Editorial: February 6, 2020
Welcome To New York!
Home to Dog News, the AKC, and of course, the reason why all fanciers are in town this week, The Westminster Kennel Club, set to commence its 144th annual show, the second-longest-running continuous sporting event in the country after the Kentucky Derby. Following the AKC National Championship in Orlando this past December and the two-day stand-alone Meet The Breeds event at the Javits Center two weeks ago in NYC, the Westminster Kennel Club culminates a triumvirate of special celebrations of the purebred dog in spectacular fashion with tremendous appeal to the general public. Westminster remains the crown jewel of all in the eyes of many, not only in the U.S. but in all the world. There have been changes over the years — some foreseen and others not — and the powers that be at Westminster have consistently adapted and persevered without missing a beat. The extended extravaganza formally kicks off Saturday, with the 7th Annual Masters Agility Championship, followed by the dog show from Sunday-Tuesday, and the 5th Annual Masters Obedience Championship on Sunday as well. For those who couldn’t make it to New York or got shut out — the entry limit was reached and general admission tickets have sold out — the expanded streaming coverage will bring more of the action to you, with FS1 and FS2 networks handling the TV programming. Enjoy your time in the Big Apple and everything it has to offer, come by the Dog News booth at the Pier to say hello, and enjoy all the ancillary events and parties, especially the Purina Show Dogs of the Year Awards event, which we are thrilled to be in partnership with once again this year.
Ask and You Shall Receive … Mostly
Dog News is pleased to once again publish in our Westminster edition the annual questionnaire of those candidates running for the Board of Directors of the AKC that will be voted upon at the March meeting. This tradition, spanning some 35 years, was briefly interrupted last year when the Delegates running for the open board seats refused en masse to participate. No reasonable explanation was given for refusing to shed light on their ideas and plans to move our beloved sport into the future in the face of some complicated and trying times. This year, most of the candidates answered the questions — and there were only FIVE questions — which were once again posed to them by former AKC head legal counsel Margaret Poindexter. Be sure to turn your attention to the answers provided by Dr. Carmen Battaglia, Mr. Carl Ashby, Mr. Jeffrey Ball and Dr. Michael Knight in this issue and take note that Ms. Karolynne McAteer failed to reply to the request at all. Dr. Thomas Davies, the only candidate running for the open one-year seat for the Class of 2021, also refused to answer the questions, as he did last year as well, but didn’t say why. He did, however, congratulate us on an “excellent, reasoned (and concise) set of questions,” for whatever that’s worth. Despite the lack of candor and transparency, Davies will automatically be voted in per AKC’s constitutional rules. Times have certainly changed, and not necessarily for the better, particularly in light of election debacles on the national level (see this year’s Iowa caucus) as well as at the AKC’s Board elections.
Meet The Breeds On Tour
The 11th Annual Meet The Breeds recently held at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York as a two-day stand-alone event has proven so successful that the AKC has rolled out plans to take the show on the road. In partnership with GF Sports, a live-events and sports-media entertainment company, Meet The Breeds will hold two-day events in Philadelphia on June 6 and 7 at The Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (the venue that notoriously hosted “The Largest Adoption Event In The Country” featuring dogs of unknown origin and health concurrently with the Valley Forge Kennel Club show this past December) and at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn., on September 26 and 27. While the Meet The Breeds events in NYC have certainly proven to be educational, family-friendly affairs that attract a lot of inquisitive members of the general public who are willing to pay hefty fees, the success of these events hangs largely on the National breed clubs and their members who volunteer their time and resources to provide the quality dogs and displays to pad the coffers of the registry. With the NYC events, the AKC is largely hands-on, as its corporate offices and executives are in attendance and overseeing them. By partnering with GF Sports, “to further develop and expand the AKC Meet the Breeds® event platform,” will the AKC lose some control over the content, marketing and running of the event? According to a press release, “GF Sports senior executive Shawn Tilger is overseeing booking for AKC Meet the Breeds®. ” Does Tilger have the best interest of the AKC, its member clubs and volunteers, and most importantly, the dogs themselves, at heart? Or will the almighty dollar trump all else? GF Sports, make no mistake, is in the business of making money. It is a NY-based private-equity firm, founded in 2015, as GF Capital Management & Advisors, LLC. and has invested in branded consumer product such as the Blue Man Group, which was sold to Cirque du Soleil in 2017. How long will breed clubs and member volunteers willfully put up with the registry’s constant money grabbing without demanding compensation or before refusing to not only participate in Meet The Breeds events but conformation events as well, or even registering their dogs with the AKC at all? Monetary details of the partnership weren’t disclosed, but the AKC must re-evaluate its Mission Statement and its bottom line before its partnership with GF Sports (and other LLCs) turns into a real three-ring circus that it spins off to another conglomerate.
Thought For The Week
In addition to the Kansas City Chiefs, the big winner of this year’s Super Bowl was the University of Wisconsin’s School of Veterinary Medicine. During the Super Bowl, which had nearly 100 million viewers, a 30-second commercial was aired championing the cutting-edge technology that saved the life of WeatherTech CEO David MacNeil’s Golden Retriever Scout. When Scout was diagnosed with a cancerous heart tumor, MacNeil took him to the U of W Veterinary School oncology department and despite the 1% chance of survival, Chance pulled through with chemotherapy and is now almost cancer free. MacNeil was so happy that he purchased the commercial — to the tune of $6 million. Rather than just donating the money to the school, MacNeil wanted to share his success story with viewers and encourage them to donate directly to the school. If you’d like to help, donations can be made at www.weathertech.com/donate/petsmakeadifference/.