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The Board of Directors is considering some changes to the procedures and policies for approval of judges. It requests your comments on them. Your written comments should be addressed to:

Mr. James P. Crowley
Executive Secretary
American Kennel Club
260 Madison Avenue
New York, New York 10016.

All comments must be received by Mr. Crowley no later than March 20, 2003.

The basic content and structure of the present judge application system remains intact. However, five significant changes are proposed. They have been motivated by considerations of cost, fairness, and a practical analysis of the effectiveness of some of our present requirements. The total cost of our judge approval system is approximately 1.6 million dollars. The Board desires its AKC dollars to be spent effectively and efficiently. It recognizes judge approval as an important part of our sport.


The Proposed Changes

1. Refocus AKC Executive Field Representative duties by eliminating breed observation reports and increasing traditional AKC event involvement.

Discussion and Rationale:

Breed observation reports would no longer be part of the judge approval process. Experience has shown us that 95-98% of the reports are favorable and the considerable manpower and costs in requiring them is not efficient or effective. The few negative reports usually fail to affect a judge in applying for additional breeds.

Reps would continue to do written reports on ring procedure for new judges and others as needed. They would also conduct the application interviews which would be standardized and consistently applied to all applicants. Their written reports will evaluate the preparation on the breeds applied for and will be included in the consideration of the application. Reps would be available as mentors to assist judges on breeds the Rep has particular expertise.

Prior to Rep involvement in breed observations, they were an important factor in representing AKC to the exhibitor, the clubs, and the public at AKC events. They would return to greater focus on those duties

In this change, no Reps would be terminated.


2. Permit exceptionally qualified first time applicants to apply for up to an entire group.

Discussion and Rationale:

It has been argued that persons with long time and very extensive experience and background in all the breeds of a group should be allowed to apply for the entire group on the first application. This would apply whether or not the applicant was a professional handler. The current limitation of 13 breeds would remain for all other first time applicants and for all subsequent applications. The focus would be on the applicant's background and experience in each breed applied for.


3. Institute a re-evaluation procedure which might culminate in the removal of permission to judge a breed.

Discussion and Rationale:

The fancy has long called for some procedure which would remove approval to judge a breed for a judge who has consistently demonstrated lack of ability to minimally assess that breed in the ring. This proposal is a conservative approach which attempts to create such a procedure and at the same time retains a judge's independence and discretion in judging.

It involves a six-step process.

  1. It is initiated by written and signed complaints.
  2. A preliminary observation by a Rep and a breed expert.
  3. A closed book test on the breed standard.
  4. A “hands on” test administered by a Rep but evaluated by three breed experts.
  5. Removal decision made by Judges' Department Staff using Board
  6. guidelines.
  7. An appeal from a staff decision to the Board Appeals Committee whose decision would be final.


Any person could submit a written complaint to AKC about a judge's judging of a particular breed. It would be signed and provided to the judge involved. The complaint would require specificity about the particular judging involved and would require the complainant to indicate if they exhibited under the judge at the event and if they won or lost as well as any other possible non-judging bias they might have against the judge.

If a sufficient number were received, AKC staff would inform the judge and would arrange an observation of the judge doing that breed. An AKC Rep and a breed expert would do the observation and submit a written report giving a copy to the judge. Breed experts would be drawn from lists provided by Parent Clubs and AKC staff as well as a list of national specialty judges for the past ten years in that breed.

If the Rep and the breed expert observing the judge find the judging satisfactory, the re-evaluation process would terminate. If they find it unsatisfactory, the judge would be required to take a closed book written test on the breed standard at that event. Failure to pass that test would directly pass the removal decision to the staff committee. If the judge passes the test, a “hands on” test will be scheduled at a time and location which will facilitate the required dogs. The Rep will arrange the test, but it will be evaluated by three breed experts. Their written report will go to the staff committee with a copy to the judge.

The staff committee will make the decision on removal or retention of the breed approval. If the breed is removed the judge will be prohibited from applying for additional breeds for two years and if an application is for the removed breed, a hands on test will be required.

An appeal from the staff committee may be made to the Appeals Committee of the Board of Directors. Their decision will be final. There will be no appeal to the full board.

4. Eliminate the Alternative Method provision which allows applicants with three or more groups to apply for an entire group on the basis of a synopsis of background and education and two favorable Rep interviews.

Comment and Rationale:

This exception to the standard limit of 13 additional breeds has come under severe criticism from the fancy. It is suggested that for additional breeds a full group is a very large number of breeds to digest at one sitting and that the methodology of an essay and two interviews, is a poor basis for making such an important decision.

5. Approval of all applications would be made by the Judges Department Staff

Comment and Rationale:

The consistent practice for many years has been that the Board of Directors has approved virtually all the recommendations of the staff for judge applications.

The proposal would recognize the reality of the approval system. The Board does not, and cannot, evaluate the file on each application. It relies on staff and is mostly a rubber stamp.

Under the proposal the Board will establish written guidelines and standards for the evaluation of judge applications which the staff will apply.

Appeals from the staff decisions may be made to the Appeals Committee of the Board. Their decision would be final. There would be no appeal to the entire Board.

It is the goal of the board of directors that a judge approval system will create and maintain a cadre of judges who will fairly and competently evaluate the exhibits at our events. The above proposals are intended to further that goal.