Sat, 03/30/2024 - 11:39am

Just My Imagination

Beyond thoughts and prayers ...

Just imagine, Gentle Readers, if the Great American Kennel Club had already taken certain steps, had already implemented key policies, and had already been unequivocal in its support and protection for the sport’s young people. And imagine, then, when the horrific news of the arrest of AKC judge, former AKC intern and veterinarian Adam King on child pornography and sexual abuse charges, it could have been in a position to send out an alternative statement, instead of the pathetic, pasty, paltry pablum it offered up. Imagine something confidently reassuring. Something clear in its conviction. Something that actually said something. Imagine, if you can, it being able to say something like this to all of us, but most especially to our young people:


Dear AKC Family,

We are as shocked and saddened as you by the news in recent days of the arrest of Dr. Adam King, an AKC-approved judge, on child pornography and sexual abuse charges. Our Judging Department has taken immediate steps, following our established policies and protocols, to suspend Dr. King’s judging approval, and we have notified all the shows with Dr. King on their panels of this action. In addition, our Compliance Department has opened an inquiry into this matter, consistent with our established disciplinary policies and procedures.

Beyond the specifics of this case, please let us be clear: The American Kennel Club has zero tolerance for abuse or cruelty or exploitation of young people. Our sport will afford no safe harbor for any individual intent on such heinous behavior. Just as it did with its policy regarding convictions of cruelty or abuse of dogs, the Board passed a policy and procedure with regard to convictions of cruelty, abuse and exploitation of children years ago that mandates, upon conviction, such individuals are suspended from participation in dog events or dog activities, and utilization of our registry, up to and including, for life. As you are aware, we have numerous cases of such individuals being suspended and turned away from our sport, as we have made clear that protection of our dogs and our young people is our priority. 

In addition to the Cruelty to Children Convictions policy, the Board has gone a step further in recent years. At the urging of now-retired former Executive Field Representative and RHP Director Mary Dukes, the Board adopted the provisions of Safe Sport Act for our dog sports. Specifically, the Safe Sport Act requires reporting, training and abuse-prevention policies in youth sports. We have youth participating in dog events in their own categories, e.g., Juniors, but also in the same classes and competitions with adults. We have young people working as hander’s assistants. We have young people competing on AKC traveling teams. The Safe Sport Act creates obligations for any adults who interact with young people within any of these contexts.

The Board’s adoption of Safe Sport policies imposes an annual training requirement on sexual, physical and emotional abuse of youth for anyone involved with our youth: handlers, judges, show officials, volunteers and coaches. It requires that any of these covered individuals report suspected abuse. But reporting necessitates policies and procedures — therefore, the Board also created enforcement and audit provisions for such reporting and the process for the handling of such reports. Prior to launch of this program, the Board hosted the first annual Safe Sport Conference for handlers, judges, show officials, volunteers, and coaches. The popularity of and support for this conference has led to its being an annual event, and it has served as a model for other sports and groups undertaking child abuse prevention endeavors. 

And all of those efforts started with the unequivocal policy statement from the AKC Board denouncing cruelty and abuse and acknowledging its responsibility to ensure our sport is safe for young people. They are, after all, the future of our sport and the future stewards of our beloved dogs. Our protection of both remains our top priority. 



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