Monday, February 20, 2012

The American Kennel Club and The Hartford Insurance Company: Unholy Union for Owners of Specific Breeds

Anyone that's visited the American Kennel Club website recently has no doubt seen the  banner ads for "The Hartford Insurance Company" and the opportunity to save money on your auto insurance policy. Sounds good, right?  In this day and age, everyone is looking to save a buck or two.

But if you dig a little deeper into The Hartford Insurance Company, and their policies on homeowners insurance and specific breeds of dogs,  the allure of being able to save a few bucks should turn your stomach.

Yep, The Hartford DISCRIMINATES against dog owners that own breeds of dogs that are on their "list".  What list, you ask? The list of specific breeds of dogs that have the highest rate of bite instances, which are: Rottweilers, "Pitbulls", Presa Canarios, Staffordshire Terriers, and Bull Terriers. 

How did The Hartford constuct such a list? 
I was curious, so I called them. Below is part of my conversation with the representative:

ME: I'm interested in a homeowner's policy, are there limitations on pets?
REP: Yes, if you own a specific breed of dog, such as a Rottweiler or Pit Bull. What dogs do you own?
ME: Rottweilers
REP: I'm so sorry, they are such sweet dogs, but we don't write homeowners policies for Rottweilers.
ME: Are there other breeds that you won't write a policy for?
REP: Yes, there are 5 breeds: Rottweilers, Pitbulls, Presa Canarios, Stafford Terriers, and Bull Terriers
ME: Why those 5 breeds?
REP: Because they have the highest rate of bite/attack instances in the U.S.
ME:  How did they arrive at this conclusion?
REP: Well, the company looks at bite reports, and statistics by breed (her words, NOT mine) determine the breeds. And these breeds, especially Rottweilers and Pitbulls and Presas, are always at the top of the list of bites.
ME: Do you realize that there is NO reliable statistical data kept by anyone, that tracks dog bite instances by breed? 
REP: Well, they compile the list based on police reports and bite reports.
ME: Do you realize that our very own Centers For Disease Control stopped trying to track dog bites by breed around 20 years ago due to MISIDENTIFICATION of breeds by police, animal control and the public?
REP: (no answer) 
ME: What if someone owned one of these dogs and the dog had earned a title, such as obedience? Would they be able to get homeowners insurance?
REP: Oh, yes! If you own one of these breeds and it has earned its CGC, we would most definitely write a policy for you! And we would need a copy of the certificate.
ME: You do realize that any dog can bite a person or another animal even WITH a CGC....
I didn't give the rep a chance to answer my question. Quite frankly, I was boiling to the point of almost saying very bad things, but I bit my tongue. Hard.

 Breed discrimination and homeowners insurance , sadly, is nothing new to those of us that own Rottweilers, or any other misaligned breed of dog.  However, when one of the most prestigious purebred dog registries (namely The American Kennel Club)-- that vehemently OPPOSES all forms of breed specific legislation AND breed specific policies-- gets into bed with one of these insurance companies, one has to ask, "WHAT THE HELL??"

"The American Kennel Club believes that insurance companies should determine coverage of a dog-owning household based on the dog's deeds, not the dogs breed." For the full text of the AKC's policy on homeowner's insurance and dangerous dogs, click here.

The Hartford pays a royalty fee to AKC for use of AKC's intellectual property. "
Apparently, The Hardford pays the AKC to use its logo in advertising their insurance (click link above and read the fine print).  It should be made clear that the AKC is not selling insurance; they are merely making a few greenbacks by throwing owners of certain breeds of dogs under the bus, AND promoting their Canine Good Citizen program. More dollars for them!

I am not knocking the CGC. It is a great introductory program into the world of AKC dog obedience. I've been both an evaluator, and the one holding the leash. I am all for obedience training.  But the question is: why should any company, organization, or municipality put upon us stipulations on owning a breed of dog?  Any breed, not just the ones perceived as "dangerous".  

Oh, and by the way, I was also told by The Hartford that "rescue dogs" and "shelter dogs" would not qualify even if they obtained their CGC. 

What Do We Do? Get Ready to Write Letters!

Even if you don't own one of the breeds that made The Hartford's "List", you should write anyway!  Why? Because breed discriminatory policies and practices can be changed to include YOUR BREED by the stroke of a pen and at the whim of the ones writing them.

Write to the American Kennel Club board of directors  and to the AKC  Government Relations Department and express your anger over their unholy alliance with The Hartford, and their blatant breed specific discriminating policies. A letter to The Hartford is also in order; maybe expressing your disdain for any company that discriminates against homeowners based on the BREED of dog they own, and that you will not do business with such a company.

Let the American Kennel Club know that they should practice what they preach when it comes to not tolerating dog breed discrimination----we demand they stand by their owners and breeders, and not throw us under the bus for a few measly bucks.