Yesterday was a busy news day for the country’s American Kennel Club judges.
In emails and Facebooks posts to judges, Tim Thomas, Vice President of Dog Show Judges, shared four actions by the AKC Board of Directors – two of them temporary, two permanent – that modify the judging approval process for conformation judges.
The following two time-limited measures will be in place through December 31:
• The maximum number of permit breeds that a judge can have at any given time has been increased by six breeds. As a result, judges who have less than one group can now have 18 permit breeds; those with less than four groups, 24 permit breeds, and those with more than four groups, 30 permitbreeds.“This action is specifically intended to compensate for a judge’s inability to complete assignments in permit breeds due to cancelled events,” Thomas explained.
Judges who currently have active applications that have not yet gone to final approval may be able to amend that application with additional breeds, and should contact Judging Operations.
The board did not waive the mandatory six-month period between breed applications. Similarly, judges will still have to complete the same requirements – judging a breed with competition three times, or six assignments in the case of low-entry breeds only – in order to move from permit to regular status.
• The maximum number of CEUs that judges can earn in a given category of educational experience has been increased by one CEU – again, only until the end of the year. For example, on any given breed application, judges are limited to a maximum of five CEUs earned from attending seminars and workshops; under this temporary change, they may now earn a total of six CEUs in this category.Taking Stock in Tech
The other two permanent changes are a reflection of the growing acceptance of and enhancements in distance learning:
• Telephone tutoring, which was only acceptable in low-entry breeds, will now be replaced by Virtual Tutoring across all breeds. The tutoring session must be conducted by a parent-club-approved mentor or established breed expert, and counts as one CEU. In addition, for low-entry breeds only, “an additional Virtual Tutoring with unique mentor may be accepted if the department determines that insufficient educational opportunities exist in the breed,” Thomas wrote.
Held on Skype, Zoom, Facetime or any similar platform, the virtual-tutoring session must be at least one hour in length and one on one. (Those cattle-call Facebook Live kennel visits? Uh … no.) Tutoring may involve an assessment of live dogs as well as a review of educational material provided by the parent club.
• In a nod to the AKC’s phenomenally well-received webinars over the last couple of months, attendance in a webinar on the breed “utilizing parent club materials” will be added as a qualifying component for 1 CEU. A new Virtual Tutoring form has been added to Judging Operations’ additional-breed verification forms.
The AKC-hosted webinars are expected to continue after dog shows resume, though obviously not at the daily frequency at which they are currently being offered.
No Mask, No Ribbon?
In a separate communication to judges, Thomas addressed an issue that has been a recurring topic among concerned judges who have said that when dog shows resume they will excuse any exhibitor who does not wear a face mask in the ring.
“ … it must be understood that as a judge, it is not your responsibility nor within your authority to enforce club regulations,” Thomas said in another email and Facebook post about “Best Practices for Judges and Events.” “For example – if an event, facility or state should have a requirement currently in place related to the wearing of masks, it is the club’s responsibility to enforce. Appropriately, if someone should not be compliant the proper recourse is to notify the show committee. It is outside of the judge’s authority to deny entrance into the ring or excuse from the ring an exhibitor because they are non-compliant with a show regulation.”
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