This week's Dog World Comment

06/05/2015

This week's Dog World Comment

THOSE WHO may have been hoping to see some revolutionary proposals on the agenda for the Kennel Club’s annual meeting will no doubt have been disappointed when they received their agenda.

  There are no concrete proposals from ordinary members for any specific changes, other than to set up three working parties.

  Certainly, all three areas which the members concerned would like these working parties to look at are of vital importance to the future direction of the club’s activities, but even if these requests are passed it would be a while before they report and who knows if anything new would emerge?

  There has been plenty of talk over the past year about aspects of KC policy some, both members and ‘ordinary’ dog people, would like to see changed; but clearly none of the members felt strongly enough to put down any proposals for actual changes to the rules or to specific policies.

  Or could it be that some are playing a waiting game? Within the next year or two the composition, and thereby the balance of power, of the General Committee may well change as some of the ‘old guard’ reach the retirement age, so who knows whether the club might then take a rather different direction?

  This year there is just one retirement on age grounds, so there will be one new face on the Committee. Indeed, there could be more than one, as there are four new contenders, along with the eight seeking re-election. In the past it has been almost unknown for the sitting candidates to fail to be re-elected, but there is no real reason why it could not happen if that was the members’ collective will.

  Of the new candidates some will be known to most dog people, some less so, some have been members for many years, some less so. Once again we wish that along with their biographies they, plus those seeking re-election, were allowed to issue officially a short ‘manifesto’ explaining why they were seeking the post and what they hoped to be able to help the club achieve were they elected.

  It did not go unnoticed that the names of the new candidates’ proposers were omitted from the literature sent to members. Inevitably this omission will lead to speculation as to whether this was just simply a cock-up; one has to assume that it was and we trust that it will have been officially put right by the time this is read.

  It is likely that some members may have plenty to say on some topics which arise during the reports from the club officials. These will surely include two items which arose over the past few weeks: the decision about who will publish the revived Kennel Gazette, and the club’s failure to buy a promising show site in the West Country. We would be astonished if members do not demand a detailed explanation in both cases.

  The results of the survey into membership issues will we hope prove of great interest. Sooner or later the ‘democracy’ issue is going to have to be tackled seriously, and we trust it will be ‘sooner’. How about next year’s AGM?

  After a few non-controversial proposals from the General Committee come the three proposals from members.

  Jean Lanning, a former Committee member, wants a working party to look at the club’s registration policy, with special reference to the approaches to purebred and to crossbred dogs.

  This is of considerable concern to many members and others; as we said last week there is a need to clear the air for in spite of repeated and continual denials that ‘designer crosses’ are or are likely to be registered or recognised, there is still a perception that the KC could emphasize more strongly its commitment to pedigree dogs and to their breeders.

  The fact that the KC has another ‘register’ for non-pedigree dogs is nothing new, but this is of concern to some who feel it gives false ‘respectability’ to such animals and those who deliberately breed them.

  Quite how this can be resolved we are not sure but many would certainly like to see the KC come out more emphatically on the ‘side’ of pedigree dogs.

  Miss Lanning also raises the question of non-Standard colours in certain breeds which she feels indicate that another breed may have been introduced. Whether that applies to the specific examples we give we are not sure – could blue Bulldogs and Frenchies not simply be a dilute of acceptable colours? Nevertheless many will agree with her that this too is a question which needs thrashing out.

  She also mentions that the Assured Breeder Scheme can include those (such as Guide Dogs) who produce crossbreeds, something the KC defends but which provides ammunition for those who dislike the scheme.

  The KC General Committee would like members to oppose Miss Lanning’s proposal. We feel that the club needs to demonstrate more clearly its response to members’ worries about its attitude to non-pedigree or non-Standard dogs.

  Next, John Symonds raises questions about the KC governance, and wants another working party set up. We share some of his thoughts, but not all. Yes, the General Committee is perhaps bigger than ideal, but with so many different disciplines to include, isn’t that hard to avoid? Cutting down the number would surely reduce the representation from fields other that the show ring, rather than make a better balance.

  We do not support term limits for directors but, as we suggest above, do wish the members would sometimes see the desirability of ‘new blood’ when voting.

  He does well to highlight the role of the Finance and General Purposes Sub-Committee. There is a perception that its members (some of whom, as trustees, are not subject to re-election by the members) have inordinate influence at the expense of other elected members of the General Committee.

  Dr Symonds’ second suggestion for a working party is for one looking at communications. Although accepting that the current team work very hard, there are many who feel that the KC could do with some help here in getting our messages across to the public and that it is something on which it could be worth spending a significant amount of money, especially in these days when a rapid response is needed thanks to the instant spread of news and often ill-informed opinion via social media.

  On both these proposals the General Committee is sitting on the fence, and wondering whether the members feel ‘the time is right’. Whether you agree or not with Dr Symonds’ suggestions, we can’t quite see why timing should be an issue; if these things are worth doing they are worth doing now!

  As last year, the club’s chairman Steve Dean adds his two-pennyworth through the pages of the online Journal. He doesn’t actually say he disagrees with the proposals but he doesn’t exactly show enthusiasm, raising the question of the size of the available volunteer workforce, and questioning if the registration issue needs revisiting so soon. 

  Once again we are rather uncomfortable about the person who will be chairing the meeting giving his own views in the official publication especially before some members had even read the proposals!

Anyway it promises to be another interesting meeting...

 

PERHAPS OF more obviously serious import than the KC’s internal workings is the revelation that the European Union wishes to ‘register’ all ‘pet breeders and sellers’. 

  Are you happy with this? Is this a price worth paying for combating puppy farming which may be bad enough in parts of Britain and Ireland but is far worse in some other parts of the Union? As ever, how would it be enforced, and what would it mean for responsible hobby breeders? 

We need to ensure our representatives ask the right questions and debate the issue properly before anything is set in stone.


 

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