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The Pluses & Minuses of Instant Communication Should a Judge Be Penalized for Private Comments

WE’RE still learning when it comes to the deployment of what was once described as ‘new technology’. The technology might not be new anymore but the ways in which we use the new tools and resources that the online and digital world has given us is evolving all the time.

Last weekend the Neapolitan Mastiff best of breed at National Working and Pastoral Breeds bit the judge and was dismissed from the ring.

He was Mark Spilsbury’s Vallino Lemmy at Verotipo (Leo) who is 16 months old, who has won 11 BOB, two group placings and was reserve best male at Crufts last year. Judge Terry Munro was going over him when Leo moved before swinging round and catching the side of his face.

The dogworld.tv cameras were at National Working and Pastoral Breeds championship show filming an episode of our TV programme Around The Dg World and caught the incident in its entirety.

We thought long and hard about whether we should use the footage and if so how should we use it? But our news editor spoke to the judge and to the owner of the dog and we had a pretty complete story so on Monday we published the story online, accompanied by a short video clip of the incident itself.

Clearly it was a story everyone wanted to know about because as soon as it was online we sat back and watched as the website analytics told that literally thousands of people were coming to read and to watch. We then worried about what kind of comments people might leave, would any debate descend into name calling and mud slinging? We needn’t have worried because the debate that our readers had was largely a sensible and well thought out one.

And of course what the video clip did was remove any doubt about what actually happened. It left no room for the traditional Chinese whispers to take gain credence there was no way people could build it up into something it wasn’t because the video evidence was and is there for all to see, have a look now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3TPRAe4AJ8&feature=player_embedded

THE other story that sent our website numbers skywards this week was the news that the driver of the lorry that destroyed Lisa Croft-Elliot and Carrie Russel-Smith’s motorhome at the side of the M40 last year is to appear in court.

Driver of the lorry that destroyed Lisa Croft-Elliot and Carrie Russel-Smith’s motorhome at the side of the M40 last year is to appear in court.

The man has been summonsed to appear following an investigation into the crash which injured Lisa, Carrie, and Anastasia Egorova in November last year. Four dogs died as a result of the crash.

The 38-year-old defendant, who has not been named by police, will appear before Leamington Magistrates on August 1 charged with causing serious injury by dangerous driving.


BUT while our brave new world of instant news coverage and instant comment can have its very positive applications we also carry a news story this week thats shows we have still some way to go before we fully develop a complete etiquette for the cyber age.

A German Shepherd Dog judge has lost her appointment due to comments she made on a closed facebook group. Angela Carradice was to officiate at the Scottish Kennel Club’s August show but was told that the comments she made in May regarding longcoat GSDs were ‘inappropriate and manifestly unfair’ and would ‘undoubtedly affect entries’.

The lengthy debate within the closed group, which has nearly 500 members, started at the beginning of May when Miss Carradice (Koesfeld) wrote that a young male who had recently gained his first CC had been beaten in his class by a longcoat.

“For me it seems that the day a longcoat winning a CC or RCC draws closer, how sad,” she said.

The debate began, and a few days later Miss Carradice wrote: “Say you only have two, three or four in a class of which one was a longcoat I would place it last and withhold the place. If a normal-coated dog in the same class had a major breed fault I would also withhold, and if the longcoat’s conformation was correct I would place it in front, but still not giving a place above the final prize cards.

“I hope that when I judge later this year I do not have any longcoats entered under me but I hope that I’ve made it clear as to how I will place them. As I’ve said earlier, we cannot blame owners of longcoats entering breed class if they think they have a chance of winning.”

On June 19 Miss Carradice received a letter from SKC secretary Beth Harrison saying: “The content of this posting is a matter of great concern to the SKC as you are clearly expressing your intentions about the judging of GSDs prior to the show, which is manifestly unfair and inappropriate.

“We would also add that having stated your preferences this will undoubtedly affect entries for the above show which is of grave concern to the SKC. You should be aware that this matter will be referred to the relevant Kennel Club Judges Sub-Committee for their consideration, and the outcome of such consideration may include the withdrawal of your judging appointment.

“We therefore first give you the opportunity of providing any submissions and comments for the Judges Sub-Committee within the next 14 days.”

Miss Carradice replied saying: “Since GSD have been exhibited in the country a long coat has always been considered a disqualifying fault by most GSD judges under the KC breed Standard. On the rare occasions they were exhibited, usually by a novice, they were consistently placed to the back of the class.

“I have been judging for over 30 years, the last time awarding CCs in the breed in 2000, and only on two occasions have I had longcoats shown under me, one of which had been stripped out. Both were placed last, admittedly both classes contained more than a dozen dogs.

“During the last six-12 months it appears that the wording in the KC GSD breed Standard regarding coat type has now taken on a new meaning – ‘no hard and fast rule for length of hair’.

“Among GSD judges there is now confusion as to the KC Standard and the interpretation of judging of long coats. Both the SV (German Shepherd Dog Association of Germany) and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale consider that there are two varieties of GSD, and both organisations have adopted the policy that longcoats may only be exhibited in their own separate long coat classes. They are not permitted in standard coat classes.

“Many judges and stalwarts of the breed believe that the current wording regarding coat length in the Standard is very confusing. It is now open to the judges’ interpretation and I believe will continue to be so until it is fully sorted out by the breed council and the KC with subsequent very clear guidance for judges.

“I fully intend to judge to the Standard and I will take advice and direction from the KC on this particular aspect of their Standard. I have this morning contacted the KC seeking advice… stating my concerns and asking for advice regarding longcoats, and colours such as blues, browns and whites, to clarify the KC’s current position of these within the Standard. I also intended to judge them on their conformation, soundness etc and place them on their merit.

“Over the past few months at least four breed clubs have held championship shows and have scheduled special longcoat classes – perhaps your committee could consider this in future?

“I hope that you can understand the reasoning behind my comments although in hindsight they were ill placed and I apologise unreservedly for causing yourselves any concern.”

On July 3 Miss Carradice was told she would no longer be judging. Ms Harrison wrote: “It was noted by the Show Scheduling Committee that you did apologise for making the inappropriate comments, but they feel very strongly and disappointed that they were posted in the first instance.”

This week Miss Carradice told DOG WORLD that people felt very strongly about longcoat GSDs, but that she had written the comments some months ago, had referred to no dogs or owners by name and had not referred to her SKC appointment at all apart from saying she would be judging later in the year. The people who run the closed online group were unhappy that the comments had been extracted and sent to the SKC, she said.

“My last post was on May 14 which attracted about 400 comments – I would say 98 per cent agreed with my comments,” she said. “The KC Standard is a grey area but it is a subject which provokes strong response.

“…I was disappointed with the club’s decision and asked whether I could appeal against it but I was too late and that the appointment had already been rescinded.
“I agree now I perhaps should not have said it but the reasons I did were obvious. What I should have done is judge the dogs and if there were any long coats I would have withheld.

“After I made it known I was no longer judging people bombarded the SKC with phone calls, some of them from people demanding their money back. Some of the people who entered under me would have booked hotels and spent a lot of money taking part in the show. If a judge has to be replaced because they’re ill that’s one thing, but this was a decision on the SKC’s part to stop me judging – that was why people were asking for refunds.

” I’ve been in the breed for 30 years, haven’t judged for a long time and people know I don’t come from any particular camp.”

Ms Harrison said the club’s scheduling committee had withdrawn Miss Carradice’s appointment after discussing “all the information to hand.”
“The SKC is extremely disappointed that Miss Carradice did not act in the expected manner of a championship show judge,” she said. “The KC code of practice for judges states that they ‘should conduct themselves in a manner compatible with the standing of a judge at all times’.”

And that’s where things stand at the moment. I can’t help feel that this kind of remark, made in a room full of people, may have passed virtually unnoticed five, ten or 20 years ago but now our thoughts – even when published on a ‘closed’ group – are published nonetheless and there for the world to see and for all time – food for thought!

Written by

  • Kathy G July 20, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    Attn: Judges:
    Before, during and after a judging, it is best to keep your personal comments to yourself. People know people and your comments are not confidential. Comments regarding dogs entered may be made on a Judge’s Written Critique. IF YOU ARE ASKED by an exhibitor for a review of THEIR dog’s qualities, then, by all means, critique away. Remember, you are being paid to judge to the standard. If there are gray areas, then best rectify those prior to judging.

    There are judges who maintain communications through FB, etc. Some of these
    communications are with friends, some are with exhibitors (past, present & future) that send pictures, etc. of their dogs while some are with handlers. This paints a
    confusing and seemingly unfair picture for those people who follow the rules and choose not to influence a judge. By a judge commenting on FB, for the whole world to see, it affects their credibillity and reputation. Personally, I don’t think judges should be allowed to comment on FB or any other sites that would entail “dog show matters” period. Things said could be misinterpreted or just plain damaging.

    In this day and age, it is easy to review a judge’s previous placements. If you like the way the judge judges and you consider the placement correct according to your opinion and to the standard, then, by all mean enter. If the judge is not to your liking, apparently doesn’t know the correct standard and according to your opinion picked the wrong dog (dogs) as shown in the catalog, then don’t enter.

    Dog show entries are down. Does the internet play a part in this? Do unnecessary,
    or unappreciated comments from a judge play a part in this? Do you think judges should be allowed to receive pictures, statistics or comments regarding show dogs?
    How about judges talking before and during a class to exhibitors, handlers, etc.?
    How about ring stewards? Should they be allowed to chat up exhibitors or relatives of exhibitors prior to judging classes? Saying, “Good morning” is fine or even “Thank you for your exhibit.” would be fine…..but not chatting on and on about other things.

    Judges, don’t leave yourselves wide open for criticism. Protect yourselves by following the rules; learning/reviewing the standards; judging accordingly and fairly while respectfully approaching all exhibitors equally.

    The AKC has a Judge’s Handbook. It’s there for a reason. Judges need to review it and refer to it on a regular basis. It would help keep things in proper perspective.

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