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Kennel Club addresses
important issues at its second ‘roadshow’

KC Chairman Ronnie Irving and his team travelled north last week to County Durham for the second in their series of regional question time events, and they used the occasion to announce changes to arrangements involving rare breeds and international titles and to reveal that a new ‘accredited breeders’ scheme’ is due to be launched to the public at Crufts 2004.

There was also a hint of changes to come next year designed to meet concerns involving the evaluation, performance and integrity of judges.

Around 140 people attended the two-hour evening session near Durham City at Bowburn Community Centre, a venue used regularly for local open and breed club shows.

The panel, led by Ronnie Irving, also included KC Chief Executive Rosemary Smart, Vice Chairman Bill Hardaway, Assistant Secretary, Kathryn Symn and Jeff Sampson on Health and Welfare.

They were given a warm welcome by the audience and then a variety of questions to tackle on a wide range of issues, including judging, breed standards, fireworks and obedience regulations.

The debate was lively but good-humoured and afterwards, Ronnie Irving described the event as "very successful."

He added: "We got a lot of feedback, one example being on the question of judges’ report writing where the view was very clearly that this should be part of the contract. We welcomed the opportunity to hear what people had to say on a variety of things."

Ronnie Irving also thanked the committee of Darlington Championship Show and Freda Marshall for their hard work in arranging the event.

Rosemary Smart said: "We are very pleased with the way tonight has gone. It’s important that we get the message over that we are listening and also that people recognise the good things we do."

The audience included many breed club and canine society officers and committee members from across the north of England. The general verdict was that the event had been "informative", "not bad at all" and "it’s good that they have come."

One club secretary said: "I am glad they are taking notice of us although not all the questions received direct answers. But it’s good they are listening."

Another said: "I think it just scratched the surface and there are still a lot of unanswered questions. But at least they have said they will pay attention to what we say."

The regional question and answer sessions are billed as being an opportunity to enable anyone interested in dogs to find out what the Kennel Club is about – and to have their say. The next event is expected to take place next year.

What the panel said:

The topic attracting the most questions from the audience was judging. Here are some of the comments by the panel.

On quality of judging:

"We have to be very careful but we are working on some things that will be coming out in the New Year about this business of evaluating judges, performance and integrity. It is a very difficult area. Judging dogs is quite a subjective thing and you have to respect opinions.

"But we are looking at this and hopefully we will have something in the New Year that will help."

n On diversity of criteria for judging lists between various clubs in the same breed:

"We don’t want to be dictatorial but where one breed is very clearly out of line then we will write to them to suggest this is amended and to say we might otherwise not pay as much attention to their lists.

"We are going to look at B lists and when we see one that is completely out of line we shall do the same. But it’s very difficult to lay down rules although we are trying to monitor the situation."

On writing reports

"We can take away from this event that there is an overwhelming view that the writing of dogs’ reports should be made compulsory for judges."

On the number of assessors available

"It’s important that the people who are on the list have a reasonable level of experience in judging at championship show level. But we are trying to find a sensible way of extending lists where we can."

The panel was asked about the accredited breeders’ scheme and how it would work:

"This aims to help the inexperienced puppy buyer identify people who satisfy guidelines for best practice. There is no requirement for breeders to join and people who breed infrequently need only join at times when they are planning a litter.

"Our survey has shown that puppy buyers would be willing to pay extra for this reassurance and so the breeder can regain the cost. The scheme will cost money for the Kennel Club to administer and will end up costing more than it takes in revenue.

“Our intention now is that we will launch it at Crufts 2004 to the public and use Discover Dogs 2004 to target the inexperienced puppy buyer. But if the scheme is not supported by dog people and the public, it will just disappear."

On the question of show awards for rare breeds:

"The KC recognises that it is unfair for people who own non CC breeds and can’t apply for international titles. So we are introducing changes to enable them to do so."

On GSDs and Sieger shows in Britain:

"No-one will dictate to us what we should do but we are going to listen to the views of people particularly in the GSD area and keep open minds.

"We realise there are very strong views and when we get all the arguments we will try and come forward with something that will be acceptable to the majority of the breed."

On changes to breed standards, for example, the bulldog and pekingese:

"We want to try and allow the dog community to sort out things in a proper way and invited clubs to come back with suggestions. We would like to congratulate the breed councils for bulldogs and pekingese on how they have done this."

On CC allocation:

"We try to achieve a balance across the calendar and country but it is very difficult. The General Committee is always pleased to receive comments and advice on perceived imbalance amongst particular breeds. The Committee will listen to the case and in many cases, will make adjustments accordingly."

On the running of Companion Shows alongside Open Shows:

"We are encouraging societies to do this because it gives them the opportunity to attract new exhibitors. It may also encourage pet people to learn more about pedigree dogs."