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Are judges allowed to dictate their own standards which may not coincide with the AKC Breed Standard? In this Clay Coady case, the AKC Rep said yes!


December 2014

Kathy Coffman, Baycrest Akitas


Can AKC judges ignore what the parent clubs have told them is the standard for the breed, thereby influencing breeders to alter their breeding goals and breed away from the standard or to a judge’s view of the winning standard?


This is what AKC judge Clay Coady has done. The photo taken at a previous win clearly shows he is NOT a Japanese Akita but simply has a White Faced Red Marking pattern (totally acceptable within the AKC standard for the breed). I am his breeder and neither I nor his owner would ever consider him to fit into what some view as a Japanese Akita. At the time this dog was shown to Mr. Coady, he had already acquired 14 points and three majors and lacked just one single to finish. Two of these majors were awarded the days prior to Mr. Coady emphatically telling the handler THIS IS A JAPANESE AKITA!


The owner/handler of this dog Cornelius Campbell and I as the breeder, along with another exhibitor, have filed a complaint with the AKC for unprofessional behavior of an AKC judge.


On November 9, 2014 this dog was presented in competition to Mr. Clay Coady. He was awarded 2nd in his class and RWD (he was not excused or disqualified). After handing Mr. Campbell (owner/handler) his ribbon this judge lectured him for several minutes continually repeating in a very sure authoritative tone of voice “This is a Japanese Akita, this is NOT the same dog as the others in the ring-DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT?” he kept repeating this over and over again as if the owner “just didn’t get it” Mr. Campbell was dumbfounded as he knew this Akita fit the AKC standard and was not a Japanese Import.


When Mr. Campbell exited the ring in a very confused and puzzled state and told me what the judge had said, I asked him if at any time the judge said “In my opinion” and he said no, that the judge had assuredly told him this was a Japanese Akita. I immediately asked for the AKC Rep Mr. Jimmy Mitchel, to be called ringside as I felt since Mr. Coady never once said this was his opinion of the dog and that our dog was not even considered or judged fairly based on his coloring only. I also felt it was totally inappropriate and unnecessary to continue to lecture Mr. Campbell in this manner which seemed to be about asserting his authority.


Mr. Coady began judging the bitch class. The second bitch to enter the ring, ironically, was a female littermate to the dog he had accused of being a Japanese Akita. Mr. Coady judged the bitch without exception or comment.


The AKC Representative Mr. Mitchell and another lady quickly showed up and entered the ring, where they spoke with Mr. Coady. They then spoke with Mr. Campbell and then talked with me.


The AKC Representative told me that the American Kennel Club allows judges a lot of leeway in the ring. While we were discussing this, another exhibitor came up to the AKC Rep, very upset about what she was witnessing in the show ring in that time. Her complaint (which has been included in our complaint to AKC) was that while judging the open class she heard Mr. Coady walk over to a professional Handler of a top Akita and give her a blow by blow of everything that had transpired, specifically talking about Mr. Campbell’s dog.


This exhibitor asked Mr. Mitchell to stop the judge’s behavior as it was currently occurring. The exhibitor said she felt this was very unprofessional and since her bitch special would be entering the ring as soon as WB ended she did not want the judge talking about other dogs in this manner when she entered the ring.


Mr. Coady at this time walked out of the ring and right up to Mr. Campbell, who had been standing ringside watching the open bitch judging as he had a handler on his open bitch. The judge left confused exhibitors standing (bewildered) in the ring while he pointed his finger in Mr. Campbell’s face and attempted to start an argument with him. The owner handler did not allow himself to be baited into an argument and so Mr. Coady walked away.


Best of Breed entered the ring. One of the dogs entered in BOB was another dog of my breeding, a Brindle male, Grandfather to the dog Mr. Coady was so sure was a Japanese Akita. He judged this dog without question or comment and awarded him Select dog.


I cannot believe the AKC Representative not only allowed the judge’s behavior to continue but still insisted the judge wasn’t wrong, in error, or even handling things in an unprofessional manner.


Excerpts from Ms. Coffman’s correspondence with AKC

“The Judging Operations Department of the American Kennel Club is in receipt of your email correspondence concerning the judging of Mr. Clay Coady at the Mispillion Kennel Club show. We do thank you for taking the time to write to the AKC with your account of what transpired at this event during the judging of Akitas.”


“Your complaint will be reviewed under AKC Board Policy pertaining to judging misconduct which can be viewed on the AKC website.”


“Regarding Mr. Coady’s selections on the day, while I appreciate and understand your concern, a judge’s decision is precisely what an owner seeks when they enter a dog show. Under AKC Rules, full discretionary power is given to the judge to award wins based on their interpretation of the breed standards. The conduct of a judge’s ring and specimens they select are the judge’s privilege as well as responsibility. Exhibitors enter a show for an opinion on that day and have options not to enter in the future if they disagree with a judge’s opinion. Please be advised, as your letter brings into question Mr. Coady’s qualifications to judge this breed, a copy will be provided to him so he may respond. “


See AKC Guidelines on Judging Misconduct     Read Copy Of PDF Complaint Filed With AKC


Clay Coady's response to received Dec 8th

"Hi Barbara, my name is Roberto, I am Clay's Personal assistant. Clay is in not in the country at this moment and he asked me to write the following to you:  "I don't remember what color face the dog had. I simply told the gentleman in an apologetic way that I was sorry, but he was too much of a Japanese type for me (very up on leg and short in back) other than that he was in beautiful condition.


"Later I heard the gentleman telling another person that I said the dog was a different breed. I went out of the ring and corrected him and simply told him that the dog was a different type not a different breed." EST 2002 14121804


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