have this air of superiority as if we are the only culture which truly values our companion animals. And then our federal government licenses large commercial dog farming operations which are inspected (in theory) by the AKC. What hypocrites we are. I would no sooner watch a “dog show” sponsored by the AKC (and judged by these two)than I would a dog fighting video. Same objectification; different approach.

    Yeah, I’m having an “I hate people” day.

    1. Just to clarify, it is the USDA who is responsible for inspecting federally licensed breeding kennels. The AKC does conduct inspections too, of those kennels who use their registry (some of them anyway). This is one reason so many alternative registries have sprung up on the internet. If all you want for your dog is a fancy piece of paper, you can get that from most any online registry for a fee. And they don’t conduct inspections, have by-laws, etc. in order to belong.
      That said, the AKC falls far short IMO of the reasonable expectations people have of them.

      1. AKC has more rights than your local animal control agencies to show up unannounced and demand records as well as inspect your kennel. I’ve known it happen to the best as well as the worst. It DOES go on consistantly.

        The main point is that AKC is the oldest and most accurate registry in the US for American dogs. You really have to look back at its entire history to understand how the whole thing works. As we’ve become much more technilogically advanced, so has AKC, but their registries go back to the beginning and are generally accepted as the most accurate. The other regististries do not go back as far nor can they every be as complete as the AKC.

        And, remember, if you don’t care about registries or anything like that – do the right thing – go down to your local shelter and rescue a dog in need. They will kiss your face just as much as a dog with a fancy name and a number.

  4. what actually needs “veterinary attention”.. long nails.. my dogs then need veterinary attention.. an infected ear?/ I treat with natural remedies.. matted coats? don;t have them but hardly a need for a vet..what is an “open tumor”?? I have a dog with a chronic open wound.. I treat it at home after consulting a vet.. she is 15..perhaps I should kill her instead.. many older dogs are thin.. and some are emaciated..some dogs just wont eat.. not making excuses .. but honestly matted coats.. and long nails are now becoming a reason for arresting people and taking their property… I used to teach school.. plenty of kids with matted hair.. and filthy .bodies..no parents arrested..
    sure you can keep a bichon clipped down.. but then you could not show it. Border collies.. and all sorts of dogs get matted.. we don;t arrest people for it..and finally convicted of making a fasle to an ACO.. oh the horror of it all…was he Mirandaized before the statements were made.. can a dog warden act as a LEO?? they are DOG WARDENS.. not the FBI.. too much power given to people with too little training

    1. Tumors can sometimes burst through the dog’s skin. If you’ve never seen it up close, count yourself lucky. I have a very strong stomach but this happened one time to a dog of mine and I felt sick just looking at it. We went to the Vet straight away.
      Dogs with open tumors, matted coats, overgrown toenails and/or needing vet care are not being shown. They are likely retired dogs or dogs used for breeding and not showing.

      1. Or, the dog warden may know precisely what they are. So far as I can see, the news articles don’t give us the info we’d need to determine that.

    2. Anyone who mocks this by referring to matted fur is a bad person. And still people from the dog show circuit and self described Crazy Alice defend them.

      ” The three dog wardens then returned June 4 to the kennel and discovered three Neapolitan Mastiff dogs “in health conditions that indicate that necessary vet care had not been provided.”

      The wardens posted an order that veterinary care be administered to the dogs but could not seize the animals under state law requiring owners be given 72 hours to resolve health conditions before action can be taken.

      The wardens returned June 7 to find “two of the Neapolitan mastiffs were deceased, one of which was disposed of outside of the kennel in a wheelbarrow,” police said.”

    3. That the children you observed who so clearly showed signs of significant neglect were not given aid is a dereliction of duty on the part of the school and child services not a valid reason – or even half-assed excuse – to ignore significant neglect or cruelty in the case of animals.

    4. People, we can’t seem to agree on how to raise human children, I don’t hold much hope for agreement on care of animals. I appreciate this post. I think this story is gross, but it should be required reading for pet owners interested in AKC and showing their dog(s). Nobody is perfect. Most of us screw up. But what really gets me is that these are AKC JUDGES!!! Are they not the people who are supposed to know the most about proper dog care?
      But alas, the AKC only cares about the specific dog while it is in the ring…they don’t follow-up to see what got left home and what sort of shape it’s in. Same with dog races. You must be nice/kind to your dog team during the race, but nobody cares if you starve them during the summer, shoot them at the end of the race, or breed 50 pups to “make a better team” the next year. Nothing matters except “the win.” Bullsh*t. I’m a loser, and proud of it.

      1. An AKC judge is supposed to know the breed standard well enough to judge whether a given dog is a good example of breed. They have a code of conduct to follow as well.

        I have been involved in purebred dogs for more than fifteen years, and to be honest, I do not hold exhibitors of any kind (conformation, obedience, etc.) to a higher standard than your average pet owner. There are good ones, there are bad ones, and all shades of grey in between. I’ve known some long-time breeders/exhibitors that were damned stupid about dogs.

      2. Sure, but you’ve got rotters everywhere. Just because someone is certified to judge in the conformation ring doesn’t mean he’s a good, ethical person.

        This isn’t an AKC problem or a judge problem or a conformation breeding problem. This is an unethical, lazy, abusive person problem. You’d have them with or without dog shows. You have them in kennels with no AKC affiliation. You have them with owners who have never set foot anywhere near a conformation show, and who have never bred a single litter.

  5. Peopl here seem a little confused about what AKC represents. aKC is a dog registry–that’s all. They register dogs. Clubs associated with AKC hold shows, using judges that have been trained to judge dogs using standers developed by individual breed clubs. AKC just acts as a organizer for those clubs/standers/judges. AKC has never claimed to be there to assure the consumer that they are getting their puppy from a reputable breeder–that’s the consumers responsibility. In fact, once AKC bowed to the pressure of acting as a regulator of individual breeders by mandating inspections of large scale breeders and DNA testing of frequently used sires, the high volume breeders left in droves to registries that did not mandate those requirements, and simply issued paper for a fee. Now, AKC is suffering a drop in registration money because of it, because there are simply not enough exhibitors to support an organization that size.

    If you don’t like how AKC operates, thats your prerogative, but don’t claim they don’t do something they never claimed they would do–like promise you a perfect puppy. Finding a good, reputable breeder is *your* responsibility, not AKCs.

    1. If you don’t like some of the posts, that is your prerogative, but don’t claim the posts state things they never stated.

      I can see one post which commented on AKC inspecting breeders and a follow up correcting it.

      From what I have read the AKC and its dog shows, especially confirmation, have defiled some truly great breeds of dogs.

      If this is incorrect please do be specific! Thanks!

    2. Ah, but that’s NOT all the AKC is. Okay, maybe that’s all they take money for, but do you really think their power is so limited? The AKC wields a GREAT deal of power – so much so that they can make breed enthusiasts think twice about things like bear baiting by threatening to disassociate with a breed club. Poor AKC, with their 10+ million dollars that they get by promoting the registration of dogs who can’t even give birth naturally. At the end of the day, just because other registries are worse doesn’t mean the AKC gets license not to do their best.

      And I have, time and again, seen AKC propaganda that suggests AKC registration implies a healthier, better behaved dog. If they really don’t believe that, or don’t want the public to believe that, then they need to say that all the time, not just when something like this crops up.

      No one is saying this is the AKC’s fault, but come on. These people were held in esteem and were supposed to be authorities on dogs; not only on dog breeds but supposedly on dog care. If these are the kind of people who make it into your organization as representatives, what does that say?

      1. I suggest you e-mail AKC with your observations and ask them to answer each one. You can post their answers here.

  6. Sorry Janipurr, you might want to check your facts. The AKC is far more than just a “breed registry.” Just like HSUS is far more than (or not even?@?) a “humane society”. In fact they even say so themselves. This is pulled directly from AKC.org.

    AKC Mission Statement

    The American Kennel Club is dedicated to upholding the integrity of its Registry, promoting the sport of purebred dogs and breeding for type and function. Founded in 1884, the AKC® and its affiliated organizations advocate for the purebred dog as a family companion, advance canine health and well-being, work to protect the rights of all dog owners and promote responsible dog ownership.

    AKC’s Objective:

    * Advance the study, breeding, exhibiting, running and maintenance of purebred dogs.

    AKC’s Core Values:

    * We love purebred dogs
    * We are committed to advancing the sport of the purebred dog
    * We are dedicated to maintaining the integrity of our Registry
    * We protect the health and well-being of all dogs
    * We cherish dogs as companions
    * We are committed to the interests of dog owners
    * We uphold high standards for the administration and operation of the AKC
    * We recognize the critical importance of our clubs and volunteers

    By not closely monitoring its breeders, let alone its judges, I hardly think the AKC walks away from this incident without blood on their hands.

    *And, totally OT but just ‘cuz I am on a rant about AKC… I will also throw in that they sell their member mailing lists as well. I know this because I have registered my mixed breed with them to compete locally in agility. Just today I got a packet from a Christian American Indian school soliciting me for money. How do I know its from AKC? Because they are the only morons who seem to think my first and middle name are the same. Dead giveaway every time when I receive email for Liz Smith Smith. Gah.*

    1. Ok, so you think AKC has “blood on it’s hands”. So, what, in your opinion, should AKC do about this case? Beyond suspending said individuals from breeding/showing/judging? Please restrict your answers to what is actually possible, not what you fantasize they could do.

      Also, keep in mind that no national registry can do *anything* about such situations unless alerted to them. Any accusations should be accompanied by some proof, because otherwise it could be simply a disgruntled exhibitor.

      People complain that all the major registries “should do something”. But exactly what within the law do you expect them to do, without proof? Perhaps the AKC might have funds to hire unrelated inspectors to inspect all their breeders/judges etc, but I doubt it. Do you know just how many breeders register with AKC? Even the federal government can’t keep up with high volume breeders. And the smaller dog/cat registries certainly don’t make enough in registrations to do so.

  7. I have been involved in the sport of showing dogs for about 30 years. I deal with and play by the rules that AKC has set out. When you decide to beomce involved in the dog show world in any way, shape or form, you are advised of these rules. These rules are also available online. There is even an entire area on discipline, should someone NOT follow these rules. Personally, I can’t say that I’m in 100% agreement with ALL of their rules, but I work within them. There’s nothing in there that’s all that horrible. My little problems with a few of their rules are inconsequentional in the long run.

    As for the Winkler/Deppen case. I am familiar with both of them. Through the wonder manipulation of politics, they became judges. The same thing goes on in corporate America every day. The one thing the exhibitors can do if they don’t like the judge, is NOT show to them! Many times, I have sat ringside with my dog in my lap and watched the judging. The judge gets the message, big time. If the judge stops getting entries, clubs don’t hire them.

    However, in this case, there WAS abuse – proven by both photos and videos – backed up by a dog warden who has the same status as a police officer, two licensed veterinarians and one other official. One of the defendents lied to the dog warden and also in court regarding ownership of the dogs. These dogs were microchipped. You can’t deny the ownership when they’re chipped. There was a video and many photos to back up the dog warden’s statement. The defendent’s reply was that the dog warden sexually harrassed her – which the judge immediately dismissed.

    My understanding is that there wasn’t one bit of evidence to support a defense. Being an AKC licensed judge, having been written up in a dog magazine, having shown dogs to their championships and them shown at two prestigous dogs show – and selling dogs to celebrities is hardly a defense to 60 counts of dog abuse – of which the judge only charged them on the four worse.

    And the bottom line??? An $800 fine, each. Hardly worth the time and money that went into hearing this case. Might have been nice to add 500 hours of community service cleaning the kennels. Let them get in with the poop, just like they forced their dogs to be and waste even more time and taxpayer money for a case that can’t be won.

    Lastly, they are judges. They should be held to a much higher standard than others as they are the real face of AKC. The maximum that they’ll probably face on these charges [based on the last six months of examining similar animal abuse events] is a 10 year suspension and a $2000 fine each. So, $2800 out of pocket. Hardly worth mounting a defense for that

  8. This is no surprise. The AKC, Cat Fanciers association or whatever their name is, are simply animal pimps.

    They dont care about animals. They care about green pieces of paper with mugshots of dead Presidents on them.

    They are some of the most selfish, shallow humans on Earth, generally speaking…maybe not every single member.

    Some members consider it time well spent with their companion animals.

    Most, consider spending the money they get from their business, as time and money well spent.

  9. I know Mr Deppen, I have seen him with his dogs. What you as the general public, weren’t told, was that the neos that died, were let out of their kennel by the animal control. One waa elderly and in poor health, I believe she became upset, and bloated, and died, due to this maltreatment.
    Also, they were charged with their dogs needing immediate care, because the area around the neos eyes were reddened. Well, this is how the neo is supposed to look, they have loose skin on the face, and the inner lower lids are exposed! They needed immediate care because of this? Because they meet the world wide standard of the neapolitan mastiff?

    Also, the ill dogs, the dogs with tumors, and the border collie were RESCUED by these terrible breeders!

    All the counts were dropped, except the 4 they were found guilty of. And these good people had rescued these dogs, Mimi had just discovered her son had cancer the day these men appeared at her door, and confused her, while she was crying over her son’s illness, and told her that if she surrendered the dogs, she wouldn’t be charged. So, Biscuit, goes to show just how much you know. Shame on you. Shame on the state of Pennsylvania. What a travesty.

    Karma, folks… She is out there.

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