May 18, 2010
Today the American Kennel Club faces unprecedented financial challenges. These challenges not only impact us in the present, but also raise critical questions about our future.
There was a time when the American Kennel Club’s robust registration revenue provided the opportunity for the sport to flourish and the ability to do more for dogs grew unabated. However, the past few years have witnessed a marked downward spiral in registrations, leaving the memories of yesterday in the wake of the harsh realities of today. Therefore, it has been necessary to embark on a number of new initiatives in the quest for additional revenue. At the same time, there has been a constant tightening of all expenses in ways that, thus far, have not impacted our preeminent position in the world of dogs.
Our ability to maintain a reasonable operating budget has come from alternative revenue sources, as well as some previously enacted revenue initiatives that have required exhibitors, clubs, and registered handlers to accept increased or new fees. In addition, there have been significant staff and expense reductions at AKC. When revenues fell below projections, staff made the necessary cuts to avoid an operating loss. While purebred dog organizations in other countries face serious threats to their very existence, we have been able to maintain the high level of our services to the sport, launch new programs, continue our important philanthropic contributions, and protect a financial reserve that helps ensure our future. Yet the decline in revenue continues.
Our judges are crucial to our sport. They not only officiate at our events; they are thought leaders, mentors, and breed experts who help bring the next generation of the fancy to maturation. Now it is time for judges to join the other constituencies of the AKC - clubs, breeders, exhibitors, and registered handlers – to make a financial contribution to help maintain the quality of the sport we all love so much.
With this in mind, at its May 2010 meeting the AKC Board voted, without an opposing vote, to enact a fee for conformation judges. The need for that fee is undeniable. The feedback from the judging community on the necessity for the fee has been very supportive. However, the feedback on the methodology for application of the fee has met with universal disapproval. Healthy debate is critical to the viability of a strong and vibrant organization. The Board values the opinions of the judging community and appreciates the many constructive suggestions offered concerning the fee structure methodology.
With the input of the judging community in mind, the Board today has taken the following actions:
1. The previously approved fee structure has been withdrawn by the Board and new fee structures will be considered. The concept of judges’ fees remains intact.
2. The Board has instructed AKC staff to revisit the alternatives discussed over the past year in addition to the other suggestions made recently by several judges to arrive at several equitable methods for consideration.
3. The Board has instructed AKC staff to meet again with representatives of judges organizations for input on these methodologies before any final decision is made.
It is imperative that all of us come together to face our challenges with the same passion, sportsmanship, and determination that is the hallmark of the great competitive spirit of the fancy. When we have come together in this manner in the past, we have accomplished great things. For the good of the sport we all love so much, we must now move forward together.We thank all those that stepped forward and contributed to a solution to this issue. We hope that all the stake holders continue a open and honest dialogue that puts the best interests of the pure bred dog first.
Ronald H. Menaker
Chairman of the Board