The following article was published in the last Issue of the “AKC Perspectives” magazine which is a publication for all AKC Delegates, well over 600 strong. Sue and I have been working with AKC for over three years to suggest and push for change within Market Place. We were advised today that the Parent Club tile will be added within days from now. This will be a major accomplishment for all Parent Clubs and for Market Place.
FIXING AKC MARKETPLACE – A WORK IN PROGRESS
SUE GOLDBERG, Delegate, Lewiston-Auburn Kennel Club
By way of introduction, I’ve been involved with Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers since 1968, as a breeder, exhibitor, judge, Delegate, and approved breed mentor. I serve as a Director on the Board of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America, Inc. (SCWTCA) and am the SCWTCA Marketplace Liaison. This latter role came about when, nearly four years ago, the co-owners of our Best in Show bitch asked me to be the point person for an ad they were placing on AKC Marketplace for her, and their first lit- ter. I was happy to oblige and also curious as to what I’d learn about how Marketplace was utilized by the public. Not only was I amazed at the sheer volume of inquiries, but also astonished and dismayed at the misconceptions I was hearing about how Marketplace was perceived by the consumer.
For starters, the majority of the callers were under the impression that every advertiser had been somehow approved or endorsed by AKC. They extrapolated that misconception to mean that listing on AKC Marketplace was an assurance that the puppies were somehow “vetted” by AKC as to their health, temperament, quality, and also that the advertisers were “members” of AKC. The learning curve was daunting! So, be- fore I could even begin to discuss the actual facts about Wheatens, it was vital to educate these well-intended consumers on what Market- place actually represents.
Scrolling through the other Wheaten ads was an eye-opener as well. A number of advertisers were selling multiple breeds on their Wheaten page and sometimes, the cover photo on their ad was a totally different breed! One ad showed blue-eyed Wheatens. Not surprisingly, one potential buyer thought they were adorable and of course, wanted one. Another ad had a photo of a Wheaten with a Kerry. The caller said, “I didn’t know Wheatens came in black and white!” As of this past week, one ad showed a Scottie with a litter of puppies; another advertiser had a French Bulldog puppy as their cover photo. And until recently, several Wheaten advertisers who didn’t supply a photo had their cover page adorned with a stock sketch of a Pug. Thankfully, as a result of the joint effort of our SCWTCA Marketplace monitoring team’s reporting to AKC staff and the staff’s response, the Pugs have been replaced with a stock illustration of a Wheaten.
After discussing what I’d found with our SCWTCA Board, it was decided to establish a Marketplace monitoring team to report and, hopefully, correct the information thereon. Our five-person team consists of the Chair of our Health Committee; two very dedicated members who monitor Wheaten Marketplace ads every Monday and Thursday; our SCWTCA Delegate, Bob Bergman; and myself as the Marketplace Liaison to AKC. Like clockwork, our biweekly reports are sent to AKC noting any violations as to Parent Club membership claims, unverified health testing, photos of other breeds, multiple breeds within the Wheaten Marketplace, etc.
In an effort to curb the lofty, unrealistic expectations of the general public and thereby avert disappointment, Bob and I developed and submitted to AKC a disclaimer that would be at the top of every Marketplace page, or at the very least, at the top of the first page for each breed, to advise that a listing on Marketplace is not to be construed as a testimony to the health, temperament or quality of the dogs advertised nor an endorsement of the breeder. It is incumbent on AKC to debunk the widespread misconception that a listing on Marketplace is the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.” Stating that these are merely paid listings and nothing more, would be an effective means to manage the buyers’ expectations and give far more credibility to AKC, rather than engendering frustration and disappointment when buyers who rely on Marketplace learn the hard way that no such oversight by AKC exists.
What can your club do? Firstly, go to AKC Marketplace, search for your breed and be sure that the information provided presents an accurate picture of your breed. Bob and I worked with AKC to correct and modify the descriptions of Wheatens including their character and grooming requirements to more accurately rep- resent the various traits of our breed.
Next, go to “Find a Puppy.” Go through the advertisers’ boxes (or “tiles”) and ensure that all cover photos are of your breed and that the claims of Parent Club membership are accurate. As for the various health tests, each club will have to decide how to deal with unverified claims. The Chair of our Health Committee contacts breeders whose claims are not verified and asks for documentation. If none is forthcoming, those claims are reported to AKC and, eventually, they are removed, which we very much appreciate. We’d like the Parent Clubs to have the option of removing unverified claims themselves as AKC staff is so overburdened that they have no time to investigate or confirm.
Depending on the number of advertisers, the next step could be daunting. Scroll through the gallery of photos on each advertiser’s tile and note any photos of dogs with DQ’s, atypical colors or patterns, or of other breeds. A photo of a poor-quality representative of your breed will not be addressed by AKC, but perhaps, if enough clubs object, AKC will remove those with obvious characteristics contrary to their breed Standard.
Bob Bergman and I have been strongly urging (truthfully, pushing) AKC to give every Parent club the option of having their ad listed in the first box (the so-called “first tile”) to give it prominence when buyers explore “Find a Puppy.” One of the ways that clubs can inform the general public is by recruiting one or more knowledgeable, patient, club-appointed representatives willing to be listed in the Parent Club ad to take the calls and /or respond to emails and provide accurate information about their breed. At the very least, the Parent Club ad should be the first tile, with or without a contact person, and direct the consumer straight to the Parent Club website. This easy fix would be an important first step to accurately informing the public about each breed.
SCWTCA has such an ad with myself as the contact person, headed by our Parent Club logo, and approved by our Board, ready to go and in AKC’s hands. We are just awaiting the go- ahead. Not every club will want to or be able to take advantage of this, but it would go a long way to educate the public that AKC has not inspected and approved every advertiser, which is the frequent assumption.
Working with AKC staff, we have also clarified the meaning of the check boxes under “Breeder Profile.” Formerly, advertisers could check a box if they were a “club member.” Which type of club was never specified, so it could have meant Kiwanis or Rotary Club or any club other than breed club. Now, there are checks to indicate membership in the National Breed Club. We would like to narrow that further to specify that they are members of the Parent Club of the particular breed being advertised. In other words, on the Wheaten page, checking the box would attest to membership in the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America, not the American Boxer Club, for example. There are also checks for membership in a Specialty Club and an All-breed Club, all of which can be indicators of the advertisers’ commitment to their breed.
Marketplace is obviously a revenue producer for AKC. We strongly believe that advertisers should have a separate listing for each breed they offer. Right now, an advertiser can promote multiple breeds while paying for only one ad. In some cases, the first photo is a totally different breed. The aforementioned ad on the Wheaten Marketplace showing a Scottie nursing a litter of puppies, reads: “Scottish Terriers, Irish Terrirs and occasionally Wheatens.” Why shouldn’t each of those breeds be advertised separately, rather than three for the price of one? We’ve been told Marketplace wasn’t set up that way and it’s way over my pay grade to know how or if it can be fixed, but it certainly deserves con- sideration. Surely Wheatens aren’t the only breed where this occurs.
As you scroll through the gallery of photos in each advertiser’s tile, you may find photos therein of other breeds. We have encountered consumers who aren’t sure of which breed is which. With limited staff, unfortunately there is no way for AKC to address this for each of the 13,000 listings per month. We had hoped AKC would mandate that each breed in each advertiser’s “gallery” be identified (so-called “tagging”), but enforcement is nearly impossible so it is considered voluntary and therefore, basically ignored by the advertisers. Perhaps Parent Clubs could be empowered to remove those photos.
On the plus side, we have worked with AKC to develop a tool that now allows Parent Clubs themselves to remove the check box from those that falsely claim Parent Club membership. It had been our understanding that the priority order of ads would be: Parent Club member, then Breeder of Merit, then Bred with Heart, then all others. Apparently, that is not yet the case, as Breeder of Merit now precedes Parent Club. The term, Parent Club, which Dennis correctly pointed out months ago, is a term many non-doggy people do not understand, has been replaced by “National Breed Club.” The SCWTCA hopes that Parent Clubs will be enabled to remove other unverified claims rather than burdening AKC staff with that responsibility.
Lastly, over the past three years, we have found that Parent Clubs need to take responsibility for monitoring their own Marketplace advertisers and work with AKC staff to correct the deficiencies. Those clubs that have taken this on deserve a great deal of thanks, as we are all volunteers. At AKC, Kirsten Bahlke, Vice President of Consumer Demand, has been our touchpoint. She has engaged with us and is certainly open to our communications and to discussing and trying to implement improvements. We recognize that Marketplace is not her full-time focus. If other Parent Clubs will rally together and report their Marketplace issues to Kirsten at firstname.lastname@example.org, we hope that AKC senior management and the AKC Board will join us to help achieve our mutual goal to make Marketplace the reliable, respected source it was intended to be and that the public, sadly mistakenly, currently assumes it is. You’ve heard the saying, “I want to be the person my dog thinks I am.” Let’s transpose that to say that by working together we could help “make AKC be the organization the public thinks it is.” If we all unite and make the effort, we can strengthen Marketplace to become a stalwart, trustworthy resource that reflects the honesty, reliability, and integrity expected of AKC.
Happy Responsible Dog Ownership Day. For my fellow westerners, especially those of us on the Pacific Coast, please see AKC’s guidance at the link below on how to prepare with your dogs for the raging and unprecedented wildfire season upon us, for everything from sheltering in place and coping with smoke to evacuation.
Everyone, please stay safe with your Wheatens!
AKC defends itself regarding many false claims from HSUS
This rebuttal stems from an article published by HSUS on May 7, 2020. Click on this link for information: https://akcgr.org/akc/app/document/35386290?1
Can Dogs Get the Coronavirus?
Dogs can contract certain types of corona viruses, such as the canine respiratory corona virus, but the specific corona virus affecting people is believed not to be a threat to pets.
The World Health Organization reported that there have been no reported cases of corona virus in domestic animals. ” At present, there is no evidence that a companion animal such as a dog or cat can be infected”.
Despite this, Li Lanjuan, an epidemiologist and Representative of China’s National Health Commission cautioned pet owners in China to be vigilant about theeir own health and the health of their pets. “If pets go out and have contact with an infected person, they have a chance to be infected.”
The CDC says that “while this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person -to-person.”
How can dog owners protect pets from coronavirus?
The recommended approach for dog and cat owners in the U.S. continues to be vigilant and wash hands with soap and water after contact with any animal. For most dog owners this means a lot of washing.
Dogs do not need a face mask against the new coronavirus.
No need to panic, try a hospital-grade product which can be used in a garden home sprayer. The product is available through Pathogend of Georgia: pathogendga.com, call 678-575-2889 , email: VinceB@PathogendGA.com
“The fundamental difference between purebred dogs and well-bred dogs”
“The Importance of Showing Dogs: Breed Ring and Performance Competition”
> Click Here
“It’s All AKCs Fault”
> Click Here
Below is the link to the summer class schedule for Namastay Training ….. I have worked with Jennifer to train Finn and highly recommend her for your fur babies. The club has no association with Jennifer, other than hiring her occasionally to do classes for us – this is just our recommendation for well-run and helpful training classes. They are also listed in our Resource List, under trainers on this website with full contact information.
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