Recent weeks have seen several enterprising new initiatives launched by the AKC.
On Oct. 4, the AKC announced the arrival of the Breeder of Merit program, designed to recognize AKC’s “core breeders.” According to Chief Operating Officer John Lyons, “The Breeder of Merit program allows the American Kennel Club to celebrate our dedicated, passionate breeders who truly are the backbone of the sport and the foundation of our organization.” Mr. Lyons acknowledged that “being a successful breeder in the Fancy does not come easy. Years of hard work, vision, and a willingness to do the right thing are required to be successful. Our Breeders of Merit have these qualities and deserve to be recognized.”
Individuals aspiring to achieve the Breeder of Merit designation must certify that applicable health screens are performed on sire and dam as recommended by one’s parent club; hold membership in an AKC club; have a history of at least five years’ involvement with AKC events; earn conformation, companion and/or Performance titles on at least four dogs they have bred/co-bred; and demonstrate their commitment to ensuring 100 percent of the puppies they produce are AKC registered.
In return, Breeders of Merit will receive such benefits as complimentary access to $20 value per month for free online reports in the AKC online store; access to the AKC Direct toll-free number; online record support to ensure that their records are accurate, complete and easily accessible; free online breeder classified listings along with a special Breeder of Merit designation; acknowledgment on a special page of the AKC website and in the AKC Gazette; free or discounted fees on all secondary transactions such as duplicate registration applications; a Breeder of Merit web banner for display on their website; and a Breeder of Merit lapel pin.
The AKC announced its newest conformation ranking system for exhibitors and their dogs on Oct.19. The new Grand Championship Ranking System launched with more than 1,000 dogs already ranked nationwide. Located in the new Grand Championship section of the AKC website, the Grand Championship Points Ranking lists the top 25 dogs in each breed in a drop-down box format. The ranking is based on the number of Grand Championship points garnered at shows by achieving Best of Breed, Best of Opposite Sex, Select Dog or Select Bitch. AKC Vice President Event Operations Robin Stansell encourages owners to “continue showing their Champions towards attaining a Grand Champion title and gain further recognition of quality.” The new point-counting document featured on the website will help fanciers count their dogs’ GCh. points. After completion of the Grand Championship, dogs will continue to earn points by winning BOB, BOS, Select Dog or Select Bitch.
The most controversial of the new initiatives was unveiled on Oct. 21 by Director of Judging Operations John P. Wade, who issued a statement informing “members of the judging community” that effective immediately, they “may solicit assignments and advertise their services including approved breeds. Please remember to be factual in the information provided the fancy.” Mr. Wade invited comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As I write this column, holidays are around the corner. Does the fancy consider these initiatives tricks or treats? Will judges be giving thanks for the opportunity to market their Breed and Group credentials? Stay tuned.