"White Paper" from anti-NGA faction
Closing the AKC Stud Book to Dogs of NGA Registration: The Facts from the Source
Since the AKC Board of Directors voted to impose a moratorium on the processing of applications for NGA dogs at its meeting on January 7, 2002, an aggressive opposition campaign has been launched. targeted primarily to AKC officers, members of the Board, AKC Delegates. This is certainly the prerogative of these dissidents, but only until it reaches the point of making false and defamatory statements against someone. The great majority of these people are NOT GCA members, and their recurring themes need to be weighed against the facts. The great majority of GCA members DO support the Board in its initiatives.
These "themes of dissension" are all variations of the following:
The GCA Board of Directors does not represent the majority of the membership of the parent club. It has disenfranchised the membership and "grabbed power." The GCA Board of Directors ignored a 1997 ballot to close the Stud Book in which a majority of the members voted to keep the Stud Book open. There was a "secret" petition to close the Stud Book circulated to a select few. No one on the Board ever saw these petitions or validated them. The GCA Board of Directors "fired" its Parliamentarian after she wrote an opinion the Board didn't like and replaced her with a more sympathetic one. The NGA dogs are being accused of having health issues without sufficient evidence. The AKC ILP opportunity for performance events will be the next to go. The GCA Board of Directors wants to exclude NGA dogs from the Stud Book because they are "ugly" and "not real Greyhounds."
As President, Vice President, and Recording Secretary of the Greyhound Club of America, we would like to address each of the above themes with the actual facts. Thank you for taking the time to read through all this information. It is important to be aware of the truth in these matters.
The point here is that the GCA BOD does represent the will of the majority of the parent club membership. All our actions were by the book, based upon facts, figures, and statistics. We appreciate the fact that this is AKC business and deserves to be treated as such. The people who are so fervently pleading their opposition are not hindered by having to adhere to verifiable facts and figures. They have created a scenario, which is rapidly becoming urban legend. In their uninformed zeal, they have painted a sordid picture of malfeasance, hubris, and deceit. Such activities exist only in their imaginations; and have no grounding in reality.
We apologize for having to write this in the first place. Process should be transparent and the work product should speak for itself. However, process itself has been so misinterpreted that it has become an issue. It is time to set the record straight. Let us examine each of these issues.
1. The GCA Board of Directors does not represent the majority of the membership of the parent club. It has disenfranchised the membership and "grabbed power."
The GCA membership had established a pattern of conducting conflicting and frequent votes on various key issues, leaving that membership confused, angry, and rudderless. The AKC had been drawn into these disputes, because there was no operant rule of order in effect to allow internal resolution. As two new incoming Board members, acting as was their right and in response to requests from GCA members that they do so, June Matarazzo and Rose Mary Conner wrote a personal letter to Michael Liosis, AKC Director of Club Relations requesting guidelines for member and Board voting. This letter was written with no pre-determined agenda.
Quoting from that letter of May 5, 2001: "We need an actionable definition of the scope of responsibility of the Board in making decisions on behalf of the Club on strategic or controversial issues...Because we anticipate that bedrock breed initiatives may arise in the near future, we want to proceed absolutely correctly, within the charter of the GCA Board, and in the long-term best interests of the breed and the Club. To do this, we need guidelines and process clarity"
Quoting from the letter received in reply from Mr. Liosis: "Unless responsibilities are specifically mandated by law, the powers of members are specifically granted by the bylaws. For a parent club, the members are limited to voting on applicants who have not been elected by the board; petitioning for special club meetings; nominating individuals for officer and board positions; voting for club officers and board members; participating on committees; voting to expel a member from the club; voting on breed standard revisions, bylaw amendments and dissolution of the club. All other matters fall under the authority of the board of directors, under its general management power. Motions made by the members which conflict with the Board of Directors general management power, are out of order and if adopted, are null and void. Issues such as the Stud Book, and National Specialty designation/allocation can either be decided by the board independently, or as a result of acting on a committee recommendation, which the board can accept or decline."
Both letters were promptly brought to GCA's President for consideration. We realized that we finally had specific operating guidelines from our highest authority, the AKC, which would provide a framework for GCA's conducting its business in an orderly manner. As a Parent Club, we have an obligation to conform to AKC's rules, regulations, and guidelines, as well as to our Constitution and Bylaws. The voting powers listed above were checked against our Bylaws item by item, and we found them to be in absolute agreement. The primary and critical difference between these AKC guidelines and existing GCA practice was that these guidelines were inclusive as to member voting powers. Previously, these same powers had been viewed as a launching pad for the membership right to vote on anything it chose.
Following extensive discussion, the GCA Board of Directors, at its meeting in Lompoc on July 25, 2001, voted unanimously to adopt these guidelines, from that day forward, as laid down by the AKC and set forth in our Bylaws We did not see this as optional. It was our responsibility to act upon the AKC directives. We knew that we had the support of a majority of the membership in doing so. At the same time, we decided against pursuing the rocky road of retroactively declaring null and void prior votes undertaken by the membership, which, votes we now knew to have been illegal and out of order. Rather, we would let them all stand as they were voted upon, and act according to the AKC directives as of July 25, 2001.
That is the full extent of the GCA Board "coup" which "disenfranchised the membership." We heeded and adopted the voting and business conduct directives from the AKC. We elected to adopt an orderly way of doing business.
Was the Board supported in its actions by a majority of the membership? According to an article in Dog News written by Patricia Gail Burnham, a very active opponent to the Board's adoption of the AKC directives, success in the ballot box directly correlates to membership opinion.
This is in reference to a membership ballot to fill three vacant 2002 Board Member positions. The GCA nominating committee selected three candidates. Three members who were nominated by petition opposed them.
Ms. Burnham: "The opposition likes to say that, if the members don't like what the board is doing, they can elect new board members at the next election. Well, the next election is now. In the interests of changing the composition of the board, the general members have nominated Pat Ide, Susan Crutcher and Kathy Helmke to run against nominees from the board-appointed nominating committee. If you are a GCA member and don't like what the board has been doing please vote for these folks in the upcoming election."
What were the results of that election by the GCA membership?
Out of 166 voting members in good standing, 147 ballot envelopes were returned. A total of 431 votes for individuals were cast and counted. The three candidates proposed by the GCA Nominating Committee were elected to the three vacant 2002 GCA Board Member positions. As a group, they garnered 271 votes (63% of the total votes cast). The three members nominated by petition garnered 160 votes in total (37% of the total votes cast). This was clearly a resounding endorsement of the Board initiatives.
2. The GCA Board of Directors ignored a 1997 ballot to close the Stud Book in which a majority of the members voted to keep the Stud Book open.
We have seen this expressed in variations of the following:
"Please do not let the few current Board members of the Greyhound Club of America, acting against the wishes of the majority of the GCA membership (as expressed via previous GCA member voting on this issue).
This refers to a vote taken by the GCA membership in 1997 on whether or not to close the Stud Book. (We now realize that this was an illegal vote in and of itself, as it was conducted in opposition to the membership voting rules set forth in the AKC directives and the GCA Constitution.) Those who would keep the Stud Book open have always hailed the outcome of this vote as a resounding endorsement of its position.
The actual results of that vote, never previously published, tell the true story. In 1997, at the time of the vote, there were 153 GCA voting members. Of that total of 153 members:
82 (or 53.5% of the total voting membership) ballots were returned. 46 (or 30.0% of the total voting membership) voted to keep the Stud Book open. 36 (or 23.5% of the total voting membership) voted to close the Stud Book.
So, it was the expressed desire of only 30% of the members to keep the Stud Book open at that time, not a majority (which would have had to be 77 or more votes to meet that criteria). In a ballot with an admittedly poor response, the results were only separated by 10 votes. Neither side achieved the endorsement of a majority of voting members in good standing.
In the entire history of the Greyhound Club of America, no club initiative - be it membership or Board vote, or petition - to keep the AKC Greyhound Stud Book open (as opposed to closing it) has been supported by a majority of the total GCA membership.
3. There was a "secret" petition to close the Stud Book circulated to a select few. No one on the Board ever saw these petitions or validated them.
In the first half of 2001, a petition to endorse the closing of the Greyhound Stud Book was circulated among GCA members and other breed fanciers. Its objective was to garner the support of a majority of the club members for an initiative to close the Stud Book, within the Greyhound and show dog community overall and specifically among GCA members.
It should be noted that, because this was an informal petition, once the endorsement of a majority of GCA club members had been obtained, the petition was no longer circulated. Therefore, the final list did not include many GCA members who might have endorsed the issue had they been asked.
Such a straw poll (defined as an unofficial vote or poll indicating the trend of opinion on a candidate or issue) has ample precedent within the AKC as a useful and acceptable tool in determining parent club membership opinion and support.
The current membership population of voting members in good standing is 166. A documented majority (88) of that total membership signed this petition for the AKC to close the Greyhound Stud Book. Both the Recording Secretary and President examined the signed petitions and they were verified against the GCA membership list. These petitions were also supplied to the AKC with a membership list. Every AKC Board member received a complete set of all the signed petitions for personal examination in a package of information sent in November.
It is not GCA's practice to disclose the actual ballots in any initiative, as appropriate to correct business conduct.
It should be noted that there was also a second privately circulated petition sent out in the fall of 2001. Following the Board vote of July 25, 2001 (as above), a GCA member who disagreed with the Board's decision mailed an independent petition to the entire GCA membership on or about August 7, 2001.
This petition asked for support of a Constitutional amendment that "The Greyhound Club of America recommends to the American Kennel Club (AKC) that the AKC grant AKC registration to Greyhounds from recognized foreign kennel clubs, racing registries, and the National Greyhound Association." After being in circulation for 2 ½ months, and the subject of much discussion on the Internet, only 32 signatures were garnered from the membership, or slightly less than 20% of the membership.
If we compare the results of the two most recent such initiatives to leave the Stud Book OPEN - the 1997 membership vote and the 2001 membership petition above - we see that membership support for keeping the Stud Book OPEN has declined by 1/3.
At the same time, if we compare the same 1997 vote with the 2001 petitions to CLOSE the Stud Book, we see that membership support for CLOSING the Stud Book has more than doubled. Such a dramatic change also clearly reveals a more involved and committed membership, another trend strengthening in 2001.
4. The GCA Board of Directors "fired" its Parliamentarian after she wrote an opinion the Board didn't like and replaced her with a more sympathetic one. (Reference: Elaine Summerhill's recent letter)
Selecting a Parliamentarian in whom she has confidence is the prerogative of the President. One of our President's requirements was that the Parliamentarian attend all Board meetings. Soon after this current Board was seated, the Parliamentarian volunteered that she could not commit to attending Board meetings and offered her resignation. In addition, according to Mr. Liosis, some of our prior voting difficulties had been exacerbated by our Parliamentarian's off-target rulings. So her resignation was accepted; a new Parliamentarian, an experienced long-time club member, was brought on board. This took place prior to the Lompoc Board meeting in July. It was apparent after Lompoc that the prior Parliamentarian was unhappy with the Board's adoption of the AKC voting directives; however, it was not until the middle of October that we received copies of her dissenting opinion (written not as Parliamentarian, but as an individual member) referred to in Ms. Summerhill's letter, over two months after the July Board meeting, and over three months after she had been replaced as Parliamentarian. This dissenting opinion detailed why GCA should not comply with the AKC directives. However, there was absolutely no causal chain between her dissenting opinion and being replaced as Parliamentarian.
5. The NGA dogs are being accused of having health issues without sufficient evidence.
It is difficult to ascertain the genetic health of a population of dogs who, in the majority, don't live (or are dispersed) past 6-7 years of age. We are aware, from some of the rescue organizations that do follow the dogs throughout their lifetime, that a high incidence of cancer, particularly osteosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma is being reported. Racing breeders are not interested in what, to them, are peripheral issues, such as PRA or cryptorchidism. However, without documentation, we refer to such issues only as anecdotal.
Analysis of our small GCA health database (158 dogs) by our Health Committee Chair, Helen B. Hamilton, D.V.M., M.S., Diplomate ACVIM, shows our AKC breed health to be strong. Gastric dilatation/torsion is the most frequently reported health issue; the most common cause of death is old age.
At the same time, GCA is most concerned about the current findings in an ongoing research study involving 471 NGA registered Greyhounds, conducted in the years 2000 and 2001.This has revealed that 76% of these NGA Greyhounds tested positive for Von Willebrand's and that 37% are considered carriers of Von Willebrand's factor.
David Wolf, National Greyhound Adoption Program (NGAP) Executive Director and longtime NGA Greyhound advocate initiated this research study because NGAP was experiencing bleeding problems when spaying NGA Greyhounds prior to their release to adoptive homes. Since March of 2000, every dog going through NGAP has been tested for vWD, with test results analyzed at Cornell.
The hematology Laboratory of Cornell University established the following ranges, also defined by the NY State Department of Health at Albany. The same ranges are used to report the incidence of vWD in NGA Greyhounds in the NGAP study. Normal Range: 70-180% (vWF antigen - vWFL:Ag %): Considered to be free from vWD, and are unlikely to transmit the disease. Borderline Range: 50-69%. (vWF antigen - vWFL:Ag %): Equivocal, cannot be classified definitely but may be clinically or genetically significant. For reporting purposes, these dogs are considered to be vWF "positive" Abnormal Range: 0-49% (vWF antigen - vWFL:Ag %): May or may not be clinically expressed but are diagnosed as carriers of vWD and can transmit the trait to offspring. It is believed that dogs testing less than 30% vWF:Ag have an approximately 75% chance of having the clinical signs for vWD expressed.
Breakout of test results for 471 NGA Greyhounds in NGAP research study of vWD
75.6% Positive (Equivocal, abnormal:1-69% vWF:Ag%) 37.25% Carriers (included in above) 24.4% Normal
Von Willebrand's disease (vWD) is the most common inherited bleeding disorder of animals. It is caused by a deficiency in the amount of a large, multimeric glycoprotein (vWF) needed to help platelets seal broken blood vessels by binding the platelets to the injured blood vessel.
Von Willebrand's is not currently a common health issue within the AKC Greyhound population. VWD typically presents no clinical signs, and those usually as a dog ages, and then usually triggered by surgery, wound, whelping, or other insult. VWD can be clinically diagnosed only by specific tests such as above. Just because a dog doesn't show symptoms of vWD doesn't mean it can't be a carrier. VWD may not manifest itself for generations, and then appear seemingly out of nowhere. With such alarming findings from the NGA research study, closing its Stud Book to an at-risk population is only prudent for GCA.
Our gene pool is comparatively small but vital. It would take a catastrophic crash in the breed for us to need to look to the NGA Greyhounds for genetic rescue. In these days of global breeding, AKC Greyhound breeders have access to a wealth of international show-bred Greyhounds who are also bred to a written standard and of classic type. As observed by Desi Murphy in his article in Dog News on the October 2001 National GCA Specialty at which he stewarded: "The Greyhound community is working very closely throughout the world to produce quality animals."
6. The AKC ILP opportunity for performance events will be the next to go.
This is a non-issue. There is no connection between the Stud Book issue and ILP's. To quote in part from the AKC's website:
"An ILP allows an unregistered dog of a registerable breed to participate in those obedience and performance events that are appropriate for the breed. A dog must have either an AKC registration number or an ILP number in order to compete in these events." "An ILP is not the equivalent of an AKC registration, nor is it a substitute for AKC registration. ILP dogs may not be used for breeding purposes as all applications for ILP will only be considered if the dog under application has been spayed or neutered." " A veterinarian's spay/neuter certificate must also be attached and pedigree information, if available, can be listed in the space provided on the ILP form."
7. The GCA Board of Directors wants to exclude NGA dogs from the Stud Book because they are "ugly" and "not real Greyhounds."
To the best of our knowledge, nothing submitted to the AKC or any other venue from or on behalf of the GCA Board has said or implied anything to this effect. "Ugly" is in the eye of the beholder and is not a universal position we would take. And we have never said that NGA Greyhounds are not "real" Greyhounds.
What we have said is that, as an AKC Parent Club, we are the guardians of the breed and its AKC-approved breed standard. A critical object in our Constitution is "to urge members and breeders to accept the standard of the breed as approved by the American Kennel Club as the only standard by which Greyhounds shall be judged." NGA Greyhounds are bred to no standard other than speed, to run faster than other dogs or die. How can you judge a dog whose adherence to a breed standard is pure serendipity? The NGA proponents would have us blur our fine old standard to "one size fits all."
Greyhounds of all registries can be traced back to the same English coursing stock of the 18th and 19th centuries, first registered with the English NCC in 1882. The AKC Greyhound was in the second edition of the AKC Stud Book in 1885 with three dogs and five bitches. The first NGA Stud Book was published in 1906. A lot can happen in a hundred years when a breed is divided into two registries with two different purposes.
This drift apart was remarked on by Ian Bond (English, Breeder, Writer, Chairman of Greyhound Club since 1990, International Championship Show Judge), "I do not believe there is any such thing as a pure coursing dog in existence any longer. A great pity, since all our show dogs evolve from the old coursing dogs, as of course, do the current track dogs, but how different they have become over the years! The racers have very limited success in the ring as they are generally so different in type. It is only the selection for different purposes (racing) which has changed the physical appearance. I don't want short upright upper arms and shoulders and straight stifles in my stock. It must be said at this stage that although the show dog has developed along different lines from the coursing dog, it is still much closer in looks to the coursing dog of today than is the average racing dog."
The scores of generations of Greyhounds since the early 1900's are what have really influenced the dogs on the ground today. Due to their far larger numbers, more frequent breedings, narrowly defined functionality, and emphasis on phenotype to support that narrow sprinting functionality, the divergence is even more apparent in the NGA dogs. The velocity of that change and its impact across great numbers of dogs represented almost a geometric progression since the AKC Greyhound Stud Book was re-opened in 1960.
So, yes, NGA dogs are "real" Greyhounds. They have a real registry, but the only standard by which they are measured is speed. And AKC dogs are "real" Greyhounds. They have a real registry, AKC's, and a real standard, a fine old standard with many points defining the breed, not nearly as draconian as that of the NGA's. AKC Greyhounds don't die if they don't meet their standard. But "real" does not equal "same."
In closing, we offer the observations of Sylvia Hammarstrom, of Skansen fame, from her critique of the 1995 Eastern GCA Specialty which she judged:
"Overall, the quality of Greyhounds in the U.S. is excellent, in my opinion. The front and rears have improved over the last 30 years, the bone and substance and type is good, except that there are some specimens that obviously are carrying the track dog genes. I feel these two types of Greyhounds should not be mixed, as it only ruins it for both. The English do separate these two types and I hope the Americans will continue in this custom."
Ms. Hammarstrom very succinctly expressed the opinion of the majority of the AKC Greyhound community and members of the Greyhound Club of America.
Sue LeMieux President, Greyhound Club of America
Mary Ellen Gorske Vice President, Greyhound Club of America
Rose Mary Conner Recording Secretary, Greyhound Club of America
For contrasting views, see:
Revised 14 October 02, , Golightly Greyhounds
© 2002 S. Pober