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March Board Elections had pundits pounding on the AKC Delegates and demanding a change in the Bylaws regarding Delegate Meetings.


March 8, 2011

Barbara "BJ" Andrews, SAAB Member


One publication suggested that the AKC Bylaws need yet another overhaul to put those pushy Delegates back in their place. In fact, the Delegate system was designed long before the internet (and dog magazines) and in that respect, we agree the Bylaws are outdated. More on that in a minute.


Results have just been phoned in. Ron Menaker was re-elected as Chairman of the Board and Dr. Thomas Davies was re-elected as Vice Chairman.  Mr. Menaker has been the Chairman since 2002. Nominated and elected were Robert Amen and Steven Gladstone.  Running from the floor and elected, Dr. Carmen Battaglia.  Patti Strand came off the board due to term limits.


Media always seeks to Influence election outcomes, from local to national elections. But when it comes to AKC Board Elections, it is the club members who should decide the issues and insist their Delegate vote according to the position of the majority of the club’s members. Dog News did an excellent job in providing questions for the candidates.


So were you involved in who runs the AKC?  If not, why not?  If you are a breeder or exhibitor, the sport demands a big chunk of your time and money.  It's easy to turn on the TV and be told who you should vote for in 2012 but we can be badly misled by the media. Did you vote for unbearable debt, corruption, and loss of freedom? Did you wish you could change your vote as factories shut down, the balance of trade shifted, and pork ran wild?  So in the dog world, who tells you the truth?


The American Kennel Club was created by and for breeders yet very few constituents understand how it is supposed to work.  An unofficial survey showed that most clubs abdicate their vote because the Delegate “knows more about it”. Why is that?  Have your club officers have lost track of what they were elected to do? To leave Board Elections up to your Delegate is like telling your Senator and Congressperson to “just vote however the White House wants.” No, it is YOUR vote that governs dog shows and rules because it is your Delegate that controls that part of the sport.


In case your delegate hasn’t told you how clearly his/her job is defined; from the AKC website: “Under the Constitution and Bylaws of The American Kennel Club, the Delegate Body"... shall have sole power to make the Rules governing dog shows and field trials and the clubs or associations formed to conduct them."


The Delegates can not interfere with the business end of the AKC but when it comes to dog shows, from judges, rules, and entry fees to extra events and innovative income ideas, you, through your elected Delegate, hold the power.


How well did you exercise that power this year?  Compare our electoral system to the Federal government.  If we elect leaders who don't - or who can't - or who can and could but instead only serve their own interests and egos, the system collapses whether it is our federal government, the AKC, or your local dog club.  Our national economy is in trouble but that is not the reason breeders and dog clubs are floundering.


Let's face it; the public isn’t interested in OUR product.  People buy more dogs than ever but THEY DON'T BUY SHOW DOGS!  The public would rather pay more to adopt a mutt than buy a purebred from a show breeder. If they do want a purebred dog, they buy on the internet or from a pet shop where the AKC brand means nothing.  Where is the AKC's marketing power?  Does AKC promote buying from a breeder who studies genetics and proves the quality of their product in shows?  NO!  (see our report next week on how YOU felt about the Pedigree advertising on Westminster.)


So this year, did you take time to develop a position on how to fix the sport?  Did you learn anything about the AKC Board candidates?  If not why not?  Did you hold your club delegate accountable to vote the will of the membership?


If “real” breeders are to survive we must put muscle into changing the antiquated system that pushes you and your delegate further away from the AKC board.  Our election system is outdated because “way back when” there were no Delegates in Milwaukee or Houston or San Francisco!  A century ago, attending a Delegate Meeting in New York City was at most, a short train trip away. Today it is expensive and time-consuming and more often than not, dog clubs can’t afford to send their delegate to NYC to keep tabs on things and vote on whatever issues are put before them.


So incredibly, we are told the solution is to reduce the Delegate Meetings to only twice a year?  What a great way to shove YOU and your club further out of the picture.  Don’t let “them” disenfranchise you or your club. Sure it’s difficult to get your Delegate to NYC but wait, today we have internet and certified mail no longer goes by Pony Express.


Under our present system, the sitting AKC board controls us instead of the other way around. When a hot button issue comes up and dissenting Delegates do go to New York to actively represent their club, they are slapped around until they cave in. If they don’t give in to the board lobbyists, they are pretty much ignored. Can you recall any issue over which the Delegates and the AKC board were at odds and the delegates prevailed in the long run? The board just finds another way around them.


The “Petland Contract” [1] is but one example because although the Delegates stood up like heroes, AKC was already working on PRIME… [2]  Even TheDogPress didn’t know about it until it was too late to stop AKC from developing the expensive pet shop software to “inventory” stock, track sales and returns, etc. Did your Delegate know?  If not, why not?  If AKC supports puppy mills and pet shops more than the show and hobby breeders that founded the AKC and all it once stood for where does that leave you and your "dog show" or "parent club"?????


So did your Delegates vote the will of their club instead of voting whichever way will get them the most assignments or the most support when they decide to run for the Board Of Directors? Have you even asked your delegate? Might not some of the newly elected Delegates, like the Congressional newbies, sincerely vote their conscience?


BARBARA "BJ" ANDREWS BIOAs of today, you still control who sits on the AKC Board because you elect the delegate who elects the Board. So if indeed your club said they just “leave it up to the delegate” you need to vote them out and replace them with officers who understand that they are only in power so long as they serve the members.


Funny thing, voting. When you care and are informed, it works. Nationally, locally, or in the dog world, good governance depends on who you elect. And did I mention starting with a certified ballot??? That means having your membership list validated by the members, ballots then prepared, mailed, returned-to, counted and certified by a local accounting firm unconnected to any member.


Now, while you still have a voice, we would very much like to hear from you on how your club conducts elections


[1] AKC’s Contract With Petland     ~     [2] PRIME – AKC’s Super Secret Pet Shop/Puppy Mill software EST 2002 © 1103


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