Parent Club Problems


  • August 17, 2018
  • by Barbara “BJ” Andrews

From the monthly column "On The Line". ShowSight Magazine, August 2018 Issue. CLICK TO SUBSCRIBE.

ShowSight readers are breeders and exhibitors and I’d be willing to bet most of you belong to one or more breed clubs. So you are the experts on what we call parent clubs because, like good parents, those clubs are supposed to look after their constituents, protect them from ignorance and help them succeed “out there.”

 If you have ever served on a national “parent” breed club board, follow this and let me know how your club handles complaints filed by non-members and also if your breed club is forthcoming on breed-related problems.

If you’ve been in the sport for more than five years you know some clubs can be like getting stuck in a tar pit. Board members can be more about self-promotion than about promoting the breed and providing information to members. Is your parent club a great source of all information on the breed? Does it downplay breed problems or does it inform members? Is your club where you would go to find reputable breeders to help you learn about dogs? Are club officers and members there to guide you through a maze of dog stuff?

After all, it is for the betterment of the breed, right? If we love the breed and want to help preserve the brains, character and conformation that attracted us to that breed, then you should help the club that is in charge of maintaining those very unique characteristics.

Some breed clubs stand behind their breed and actively seek to educate and attract new supporters who will help the breed. That is their job and it will be in every parent club’s Articles Of Incorporation no matter where it is incorporated. All breed clubs are supposed to be in service to the breed and to the members. If a parent club fails to uphold the reason they were formed, then any club member can and should file charges against the sitting board.

If that fails to correct the problem, the next step is to file formal charges through the American Kennel Club because it is AKC’s duty to oversee its member clubs. Some clubs have not yet been accepted/approved by AKC as a member club and if yours is one of them, then there is even greater reason to not be silent if the parent breed club is not 
fulfilling its charter.

What else does a “Parent” Breed Club do in addition to holding 
and/or sponsoring “Specialty” shows for the breed?

Breed clubs, national or local, exist to promote and serve the breed. That means they act on behalf of the breed, not just for board members. The membership is always more important than the board. Members are second only to the breed itself. So in any dispute or problem, the board is duty-bound to act on behalf of the breed it represents. And, here’s the rub, that requires some work! Yes, it is more than setting up dog shows, serving a parent club requires diplomacy and actually serving the breed requires time and effort!

Serving on a national breed club is more than just a “feather in your cap,” something to add to your list of accomplishments, something to help you get judging assignments or special wins “because you work for the club.”

Serving the breed means welcoming newcomers. If you don’t like a person, don’t sweat it, you share a common bond and that has to mean more than how they dress or that they curse or drink or are of some other faith or social standing. A breed club isn’t about you. Your personal preferences or social standing means next to nothing compared to your breed knowledge and/or show ring success that can help to promote the breed and educate dog owners.

No club constitution or bylaws prevents “outsiders” from asking for assistance. TheDogPress.com received a detailed complaint from a person rebuffed by a breed club. She had purchased a puppy represented as “show potential” for her son to show in the breed ring, agility and performance. The puppy failed its heart test and the breeder refused the owner’s request for a replacement with a healthy puppy or failing that within a reasonable time, a refund of her purchase price.

 The breeder did not disclose any risks associated with the breed. Specifically she did not mention that heart problems are common in that breed even though the buyer had stated their intention to compete in agility. When the owner “reached out to the parent club for assistance” she was ignored. When she pursued it with the board, thinking it was just an oversight, she was told the club couldn’t get involved because she wasn’t a member!

The club officer said that their constitution only allows members to file a complaint against another member. Why have a Code Of Ethics if a parent club refuses to consider an ethics violation charged by a non-member? How can a breed club purport to promote and protect the breed and refuse to help someone who provided proof that a member violated all forms of basic ethics?

 Like some of you, I’m old enough to remember when breed clubs welcomed new members and willingly-eagerly answered questions. Today, many clubs seem to hide health issues, thus misleading the newbie.

Does your parent breed club provide educational material and up-to-date health information to any interested party? If not, why not? Please let me know if your club is doing a good job on what should be public breed education. Does the website deal openly with breed health issues? Does your club welcome new members? Are your elections certified by an outside party?

You can email me directly at BJ@ToyFoxTerriersOBJ.com 

What is a Parent Club’s purpose? 
Does it only serve club members or should it serve the breed?

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