AKC Vet at the Junction of Tradition and the New Millennium
Jerry Klein, AKC’s Chief Veterinary Officer, is at the junction of tradition and the new millennium. AKC created the position in 2015 to serve as a focal point for outreach to fanciers, veterinarians and the general public. Klein shares his history and journey in purebred dogs.
Klein started as a kid in the ‘50s with a “pet store” Wire Fox Terrier that he showed at his local show three years running in the Novice class. “I learned a lot,” Klein said. After observing poor sportsmanship at the show, he noted that “Learning how not to be was as important as learning how to show the dog.”
Exhibitor, owner, breeder, judge and veterinarian, Klein brings well-rounded experience to his role. He works with Diane Brown at the Canine Health Foundation and with Mari-Beth O’Neil in her veterinary outreach work, as well as recording “Ask the Expert” episodes for AKC TV.
AKC is an organization steeped in tradition, Klein said, that is working hard to bring its message into the new millennium.
“The best times are not behind us, but hopefully ahead of us,” Klein said. “We need to think of the future with a positive attitude.”
One area that Klein emphasizes is the inclusive nature of the purebred dog community.
“I always felt welcome in the dog world,” Klein said. “It’s so inclusive. I knew I was gay from a very early age. I saw dog shows as my way out. We are judged by what we bring to the table. If we breed quality dogs, we’ll be respected.”
Klein also noted that veterinary medicine has changed a lot in recent years.
“They can do more, but it is more expensive,” Klein said. This leads Klein to advocate strongly for pet insurance. As veterinary medicine parallels the quality of human medicine, we can't "be stuck with our heads in the '50s," he noted.