Editorial: March 17, 2023
Many years ago, Dee Hutchinson, well-known second-generation breeder, owner and handler of many top-winning Dachshunds and a Best in Show-winning Bloodhound thrown in for good measure, became, as she should, an all-breed judge. Caring about the sport and wanting to give input into the present and future of the American Kennel Club, she was proposed as a delegate, if memory serves us well, from the Dachshund Club of America. Her credentials were denied because she charged a fee over her expenses when she judged and so was labeled a “professional.” As the rule stands, there are still exceptions other than fee-charging judges deemed professionals who are barred from becoming delegates because of their occupation and/or their income is derived from dogs. Delegates who judge can only charge their expenses to the club; they are not permitted to charge a fee. Of course, that line was crossed from the inception, turning a blind eye to this in favor, case in point a certain book publisher. Others just tacked on expenses to the bill they presented to the club. Another case in point was a well-known judging couple who wrote as an expense the purchase of a gift for their house sitter. Those bogus items added to the expense bill sometimes equaled or surpassed what a fee would have been.
We owe our sport the combined input from its every faucet: Breeders, judges, handlers, superintendents — all have opinions and ideas that should be incorporated into the delegate body. With delegate meetings that are adjourned before noon, surely some new faces and ideas are needed. It’s a rule that needed to be abolished years ago, and now is the time. It’s time to open the delegate body; it is 2023, after all. Kennel clubs around the world don't have such restrictions on their participants, even in countries that we hold as not free democracies. To think what Dee and others in that category of “professional” were denied was then, as it is now, archaic. An open and balanced delegate body is not only useful, but it benefits us all. Anyone in good standing with the American Kennel Club who is proposed by a member club should have the right and privilege to represent the club that proposes them. Thank you, Dee, for spearheading that movement.