By: Patti Strand  Date: 07/29/2004

Dr. Herm David has been bashing AKC for 20 years. Indeed, bashing AKC is his claim to fame. Today, with the help of a notorious animal rights group, David's recycled charges against AKC are back in play.

David’s latest is a screed published on his website at, and in the summer newsletter of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, a fringe group of veterinarians well known for its opposition to dog ‘ownership’ and purebred dog breeding. The title of the piece is “The American Kennel Club cannot be Trusted.”

AVAR uncritically published David’s old material as if it were the latest news about AKC and ended with this editor’s note: “The AVAR does not support any breeding of cats or dogs, be it by AKC affiliates or any other breeders, while millions of animals are being killed each year due to overpopulation.” You can find this diatribe on the AVAR website at and then follow the links to online publications, Directions, Summer 2004. David’s piece is on page five.

It's a family affair
As you scroll through their website, you'll see that AVAR takes credit for the current California anti-cropping bill; sensationalizes canine genetic diseases to promote its anti-breeding doctrine; supports guardians over owners; and opposes breeding dogs and cats until ‘overpopulation’ ends. On this last score, it's instructive to keep in mind that AVAR's founder Nedim Buyukmihci, VMD, was married until recently to Kim Sturla, the woman who launched the San Mateo anti-breeder campaign in 1990. Sturla was once the western director for Fund for Animals (another group listed as supporting the anti-cropping bill). Sturla now heads The Animal Place,,  a group that rehomes Mexican dogs into the US, a practice which (when multiplied by hundreds of shelters across the US) could help keep US shelters 'overpopulated' for years to come. Both FFA and AVAR aided Sturla in setting up the import program.

AVAR also works closely with PETA, the most radical of all above ground animal rights groups. Recently AVAR joined PETA, Animal Rights International and United Poultry Concerns in condemning the American Veterinary Medical Association. The criticism was aimed at the AVMA's support of animal agriculture, although the complaint was sensationalized and spun to appeal to the 96% of Americans who, unlike AVAR's members, eat meat.

Dr. Neal Barnard is probably the best known AVAR board member. He is the founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an animal rights front group that pushes vegetarianism while pretending to be a mainstream medical organization. In 1990 the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates unanimously voted to sanction PCRM for misleading the public and called on PCRM to "terminate the inappropriate and unethical tactics your organization uses to manipulate public opinion." PCRM received much of its funding from and was actually housed at PETA headquarters in its early years. Ingrid Newkirk and Barnard are closely allied.

Same old, same old

David formed his anti-AKC committee in 1993. His allegations date from the mid-1990s and earlier. There is nothing new in the current piece, and no mention of the tremendous strides AKC has made in the last 10 years to bring the registry up-to-date. He fails to credit AKC’s multi-million dollar support for canine health research, its records and kennel inspections program, its development of a DNA identification system, and so many other areas in which AKC has assumed a leadership position.
No organization is perfect, but today's AKC is doing more to support responsible dog ownership, breeding and the dogs themselves than any registry in the world. If David and AVAR actually believe that AKC deserves such criticism, where does that leave all the other dog associations and organizations?

For AVAR, continuing to criticize AKC despite its huge improvements makes sense; they oppose dog breeding under all circumstances. But for Dr. David and his associates, it appears more likely that they're just stuck in a time warp. The world moved on, but they have not.

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