AKC and the Irish Red and White Setters
I have been following a number of stories and columns in “TheDogPress” concerning issues that other organizations and owners have been having with AKC's policies and staff. I have recently been exposed to some of these behaviors. Frankly, I wonder if the AKC can or will remain the “top dog” purebred dog registry in the U.S. for much longer.
August 2006 | TheDogPress
Mark R. Atkins (with sidebar by Greg Williams, see below)
I have been an Irish Red and White Setter owner for the past six years or so. This breed was entered into the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service (FSS) in 2002 by Ms. Curtis Humphreys of the former Irish Red and White Setter Club of America (IRWSCA) who kept the original stud book for this breed in the U. S. Curtis and her husband Bob have been involved in the breed since 1981. In fact, they imported the first three dogs into this country in 1983.
In 2002 when Humphrey presented the stud book to AKC, she and Elaine Dorwart of AKC reviewed all of the animals in the book. Dorwart accepted them all on behalf of AKC. Some of the dogs did not have full three-generation pedigrees behind them, Dorwart assured Humphrey that once these dogs met the three generations within the stud book, all would transfer to AKC “full” registration. Subsequent email communications were sent to other IRWSCA members confirming the details of this agreement. Any dogs that failed to meet that rule would be excluded from “full” AKC registration. This rule appears on AKC's web page at: http://www.akc.org/reg/fss_details.cfm under the section entitled "FSS Recording and Certificates.” It reads as below:
“When a dog is recorded in the Foundation Stock Service®, it is issued a numbered FSS® Certificate. This certificate indicates that the dog is the product of a purebred sire and dam of the same breed. In some cases, a breeder will determine that a dog should be recorded with "limited" status. A limited FSS® Certificate indicates that no offspring of the dog is eligible to be recorded in the FSS®.
Dogs with two-generation pedigrees, one-generation pedigrees, or names of sire and dam only are eligible for enrollment in FSS® as the foundation stock of future generations.
FSS® Certificates will be issued to all dogs enrolled in FSS.”
Note: Any dog that has less than three-generations will not move into full AKC recognition.
This rule has been totally ignored by the current AKC staff and Mari-Beth O'Neill of AKC's Special Services Department. She has responded that the reason for the cancellation of certain dogs and their progeny is because they were "appropriately registered in the Field Dog Stud Book as Irish Setters and therefore should not have been recorded as an Irish Red and White Setter in FSS.” While on its surface this seems like a reasonable ruling, the fact is that ALL Irish Red and White setters have a lot of Irish setter influence. Nearly extinct in the mid-1900s, the breed was revived in an Irish Kennel Club (IKC) sanctioned outcross program(s) using the few remaining Irish Red and White Setters (actual number varies depending on account) and a very close relative, the Irish setter. A good and fairly concise breed history is available at http://website.lineone.net/~irws/rickvanetten.asp (sorry, this link has been moved or changed by their site). The dogs which AKC is excluding all are derived from AKC-registered Irish setter stock which were accepted as breeding stock into the breed for many years.
The breeder of the two excluded American dogs, Snowfire Copper and Snowfire Gold Dust, was William Jennings of Kentucky. His account of the foundation of these dogs is available at http://website.lineone.net/~irws/jennings.asp. (sorry, this link has been moved or changed by their site) Jennings was neither a journalist nor an extremely well educated man, so his account must be carefully read to be precisely understood.
Jennings tried many things to achieve the end result of Snowfire Copper, but throughout the article he is careful to distinguish between "Irish Red setters" and red setters. At one point he uses English setter and "Irish Red setter with the out cross" in the same breath. This statement is considered by some who attack his dogs to be a damning revelation that Snowfire Copper was derived from an English setter out cross. This accusation is simply false. In the closing paragraphs of his account he states his truth:
Any white coming from the red setters with their out cross will surely be credited to the English setter. But, it is possible for some of it to come from some of the old Irish setters. You simply would not know it.
On his final attempt to draw out "the old red and white genes," Jennings used the AKC-registered stock and found what he was looking for, as he always reasoned he would. His end result, however, could NOT be registered as an Irish Red and White setter. AKC did not recognize the breed in 1984 when Copper was whelped, nor did FDSB. At http://www.akc.org/rules/policymanual.cfm?page=7#AmericanFieldIrishSetters it is noted that as of 1975, American Field registered Irish setters would not be transferred to AKC under a request by the Irish Setter Club of America (ISCA), so he registered the dogs where he could-in AKC-as Irish setters. Also, “color-red and white patched" was an option for an Irish setter color at that time. Snowfire Copper's ancestors were all post-1975, legally registered dogs and accepted into FSS by Elaine Dorwart of AKC.
A second policy AKC is ignoring can be found at http://www.akc.org/rules/policymanual.cfm?page=7#UKCPedigrees under the heading of “UKC Pedigrees (February 1996 Board Meeting). It states:
“Three-generation UKC pedigrees are acceptable for the enrollment of a dog in the Foundation Stock Service.”
This policy is short, sweet, and to the point. Following it, I submitted copies of my UKC pedigrees to Mari-Beth O'Neill at AKC. Despite its own printed policy, my dogs were declined. That is two policies AKC is ignoring just for our one breed!
Additionally, I have spoken with Lt. Col. Wallace Pede, (Ret.) about some of these issues as he is working with the AKC judging associations’ issues concerning the "conflict of interest" ruling by AKC. Pede has shed a bit of light on the recent appointment of the Irish Red and White Setter Association (IRWSA) as parent club of our breed as the breed moves to “Miscellaneous Class.”
It is worth noting how the IRWSA began. The original breed club, the Irish Red and White Setter Club of America (IRWSCA) founded by the Humphreys, became divided over the inclusion of the Jennings lines and also another dog, Harry. Harry is an Irish setter born to two red parents in Holland and now accepted as Irish Red and White setter out cross stock by the IKC. Harry and his progeny, despite his IKC acceptance, are also being excluded from the AKC registry under the same reasons as the Snowfire dogs. The Kennel Club in the United Kingdom does not recognize Harry, so the mix gets even more complicated. AKC claims to have contacted "The Kennel Club of Ireland" regarding the issue with Harry, but to my knowledge, there is no such an organization.
With the controversy over these three dogs, several IRWSCA members split from the organization to form the IRWSA based in California. Pede stated that it is an AKC “standard practice” to appoint "splinter groups" as parent clubs for breeds emerging from FSS. This seems to be the case of IRWSA, and it has apparently misled AKC into making decisions based on false information and unqualified “facts.”
A bit of history reveals that apparently in 2002 that an IRWSA individual obtained some pedigrees over the Internet without payment. In June of that year, Richard Knoster, then president of the IRWSCA, contacted AKC about the offense. In August, he learned from Elaine Dorwart that his concerns were correct, and that the party involved had been harshly reprimanded, and the response was “that they would not do it again.” Knoster stated that Dorwart told him “…nothing more could be done unless some evidence could be shown that this situation continued, then she would see to it that further action be taken.”
In December 2002, however, IRWSCA members became concerned that three IRWSA officers were entering the AKC website through an “unsecured door” and tampering with or manipulating pedigrees. A letter by Knoster, dated December 30, 2002, was sent to Chuck Musciano, former vice president of AKC operations, detailing his and others’ suspicions. Attached were e-mail message numbers off the “Rossmore” group site and a copy of an AKC Research Pedigree listing several alterations surrounding his dog, Open Promise. He and others were concerned that these altered pedigrees “could or would be distributed to others by the perpetrators and used in a manner to support their claims against his and others’ dogs.” When the stud book was first presented to AKC, Knoster and others were assured that all of the pedigrees of Irish Red and White setter dogs would be “confidential, as they should be." AKC never addressed any of his claims, but that same year AKC cancelled Open Promise’s FSS registration. This is noted today in bold type on the home page of IRWSA’s website. So, is this the way that AKC chooses to reward serious unethical actions...award IRWSA parent club status!
This saga continues over what AKC is really about in all of this. These are issues that are literally being uncovered daily in our quest for the truth and for closure. The proverbial “snowball” is still rolling as AKC continues to ignore the facts and evidence. If Snowfire Copper's heritage from AKC registered stock is suspect, then the entire Irish setter registry at AKC is as well. Harry, the Dutch Irish setter, has been accepted by IKC as Irish Red and White setter breeding stock in the country of origin, yet Snowfire Copper his heritage, and his progeny are being questioned by AKC, the “American” Kennel Club. I have serious doubts AKC cares about their registry, purebred dogs, their judges, and especially about the people of this sport who with their registration, show, and other fees pay for AKC’s salaries and operations. AKC is not about dogs; it is only about money and complete control of those who participate in its venues.
Dennis Sprung, AKC president, was quoted in the organization’s publication “Gazette” in the July 2006 issue while addressing a group of delegates in a recent meeting. David Powers of the Los Encino Kennel Club asked Mr. Sprung, "Of the 500,000 registrations that we've [AKC] dropped over the past few years, do we know how much of that has gone into the other 23 registries; and do we know, have any indication of what-how many dogs are registered with the American Kennel Club and opposition registries?” Mr. Sprung replied, "...We do know that there is considerable growth in most of the other 23 registries. We know that their strategic tactics are working and are clever." He then explains away this concern by stating, "The reason I say that is AKC has very high standards that we are not about to lower in any manner; and our rules require consistent registration by generation. AKC has to be aggressive and bring people into our registry, keep people in our registry without circumventing our rules or lowering any of our standards.”
Sprung made additional comments about the tactics of other registries, but I call attention to only these. In our case, we have a splinter club, apparently caught “red handed” in wrong doing, but later confirmed as AKC’s parent organization. Is this upholding AKC's "very high standards that we are not about to lower in any manner?” How can AKC be aggressive and bring people into its registry and keep people in the registry while not circumventing its rules or lowering any of its standards? Apparently, AKC feels this may be achieved by circumventing at least two of its own published rules or policies for our breed and throwing away dogs without cause from its registry. Mr. Sprung, I believe you have it all wrong!
Throughout this entire ordeal I have found AKC to be the "800-pound gorilla" of which Col. Pede speaks. It cares neither about the folks that pay its salaries, nor the dogs within its registry. These people are easily duped by opinions and conjecture without regard to facts and verifiable proof of counter claims. Evidence has been submitted to their board chairman, president and CEO, and several assistant vice presidents with no reasonable or logical reply. Those who do respond are a "broken record" of coached replies from its appointed parent club without regard for reasonable discussion. It is a pitiful example for a registry of such perceived high integrity.
Thankfully, all of my dogs and many of others have been registered with UKC since 2002. It is a wonderful organization to deal with. UKC has offered us a venue in which our dogs can compete to achieve both field and conformation titles…and doing so in a friendly and family oriented atmosphere. Wayne Cavanaugh, president of UKC, is a man of extreme integrity and value to the Irish breeds as well as all the others in its registry. He has fought for our breed and his registry, and along with Todd Kellam, UKC’s Field Programs vice president, they have worked closely with us and others to develop some excellent field trials and show events for us to compete in and earn titles toward UKC’s “Total Dog” title. For this we are eternally grateful. We hope other Irish Red and White setter enthusiasts will join UKC and experience what we have.
Introduction and History:
Well written documentary on a new AKC breed whose long history is in jeopardy. For those who have followed this situation with AKC, here is amazing background. Impartially presented, it comes across as solid fact on a breed that should not be diluted nor changed on the whim of current AKC policy or people.
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