Delegate Committees, Virtually Speaking

By Johnny Shoemaker

I'm going virtual in more ways than one! Since this COVID-19 pandemic started, I realized I knew nothing about Zoom, so I thought I was DOOMED! I then found out with the help of my friends that I was like a lot of people of my age in regards to the magic of the computer.

That said, I have spent my time at home learning about Hounds, doing webinars, virtual-tutoring sessions with wonderful people in those breeds I am studying, and virtual meetings -- including the Delegate Committee meetings.Last week, the various Delegate Committee members met to conduct their June 2020 meetings via Zoom set up by the great AKC staff. In these meetings, committee members were seen on the screen, and the audience was kept muted. A few did not have computer cameras, so they were heard only.

The first meeting was the Delegate Advocacy and Advancement meeting with Mary Lou Olszewski, chairperson. Keith Frazier, who was working from the AKC office in Raleigh, N.C., gave a staff liaison report. At various times, one to 20 AKC employees are in the offices there. There is still mail coming in, and the distribution service is still working. Registration is also being done. They are taking safety measures such as making sure there is disinfectant, and each desk has a bag full of items to keep them safer. AKC is still working and available for people who need to contact a certain department, as lots of the staff are working from home. The committee is thinking of creating a New Delegate Handbook and also having some of the documents online that new and old delegates may need and perhaps putting them on the Delegate portal.

The Parent Club Committee also met with Pat Laurans, chairperson. Anne Bowes gave a talk on the legislative actions and the good work that Sheila Goff from the AKC Government Relations Department is doing. There is a great link you can go to get more information on what is happening with various legislative items: Go to the site and look at the things that are happening with the AKC letter to the Dutch Kennel Club regarding limitations on the registry of brachycephalic breeds.

Thirty states have adjourned their state government meetings, but there are still 2,000 legislative bills out there. Some clubs can be sued if someone attending a dog-show comes down with COVID-19. The AKC Trailer project is still going strong with the support of 432 clubs in making this possible. There are 88 trailers in 29 states. There has been $1,620,292.72 in donations with a $650,000 donation from AKC Reunite for a total of $2,270,292.72. There are 14 clubs in the pipeline to get more trailers, with more than 100 trailers out there.

Mari-Beth O’Neill from AKC Staff reported that AKC is trying to get more parent clubs to join AKC. Some of the vet outreach programs have been halted due to the virus. In April, AKC gave out $35,000 in veterinarian scholarships to 15 students, with three of the vet students active in their parent club. Anne Bowes reported on the Breeder Subcommittee consisting of breeder education on the AKC website, older breeder interviews, parent club mentoring programs, juniors to become breeders and how to get these things accomplished. There was also discussion on local specialty clubs becoming AKC members. A subcommittee was formed to discuss this.

The Dog Show Rules Committee discussed items sent to the AKC Board such as Chapter 16, Section 6 and Chapter 2, Section 10; both were approved and will be read and voted on by the delegates.

A subcommittee headed by Marilyn Vinson is exploring streamlining the premium list by reviewing the information currently included, whether by rules or policy/regulations, and see if there are some items that need not be required. There was a discussion on Chapter 16, Section 1, that states in the sixth paragraph that “Each AKC Breed Parent Specialty Club shall have one designated Parent Club National Specialty show per year. All others shall be termed a Parent Club Specialty show.” There was some discussion on the various clubs that want to know if a parent club can have two National Specialty shows in 2021 since there was none in 2020. The DSRC voted to send to the AKC Board a motion to allow parent clubs to have two National Specialty Shows if that parent club wanted to do so.

The All-Breed Committee met and discussed various items including setting up a At Risk Subcommittee to develop guidelines for clubs that should be aware of their membership and have a club committee to check on members that may be at risk. They could set up an emergency fund to purchase dog food etc. in case a member is ill or has other health issues whereas there is a provision to see what happens if a member passes away. Dog-show cancellations were discussed and it was advised that clubs check the contracts with the venues and hotels and also judges’ contracts to see what they state in them in case of cancellations.

The Coordinating Committee reported what happened at their meetings and also AKC Board Members were present. President Dennis Sprung reported that staff has been working diligently and that at the first meeting during the pandemic he advised the Board of his intentions to keep every department open and to run the corporation without a loss over the following four months. Management meets seven days a week to ensure that the company is functioning at an optimal level. While the decline in events is monumental, now at 11,000-plus, individual registration is up 12% over last year. The Education Department has offered 57 seminars with 14,483 attendees. Sports and Events launched virtual opportunities in Rally and Trick Dog and Agility Act 1 and Conformation and Water Dog.

In the aggregate, we have received over 11,000 entries. Tom Davies, CEO, reported that the AKC has hired a new CFO, Ted Phillips, and that the AKC management keeps doing a good job during this time.

Dominic Carota, Vice Chairman, reported that guideline and best practices for events are on the AKC website. Some events are having exhibitors to sign COVID waivers. At the July board meeting, the decision will be made if the September Delegate meeting will be virtual or not.

The virtual Delegate Meeting will be held on June 25, 2020.

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