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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Issue: 07/09/2018

Missing critiques!
 
The subject of late/outstanding/missing critiques is one close to my heart. It is a problem I became aware of last year when a multi-breed judge, who had been passed to award CCs for my own breed, via the KC Judges Development Program, officiated for the first time.
The weeks and months passed following the appointment and still no sign of a copy of the long awaited critique. This was a surprise because surely if a Judge wishes to judge a new breed at CC level, then a critique to all those entered under them should be an honour to do. 
Unfortunately this didn't happen, and on contacting the KC to report it, I was surprised to receive a reply in return stating "that the said Judge was very poorly and they wouldn't be pursuing the report". This was an even bigger surprise because his photo had appeared in the then recent days, looking healthy and well. The photograph actually showed this person, who had been judging a breed club show the previous weekend, with his winners.
Research soon showed this judge had many different critiques outstanding from many different shows. So a stronger letter outlining this information was sent to the relevant KC department and they promised to look into it. And they did.
In the meantime this prompted me to start checking all the 2017 General Championship Shows to see if this problem was as big as it first appeared. Sadly, it revealed that it was a very much bigger problem and highlighted that there were in fact many hundreds of apparently missing critiques.
Along with two willing helpers, we checked every single copy of Our Dogs and Dog World and listed those, which were apparently missing.  In total there were around 800. This list was sent in January 2018 to the KC and to all the General Championship Show Secretaries. That was the beginning, and then the "Missing Critiques" Facebook group followed.
We are now in September 2018 and I am very sad to report that the problem isn't an awful lot better. There are still 394 critiques outstanding from 2017, 6 of these being from the KCs own show Crufts 2017, with the remaining 388 being from the General Championship shows held in 2017. It does not take into account any critiques that are missing in respect of any Breed Club Championship/Open/Limited shows nor does it include missing critiques from General Canine Society Open /Limit shows.
The KC cannot say they haven't been informed. I have sent the updated lists to them quite a few times, I am sending the updated lists to them again this week including one for the first quarter of 2018 General Championship shows.
Even though more critiques are now being published, the problem is still there and this year, for the Championship Shows that were held from Boston through to and including Bath 2018, the total is currently 180 not published, including 13 critiques from the KCs own flagship show, Crufts 2018.
More worrying is that many of these 180 outstanding critiques are from the same Judges who did not submit them in 2017. Many of these include KC Board Directors, KC Members, and a number are General Championship Show Secretaries and Officers. It does therefore beg the question as to why the KC is not focusing on the information provided to them and more importantly why they are not taking action, starting in house!. They simply cannot keep ignoring the fact that these Judges are not fulfilling their contracts and as such are breaching KC rules.
The judge who 'inspired' my interest in this subject wrote a letter to the Editor of this paper a couple of weeks ago, bemoaning the fact he was expected to write critiques when he was such a busy man. My response is if it takes too much time, which he quotes as "b***-aching", then maybe he should seriously consider accepting fewer appointments!
This judge's letter gives a possible insight into the minds of many of those to whom writing a critique is unwanted chore. He indicates that he would much prefer to just use his biro to tick a grading box instead. Then to get on with using his spare time for possibly more judging appointments, more judging assessments and more breed seminars presumably in the quest for more breeds to judge.
Now correct me if I am wrong but in the UK, doesn't every Judge's contract require the judge accepts the conditions of which one is, to write a critique on the first two placings...That isn't an optional extra, it is part and parcel of accepting the appointment so if it is too much trouble/takes too long/is a b***ache etc. Why do these judges keep taking on more appointments and more breeds. He isn't alone in this by any means, many of those judge's adding new breeds are doing the same. As one well-known judge replied with a laugh when asked about a long awaited critique. '' I am Far Too Busy Dahling!''..and walked off purposefully towards the hospitality tent! 
Additionally, in answer to the question in the letter mentioned above "Do exhibitors still want critiques" I think the answer is without doubt a resounding  "YES THEY DO" In answer also to the comment "Breed Note Writers rarely seem to discuss any considered comments by a judge that may be of many years' standing". Surely that would be a totally unethical thing to do and I am sure it would not be within the remit of the paper's Breed Note writers.
So what could the KC do to halt this ongoing problem? Well, it could have its own website (but it already does). However looking on the website, it is both confusing, hard to navigate and only contains an approximate total of 1,500 critiques from KC shows at All levels, including many from years past. Some are also duplicated. One in my breed appears three times.  This can only be likened to a drop in the ocean, and this is despite the website being launched some four months ago and lauded as a success by the KC!
Many judges still hand write their critiques, or just write them on the results printout given to them at shows, so if those judges do not have the internet or email facilities and /or the knowhow to use it. Then they would find it harder or practically impossible to add to the KC site. Also to be honest, with all the terms, conditions and disclaimers attached to just reading them on that website, I doubt it will ever be popular.
The KC could solve this dilemma in one fell swoop by taking disciplinary action against the offenders, they need to fine the "raft" of judges who blatantly violate their rules by not submitting timely critiques.  They could also take action by suspending a judge from any future appointments until they actively give due recognition to and follow KC rules.
The real question is:  Will they fine themselves for breaking their own rules?....Answers on a postcard please!
Yours etc,
Su Williams

Double standard

HAS THE government got double standards? They are keen to target dog breeders on the welfare of dogs and rightly so, as long as it isn't the decent caring hobby breeders that suffer and still not the large scale puppy farmers.
On the subject of farmers this is where the double standards come in. Sows kept in pens with their piglets where they can't even turn around; calves removed from their mothers right after birth; poultry kept in cramped dark conditions with hardly any feathers left. Shouldn't they show the same concern for all animals? They do all have feelings. 
I am sure all caring dog breders will agree with me.
Yours etc,
B Ellis

Not good enough

I am a Kennel Club member and although I would not suggest that I am close to Mr Luxmoore I have listened to him on a number of occasions and have spoken to him several times. He always seemed to me to be a concerned, intelligent and interesting man with the best interests of the Kennel Club and the world of dogs at heart. I welcomed his election as Chairman of the Kennel Club and the Board and felt that he would bring in new ideas and sensible innovations which would be of benefit to the club itself and to exhibitors and breeders.
His first speech to the Welsh Kennel Club provided a very positive and optimistic foundation. It is very likely that the Kennel Club organisation needed to be restructured and, although I would not have gone so far as to say the system for the selection of judges was 'not fit for purpose', there is no doubt that it almost certainly required amendment and modification.  
It must be recognised too, that the changes which have taken place must (or at least should have) had the agreement of the Board who must be prepared to take responsibility for the thoroughly unsatisfactory state of affairs with which we are now faced.  Of course, mistakes are easily made but the continual and extraordinary sequences of events of the past three years are doing untold damage to the reputation of an organisation which may have been dragging its feet but is now only limping along.  I was not a signatory to the letter published in your last edition but it does set out the problems. Some might argue that change was necessary and I would not disagree with that assessment, but this destruction of the whole framework which I know full well has left morale at Clarges Street at an all-time low is simply not acceptable and as Chairman, Mr Luxmoore must take responsibility wherever the the blame actually lies.  
If he will not stand down voluntarily then the board must take responsibility to ensure that he does so.  It may be that the future will regard him as a visionary and praised him for his innovations but for the moment he has become the problem.
I am happy to sign this letter so that you, as editor, know who I am but given the punishments meted out to others for, very often, minor challenges to the current hierarchy I must remain 'name and address supplied'
Yours
Name and addressed supplied

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