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The KC Bi-Annual General Meeting
by a Special Correspondent


Stoneleigh project keeps members interest focussed

A six-item agenda three of which were disposed of within two minutes was a sure indication that the Kennel Club 132 members who attended the Bi-Annual General Meeting last week were not going to be detained for long.

The AGM minutes were approved without comment and there were no matters arising so it was down to chairman Mr Ronnie Irving to comment on and draw threads from his report to members which had been circulated before the meeting.




• The buildings at the NAC which will form the basis of the new 33,000 sq.ft. show centre


 

photos by Alan V Walker

Commenting on Puppy registrations he said that these had ‘remained stable at a very healthy level. The area which is particularly encouraging is the growth in the use of the Kennel Club website to register puppies online. Now that Accredited Breeders are able to use this service, as well as Kennel Name holders, the percentage of registrations carried out this way is running at nearly 20% of total registrations.’





‘On a more cautionary note’, he continued, ‘the number of registrations of dogs of breeds previously docked, does seem to be diminishing as we had expected it to, but we will have to wait until the end of this year to establish the full effect of this downward trend.

He then addressed another significant income stream, that of microchipping income. ‘A part of the KC activities that is showing excellent results at present, is Petlog Premium, which was formerly known as Petlog Plus. Uptake of this service has risen by 54% over the first nine months of 2007 when compared to the same period last year.

‘This is a significant level of growth, and demonstrates that the Kennel Club is being successful in its promotion of microchipping as an important element of responsible dog ownership’, said the chairman.

The threat of the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals remains very real and with this in mind he pointed out that ‘the Kennel Club remains committed to improving the health and welfare of all dogs, and the work of the Breed Health and Welfare Strategy Group continues in earnest, to try to ensure that the Government does not adopt the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals.

‘Changes have been made to our Regulations to highlight the importance of judges being aware of health issues, and statements stressing this are now included in Judges Books and on Challenge Certificates and Award cards. A pilot scheme has been introduced specifically to assess the judging of certain breeds which we believe may require health improvements. The aim of this is to raise the awareness of judges of the need to promote healthy dogs in the show ring’.

Along the same let’s-fix-it-before-they-show-us-how-to-do-it lines Mr Irving pointed out that, ‘another area in which the Kennel Club is working to improve the health and welfare of dogs, is through its further promotion of the Accredited Breeder Scheme. It’s vital that we all continue to promote this scheme as vigorously as possible to prevent outside bodies who know little about dog breeding - from interfering in how we breed dogs. Unless ordinary dog people like us get fully behind this Kennel Club scheme and help shape its future, I am certain that the lawmakers themselves will make demands of their own - and will try to tell us how to breed dogs in the future.

‘Unless we can persuade Defra and the Government that the Kennel Club Accredited Breeders Scheme is working and is well supported, I am certain that we will have other rules foisted upon us from outside – it is as simple as that’.

The Kennel Club is also working hard to fight new legislation at a local as well as national level, through the KC Dog group. ‘This’, said the chairman, ‘has been set up to help dog owners lobby to maintain their rights and freedoms. More and more local authorities are seeking to introduce Dog Control Orders in their area, and KC Dog has been alerted to ten councils proposing new control orders in the past two weeks alone, by the group’s members and by other parties.

‘The group has achieved some notable successes already, such as helping persuade Camden Council significantly to amend its proposed orders which would have affected many owners in a negative way. KC Dog now has over 2,000 members – it’s free and I would encourage you all to register your interest in this scheme if you haven’t previously done so’.

In recent years and with the decline in generous sponsors the Kennel Club has been increasingly keen to attach its name to flagship. This year the Kennel Club International Agility Festival continues to grow in size and standing, and is now the largest agility event of its kind anywhere in the world.

‘The event is thriving thanks to its reputation for being open to all dogs, regardless of the ability and experience of the owners and dogs competing - and whether the dog is a pedigree dog or not. The Kennel Club is actively encouraging overseas kennel clubs to allow non-pedigree dogs to compete in disciplines such as agility, so that all dogs can be involved and we are happy to be something of a pioneer in this respect’.

‘The weekend before the meeting saw Discover Dogs take place in London and, said the chairman, ‘the event was a great success once more. Visitor numbers remained consistent with the previous year, which saw a record attendance, despite several other high profile events being held across London during the course of the show.

‘The show gives the Kennel Club the ideal opportunity to promote the many benefits of owning a dog, and pedigree breeds in particular, as well as conveying the importance of responsible dog ownership. The Chief Executive and I met the main animal welfare charities earlier this week and they all agreed that events like Discover Dogs have a positive effect on the number of unwanted and neglected dogs that they have to deal with. This demonstrates that we really are making a big difference for dogs through our work’.

Concluding his summary Mr Irving said that ‘The Kennel Club had recently achieved the ISO 9001 standard for quality management, having spent several months ensuring that its working systems fitted in with the stringent criteria laid out by the British Standards Institution.

This great achievement means that the Kennel Club will in future be able to tender for government contracts as and when the opportunity arises. Combined with our success in being awarded Investor in People status last year, this demonstrates the progress that the Kennel Club is currently making’.

The only other matter of significance was the progress on the development of the Kennel Club building at the RASE at Stoneleigh and this is featured here along with artist’s illustrations of how this may look.

Twenty-one minutes after the gavel started the meeting members repaired to the clubhouse to see the display in the gallery which featured the aforementioned artist’s illustrations.


The chairman’s comments on the ‘Stoneleigh’ project

At the Annual General Meeting in May, Members unanimously voted in favour of the proposal "To approve the establishment of a charity to be entitled ‘The Kennel Club Educational Trust’ and to authorise the General Committee, at its discretion, to allocate up to £1.25 million of Kennel Club funds to the charity".

• Kennel Club Chairman Mr W Ronnie Irving

The project behind this proposal was of course the creation of a centre for things such as dog shows, training sessions, seminars and meetings, in a good central location which was guaranteed - over the long term - as being available for use by dog people and the dog friendly public.

I informed the meeting that we had been in discussions with a number of agricultural societies, and that we were at a more advanced stage of negotiations with the Royal Agricultural Society of England – the RASE.

We were seeking to enter into an agreement in respect of a building at the RASE showground at Stoneleigh and were negotiating a form of ‘timeshare agreement’ over a 99 year period during which the facility would be available to us for dog purposes 30 weekends a year and on all week days and evenings except for a period around and including the Royal Show.

During the intervening period since the AGM in May, a number of delaying factors have emerged. The first was the fact that the RASE had a fairly disastrous Royal Show from the point of view of weather and then suddenly, it was announced that they had put the whole showground up for sale. That issue has subsequently been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction and the RASE is again working enthusiastically with us to achieve the ultimate objective of getting this project under way next year.

But because of those delays and for other reasons that have emerged during the negotiations, I have today to tell you that we are still discussing a number of technical legal points and we don’t yet have a finalised signed legal contract. Most of the delay has been caused by the fact that we are trying to ensure that we protect the long term rights of dogs and dog people when this project gets underway.

Happily, the substance of the business agreement we are trying to complete between us and the RASE, has not changed since I presented the concept to you in May
I should emphasise, at this point, that it is quite normal to experience delays and sticking points when negotiating complicated long term contracts of this kind, and it is the General Committee’s view that it is essential that the process is not rushed in any way which would be to the detriment of the world of dogs. What is key is to ensure that the interests of dogs and dog people are fully protected.

Assuming that we do ultimately agree and sign up to satisfactory terms and – just as importantly - that the commercial building contracts now out to tender come in at acceptable cost levels - it is still likely that the building will be available to us at some stage next year – though not perhaps in its completed form as early as July which is what we had previously hoped.

This is of course disappointing but I am sure you will agree it is vital that we secure the best long term deal for dogs and dog people. To rush into an agreement simply to achieve the timescale we had previously envisaged, would be neither sensible nor indeed responsible.

However, I have to say that I had hoped to be standing before you today with a signed and sealed contract. That is not the case - but I remain confident that we will eventually come to a satisfactory agreement with the RASE and get the project under way.

However, in the unlikely event that we ultimately fail, for any reason, to reach a satisfactory agreement with RASE, you can be assured that every effort will be made to develop an alternative project.

In that context, I am happy to say that The Kennel Club Educational Trust has now been fully established and its Trustees are myself, Gerald King and our Chief Executive Rosemary Smart. However, the sum of £1.25m which we have authority to inject into it, has not yet been allocated to the Charity in view of the delayed negotiations with RASE.

As I explained to the Members at the General Meeting, the establishment of a charity is advantageous to us and to dogdom from a tax standpoint, as it is likely that, dealt with in this way, payments into this charity would be tax allowable from the Kennel Club’s point of view. It is also the hope that the charity will begin to take over from the Kennel Club, some of the many public, training and educational roles that the Club itself currently carries out in the interests of dogs, the dog owning public at large and, indeed the non-dog owning public as well - in the form of our Safe and Sound Scheme.

Clearly, on this basis, it would be sensible to allocate to the charity, as previously agreed, the considerable sum received as a result of the change of ownership of our Healthcare Insurance provider PetPartners plc. But it is important that the Members do remain happy that this is done even when we are still at this stage not 100% certain that our deal with RASE will go ahead.
Unless it is the feeling of this meeting that we should not carry on with the injection of funds, we do still intend to commit the funds to the Kennel Club Educational Trust before the end of this financial year.

We are assuming that ultimately we will satisfactorily complete negotiations with RASE, and so we have a display in the Gallery with Artist’s impressions of the building, both externally and internally which, I would invite you to have a look at when you return to the Club for Lunch.

Just to remind you of the detail of the Stoneleigh project – the refurbished building at Stoneleigh will be of approximately 33,000 square feet which will encompass an entrance area, hall accommodation, two meeting rooms, kitchen, light refreshment/tea stations, toilets and will have access to free parking.

The facility will be capable of housing two large breed club championship shows or one large open or premier open show at any one time. There will be generous outdoor rings available adjacent to the building. making it suitable also for obedience and agility shows. As many of you know, there is hotel accommodation on site and access to the venue is quite easy. The meeting rooms will be available either as two separate areas or one larger area and all the facilities will be available to hire as separate entities, or in their entirety.

So - we are therefore assuming that Members do not have a problem with our continuing to inject the appropriate funds into the Charity, despite the fact that our negotiations with the RASE are not 100% completed.


KC Factfile


New DNA testing schemes for Border Collies
 
At the request of the Border Collie Breed Council, the General Committee of the Kennel Club has recently approved two new official DNA testing schemes for Collie Eye Anomaly/Choroidal Hypoplasia (CEA/CH) and Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (CL) in the Border Collie.
These tests are offered by OptiGen in America and further details can be obtained from www.optigen.com

Copies of all future test certificates issued by OptiGen will be sent directly to the Kennel Club, where the test result will be added to the dog’s details on the registration database. This will trigger the publication of the test result in the next available Breed Records Supplement, and the result will also appear on any new registration certificate issued for the dog and on the registration certificates of any future progeny of the dog.

Owners of dogs which are dual registered with both the Kennel Club and the ISDS should ensure that only the KC registration number is included on any OptiGen request or application form.
Owners who have already had their dog(s) DNA tested for these conditions can send the test certificate into the Kennel Club and the data will be added to the dog’s registration details.

In addition, if the owner includes the original registration certificate for the dog (not a copy) then a new registration certificate will be issued, with the DNA result on it, free of charge. Please send the DNA test certificates to: The Information Department, The Kennel Club, 1 – 5 Clarges Street, Piccadilly, London W1J 8AB.

For further information on this scheme please contact
Dr Jeff Sampson, either by phone on 020-7518 1068 or by email jeff.sampson@thekennelclub.org.uk


Council proposes to ban dogs from Newbiggin Beach
 

The angry voices challenging Wansbeck District Council’s plans to ban dogs from Newbiggin Beach are getting louder, and KC Dog, the Kennel Club’s dog owners group, is supporting the campaign to challenge the council.

Wansbeck District Council is currently consulting on whether to ban dogs entering Newbiggin Beach from the breakwater adjacent to Church Point, extending south to Spital Point and including any slope or staircase leading onto the beach from the promenade. This is an extension of the current ban along a small stretch of the beach, and would apply all year round, even when very few people use the beach, which KC Dog believes is unreasonable. If the council was to introduce unreasonable and disproportionate dog control orders, then according to guidance issued by Defra, the orders may be challenged through the courts.

Responsible dog owners have organised a petition which so far has 834 signatures opposing the complete ban on the beach. The beach is an ideal, safe and open area for residents to walk their dogs, and its closure to dog walkers could adversely affect the health and welfare of both the animals and their owners. Furthermore, a determined KC Dog member has found out, under the Freedom of Information Act, that it would appear that a mere seven complaints were made about irresponsible dog owners to prompt the council’s plan.

These proposals are an overreaction and do not discriminate between responsible and irresponsible dog owners. It is now imperative for responsible dog owners to make their opinions known to the council by responding to the consultation, to prevent these unfair and draconian orders being passed.

For more information about these or any other dog control orders, please contact Laura Vallance on laura.vallance@thekennelclub.org.uk / 020 7518 1020.


‘A Scientific approach to the Canine Athlete’

Dog owners have a great opportunity to learn more about canine sports science by applying for a place at a seminar entitled ‘A Scientific Approach to the Canine Athlete – Part 2’ on Sunday 24 February 2008 at the Gilbert Murray Hall, Manor Road, Leicester, LE2 2LG.

The seminar will explore best practice when taking part with a dog in active sports and for treating and preventing any possible injuries by taking a holistic approach.

The event follows on from a successful seminar held in February this year and will be of interest to people who attended that event and newcomers alike. The seminar will include presentations and information on the following subjects:

Physiotherapy
Osteopathy
Canine Acupuncture
Canine Hydrotherapy and its indications
Common orthopaedic conditions and their treatments
Canine rehabilitation and what it involves
Practical demonstrations
Open forum / Q&A session

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: "The seminar highlights the Kennel Cub’s ongoing commitment to improving the general health and welfare of dogs. We are pleased to support the seminar and believe it is a great opportunity for people to discover more about how they can improve the health and wellbeing of their dog."
Tickets cost £60.00, which includes VAT, all refreshments, buffet lunch, a delegate’s pack and presentation handouts.

An application form for the seminar can be downloaded from the Kennel Club website www.thekennelclub.org.uk with the closing date for entries being the 31st January 2008. For further information, please contact Zoe Tharmasingam on zoe.tharmasingam@thekennelclub.org.uk or Tel: 0870 606 6750 (Ext 313).