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Judges must be held accountable


DISCREPANCIES between judging reports and reports made by the KC’s new health monitors have raised yet more concerns about whether or not judges are following correct procedures when assessing exhibits.

This year saw many Health and Welfare Monitors randonly visit registered general and group championship shows with 14 breeds in mind, showing a clear and very welcome move to make sure that judges were judging carefully to the breed standard (including any amended standards), and that the soundness and health of exhibits was being measured equally alongside their quality. the breeds in question were all selected because of their alleged exaggerations.

The judges were asked by the kennel Club to complete and return a form stating their views on the breed on the day and to attach their critique. These were subsequently compared with the ‘on the day’ views of the health monitor.

However, whilst in most cases early reports from the KC have showed that many are taking the role of judge very seriously, certain differences in some breeds have come to light.
One recent question posed was whether any of the dogs entered showed any features or exaggerations which (you) consider would be detrimental to the soundness, health or wellbeing of the dog?”

For one breed, Answer 1 was “No” and Answer 2 was “Movement in general was uncoordinated with rear action particularly poor. A second placed bitch had poor eyes with encrusted eyelids.”
For another breed, Answer 1 was “They were an excellent breed to judge with very little to concern me.” And Answer 2 was “Poor fronts and rears were almost universally present in this breed.”

In fact, in each of the two breeds above, answers 1 and 2 were for the same breed at the same show? They are in fact the actual responses from judges (answer 1) and monitors of a couple (answer 2) of ‘high profile’ breeds at championship shows.

In the latest edition of the Gazette, KC Chairman Ronnie Irving says that whilst pleased that most judges are fulfilling requirements, others are being less diligent in their roles.

Mr Irving said in his column: ‘It is clear from the many replies from judges that most people are taking these issues very seriously. They are completing the forms diligently and thoughtfully and they are making some very sensible and constructive comments. Some judges, on the other hand, are merely going through the motions of ticking all the boxes and are paying scant attention. Others are not even bothering to return the forms.

There is no doubt that eventually, when this process has been up and running for some time, those judges who persistently fail to see or who ignore issues that the majority of judges in a breed are critical of, will have to be given special attention by the Kennel Club Judges Sub Committee. So will those who don’t fill in the forms at all!

‘The Kennel Club has made it clear that it intends to continue to carry out random monitoring of judges and to examine very carefully the reports of judges who are judging these fourteen breeds – and other breeds where necessary.

The Kennel Club Breed Standard revisions have being going on for several years, and have been given further attention recently. But that work is just the start of the process.

Impetus

‘The matter is now in the hands of the judges. It is only in the show ring and from breeders and exhibitors that the impetus for positive change has come in the past, and will come in the future. Judges clearly have a crucial part to play in this. For that reason the Kennel Club and all breed clubs must make certain that judges are properly trained to ensure that health aspects are regarded as paramount when people are judging a breed.

‘Thankfully most judges are only too well aware of the issues and are keen to make all of this work and work well. Those few who persistently defy or give scant attention to this health and welfare requirement will have to be identified and brought to account for their actions.’