5 On Your Side

Dog owner runs into problems over AKC registration

Posted April 2, 2009

— For some dog lovers, only a purebred will do. They see American Kennel Club registration as proof and are happy to pay more for a registered dog.

When a Willow Springs man hit a roadblock in getting that registration for his new puppies, he called 5 on Your Side.

“Both of them are just about as loveable as they can be,” Carlton Holt said of his dogs, Sophie and sister Bella.

In August, Holt paid Carolyn Burnham $800 for the puppies.

“The granddaughter fell in love with one. My wife fell in love with the other one, so we purchased them,” Holt said.

American Kennel Club AKC registration causes problems

Holt says Burnham promised AKC registration papers in three to four weeks. When they didn't arrive, he called Burnham who promised to get the papers to him. But Holt also made another call.

“I had called the AKC in Raleigh and they said they did not have any registration on the puppies born on this date,” Holt said.

Holt said months of repeated telephone messages left for Burnham were never returned

So what do AKC registration "papers" really mean? Based on what WRAL found out from the AKC and other canine experts, not a whole lot. While the club has mandatory inspections for breeders who produce seven or more litters and randomly inspects breeders who have at least four litters per year, that leaves out a lot of breeders. The papers simply mean the parents of the litter are registered with the AKC, and that the breeder registered the litter. Puppies do not have to meet any health, temperament or behavior qualifications in order to be registered.

Though the AKC requires DNA proof for some breeders, it generally operates on an "honor system" – meaning it trusts the information breeders provide is accurate – so papers also don't guarantee a purebred.

That information raised more questions about Bella and Sophie. Even though Burnham was associated with two Web sites that advertised as breeders – Shih Tzu by Burnwood and Pomeranians by Burnwood – she told WRAL by telephone that she was not really a breeder.

She said she sold only a "couple" of puppy litters. She also said she did not receive Holt's phone calls. Burnham then sent Holt a $100 refund along with AKC registration papers which list another name as the breeder, and a different birth date for Sophie and Bella than what Holt said he was told by Burnham.

As for the Burnwood companies, 13 complaints have been filed with the Better Business Bureau which lists an "F" rating. The Pomeranian Web site has since been taken down.

Holt said the findings were unsettling.

“Don't get me wrong, they're still just as loveable as if they had papers, but the papers do mean something to a lot of people,” Holt said. "I've learned an expensive lesson."

If AKC registration is important to you, the AKC says to get the papers when you buy the puppy. They say there is no reason for a delay.

While a pedigree is nothing more than a list of a dog's "family tree," experts say responsible breeders rely on it to make sure they don't breed dogs that are too closely related and to track genetic health problems. Papers and pedigree don't guarantee the quality of a dog, but are an indicator of whether a breeder is reputable.

Another indicator is having proper health certifications. Reputable breeders will have health certifications several generations back for genetic issues common to that particular breed. The AKC also says consumers should look for membership in parent clubs and finally, the breeder should be willing to take the dog back for life.

For more information, go to the AKC Web site.


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  • circlecity Apr 7, 2009

    Sound like Thornton Kennels or Kays pups

  • Yelena Apr 7, 2009

    Get the pups fixed, and get them ILP papers from the AKC. That will let you participate in everything with the exception of conformation showing. Our dog came from the rescue, and that's what we did.

  • corginole Apr 6, 2009

    The AKC papers do allow families to participate in AKC sanctioned events such as Rally, Obedience, Agility, Tracking, Herding, Lure Coursing, Conformation etc. so it is important for families who have chosen to invest in a pure-bred with an eye towards dog sports to get the papers.

    I find it more than a little disturbing that the papers this family eventually received had a different birth date and other information than what they were originally told.

    When we purchased our Corgis, we received the papers - in our case registration transfers with all necessary signatures - at the time we took possession of each Corgi. These days, so much can be done online, that it raises big red flags for me as an informed buyer if a breeder tells me they'll mail the papers later.


  • james27613 Apr 3, 2009

    Sad but this happens so often, too many dishonest people pushing 'akc' puppies on the public.

    Always ask for the sire and dam registration numbers,
    you can check them out with AKC to see if they are real or fake.

    If they don't have the papers then do not pay for the pups,
    wait for the papers.

    He should file suit in small claims court against the
    fake breeder and recover at least half of his money since
    she misrepresented herself.

    Many times people forget about the AKC papers,
    then these 'backyard' breeders then sell or use the
    real papers for other pups.

    I like the all white Bull Terriers myself !

  • Picaflora07 Apr 3, 2009

    Another reason to check out your local shelter first. There's no need to pay that much to "buy" a dog.

  • DeeDee123 Apr 3, 2009

    Dealing with a backyard breeder only interested in making a buck off of throwing a malke and female together, often leads to trouble...usually for the buyer and the dog.

    Nothing wrong with wanting a purebred if you go to an ethical breeder, looking to better the breed, not make easy money.

    I love mixed breeds too...I just don't like the people that create them on purpose and call them by a cute little name like "maltipoo" or "yorkipoo". Those are still mixed breeds.Shelters are full of mixes and there are plenty of purebreds in rescue as well.I volunteered for Great Dane rescue and NC foster homes were always full.

  • entryrejected Apr 3, 2009

    I'll take my mutts anyday. I refuse to pay that much money for a dog when they are so many out there that need homes.

  • Red Apr 3, 2009

    Buy a mutt. Don't inflate the price of a friend.

  • HillBilly Apr 3, 2009

    I give an F to the Better Business Bureau. Waste of time.