Journalism Fail: HSUS and AKC are Both Money Grabbers

As always, I want to be clear and this is why I reiterate a point made often on this blog:  No one wants to see pets suffer and die in sub-standard conditions.  It makes no difference to me whether these dogs are being warehoused for breeding in a “puppy mill” or warehoused for killing in a “shelter”.  Causing suffering and needless death for pets is wrong.  Full stop.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) has never done anything to make me believe they care one bit about dogs suffering and dying anywhere.  Neither has the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).  And yet the two are frequently pitted against one another by reporters seeking “both sides of the story”.  Newsflash:  it’s the same story.

The Today Show website has an investigative report on AKC registered puppies and interviewed both an AKC representative and HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle, presumably for balance:

[Wayne Pacelle] says that while most AKC-registered breeders are probably fine, they’re seeing too many bad apples, from Montana to North Carolina. In some cases, those breeders are even convicted of animal cruelty.

*fake gasp*

“Most” are probably ok but some are bad – even to the point of animal cruelty.  Gee Wayne Pacelle, have you ever heard of this system of pet killing facilities we have in our country?  They deceptively call themselves “shelters” and you know, “humane societies” when in fact they are causing pets to suffer and die.  “Most” are not fine.  In fact most are killing healthy/treatable animals – the ultimate form of animal cruelty.  And the directors of these pet killing facilities are keeping puppy mills in business.

But it’s no surprise Wayne Pacelle wouldn’t talk about that.  It’s his job to ix-nay the uth-tray in order to keep compassionate donors on the hook.  Thankfully more people are catching on every day.  A reporter for WZTV in TN ran this story yesterday:

We checked the HSUS tax records Form 990. It shows the non-profit took in over $133 million in donations last year. Of that, $6 million went to local shelters.


So what does the Humane Society spend your donations on? Primarily fundraising, advertising, legislation to protect animals, and the lobbyists to push it through.


What else does the Humane Society of the U.S. spend your donations on? $17.3 million on lobbyists between the years of 2005-2009, more than it gave to local animal shelters in that time. In a letter, half a dozen congressmen called for an IRS investigation into HSUS’ tax exempt status. Tax exempt organizations are prohibited by law from attempting to influence legislation on a large scale. In a response, the IRS confirms to a congressman that it’s investigating, but wouldn’t comment on what, if any action it may take.

The reporter states that for 3 weeks, Wayne Pacelle declined the station’s requests for an interview.

We are not all on the same team. I am for no kill which means pets suffering and dying anywhere is unacceptable to me. HSUS and AKC are both on Team Screw The Pets, Show Me The Money.

51 thoughts on “Journalism Fail: HSUS and AKC are Both Money Grabbers

  1. It’s a rare occurrence that I think you are totally off the mark, but this is one of those days.

    The AKC is a registry. That’s it. They keep records, and when they inspect, they inspect for records. If they see conditions that are substandard they alert local authorities, as is appropriate.

    When large volume breeders are denied registration in the AKC, they simply register with one of the other many “pet” registries or create their own.

    The AKC does however do an enormous amount of work in the areas of education and research into canine health issues, in addition to running some more pet-centered activities like a microchip service.

    They do not, nor have they ever, pandered for donations. Unlike HSUS.

    Also unlike HSUS, they are not under investigation in multiple states for racketeering.

    They’ve never made any bones about who they are and what they do– and they’ve made it very clear that they are not a police force. Just because they don’t meet the expectations arbitrarily assigned to them by people that don’t know any better doesn’t make them at fault.

    You missed the boat on this one Shirley. That’s so disappointing.

    1. The AKC has its own money making scheme – failing to inspect or giving a passing grade to most every sub-standard breeding operation on their radar, so long as the people keep buying the AKC certificates. They don’t care about pets.

      1. It’s. Not. Their. Job.

        I don’t understand why people don’t get this. Their job is to inspect for records. If they see substandard conditions they report them to the appropriate authorities.

        They are a Registry. Period.

        It is the job of the USDA to inspect commercial breeders, so why aren’t you taking them to task?

        Here’s another news flash– you can’t believe everything you see on the Today Show. Just ask Ann Curry.

        You’re better than this kind of slip-shod mudslinging. Or at least I thought you were.

      2. Larkin – It’s fine to voice an opposing opinion. You’re attacking me personally. Knock it off.

        I have taken the USDA to task repeatedly on this blog. There is a search function if interested.

        I have heard of zero facilities where dogs were suffering/dying being busted because AKC tipped off authorities. I doubt they go to authorities as often as they should, if ever. It’s not their job to raid facilities but they could and IMO should not only alert authorities but sever all ties with facilities where their inspectors see suffering/death. I’ve never heard of that happening either. Their “just a registry” excuse does not fly when they actively work against laws to protect pets.

      3. You are, of course, exactly right about both organizations. Neither could be mistaken for caring in any way about animals. Shame on both for epic fails in that department. And anyone who claims the AKC isn’t at fault for giving passing grades to sub-standard institutions for the money hasn’t been paying attention. Other institutions may be at fault as well but that doesn’t make these two “not guilty as charged”!! Thanks, much for the attention to this subject!

    2. You must have been born yesterday to think any kennel club/registry anywhere in the world is in it for anything but the money! Shirley is right on the money with her comments.
      Registries, who take money from breeders whose breeding operations are unacceptable are indeed just as guilty, and they ALL do that.
      To say it’s just a registry and therefore they are in no way guilty of supporting the puppy/kitten mills is disingenuous at best. Do you really think that they would refuse to paper animals coming from bad breeders and decline the money? C’mon.

    3. They pandering to the millers for money. Not nearly as badly as the paper registries do, which is why they’ve lost a lot of business in the last twenty years, but pandering they do.

      They inspect a small percentage of high volume AKC breeders every year, and yes, they ate mainly looking at record keeping, and it’s even true that they report the breeders they do inspect if they find seriously substandard conditions–for commercial breeders.

      But they heavily market themselves as “the dog’s champion.” They don’t live up to that. They could have a tremendous impact if the record keeping they require included health testing. If, for instance, they required that in brachy breeds, a first breeding had to be natural, and a first whelping be natural, in order for puppies sired by that male or birthed by that female be registered. That’s just one example; plenty of others possible.

      AKC doesn’t have the power to shut down bad breeders, but they could make the AKC name mean something in terms of health and quality.

      1. Four percent. That’s the number of dogs registered by the AKC that come from commercial breeders. Commercial breeders who pass USDA inspection, and who have never been convicted of cruelty or neglect.

      2. Larkin, it’s from the millers that they get a lot of their money; there’s a real question whether they’d be able to survive eithout it, now. And USDA standards are livestock standards; they allow, virtually require, that dogs be essentially factory farmed. AKC should be embarrrassed to have any breeders that meet USDA standards.

        Also, while USDA has more inspectors, and inspects more breeders more often than AKC can or has any reason to, since dogs don’t wind up in our food supply, dog breeders are a low priority for them. Even when they find violations, they rarely impose sanctions of any kind.

        And AKC is more likely to report cruelty at a USDA breeder than USDA is. Really, USDA certification is proof of puppy mill status and offers little real protection to the animals. I repeat, AKC should be adhamed to have any of their business at all.

  2. Are you reading the Secretary’s page from the AKC Gazette? Because that’s where these things are reported. Did you know that ANY animal cruelty conviction, no matter how minor (and you know some are) results in that person or people being stripped of their AKC privileges for life?

      1. Perhaps you should have mentioned that. It’s cogent to the issue, after all. (BTW, the Gazette is only published online now and is available to anyone who wants to see it. There’s no longer any requirement of subscription.)

  3. None of this surprises me. Mr. Pacelle has been padding his pockets with his 6 figure salary for years. I am sure the executives are making a pretty penny too. I personally think the government should take away their non-profit status since it it quite clear that they are marketing professionals and do not use their money to benefit animals. Sure some of the money does but when a majority of the money goes to making more I find that problematic.

    1. The AKC does not have a non-profit status. HSUS has a non-profit status, but that’s being investigated because of their lobbying activities.

      1. Larkin, did I mention the AKC anywhere in my statement? No I did not. Please read before you comment.

  4. Well, the AKC puts this on their website –

    “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”

    Note – “We protect the health and well-being of all dogs”.

    On which, one must call, “Bullshit”.

  5. Excellent post, Shirley! I agree 100%.

    As for the AKC, it is a private, registry. It should be in the forefront of having high-volume commercial breeders investigated since it is in the enviable position of processing registrations which enables them to flag those people. But it isn’t. Nor is the CKC here in Canada to which I belong.

    Both organizations’ performance in the area of protecting dogs has been very weak. This is what allows equally greedy outfits like the HSUS to profit. If the major kennel clubs were truly in the business of protecting dogs, registrations wouldn’t be in the death spiral we are seeing today. They have been so invisible in the cause of animal welfare that they have rendered themselves largely irrelevant outside of a core group of supporters of dog breeding and conformation showing.

    1. Well, I’d have to say that I’m impressed that they spoke for an hour and were there for a total of two hours, trying to get some information delivered. I’d be willing to bet though, that their rep doesn’t have the gasbag abilities of Pacelle, and was too polite to spar effectively with him or sway the Today producers to stop being dazzled by Pacelle’s perfect hair. He likely showed up 10 minutes before filming and more than dominated the interview. I’m reminded of a line from ‘Veronica Mars’ and think the AKC rep would have been helped if they’d brought BackUp.

  6. HSUS hates all animal breeders and is a fundraising and lobbying organization.

    AKC is a purebred dog registry club. I don’t pretend to know a whole lot about dog breeding or showing, but I hardly expect that kind of organization to be the dog police.

    1. Sorry, but when I became aware of the AKC going to puppy mill auctions to give out “certificates” to the pups, I lost all respect for them. Not to mention the damage that is done to breeds by overbreeding for characteristics that are not healthy to the breed. Not all breeders, I’m sure, but if AKC is going to be involved, then they better keep themselves above reproach. Sorry I don’t have the link about the puppy mill certificates – it was shared with me by a rescue that frequents those auctions and sees it done over and over.

      1. not getting into “she said/she said” argument – I heard it from rescues who have been there

      2. “One of main players at the auction was the AKC Representative, whom the auctioneers introduced at the start of the auction the first day, urging folks to see her and “she’d set ya’ll up”, proclaiming that “AKC-registered pups means money in the bank!”

        The AKC rep was a woman in her late 60’s who floated around the warehouse with a clipboard, toting a heavy stack of forms and certificates, while grasping a microchip scanner. She always stood near the auction block or the front of the room in plain view. She was one person I never lost site of throughout the event. She would watch for cues from the breeders who would signal her to come “certify” their litters. She would scan dogs for registry numbers, so that puppies could be served papers, AKC papers, that is. People paid her a fee to “legitimatize” dogs to the outside world.

        It was amazing how quick the “certification” process was, and another testament to how little energy goes into the AKC brand. It’s essentially a marketing scam that people buy into without thinking twice. Money is the name of the game, and if you have a $20 bill and a purebred dog, your dog basically has his diploma.”

    2. No one expects them to be the dog police. I expect them to have some integrity in how they run their business though. They like to claim that their inspectors (all 9 of them) do wonderful work. Clearly that aint so.

      1. Seriously, how do you KNOW that “ain’t so? Where’s the proof? They’ve certainly closed down a number of breeders–using the appropriate channels to do so, since they have NO legal authority to act on their own. Your behavior in this quarrel really casts everything else you’ve written in a dubious light. (And that’s not a personal attack, that’s just fact.)

  7. Great analysis, as always.

    The Nashville reporter actually overstated the amount of money HSUS gave to local shelters in 2011. The $6 million is the sum total of ALL grants HSUS made. Actually, approximately $500,000 was granted to local shelters. Worse, many of those funds were pass-through grants, paid by others on behalf of HSUS. The other $5+ million went to HSUS’s own political groups and affiliates organization, lobbying groups across the country, ballot initative campaigns, and so forth. HSUS files for two extensions before producing their tax returns. Unlike their fictional “Annual Reports” and “Financial Statements, IRS 990’s are filed on penalty of perjury.

    HSUS has a department that spends it’s days pitching stories to the media. Like many of HSUS’s “rescues,” these TV investigations are timed to coincide with HSUS-crafted legislation.

    1. Heck they need the money I’m $ure!
      sarcasm intended
      This is not a group that is for the animals – of if they are simply a large lobbying interest, then stop acting like they are a true “humane society” and allowing folks to believe that they are actually sheltering animals.

      1. As I understand it, Pacelle co-founded PETA with Ingrid Newkirk. Please correct me if I am wrong.
        Newkirk shares Pacelle’s goal of a domestic pet-free world by whatever means.
        HSUS has no shelter while PETA kills anything they can get their murderous mitts on. They don’t have a shelter either – just a killing facility.
        Both organisations need to lose their non-profit status.
        Kennel Clubs/Registries meantime need to open their books to authorities so that bad breeding practices – whether puppy/kitten mills or inbreeding/ill-breeding can be identified and addressed. Preferably with meaningful consequences that hit their bottom line.
        Those continuing to fail to register animals responsibly should be closed down.

  8. Karen wrote: ‘You must have been born yesterday to think any kennel club/registry anywhere in the world is in it for anything but the money! ‘

    Well, the Canadian Kennel Club doesn’t. Sell a dog to a pet store, you’re suspended. Sell a dog at auction, you’re suspended. Intentionally breed a mixed breed, you’re suspended. Convicted of animal cruelty? Suspended.

    This is likely because the CKC operates as a defacto arm of Agriculture Canada. Even then, however, CKC is NOT able to ‘shut down’ a kennel who is housing their dogs in substandard conditions (or worse). All they can do is inform the authorities, which they do when necessary.

      1. It is in my experience over the 28 years I’ve been involved with the CKC.

        There are LOTS of good reasons to be angry at the AKC – and the CKC, for that matter – but complaining that they ‘don’t do enough to shut down puppy mills’ isn’t a fair argument, simply because it’s not within their jurisdiction to do so.

        HSUS could have attacked AKC on any number of legitimate fronts, but instead chose low hanging fruit that fit their own personal agenda – “purebred dogs are bad, and they all come from puppy mills, and AKC is in charge of purebred dogs, and doesn’t do anything to stop puppy mills”.

        Makes good TV – makes bad factual argument.

    1. The AKC does not limit how you place your dogs. But they do make registration off limits to those who are convicted of animal cruelty or neglect, even misdemeanor offense. They eject people who falsify records, behave badly at AKC events, and who don’t keep reasonable records of their dogs. Like the CKC, they have NO police power whatsoever.

      1. Larkin as you speak of behavior in this forum, you have acted nothing less than a so called know it all. You are crude and rude. Shirley always has the animals best interest at heart and you, miss know it all seem to be the acting CEO of the AKC. Good luck in the future.

      2. Don’t fall off your high horse, Michele, you might bump your head. Too bad you can’t handle the facts. I’ve spent more than 45 years with purebred dogs ( and rescues for that matter). As for Shirley, I’m finished here. She’s shown her true colors in her disdain for inconvenient truth.

      3. Larkin I handle facts just fine. its you that act so superior to others that you can not handle the truth as it hits you in the face. If you dont like how Shirley defends Animals or as her followers join her you are free to troll other forums. Have a good night your highness. lol you wish

  9. I do always find it interesting how easily people (general) shame or dislike HSUS, then are really happy when they show up with the money and staff to help during emergencies of the small and large variety. I’ve seen that firsthand, having ample experience working with HSUS and local shelters.

    They are not a dog and cat shelter. They do not market themselves as such. Their focus is on legislative efforts to reduce cruelty and suffering against ALL nonhumans. They do not merely care about dogs and cats, which is nice.

    The many folks I personally know who work for HSUS are compassionate, genuine people who work their asses off to make this a better world for ALL nonhumans. They are the faces of HSUS, the ones who are doing the work. And while I disagree with several HSUS policies, I wouldn’t dream of comparing them to a registry that is hyper-focused on making money off of the exploitation of dogs, good health and genetics be damned.

    1. You apparently have had better luck getting money from them than a couple of people I know. One from Rita in TX and one from Sandy in NJ. They were told to spend their own money and keep receipts, but never reimbursed for their emergency response expenses. I’m sure the people on the ground are hard working and in it for the animals, but I suspect the corporate office is not as much about helping the animals as it is in generating publicity.

    2. Marji, HSUS does indeed market itself as directly helping pets in need, and carefully gives the impression that donations to them will help provide shelter, food and medical care to rescued pets. They run ads with heartrending images. They benefit from the impression that shelters that use “humane society” in their name are affiliated with them and benefit from donations given to them.

      They don’t heavily market the fact that they are primarily a lobbying organization (which, to be clear, is a perfectly legitimate thing for them to be), or the work they do with horses or with wild animals, because those things don’t generate the same level of donations that heartbreaking pictures of pets in desperate need do.

    3. Marji, a 501(3)c charity is not allowed to focus on legislative efforts. Wayne Pacelle has been defying the IRS rules for his entire tenure. Too bad the IRS is in disarray. The Humane Society Legislative Fund, touted as “the legislative arm of animal welfare” has not been able to attract donations for the “unlimited lobbying” they envisioned. Shelter pets, disasters, and rescues bring in the $$ – most of that work is done by volunteers. You may like some of them, but it has nothing to do with HSUS fraud and abuse.

  10. Does Larkin work for AKC? I wonder why there’s so much defense of them. I don’t know the facts regarding ignoring cruelty in breeders but the big issue I have is their support for ear cropping and tail docking—there is absolutely no medical reason for it and those surgeries are cruel. The animal is essentially maimed for life and endures weeks of pain. I’m a vet tech and have been for 14 years. I work with a vet who does not perform those surgeries.

    1. I am also a vet tech, and while I would agree with you on ear cropping, there is a reason working hunting dogs get tails docked. If you’ve never seen one with it’s tail stripped to the bone while hunting in the bush, you might not understand it. I have. Breeders who expect to sell their puppies as working dogs have them all done very young because at that age it’s impossible to tell which ones will make good hunting dogs and which won’t.

      Just a question–does your vet perform declaws on cats? Because that’s a medically unnecessary surgery that causes great pain and sometimes life long lasting problems. Some cats never recover from their declaws, and are euthanized for litterbox avoidance because of the constant pain in their feet.

      1. Such a bunch of bs about “tails stripped to the bone” – not every breed of hunting dog gets its tail injured in any way (other than some burs pulling out some fur), so if that was actually happening left and right – which it isn’t – degloving a tail doesn’t happen from running through the brush or coyotes and wolves wouldn’t have tails, for cryin’ out loud! – every hunting dog would be docked, and most are NOT.

  11. I don’t breed dogs, nor am I very involved in dog issues, but I have to mention here: AKC adopted a mandatory inspection policy for high volume breeders in the 1990s. Hundreds of breeders left AKC at that time to avoid inspection, fleeing to other registries or just making up their own. Are you suggesting AKC should inspect breeders that don’t register with them? And why?

    Second, in the 2000s, AKC adopted a mandatory genetic registration of male dogs with high volumes of puppies. Again, many breeders left AKC in order to avoid scrutiny of their registrations.

    So, tell, me, how does this make AKC “all about the money”, when the money they make is entirely based upon registrations? AKC annually makes less money than HSUS spends on lobbying. I think that perhaps you should avoid mentioning AKC and HSUS in the same breath. I’m sure that there are ways AKC could improve, and that there are policies you don’t agree with, but comparing them to the largest animal welfare swindler in the country is not appropriate.

  12. The ultimate responsibility is on the buyer of puppies/dogs to do his/her due diligence.

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