On the evening of March 16, 2012, following the Crufts dog show, 320 fanciers gathered at the National Motorcycle Museum near the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham, England, to discuss the fallout from this year’s requirement that 15 “high-profile breeds” undergo veterinary examinations before being allowed to compete in the Groups. As most of our readers know, six of those Best of Breed winners were not approved to continue on to the Groups, including the Basset Hound, Bulldog, Clumber Spaniel, Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff and Pekingese.
The initial agenda for the meeting was, according to well-respected judge Andrew Brace, “to point out to the Kennel Club that the way the 15 breeds were targeted and humiliated at Crufts is unacceptable.” In a video interview for Britain’s weekly publication, Dog World, Brace went on to say this: “We are not against health testing—far from it. We are for health testing, but on a level playing field. We want every single dog that goes to a Kennel Club-licensed show to be fit and healthy, and we want that fact established before it goes into the ring, not just after it’s won a challenge certificate or Best of Breed. Our wish is to have a kennel club that fosters the interests of the breeders, the exhibitors and the judges that support it. We are their customers.”
To quell any discussion of abandoning the Kennel Club all together, as has been suggested repeatedly on social media sites, Brace assured listeners that nothing of the kind was on the evening’s agenda. “This is not about bringing about the demise of the Kennel Club,” he said. “It’s not about trying to set up some alternative organization. To quote that marvelous Di Johnson when she had an audience with us last year, ‘What we want is a kennel club that cares for us.’”
In keeping with the intention of organizers to establish a strong, cohesive grassroots organization that will then create a set of recommendations to submit to the Kennel Club, the “Canine Alliance” was formed and a steering committee selected. The Canine Alliance will represent the views of breeders, exhibitors and judges in future negotiations with the Kennel Club. The organization voted to petition the Kennel Club to acknowledge that the system used at Crufts is flawed and to suspend the high-profile-breed veterinary checks until a more fair and reliable system can be put in place.
The initial meeting was chaired by Martin Wyles and attended by many longtime breeders, exhibitors and judges, including many involved with the six breeds whose Best of Breed representatives were barred from competing in the Groups at Crufts. Of the 320 in attendance, a reported 61 were Kennel Club members and 108 part of the KC Assured Breeders Scheme.
The steering committee that was selected by those present includes Andrew Brace, Joy Bradley, American ex-pat Lisa Croft-Elliott, Phil Freer, Michael Gadsby, Steve Hall, Robert Harlow, Stuart Mallard, Howard Ogden, Diana Spavin, Tony Taylor, Susan Whitehead, Sigurd Wilberg and Martin Wyles.
The Canine Alliance has adopted the motto, “Responsible for Pedigree Dogs.” The new organization reportedly already has more than 7,000 members, and welcomes all fanciers around the world to join. The group’s current Facebook page is found by searching for “Exhibitors Choice & Voice” on Facebook, with many intelligent and interesting comments posted.
The first formal meeting of the steering committee occupied most of the day on March 21. Members worked to establish a charter, make necessary arrangements for the organization’s legal establishment, and made plans for going forward. Three members of the steering committee, Michael Gadsby, Robert Harlow and Lisa Croft-Elliott, are scheduled to meet with Kennel Club representatives on March 28. Best In Show Daily will continue to report on the activities of the Canine Alliance.
The following information was sent from steering committee member Lisa Croft-Elliott:
Should you wish to support the Canine Alliance before membership details are finalized, please send money in one of three ways:
- 1) Using PayPal at the alliance’s new website, www.caninealliance.org
- 2) Check made payable to NIMANA, and mailed to: Exhibitors Choice and Voice, , Williamson House, Wotton Road, Ashford, Kent TN23 6LW, UK.
- 3) Direct bank transfer:
- Account Name: NIMANA; Account Number: 10058963; Bank Sort code: 20-02-62
- Branch address: Barclays Bank, 66 High Street, Ashford, Kent TN24 8TL, UK.
The Canine Alliance asks that you send whatever you feel is appropriate. Everyone who sends a contribution will be granted a one-year membership. At the request of the alliance, if you are a couple or family who wants to support the Canine Alliance, please send one donation per supporting person, because the organization need members as well as funds. To contact the alliance, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.