Dear Dr. Fox:

Once again, I must reach out to you because you ran a letter that includes false statements about the American Kennel Club.

First and foremost: We do not “sponsor’’ dog shows. The AKC approves local members or licensed dog clubs to hold events under our rules and regulations. The individual clubs or organizations put on dog shows at their own expense. The money does not come from AKC registrations.

As for our inspection process, we do both announced and unannounced inspections. There is no policy stating that the AKC gives a one-week notice for inspections. Any breeder who refuses our inspection is prohibited from using AKC services.

As for any of our suspensions, breeders who are not in compliance with our policies are put on referral, which is a temporary suspension that is lifted only when they come into complete compliance. It should also be noted that we are not the only registry in the United States. There are at least 20 others that people choose to do business with, meaning not all of their dogs may be registered with us.

Lastly, there was a statement regarding the majority of dogs rescued from puppy mills being AKC-registered dogs. That could not be further from the truth. A study conducted by the National Animal Interest Alliance in 2015 found that less than 5 percent of all dogs in shelters were purebred dogs. That hardly coincides with any majority.

To be clear, just because a breeder has registered dogs with us, that does not mean that they use our registry services for all their dogs. That remains at the discretion of the breeder, as do their ethical practices.

Brandi Hunter, vice president

of public relations,

American Kennel Club, New York

DF: Here is the reply from the writer of the letter to which you refer:

“In reference to the AKC’s claim that it does not ‘sponsor’ dog shows, the AKC is simply playing a game of semantics. According to information contained in AKC annual reports and information displayed on its website, the AKC sanctions, regulates and licenses dog shows; approves the judges for the shows; and processes plans and maintains records for the shows.

“Dennis Sprung, the president of the AKC, in an article for Dog News, stated that individual dog registration fees bear the costs of supporting events (dog shows). Sprung went on to say, ‘Last but not least, the financial impact of declining registrations speaks for itself. This revenue enables our ability to continue all the good work AKC does to support events.’

“If the AKC prefers the word ‘support,’ as used by its president, over the word ‘sponsor,’ I am more than willing to change my original letter to read that the AKC-‘supported’ dog shows are sustained on the backs of puppy mill dogs through AKC registration fees.

“In reference to the AKC’s statement, ‘there is no policy stating that the AKC gives a one-week notice for inspection,’ an AKC flier detailing what to expect with an AKC inspection states, ‘Your AKC Executive Field Agent will typically call you about a week in advance to set up a day for your inspection.’ While the AKC might not have a policy statement requiring a one-week notice, it also does not have a policy requiring an unannounced inspection.

“I want to emphasize that my letter never alleged that the majority of dogs being rescued from puppy mills were AKC-registered dogs. My letter stated, ‘Many dogs rescued from puppy mills are AKC-registered.’’

“I just came across an article in a 2012 Kennel Spotlight, a trade publication for commercial dog breeders. (Note: The magazine’s publisher was at one time the largest dog broker in the country.) Mike Ganey, vice president of marketing for the AKC, indicates in the article that AKC events are for the purpose of having a ‘positive impact on your business whether you are a breeder selling to distributors, dealers, pet stores or direct to customers.’ He goes on to tell commercial breeders that AKC events help ‘create preference and demand for purebreds, no matter where the consumer chooses to buy their purebred dogs.’

“This article tells puppy millers that one of the purposes of AKC dog shows is to help sell puppy mill dogs. You can see that article in full on the auctioneer’s website,

Bob Baker, executive director of the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, St. Louis


Dear Dr. Fox:

My wife is gone three or four days a week. As a result, my 8-year-old cat naturally shows a preference for me. Her behavior around me is positive, but she hisses and is otherwise negative toward my wife.

I have suggested that my wife scruff her and shake her gently to let her know about the pecking order here. That seems to work for a while, but we are not consistent with it.

Is Rocky just being a cat, or is there some way we can help her to be more positive toward my wife?

D.L., St. Louis

DF: This is a good question, especially considering the backlash against so-called dominance training and disciplining of dogs and the favoring of positive reward training for desired behavior.

But sometimes, giving a reward can reinforce the undesired behavior, such as giving a dog a treat to stop barking, thinking that to be distracting or redirecting, when in reality, you’re actually rewarding the dog for barking!

Cats hiss primarily from fear, and it is best to ignore the behavior. Have your wife spend time grooming the cat, feeding her and calling her by name to give healthy treats. Also, have your wife engage in interactive games with the cat, such as chasing a laser spotlight or a feather on a wand.

Seizing and holding a cat by the scruff of the neck (but not shaking it) can have a calming effect. The action is a mixed signal of domination and control: a tomcat’s love-bite — seen during courtship — is usually directed to the queen’s nape of the neck, and a mother tenderly carries a kitten at the back of the neck.

I use this scruff hold briefly to settle a cat, and then I start brushing the cat or begin gentle massage, as detailed in my book, “The Healing Touch for Cats.’’ But be warned: Your cat might soon become addicted to the latter and quite demanding!


Dear Dr. Fox:

Pets exposed to secondhand smoke in the home are more likely to gain weight and develop cancer than animals in smoke-free homes, according to research by veterinarian Clare Knottenbelt of the University of Glasgow.

Pets, especially cats, are particularly vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke because they spend so much time inside, grooming and in close contact with the carpet, where toxins accumulate.

Michael W. Fox, author of a newsletter and books on animal care, welfare and rights, is a veterinarian with doctoral degrees in medicine and animal behavior. Send letters to or write to him at United Feature Syndicate, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, Mo. 64106.

Copyright 2016 United Feature Syndicate