|Kennel Club Secretary goes
Members shocked at high speed departure
The world of dogs has been rocked yet again with a shock high profile departure from the management team of the Kennel Club.
With the Kennel Club announcement last week that the long standing and well known Secretary of the Kennel Club, Caroline Kisko, was leaving with immediate effect, questions were being asked at the City of Birmingham show and on social media all weekend as to what exactly is going on inside Clarges Street.
Late on Friday afternoon the following announcement was made by the Kennel Club
ANNOUNCEMENT - KENNEL CLUB SECRETARY
“After 21 years of working for the Kennel Club, for most of her time as Kennel Club Secretary, Caroline Kisko has decided to move on to pursue other interests. Caroline has contributed significantly during her time at the Kennel Club in her role as official spokesperson as well as leading our Health and Welfare programmes and our welfare lobbying activities. Caroline’s last day at the Kennel Club will be today, Friday 30th August 2019. The Kennel Club would like to thank Caroline for her service and wishes her well for the future.
The Board has appointed Kathryn Mansfield as Kennel Club Secretary, combining with her current responsibilities within Governance and Education. Kathryn joined the Kennel Club in 1976 and has worked across a number of areas including the Shows Department, Canine Events and Awards, Canine Activities, Assistant Secretary, KCAI and Good Citizen Dog Scheme.”
Caroline speaking to the press at Crufts 2015 in her role as principal spokesperson for the Kennel Club.
Photo by OnEdition / The Kennel Club
OUR DOGS contacted Caroline Kisko on Friday evening for her reaction following the announcement and she simply replied ‘No comment’. In fact Mrs Kisko had been seen at the City of Birmingham on Friday as had Katherine Mansfield but no indication was given by either that such dramatic changes were about to be announced
The reaction to this announcement by exhibitors and Kennel Club members at the City of Birmingham show was one of shock and surprise not only regarding the actual departure but also because of the speed at which it appears to have taken place; also the speed in which a replacement had already been announced. People expressed surprised that Mrs Kiskos’ shoes had apparently been filled so quickly and that no process of advertising for or finding a replacement had taken place.
Caroline meets the Defra Minister, Lord Gardiner, at Crufts 2017 where the Kennel Club led a campaign promoting responsible dog breeding.
Photo by OnEdition / The Kennel Club
Following the last two years traumatic events surrounding the Board, its previous Chairman and certain board members, newly elected Chairman Mr Tony Allcock seemed to be working hard to steady the ship and return some semblance of order to the governing body of dogs in the UK. The reputational damage to the Kennel Club, both nationally and internationally, has been massive following high profile resignations, special general meetings, member’s dissatisfaction, accusations of cronyism, and complaints about the alleged behaviour of board members.
The last thing either Tony Allcock or indeed any of the Board would have wanted would be to again be under the spotlight of bad publicity, but with this announcement it seems another can of worms has been opened.
From the reaction of exhibitors and Kennel Club members over the last few days, it seems that very few people actually believe the Kennel Clubs’ statement that Mrs Kisko had left so quickly to ‘pursue other interests’ when she had dedicated over 20 years of her working life to the Kennel Club and had apparently not been required to work any period of notice of any kind whatsoever. Her track record in pedigree dogs was unique within the employed staff inside Clarges Street. There had been a feeling Mrs Kisko was being systematically sidelined especially when her role as Company Secretary was given over to the Finance Officer, a relative newcomer to the Kennel Club, Mr Kevin McGuirk and press duties were handed to another newcomer Mr Steve Conway.
“Decidedly strange” is how one Kennel Club member put it when contacting OUR DOGS this week. “A total whitewash as usual” said another, whilst one commentator on social media said, “the Kennel Club shows no loyalty at all”
There has been no indication as yet from the Kennel Club regarding any financial arrangements regarding this shock announcement. However, not surprisingly people have been quick to draw their own conclusions from a Kennel Club statement that seemed to create more questions than it provided answers. One exhibitor on Facebook said,
“This stinks. Anyone who has worked for a company knows what happens when someone is out of the door straightaway. Pay off,
Someone who has another job lined up in her position would have given at least a 3 months’ notice.”
DID THE BOARD KNOW?
Caroline pictured at the KC London headquarters.
Photo by Heidi Hudson / The Kennel Club
It is also very unclear at the moment whether Board members were part of the process surrounding this high profile departure from the Kennel Club management team or whether they were even aware it was about to happen. Mrs Kisko has been ever present at Kennel Club Board meetings in her role as Secretary, so it appears unlikely that her so called ‘retirement’ would not have appeared on an agenda at any board meeting, but that does not appear to be the case.
When OUR DOGS contacted Mrs Kisko for a personal statement, we received the simple two word reply: “No Comment” … which in itself says a lot bearing in mind Mrs Kisko has always been at the forefront of most Kennel Club statements over many years. Even last week, she was still handling interviews for the Kennel Club on TV and Radio, when this ‘departure’ was apparently hanging over her.
From the reaction of Board members at the City of Birmingham, it certainly appeared that they were as surprised as everyone else at both the rapid exit of Mrs Kisko and the just as fast appointment of Mrs Mansfield in her place. It also appears that whereas the statement suggests a happy retirement scenario where all parties were in harmonious accord, much confusion exists as to how much ALL the Board were aware or whether a fait accompli took place;
OUR DOGS understands that most Board members only found out when they received an email on Friday morning. The same applied to Kennel Club staff who received an internal email late on Friday afternoon from the CEO of the Kennel Club Mrs Rose Smart, just before most staff members left for the weekend.
Despite the best efforts of the management team at the Kennel Club for what seems like damage limitation, it appears that yet again the Kennel Club has shot itself spectacularly in the foot. One long standing Kennel Club member told the OUR DOGS team at Birmingham: “Whatever way this situation has been played out, as Kennel Club members, we have a right to know what has really gone on and who at the very top is actually taking the decisions.”
Kennel Club Chairman Tony Allcock, who was judging at the City show on Saturday, also circulated a similar letter to Kennel Club members about the same time. There has been talk of an ‘HR issue’ and ‘Succession planning’ coming out of Clarges Street, whereas dog people at the show simply called it a ‘fudge up’ demanding to know the truth of the matter
Since the reorganisation within Clarges Street, largely carried out under the auspices of the previous Chairman Simon Luxmoore it has been unclear to many K C members and dog people at large as to who is responsible for what in the corridors of power within Clarges Street and whether internal power struggles have played a part in this unfortunate scenario.
With the departure of the vastly experienced and recognisable Secretary Caroline Kisko, it would appear that the management team or ‘Executives’ as they are known seem to be more distanced from dog people, exhibitors and breeders. Mrs Kisko appeared to provide a bridge between the administrators and the actual customer base of breeders and exhibitors because of her personal involvement in dogs which gave her credibility
The Executive team now consists of Rose Smart the Chief Executive Officer, Kathryn Mansfield now the Kennel Club Secretary as well as heading up the Show Department, Kevin McGuirk Finance Officer and now also Human Resources Officer and Company Secretary,
Helen Fox, Jacquie Easton, Linda Branwhite (Legal),
Steve Conway (Press) and Vanessa McAlpine (Crufts)
It would appear that none of the remaining Executives have ever been active in showing, judging or breeding. Some of the long established members of the team have certainly been there for some time and are well known and well versed in their roles but others seem decidedly ‘non doggy’ or have little empathy with the dog game which they administrate.
Whoever issued approved or penned the press release announcing the departure of Mrs Kisko must surely have realised that questions would be asked, if they didn’t, then ‘they are in the wrong job’ as one Kennel Club member told OUR DOGS. It is unthinkable that such a situation would be allowed to blow over without further scrutiny.
Caroline Kisko had been the spokesperson for the Kennel Club through every traumatic scenario imagined for many years, from Pedigree Dogs Exposed to alleged dog poisonings at Crufts and she is well known to many canine journalists in the UK and worldwide as well as the national press. Mrs Kisko was an integral part of the Crufts team conducting TV and radio interviews on a regular basis, also fronting the daily press conferences at Crufts.
Even up to last week, Mrs Kisko was still being used by the Kennel Club as spokesperson in a number of interviews and radio broadcasts for Puppy Awareness Week and other aspects of Kennel Club activities. As recently as last Thursday, the Kennel Club appeared completely happy that Mrs Kisko appeared on television representing the KC on London Today, yet less than 24 hours later, she was ‘out of the door’ so to speak. How the Kennel Club is going to replace such canine knowledge, ability and experience is very hard to imagine. Similarly, it remains to be seen who is left at the Kennel Club to take on the likes of a Jemmima Harrison when difficult subjects crop up in the future. Beverley Cuddy of Dogs Today and an ex Kennel Club staff member talking on social media said,
“Who would make such a decision? Who hires and fires a KC secretary? KC are not normally known for speed - was a committee convened? This was a Friday afternoon press release and she was gone - but she wasn’t even at work that day in London - she was seen at Birmingham at the dog show. This appears to be news to many of the people you’d be expecting to have made such decisions. So what went on and who did it and why? Just when things were starting to calm down at the KC.”
It seems extremely unlikely that this departure of such a senior and publicly recognised Executive is a happy one no matter how the Kennel Club management team or Board dress it up and K C members will be demanding to know what is actually going on inside Clarges Street.
As we go to press, OUR DOGS is aware that a Board meeting will have taken place on Tuesday this week where it is hoped that some questions will be answered.
Name: Linda Thomson
Comment: The day the KC decided to become a limited company and adopted a "board" was the day the KC ceased to be the organisation it was and what it was created for. Money and income first and welfare second, if not the KC would have stopped registering litters from know puppy farmers
Name: Mark Hutchings
Comment: I was sad to see Caroline Kisco's resignation. Her personality. character, and background experience made her the ideal spokesperson for dogs. It is the most recent of many KC problems and it should be obvious that the organisational structure is partly to blame for them. not individual people. The KC is based on an antiquated members social club recently modified to become a successful business but it has obviously created many conflicts. Independent advice is required.