THE KENNEL Club is under fire from a leading agility club for interfering in its staging of events, contrary to legislation prohibiting monopoly practices.
The East Midlands Dog Agility Club has been organising Agility shows independently of any other organisation throughout 2003. Spokesman Steve Retter said: "In its first year EMDAC will have organised a total of nine days of Agility competitions, as far as we are aware more than any other agility club in the UK. The shows we organise are aimed at a gap in the market that enables newcomers to the sport to enter in a smaller less formal atmosphere than is possible elsewhere. Our shows are designed to be small, friendly and intimate. Our members like them and in response to that demand we will continue to organise such events.
What we are doing is not new; others have and are doing similar things. What we have done differently is to openly advertise what we are doing. We are perfectly entitled to do this, as what we are doing is a legitimate lawful activity. What we want to do is to carry on organising our events as we see fit without interference by outside bodies who have no jurisdiction over us."
It is understood that the EMDAG feel that the Kennel Clubs press statements about agility events appear to have been designed to intimidate and discourage participation at the clubs events, which, if true, would be a "grossly unfair trading practice by any standards."
The EMDAG cites the Competition Act 1998, which can lead to organisations being fined up to 10% of their annual turnover possible for breaches of the Act. Perhaps buoyed up by the recent ruling against the Irish Kennel Club by the Irish Competitions Authority for their interference in GSA Irelands annual Sieger Show, EMDAG is prepared to stand its ground and use the law to defend its independence if necessary, although they also make it clear that they would prefer to seek an amicable solution with the KC.
Steve Ritter continues: "Our events are growing each time and we wish to thank all those that have supported us, in return we will continue to promote our events. In the meantime we are trying to negotiate with the Kennel Club to reach an amicable solution so that all can participate in any event without fear of recrimination or sanctions being imposed. We see no reason why this is not achievable. There are already many precedents set where the Kennel Club waives any objection to participation in non-KC events. At present this happens at the whim and convenience of the Kennel Club. We would like to see a general acceptance by the KC that goes across the board of all canine disciplines that gives all the freedom to take part in events that they choose. Ultimately a bit of competition is good for us all as it drives up standards, those that dont measure up deserve to fail. But none should fail because of the bullying tactics of a monopoly.
"A final recourse to law is an option for us. We are utterly convinced that we should be lawfully entitled to promote events as we see fit according to the laws of the land without meddlesome interference from organisations that have no jurisdiction over us. The Kennel Club has already confirmed in writing to us that they have no jurisdiction over our events.
Our intention was to quietly go about our business and do our thing for the benefit of our members. We have no desire to create a breakaway Agility organisation. We dont want to grow too big. We want to open the market up so others can freely follow a similar path if they choose. We would like to publish results and advertise judges names, actions that build confidence."
The Kennel Club declined to comment on EMDAGs accusations, although they clearly sought to resolve the situation before it got out of control. A Kennel Club spokesman told OUR DOGS: "The Kennel Club Secretary has written to East Midlands Dog Agility Club to arrange a meeting at Clarges Street, as we are very keen to discuss this issue with them. An announcement will be made in due course, once the meeting has taken place."