A longtime breeder and former American Kennel Club (AKC) judge, James “Jim” Deppen, is under investigation for cruelty to animals after a rescue team found two dead dogs on his property in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, and seized more than a dozen others. One of the deceased dogs was reportedly found wrapped in plastic inside a barn.
These most recent allegations add to an alarming pattern of animal abuse—he was convicted of numerous counts of cruelty to animals in 2010 but was allowed to continue judging dog shows for another six years. During the 2010 trial, a veterinarian testified that a border collie seized from his kennel was so emaciated that “it is a surprise the body was functioning.”
The dogs recently found alive on the former judge’s property were allegedly “swimming in feces.” Officials reportedly seized 13 dogs, including animals who were confined to filthy conditions in a basement. The search warrant also indicated that dogs had been denied proper veterinary care. Deppen claims that the two dogs who died in his custody had gotten into a fatal fight in the barn where they were kept.
The AKC Breeds Cruelty
As a national “purebred” dog registry, the AKC promotes and profits off dog breeders. Not only do breeders exacerbate the companion animal overpopulation crisis—because every dog or cat purchased from a breeder means one in a shelter loses a potential family—all “purebreds” also suffer from congenital and often painful health conditions.
Star the English bulldog won Best in Show at the 2022 AKC National Championship dog show, and French bulldogs were the most AKC-registered dog breed in 2022, but the flat face, large head, and narrow hips they were bred to have will likely cause them all a lifetime of suffering.
English bulldogs like Star, French bulldogs, boxers, pugs, and Cavalier King Charles spaniels are breathing-impaired breeds (BIB). They typically suffer from brachycephalic syndrome, which leaves many of them struggling just to breathe while they engage in normal activities. Going for a walk, chasing a ball, running, and playing—the things that make dogs’ lives joyful and fulfilling—are impossible for many BIB dogs. Breeding dogs to look a certain way and endure a lifetime of suffering is nothing to celebrate.
By enforcing breed standards that favor dogs’ appearance over their health, the AKC is partially responsible for the suffering of “purebred” dogs. The breeding industry is big business, and as long as there is money to be made by selling, showing, and breeding dogs, greedy breeders will keep on producing more—regardless of how much they cause dogs to suffer in the process.
The two dogs found dead on Deppen’s property were of his favorite breed—the Neapolitan mastiff, a giant dog prone to numerous skin problems as well as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, bloating, cruciate ligament injury, and bone cancer. The breed’s standard requires loose skin and allows for cropped ears. Other dogs recently found in poor conditions on his property include German shorthaired pointers, for whom the AKC standard requires a docked tail. Ear-cropping and tail-docking are cruel, disfiguring surgeries that cause significant suffering.
Here’s What You Can Do
Don’t give your money to a breeder, a pet store, or anyone else selling an animal. If you’re prepared to care for an animal properly and for a lifetime, adopt from a shelter.
If you purchased a dog of an AKC-registered breed who struggles with their health or behavior or who died prematurely, let us know by clicking the button below: