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KC encourages best judging practice

Issue: 02/08/2019

THE KC has updated its judging regulations and code of best practice to encourage impartiality and integrity.
The KC says that its Judges Committee and the Board: “Consider there is value in bringing forward a number of new show regulations and a range of additional supporting statements in the code that recognises and protects best practice and underpins and protects the integrity of judges at every level of show.”
It goes on to say: “This is because, in all areas where pedigree dog competitions are discussed, there is always a range of opinions expressed about judges. Their decisions and practices are critiqued and commented on in a variety of different ways and expressed across many different media.  
“This high level of rigorous oversight and debate has led to a high number of judges who on a regular basis deliver excellence, who care a great deal about the decisions they deliver and are rightly proud of their experience and knowledge.
”It is considered important that the show regulations and the code of best practice for judges includes criteria and advice that underpins this level of excellence. 
“There are many situations in which judges’ actions could be misconstrued.  The code of best practice describes some of those situations to be avoided and helps all to better understand what is not acceptable and where criticism might arise. The code discusses how judges can best present themselves across the media, including social media. This public forum is an area where people freely debate the finer points of all that happens at a licensed dog show and the code provides guidance to judges as to how their actions could be perceived and where their integrity could be compromised.
“It is recognised that judges, in many cases, also exhibit. In fact in order to continuously improve, this can only enhance the knowledge and experience of our judges. That said, care must be taken to avoid certain situations which may be misconstrued and lead to the appearance of irregularity.
“Some examples of a conflict of interest are provided in the code and are published in the updated regulations. New show regulations will allow judges to request a dog be withdrawn from competition should he/she believe the exhibition of the dog creates a conflict of interest. A regulation is to be introduced to state that exhibitors should not enter a dog for exhibition if a conflict of interest with the judge is apparent.”  
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, has added: “Our show community continually strive to exhibit the highest quality of dog, to be judged by our highly competent and experienced judges. The continued evolution of the advice provided to the judges, and recognised by all who show and exhibit, will add a further layer of support for all to see and which will further enhance our shows in the future.
“Perception is important to the reputation of Kennel Club licensed dog shows, their standing in the world of pedigree dogs and the value of awards won and titles gained. Both judges and exhibitors have a responsibility to ensure that dog shows are a positive experience and promote the positive aspects of owning and showing a pedigree dog.”
The new regulations will be effective from 1 January 2020 and may be read at the following link: bit.ly/32o698c where all changes are marked in bold. A new edition of the Code of Best Practice for Judges may be accessed on the Kennel Club website at bit.ly/2K3XPbY.

New additions

The words shown in bold print below are the main new terms added to the regulations:
Judges are expected to act impartially, with integrity and to only judge on the merits of the dogs in competition and consider no other factors. 
A judge must not alter the ownership of a dog in order to allow that dog to be entered for exhibition at a show where that judge is officiating.
A judge must request that a dog be withdrawn from competition if the judge has a conflict of interest with the dog and/or its owner.
Dogs can be disqualified if they are:
“Registered or recorded as owned by the scheduled Judge or any member of his/her immediate household or immediate family within a period of twelve months prior to the Show. This shall not apply to dogs owned by a Judge appointed in an emergency.
“Handled at a show, boarded or prepared for exhibition within the previous twelve months by the scheduled Judge or any member of his/her immediate household or immediate family. This shall not apply to a Judge appointed in an emergency.
An entry must not be made at any show under a judge of any dog where said judge or any member of his/her immediate household or immediate family has been known to have owned, handled at a show, boarded or prepared such dog for exhibition within 12 months prior to the Show. This regulation shall not apply to judges appointed in an emergency.
An entry must not be made at any show under a judge of any dog where said judge has bred the dog. This Regulation shall not apply to judges appointed in an emergency.
An exhibitor must not enter or exhibit a dog under a judge which creates a conflict of interest between the dog, exhibitor and/or judge.

OUR DOGS COMMENTS

Many readers will welcome the main thrust of the changes outlined above. Many have strongly disapproved of the practice whereby certain multi breed judges transfer dogs into the names of household or family members so that they can be shown at events at which the original owner is judging other breeds.
This practice has now been blocked by the statement that: “A judge must not alter the ownership of a dog in order to allow that dog to be entered for exhibition at a show where that judge is officiating.” 
Of course, proving that this had been the reason for such a change of ownership will not be easy so it has been suggested that a second rule change might have made the rule more enforceable. The suggestion has been that a rule could have been introduced saying that no dog could be shown at a show at which a judge is judging any breed, until at least 12 months had elapsed between the date of the show and the date of the dog’s transfer to another family or household member owner. It is not clear why such a belt and braces approach has not been taken by the KC. 
It is laudable that the KC has attempted to reduce perceived conflicts of interest by stating: “A judge must request that a dog be withdrawn from competition if the judge has a conflict of interest with the dog and/or its owner.” While it is perhaps reasonable to expect a judge to declare a conflict of interest with an exhibitor/owner, it is not however clear how a judge can be expected to know that he or she has a conflict of interest with any specific dog shown under them. How are they expected to know which dog is which, and therefore how can they be sure whether there is a conflict? Surely judges should, as previously, simply be expected just to judge whatever dogs are entered under them, with the responsibility for preventing conflicts of interest being left exclusively in the hands of the exhibitor rather than the judge. To move the responsibility to be that of the judge does seem to place the judge in the invidious position of having to be sure of the identity of an individual dog or an individual handler/exhibitor before invoking the conflict of interest rule.  
Having said all of that, there is no doubt that the KC is to be congratulated for taking some initial steps to sort out some of these previous sources of dissatisfaction amongst certain exhibitors. 


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