MINUTES OF THE KCALC MEETING HELD ON 17th June 2012

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PRESENT

  • Dave Ray - Midlands

  • RichardJordan - Midlands

  • IanMallabar - North East

  • JanetNero - North East

  • PaulineBaltes - North West

  • MikeHallam - North West

  • RonnieMcAleese - Northern Ireland

  • Morag Kelly - Scotland

  • JohnGilbert - South East & East Anglia

  • TonyGriffin - South & South West

  • LesleyOlden - South & South West

  • MikeShaw - Wales

IN ATTENDANCE

Mr S Croxford                       Activities Sub-Committee & General Committee Member (Item 4 only)

  • DebbieDeuchar  - Manager – Working Dog Activities Team

  • JoannaNosalik - Specialist – WTOA

IN THE CHAIR:                    Dave Ray

The Chairman welcomed the Council members to the final meeting of the current term of office.

ITEM 1.          APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

1.         Apologies had been received from Simon Chandler, representing South East and East Anglia.

ITEM 2.          APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES

2.         The minutes of the meeting held on 19 January 2012 were signed by the Chairman as an accurate record.

ITEM 3.          MATTERS ARISING 

3.         The Council noted the following matters which had been approved by the General Committee at its meeting on 17 April 2012:

  1.  Amendment to Regulation H(1)(A)7. (Progression)

  2.  Amendment to Regulation H(1)(A)8. (Points Progression)

  3.  Amendment to Regulation H(1)(A)9.f. (Grade 6 (Senior))

Championship Class and Grade 7
4. John Gilbert, on behalf of the Grading Review Working Party, proposed two possible amendments to Regulation H(1)(A)9.h. regarding Championship Class eligibility. Richard Jordan seconded the proposals. A discussion took place which included acknowledgement for a need to give more value to standard Grade 7 classes by extending criteria to be eligible for the Championship Class. However, the regions were split by opinion whether there should be one standard agility win at Grade 7 or two top three places gained in Grade 7 standard agility classes. Concerns were raised whether this could have a detrimental effect on small and medium classes as they were numerically smaller, but it was reiterated that dogs currently eligible for the Championship Class would not be affected. Many were of the view that the recent changes to the grading system as well as the work surrounding the matter on course times would prevent quick progression to Grade 7. As a result, the Council did not support either proposal, but agreed to review the implementation of the aforementioned changes at a later date prior to further consideration.

Calculating Accurate Course Times
5. The Chairman reminded the meeting that the purpose of addressing the above matter was to ensure judges set a realistic time criteria for their course designs and to be in line with the majority of the rest of the world. A discussion took place to determine firstly whether the agility community was in favour of regulating the need to calculate course times and secondly, which method should be adopted in order to sustain consistency in judging procedures. The majority agreed to enforce the calculation of course times, however, it was requested that there should be guidance, a leeway to cover any contributing factors such as weather or design difficulty, and uniformity in the method chosen. 

6.         6. The Council discussed the two methods of calculating a course time, stating that the majority of the rest of the world measured the dogs' anticipated optimum route. The office explained the matrix for the method of calculating a course time; by measuring a straight line from centre to centre between obstacles, but research was not yet ready for publication as information was still being collated. It was reiterated that the Judges' Working Party's intention was to revise the existing course time matrix as a guideline reference for judges. Agility Accredited Trainers were responsible for educating future agility judges and the Working Party was of the view that the only accurate way of calculating a course was by measuring straight line centre to centre. The Council did however stress, that it was not made aware that the research was being conducted using a different method than the dogs' anticipated optimum path. It was the Council's decision to propose a regulation to make the measuring of courses mandatory and it was acknowledged that the suggested new method would be more consistent and accurate as far as distance measurement was concerned. However, the majority still favoured the existing method as it calculated the actual length based on the dogs' anticipated optimum route and this would also standardise the Kennel Club's method with the FCI and the majority of other countries' Kennel Clubs. 

7.         7. The Council were in favour of regulating the calculation of course times and requested the proposal to be referred to its next meeting in January 2013 for formal recommendation, effective from 1January 2014 at the earliest. However, judges would be encouraged to continue using the existing course time matrix in the meantime. The office was requested to issue a press release to highlight the matter and it was stated that the document would be made available on the Kennel Club website. The Council requested the Judges' Working Party to continue with its research, but asked that both methods of calculating a course time be recorded in order to review a better comparison of the findings for its next meeting.

Large Dog Olympia Semi-Finals
8. Following the Council's request to review the matter at its January meeting, the Chairman reported that finalists had been consulted as to whether it would be fairer to take a smaller number of dogs from the Novice and Senior Olympia quarter finals held at Stoneleigh, rather than 36 currently taken. This would allow each handler a minimum of two runs at Olympia. It was concluded that the majority were content to continue with the current format and, therefore, no further action was considered necessary. 

ITEM 4.          AGILITY STRATEGIC DIRECTION 

9.         9. The Chairman began by welcoming Steve Croxford to the meeting to provide an update on progress. Prior to any discussion, the Chairman highlighted that the purpose of the strategy was for the Kennel Club to be more inclusive and to adapt its services for the future. The Council acknowledged that the majority of the feedback provided at its last meeting in January had been addressed and incorporated into the annex. However, concerns were still raised with regard to private organisations holding licensed agility shows as a business and the negative impact they could have on local shows run by registered societies. It was accepted that the Kennel Club could not prevent growing trends and that market forces would ultimately decide, but it was emphasised that by adapting current practices competitors would be safeguarded. 

10.       10. The Council acknowledged these concerns, but since it had already discussed at length the various issues raised surrounding the strategy at its previous meeting, constructive feedback to the annex of the H Regulations was welcomed. A discussion ensued and a number of beneficial comments and suggestions were noted to revise some of the new regulations accordingly. It was noted that the amended H Regulations would be referred to the Activities Sub-Committee for further consideration before the General Committee would make its final decision in July 2012. It was clarified that subject to General Committee approval and the completion of necessary IT administration, organisations or individuals would be able to apply for Listed Status in late summer/early autumn this year.

            11. By the end of the discussion, the majority were content with the developments taking place in agility. Steve Croxford thanked the Council for inviting him to the meeting and thanked the agility community for all its continued support and constructive feedback. 

ITEM 5.          FIVE YEAR STRATEGY

12.       The Council was asked whether it wanted to suggest any additional matters to be considered at a later date for the next term of office. The following points would be added to the five year strategy in addition to those already listed on the agenda:-

  • To address the issue of sub-standard judging. The office informed the meeting that this matter was currently being reviewed by the Judges' Working Party and that a report would be produced for the Council's next meeting.

  • To address standards of agility equipment. Concerns were raised that some manufacturers provided sub-standard agility equipment, particularly the contact obstacles which could be potentially unsafe for dogs. It was stated that judges and show organisers had discretion to remove obstacles they deemed unsafe. Whilst regulations only stipulated measurements, manufacturers were obligated to meet those specifications and to produce safe equipment. 

ITEM 6.          PROPOSALS FROM SOCIETIES/PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS 

Proposed Amendment of Regulation H(1)9.e. (Management)

13.      13. Lesley Olden, on behalf of Bill Glover, a private individual, proposed an amendment to the above regulation. Richard Jordan seconded the proposal. The Council supported the amendment since it clarified an existing regulation regarding the number of individual runs a person may judge on one day. Apart from a minor amendment, the Council agreed to recommend an amendment to Regulation H(1)9.e. as follows:

FROM
The maximum number of dogs a person may judge on one day is 450…(Deletions underlined)

TO
The maximum number of individual runs a person shall judge on one day is 450, excluding unforeseen eventualities such as re-runs(Amendments underlined)

ITEM 7.          DISCUSSION ITEMS

Use of Table in Agility Competitions – Heather McLean
14.       Heather McLean requested the Council discuss the use and relevance of the table in agility competitions. It was felt that the table posed a health and safety risk because it was seldom used in competitions and, therefore, many dogs had little experience of negotiating the obstacle. The Council opposed removing the obstacle from the regulations due to its unpopularity, stating that there were other obstacles that were also rarely used, and it did not want to encourage removing other traditional agility equipment from the regulations. The Council sympathised with Ms McLean's personal experience when her dog was injured attempting to negotiate the obstacle. The Council encouraged clubs to train on the obstacle should it appear in future competitions and confirmed that concerns regarding the positioning of the table were already addressed in the judges' training programme.

ITEM 8.          INTERNATIONAL AGILITY FESTIVAL

15. Dave gave a verbal report on arrangements for the Kennel Club International Agility Festival to be held at Kelmarsh Hall on 10-12 August 2012. It was noted that plans were progressing well and following the success of the layout in 2011, it would remain the same for 2012. The format of the classes would also be similar. The question was raised as to whether the International Agility Festival would be using new equipment with rubber contacts. The Council noted that the schedule stated that contact points would be the established type – wood and sand, and accepted this to be the case. It was noted that this matter would be referred to the International Agility Festival Working Party at its October meeting. 

ITEM 9.          JUDGES WORKING PARTY (WTOA) 

16.       16. The Council noted a written report on the progress of the Judges Working Party. It was stated that a number of matters were currently being considered which required further discussion and that that the Council would be informed of its recommendations in due course. It was clarified that the item regarding sub-standard judging procedure was a complaints and objections matter which was being dealt by the Activities Sub-Committee. 

ITEM 10.        ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Spread Jump for Small Height
17. A concern was raised that the distance between the two poles of the spread hurdle could not conform to Kennel Club regulations since the majority of current hurdle wings were not manufactured with additional holes for non-Kennel Club heights. The Council welcomed a proposal to amend the current regulation to be brought back to its next meeting in January 2013. 

Equipment to be Used in Standard Classes
18. A suggestion was made to stipulate a requirement for certain obstacles to be mandatory in all standard classes. The Council did not support this suggestion as it felt judges should have discretion to choose which obstacles they wished to use. It was noted that the regulations for the Championship Class already stipulated the required obstacles. The Council took no further action, but urged judges to include a greater variety of obstacles in their course designs.

Addresses in Championship Catalogues
19. The Council was requested to consider a regulation not to include Championship competitors' addresses in catalogues unless a competitor specifically requested its publication. The current regulation required all addresses to be included unless a competitor specified an intention to withhold the publication of their address. The Council agreed that addresses were no longer required as there were various media platforms that could be used to contact competitors if necessary. Therefore, the Council welcomed a proposal to amend the current regulation to be brought back to its next meeting.

Voting Online on Council Matters
20. 
The question was asked whether it was possible for agility competitors to vote on certain Council matters online as a means of reaching a wider platform. The Council acknowledged the rationale for this, but emphasised that discussion on matters prior to voting was an integral part of making a decision that could affect the development of the discipline. The Council urged competitors to attend area meetings or to send views to their area representatives in order to be involved in the decision making process. It was agreed not to take the matter further.

Assessment Feedback for Potential First Time Championship Judge
21. The Council noted that once the General Committee had made a decision regarding a questionnaire for a first time Championship Judge, Committee policy did not permit the office to provide the reasons for any rejections. It was noted however, that the Activities Sub-Committee and Judges' Working Party had been addressing this matter to establish a method of relaying feedback. The aim would be to relay positive and negative feedback immediately after the assessment prior to the questionnaire being considered by the Committee. Thereby allow feedback to improve a judge's knowledge and performance prior to the final consideration.

Distance between Weave Poles
22. The Council was requested to consider a five millimetre leeway to the recently amended regulation which stipulates the distance between the weave poles. Concern was raised that measurements may have been taken incorrectly and, therefore, it was clarified that measurement should only be taken between the weave poles which should be consistent regardless of the base cup width. No further action was taken.

Permitted Collars Under Test
23. Concerns were raised that some judges had eliminated dogs which had worn 'bling' type collars when under test. It was clarified that dogs should not be eliminated if they wore such collars if they appeared flat and, therefore, conformed to the regulations. A query was also raised regarding an elimination of a dog for wearing a buckled collar. It was confirmed that so long as the collar conformed to the description in the regulations, the fastening may be of a quick release or buckle type.

ITEM 11.        DATE OF NEXT MEETING

24.       The date of the next meeting will be in early January 2013 and will be confirmed in September 2012.

ITEM 12.        QUESTION TIME PANEL

25.       The panel consisted of Steve Croxford – General Committee and Activities Sub-Committee member, Steve Dean – Kennel Club Chairman, Stan Ford – Activities Sub-Committee Chairman, Mr B Lambert – Health and Breeder Services Manager and Katherine Symns – Executive - Canine Activities.

26.       The Council was invited by the panel to ask questions and raise any issues relating to the world of dogs. The following topics were discussed:-

New Health and Welfare Working Party
It was noted that the proposals had been to various Committees and that the remit had been agreed. The new Working Party would report to the Dog Health Group and the final paper would be submitted for the General Committee to consider at its June meeting. It was confirmed that the Working Party would focus on all of the working dog disciplines apart from Field Trials. The Council was advised that there would be two aspects of the Working Party which would include those dealing with strategy and those requiring scientific study. It would need to consider the relevant issues and how to prioritise them, define research required and find suitable candidates to undertake the scientific studies. Chosen candidates would also be able to apply to the Charitable Trust for grants to enable the studies to take place.

Veterinary Health Checks
It was reported that the Kennel Club would continue with its programme of Veterinary Health Checks for best of breed of the High Profile Breeds at General and Group Championship Shows. That the General Committee would continue to consult clubs and judges, and that moving forward it would be working towards removing breeds, which proved they were already off of the list.

Issue of Puppy Farming
It was clarified that it was difficult to obtain data for evidence of puppy farming which the Kennel Club defined as breeding solely for money without due consideration for the dogs' welfare. It was considered likely that these breeders would not apply to register their dogs with the Kennel Club as they would prefer their activities to go unmonitored. Whilst the Kennel Club could not take responsibility for enforcing Dog Breeding Licences, breeders that breed more than five litters each year, and were therefore required to have a licence, were now being asked to produce a copy of the licence. Breeders who were unable to do this, or were not members of the Assured Breeder Scheme could be refused registration.

Assured Breeder Scheme (ABS)

It was clarified that the ABS was open to all breeders whether they chose to breed Pedigree or Cross Breed dogs providing that puppies were registered with the Kennel Club on the Breed, Companion or Activity registers. It was pointed out that there were rules in place that made membership of the ABS unattractive to breeders of some puppies, particularly those bred as the result of fashion trends, such as those known as “Designer Dogs” and no facility existed to advertise these litters on the Kennel Club website. Assured breeders were not allowed to use their status to promote cross breeds as their characteristics may not be fixed, and were also required to carry out the relevant breed specific health checks relevant to both parents. It was also emphasized that characteristics were easier to determine for pure bred puppies.

Kennel Club Profit
It was reported that much of the Kennel Club profit was put back into the two Kennel Club Charitable Trusts as a means of helping a variety of dog related projects. It was emphasised that Kennel Club Accounts were detailed in the Annual Report which was a publicly available document.

Crufts Sponsor
It was confirmed that Eukanuba would be the principle sponsor for Crufts 2013, but not a title sponsor. DFS had been a title sponsor and helped the Kennel Club continue funding the event during financial difficulty for which it was grateful. The NEC was working with the Kennel Club to identify potential additional sponsors since Crufts. It was noted that the Kennel Club was still actively seeking sponsorship for the International Agility Festival since Purina ProPlan's reduction in its sponsorship, but stated it was difficult to raise the funds required to hold this scale of show.

Chairman's Objective for the Kennel Club's Future
The Chairman stated that his objective would be to address the politics surrounding the Kennel Club on the outside and inside, to generate better communication and to create a generally more positive image for both perspectives.

Support for Registered Clubs/Societies
It was reported that the Training Board continued to seek different ways to provide support to registered clubs/societies such as offering a range of show management seminars to advise how to run an effective show.

Agility Community's Negative Perception of the Kennel Club
The Panel noted the agility community's perception that its views were sometimes ignored using the recently introduced spouse's and family members' regulation to highlight the matter. It was clarified that the General Committee did not directly intervene in agility matters and depended on the view of various bodies with agility representation.

Agility Governing Body
The Panel noted that several of the European Kennel Clubs agility activities had autonomy to manage their own affairs. It was suggested that consideration be given to establishing a separate body to report directly to the General Committee. It was noted that the General Committee would be willing to consider a firm proposal, but that it must be supported and pushed forward by grassroots competitors.

Control of Dogs at Licensed Shows
All agreed that it was important that only properly trained and socialised dogs should be brought to shows. Competitors were ultimately responsible for safeguarding their disciplines through the practice of good dog control and should recognise what was best for their discipline when contemplating whether to bring a dog to an event of an unsound temperament.

Agility to be Recognised as a Sport
It was confirmed that the Sports Council had been approached a few years ago to push for agility to be formally recognised as a sport, however the Sports Council's view was that to be recognised, the “sport” needed to be focussed on human endeavour. It was clarified that the agility discipline would need to probably introduce recognition for handler achievement before submitting another proposal to the Sports Council.

27.       Dave Ray thanked the Council members for their hard work and support over the past three years and confirmed that he would be standing down from his position as Chairman and Midlands Representative. The Council in turn thanked the Chairman for his long standing commitment to agility and wished him well in his future endeavours.

        
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