Yesterday, the American Kennel Club released a long list of “suggested best practices” for those involved in AKC conformation events. (Click here to read the corresponding document for Agility events.)
The conformation document, which is published below, reflects the fact that different regions and states in the country have had widely disparate responses to the pandemic, from complete lockdown to business as usual.
As a result, the document does not mandate any specific containment methods, such as mask wearing, and stresses that clubs follow “state, local and facility guidelines.”
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AKC’s Suggested Best Practices for the Well-Being of Dog Sport Participants
The AKC supports each club’s informed decision to reschedule, postpone or cancel their respective events, as well as supporting clubs ready to hold events in locations that are open and permit gatherings. As events resume across the country, people need to feel safe while enjoying their dog activities. The AKC urges clubs to take appropriate precautions for the benefit of their participants. Events need to be held in a manner that emphasizes the safety of participants and event officials over efficiency.
The following is a list of suggested best practices that may be helpful when planning or attending an event. Event locations, facilities and dates will differ. With a situation that is continually evolving, it is up to the clubs to determine the guidelines that best fit their event. In order to inform participants, specific guidelines established by the club/cluster should be published in the premium, show catalog, club website and posted on signage/flyers at their event.
1. Clubs, officials and participants are required to follow state, local and facility guidelines that apply to the area and site where the event is held.
2. Practice social distancing consistent with guidelines in effect at the time of the event. Avoid congregating to the extent possible.
3. Consider wearing masks when in close proximity to others. Clubs should provide masks if desired for officials, judges and volunteers.
4. Consider wearing disposable or washable gloves.
5. Wash hands as frequently as possible. Have disinfecting spray at bathroom facilities for people to spray door handles (or anything else they touch). Consider hiring bathroom attendants to maintain maximum cleanliness.
6. If you utilize portable toilets, please ask for a hand washing station(s) to be delivered as well.
7. Avoid shaking hands, hugging, or other physical contact.
8. Avoid touching dogs that are not your responsibility.
9. Avoid common use pens/pencils – bring your own.
10. Disinfect surfaces in common use areas as often as possible (tables, chairs, doorknobs, etc.) Clubs and facilities may consider not providing chairs.
11. Meals – Avoid or stagger group lunches/dinners if possible. Hospitality areas should avoid community items such as salt and pepper shakers, condiments, creamers, etc. Participants should consider bringing their own lunch/drinks.
12. Vendors should follow retail guidelines for the area.
13. Parking – Park with sufficient distance between vehicles if possible. If there is a parking fee, ask exhibitors to bring exact change.
14. Indoor show sites should work with facilities to have as many entrance/exits points open as possible. Hand sanitizer should be available at every entrance to the site and at multiple locations within the site.
15. Parking/unloading staff should wear masks and sanitize their hands following the assistance of each individual.
1. Opening Date – In order to provide clubs flexibility during times of uncertainty, clubs may specify a date in the premium when entries will start to be accepted. The “opening date” should be selected to allow time for mailed entries.
2. Site Set-up – The size and layout of a site will determine the opportunities available to clubs.
• Separate the rings if possible, otherwise set-up buffers within rings along adjoining sides to provide separation.
• If individual rings are not possible, avoid placing gates, stewards and judges’ tables next to those in neighboring rings.
• Consider two gates per ring, one for dogs entering and one for dogs exiting.
• Stewards should be responsible for finding the dog in the catalog if the exhibitor does not know the armband number and for handing out armbands. Stewards should not hand their catalog to exhibitors for review. Stewards should sanitize their hands frequently and consider wearing a face mask and gloves.
• For outdoor shows consider marking off areas near the rings for exhibitors to set-up personal pop-up tents. This can also be done for areas near the buildings holding indoor events.
• Create a ready ring area outside the show ring for exhibitors showing the breed being judged.
• Clubs should consider not providing chairs. Private chairs should not be placed in higher traffic areas.
3. Scheduling – With the efforts to make shows safer, the event may take longer. Modified scheduling may assist with congestion and provide a better experience for exhibitors. If using a superintendent, work with them to create a schedule that assists with the situation.
• Consider published judging segments shorter than one hour.
• If possible, schedule groups to start following the completion of the respective breeds. This allows exhibitors the option to leave for the day.
• As per AKC rules, Groups and Best in Show are optional for group and all-breed shows • Some shows may consider implementing entry limits.
4. Exhibitors • Prepare to be self-sufficient: bring sanitizer, bring a generator for electricity, bring personal use masks.
• Know the armband numbers for your entries before going to the ring.
• Do not congregate at the ring or ring gate.
• While showing your dog, maintain social distances with other exhibitors.
• Recommend grooming beside the exhibitor’s vehicle including the use of pop-up tents should weather conditions warrant.
• Design the layout of grooming areas and spaces to comply with the social distancing guidelines in place at the time. Marking off individual grooming spaces is encouraged.
• Prohibit the use of forced air dryers in indoor grooming areas.
6. Judging is where the ability to socially distance becomes challenging. Taking care to protect the parties will require a concerted effort between the judge, steward and exhibitors.
• Judges should consider wearing face masks if otherwise not required.
• All classes should be called in catalog order to provide order and efficiency.
• Judges must practice ring awareness, be conscious of spacing, and take appropriate measures to avoid crowding of exhibitors.
• Judges are to have the exhibitor display the oral exam and may personally examine the mouth ONLY if absolutely necessary. By the nature of the procedure, judges must conduct thumb exams.
• Judges should sanitize hands after examining each entry. Re-examining of dogs should be minimized.
• Judges are encouraged to personally pull ribbons for placements. Coupled with frequent hand sanitizing, this will help mitigate contact exposure.
• Equipment used to measure and/or weigh dogs must be sanitized before and after each use.
• Clubs should consider providing boxed lunches for judges and volunteers.
7. Photographers should consider using a process where a photo of the judge is added to the photo of the dog.
• Consider taking photos of each judge in the morning as though they were standing for an award photo.
• Take win photos without judges.
• Digitally insert the judge with the wins to finalize the photo.
• Consider not using trophy presenters.
Temporary Changes to Help Clubs
1. Event Application Late Fees – Event application late fees are waived through the end of October. This provides clubs more flexibility in planning or rescheduling their events.
2. For events cancelled in 2020, AKC will apply Event Application fees to the club’s next event of the same type.
3. Assignment Conflicts for Conformation Judges – The 30 days/200-mile conflict distance policy for assignments has been suspended for shows held in 2020.
4. The same day exhibiting restriction for judges assigned only NOHS Groups and/or NOHS BIS has been waived for shows held in 2020. This will provide clubs greater flexibility and more options in the panel assignments.
5. Juniors that have turned 18 on or after March 1 may compete until Oct 31.
Participants are expected to follow state, local government, facility and event guidelines. Clubs should be prepared to enforce the guidelines that apply to their event. The conformation field reps will assist as always in an advisory capacity.
These Suggested Best Practices may be periodically updated.
Please check the AKC conformation website
for the most up-to-date version.
CDC – How to Protect Yourself and Others:
For questions or additional suggestions, please contact the Club Development Department at email@example.com.
What do you think about these AKC guidelines? Too much, too little, or just right? Send your opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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