THE FINNISH Kennel Club (FKK) has lent its voice to the ongoing clamour caused by the staging of the 2019 World Show in China.
It believes the Fédération Cynologique Internationale’s reputation has ‘taken a serious blow’ as a result, and this week publicly criticised the way the FCI conducts its business, while voicing concern for its future.
It has called for an extraordinary meeting to discuss the situation.
Last week the Swedish Kennel Club (SKK) said it was considering changing its membership with the FCI or resigning from it altogether. This, it said, was prompted not only by the 2019 show but also the FCI’s threat of sanctions against the Norwegian Kennel Club (NKK) and other recent FCI moves such as its bid to alter the Tibetan breeds’ country of origin and patronage.
Now the FKC has thrown its hat into the ring, saying it was ‘deplorable’ that the NKK had been threatened, and that the ‘entrusting’ of the World Show to China in 2019 had prompted worldwide protestation against what it called the abuse of dogs in that country.
The decision of the FCI General Assembly – at which votes were cast by every member country – with the FKK plumping for Germany – had been met with strong criticism, said chairman Helena Suni and chief executive Markku Mähönen in a joint statement, including that from Finland.
“We appreciate the opinions and feelings of its members and speak with their voice,” they said. “The FKC is strongly against the Chinese practice of eating dogs and any festivals where this reprehensible tradition is upheld.
“The intentional torture of dogs prior to slaughtering is particularly inhumane.”
Although the allocation of the World Show to China was made in accordance with the FCI statutes, the importance of general opinion could not be overlooked, they believe.
“It is unquestionable that the authority of the FCI and the prestige and reputation of the World Dog Show brand have taken a serious blow because of the decision,” their statement said. “Granting the show to China would have required far more thorough scrutiny and preparation by the FCI General Committee (which) should have put more emphasis on the fact that China has only been a full member of the FCI for a few years.
“China as a whole is still far from being a modern, developed kennel country and there are areas where dogs are treated very cruelly.”
The China Kennel Union (CKU) has taken measures to improve dog welfare in the country ‘but imagining that a World Dog Show in China could put things right is too much to hope for’, they said, adding that many FCI member countries had had to wait for years – ‘sometimes decades’ – before earning the right to host this ‘prestigious show’.
The FKK is backing the NKK’s proposal that the FCI should compile a set of standards a member country must fulfil before it can host a World Show. It suggests they should include ‘but not be limited to a sufficiently long period as full member’ – the NKK has proposed ten years; China became a contract partner in 2006 and full member in 2011.
The FKK also thinks there should be ’documented evidence’ of ‘the position and welfare’ of dogs in the country applying for the show, as well as a description of the actions taken in the member country to improve dog welfare if necessary.
“We recommend that all Finnish judges invited to judge at the 2019 show, as well as all exhibitors thinking about participating with their dogs, to pay attention to this statement,” said Ms Suni and Mr Mähönen. “The SKK has given out a similar statement.”
The FKK’s board has asked the FCI’s General Committee to call an extraordinary General Assembly to discuss the ‘current situation of the FCI’.
“Since the General Assembly in Milan, the General Committee has declared a set of actions to improve the welfare of dogs, but this policy must also be ratified by General Assembly and the actions included in the FCI rules and regulations as the NKK suggests,” the Finnish statement goes on.
“Moreover, there are also other problems related to the decision-making and the planning of operations, and solving these problems requires changes in the FCI Statutes.”
One such problem, which has ‘major strategic implications’, concerns the FCI’s economy, the FKK believes.
“At the moment the operation of the FCI is largely financed by only a handful of member countries. If these members consider actions disadvantageous for the FCI, the entire economic situation of the FCI may worsen dramatically. The income must be rearranged so that all member countries contribute in a more equitable way to cover the expenses of the FCI.
“The current system is based on how actively the different member countries arrange various international canine events, and the main source of income is the fees from international shows. As we see it, the more active members should be rewarded for their hard work instead of being punished by imposing heavier fees.”
Ms Suni and Mr Mähönen suggested that the FCI did not have ‘a sufficiently comprehensive and detailed plan of action’ approved by its General Assembly, and that its ‘budgeting’ was not up to the standards to be expected from a ‘large international organisation’.
“It is quite incomprehensible that the FCI General Committee can propose to the General Assembly a plan to raise the CACIB show fees without presenting any argumentation or budget grounds for such a proposal in the agenda,” they said. “This increase will hit hardest those member countries already contributing the lion’s share to the FCI finances.
“The requirements for adequate planning and budgeting must be included in the FCI statutes in far more detail than they are at the moment. The FKK expects that the FCI General Committee prepares its proposals to the General Assembly in far more profound detail and also takes full responsibility for them. The General Committee must follow the principles of good leadership and administration.”
The FKK chastised the FCI for threatening the NKK with sanctions for urging its exhibitors and judges not to attend the 2019 show. A kennel club should be able to express its own and its members’ opinions, it believes.
“What makes this even more deplorable is the fact that these threats are directed against a full member of the FCI,” said Ms Suni and Mr Mähönen. “The NKK can stand as a model in the promotion of dog welfare and breeding. If it had not made its view clear the FCI would not have initiated the recently declared actions to improve the welfare of dogs.
“Thus the proposals put forward by the NKK will ultimately benefit both the dogdom and the FCI.”
Turning to the future they said the FKK was concerned about the FCI’s future and called for open discussion to improve both its position as ‘a central organisation’ and the welfare of dogs all over the world.
“Secrecy is unacceptable, and discussion – including the critical opinions – must be seen as a constructive opportunity and not a threat,” the FKK believes.
“Many different cultures are represented within the FCI, enriching us all, but the highest principle of all FCI member countries must be the promotion of dog welfare.”