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This morning the DSSA has posted a letter in opposition to the Re-Alignment. Here is the [AKC Realignment] Committee’s response to that letter, please feel free to crosspost:

Dear Fellow Delegates,

We would like to take an opportunity to address some of the “issues” brought forth in today’s letter to the Fancy from the Dog Show Superintendents Association (DSSA). We question the appropriateness of vendors (whom we hire to administer our shows) attempting to influence the policies and operation of our events for their own self-interest.

The DSSA claims to “understand the reasoning” and “see the merits”, yet they present only the negative (from their own viewpoint) arguments. Those of us who are in favor of the re-alignment process also understand both sides. The difference is that we feel that the positives far outweigh the negatives.

We feel that one of the most important effects of the change will be to make dog shows more appealing to the fancy. While group placements are looked at as the “icing on the cake”, the addition of sixteen additional group placements at a show will make sixteen more folks happy, and perhaps bring them back next weekend, as well as many others who can see the potential for a group placement. The potential of a group placement for new exhibitors or for the “seldom awarded” breeds can only be viewed in a positive light.

The naysayers ridiculed the Grand Championship concept. Fortunately the Delegate body saw the wisdom in approving it. In its first year of implementation, the Grand Champion awards at our dog shows brought in an additional 50,000 entries. This, too, was an initiative designed to retain and celebrate our champions… and it worked! The same negative arguments were voiced about this… more time to do the judging, more cost for the ribbons, etc, etc. Ignoring those specious arguments proved to be the right thing.

The AKC Board, Delegate Body and the staff have begun to see the advantage (and necessity) of continuing to embrace as much of the dog loving public as possible. Many of the initiatives recently enacted and many of those under study all are directed at enhancing the experience with the human-canine bond, and building support and respect for our sport. Witness the 4-6 month puppy classes, the Open Shows, Grand Champions, concurrent Specialties, the Owner Handler series, Points for Reserve at National Specialties and Canine Partners. Re-alignment and an increase in the groups will continue this process.

While the addition of new breeds probably (at least at first) will have little impact on the total entry at dog shows, there will more than likely be entries in these new breeds (albeit small) with a resulting Best of Breed winner that will participate in group judging. The upshot of this is that they will, indeed, have an impact at the group level. As new breeds become more popular, fanciers will see the potential for advanced wins, and more entries may result. The DSSA suggests that a large group be divided. This we completely agree with… but let’s do the division in an “official”, structured and consistent fashion… by creating the additional groups.

With regard to the length of a show, the major contributor to how long a show lasts is the scheduling of the judging. We agree that the addition of four groups will most likely result in a slightly longer show, assuming the scheduling of judging is done as it typically is today. AKC and the show-giving clubs have long advocated for a serious examination of the scheduling process. This involves the coordination of breed assignments, sequence and group scheduling. With today’s concept of scheduling, there are typically long periods of “down time” during the judging process. This, however, is a discussion for another time.

The comment about the “judges who take longer to judge a group” is irrelevant, since those same judges (if, indeed, there are some) will take “longer” whether there are seven groups or eleven. I suspect that this theory, offered by the DSSA, may offend more than a few folks. Additionally, we don’t believe that it is within the superintendent’s realm to be concerned how long group judging should take.

The discussion of the effect of additional groups on televised shows is ludicrous. The only factor influencing dog shows on television is the perceived value of the broadcast in terms of potential viewership.

The additional cost for rosettes will be about $65.00 at the inflated prices the superintendents charge. Purchase of them from any of the various ribbon suppliers throughout the country can easily mitigate that increase. Entry at a show based on the group trophies offered is virtually non-existent. It is doubtful that the entry at a show would be impacted even if there were no group trophies offered.

A requirement to hire more multiple group judges makes no sense. Re-alignment (and increase in the number) of the groups will not lessen the number of available multiple group judges. In fact, it will create more of them. We fail to understand why additional groups will require the hiring of more multiple group judges. Why this will “negatively impact” the provisional judge (soon to be called a permit judge) is also difficult to rationalize.

The AKC has already developed and implemented a new Judge Approval Process… don’t understand why the DSSA isn’t aware of this… and it really had little to do with group realignment.

Forms and paperwork are in a constant state of flux. Every time a new breed is added, changes must be made to forms, paperwork and data operations. With the changes resulting from group realignment not going into effect for a minimum of two (or perhaps three) years, any organization that cannot manage its inventories with that amount of lead-time has more problems than just forms and paperwork.

The administration of dog shows has morphed into a very different animal in this age of electronic communication, digital data processing and the Internet. We have come a long way in recent years, and there is still more to come.

We appreciate the DSSA’s re-alignment survey recently posted. We have two take-aways from that survey. First, approximately 60% of the respondents approved of the re-alignment. We feel that this represents a minimum. Those who craft surveys know that the results of a survey are always weighted to the negative. Thus, we conclude that the general support amongst the fancy for the re-alignment is more than likely even higher.

Secondly, some of the opposition (based on the survey comments) will be assuaged by revised committee recommendations with respect to breed placement. We have indicated all along that once the re-alignment concept is approved, the Board of Directors of the American Kennel Club will populate the new groups. They will (we assume) begin with our recommendations, but are not necessarily obligated to completely conform. We consider our recommendation document to be evergreen. We have always promised to take and consider logical and reasoned input from the fancy (and in particular) from the Parent Clubs. We will continue to present our listings to the Board up until the time they make their decisions. Changes to our recommendations have already been made based on that logical and reasoned input. We hope that the fancy and the clubs will also communicate directly with AKC’s Board.

We hope that you will agree with us and see the potential good that may come of this re-alignment initiative. We feel that the positive effects far outweigh the negative. This will truly be a bright step forward towards invigorating our sport in a new and exciting way.

Thank you,

Your AKC Re-Alignment Committee

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