Bullying a major problem in the show world, reveals Canine Alliance exhibitor survey
A SURVEY of exhibitors, judges and breeders has shown that 68 per cent would like a champions’ class to be introduced.
In a follow up to its SOS – Save our Shows’ – initiative, the Canine Alliance’s survey also revealed what prompts exhibitors to enter a show and what puts them off, and the fact that nearly half have been victims of bullying.
The survey was launched to illustrate the state of dog showing in 2016 and the results have just been made known.
“Within a matter of days we’d already received nearly 1,300 completed surveys and, alarmingly, almost half of those indicated that they had been bullied in their dog activities,” said vice-chairman Tony Taylor.
“The responses also demonstrate clear support for a champions’ class. The question, ‘Do you think champions should have their own class but be able to challenge for best of breed?’ produced overwhelming support from more than 68 per cent of those who had responded.
The majority of those surveyed have been showing for more than 20 years and the results indicated some of the serious issues the Kennel Club needs to address if showing is to remain viable, Mr Taylor said.
“We received the usual expressions of concern regarding the integrity of some judges and exhibitors, but we do of course recognise that this is a difficult and sensitive area for the KC to act on,” he said.
“We’re shocked at the level of perceived bullying in our hobby – whether this is in the ring, on the showground or on social media, this must be addressed and dealt with.”
A total of 45.28 per cent of those who took part in the survey said they had been a victim of bullying, whether physical, online/cyber or mind games.
The majority of respondents had been showing for 20 years or more and were in the 41-60 age range. 90.74 per cent were exhibitors, 87.49 per cent owners, 68.01 per cent breeders, 52.18 per cent judges and 38.64 per cent handlers.
A total of 42.76 per cent did not judge; 30.09 per cent judged to CC level; 24.78 per cent to open show level; 1.66 per cent up to and including groups at championship shows; and 0.71 per cent to BIS level at ch shows.
Members were asked what encouraged them to enter under a judge and 71.97 per cent said if they understood the breed Standard; 59.78 per cent said if it was a breed specialist; 46.16 per cent if the show was local; 34.20 per cent if the exhibitor had been placed first or second in a previous class; 31.51 per cent if it was an ‘upcoming’ judge in the breed; 27.40 per cent other; and 21.85 per cent if the exhibitor had won a CC, group or BIS under the judge previously.
Deterrents to entering were that the judge was involved in a clique or circle, 72.84 per cent; if the judge always gave top placings to the same exhibitor, 62.39 per cent; the judge had no interest in the breed, 48.77 per cent; the show was too far away 44.97 per cent; the exhibitor had never been placed by the judge 40.22 per cent; other commitments 22.25 per cent; the judge is not a breed specialist 13.6 per cent; and 14.49 per cent other.
Dogs with multiple RCCs should become champions was the view of 52.81 per cent of those surveyed, compared to 47.19 per cent who thought not.
Members were asked if the UK should introduce a points-based system similar to the US to make up a champion, and 63.18 per cent thought not.
A total of 20.67 per cent of respondents had gundogs, followed by utility breeds with 19.87 per cent. The lowest percentage, 6.73 per cent, had terriers.
The majority of responses, 26.29 per cent, came from the south east of England followed by 21.46 per cent from central areas.
Members were asked which single issue the Alliance should tackle as a priority over the next year and 68.80 per cent said improvement of the show scene for existing and new exhibitors; 10.77 per cent said DNA profiling; 8.16 per cent high profile/category three veterinary checks; 6.33 per cent bullying; and 5.94 per cent the Assured Breeder Scheme.
Results of the survey are to be given to the KC and the secretaries of general championship shows, together with feedback and suggestions from its members.
The KC said the results would be of interest to its dog show promotion working party, which will be looking at the idea of a champions’ class and wider issues.
“Bullying can take a number of forms including aggressive comments made on social media,” said secretary Caroline Kisko. “While acknowledging that some extreme cases will need KC intervention, it is worth bearing in mind that in any competitive pursuit there will be an element of rivalry; this is no doubt magnified in an activity which is based on the opinion of one person, the judge.
“In the vast majority of cases involving social media, the KC is unable to become involved. Our advice would be to switch off your computer and take your dog for a walk instead.
“Physical bullying or aggression is a different matter altogether and one which we take very seriously. We would encourage anyone who encounters such unacceptable behaviour at KC-licensed events to make an official complaint, logged in the incident book by the secretary, so the matter can be followed up.”
First published by Dog World, 10th August 2016