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North Carolina Federation Of Dog Clubs (NCFDC) September 2005 Raleigh Debate


Cindy Cooke, J.D.  Statement

This past July, I was invited by the North Carolina Federation of Dog Clubs to participate in a debate with Dr. Jim Holt on the issue of the proposed Pet Animal Welfare Statute (PAWS, S. 1139). Last night, I was told that Dr. Jim Holt has pulled out of the debate. Here is what happened in between.

When the Federation invited me to the debate, they described a fairly typical modern debate. Each party would present his side for a limited period of time; each party would get another block of time for rebuttal; and each party would submit 10 questions for a moderator to ask the other one. At the end, the audience could ask questions. It sounded fair and I went to work.

On Friday afternoon August 19, John Schoeneman, Vice-President of the Federation received the following unsigned fax from Bob Peters, President of the Federation:

The Fall 2005 TarHeel Labor Day Coordinator [Mrs. Pat Babuin] from the Raleigh KC is rescinding her approval for the use of the Jim Graham Auditorium Facility.

It is noted that there is no authorization from the NC Fair Grounds Management to sell admission tickets. This is a mandatory requirement of the Fair Grounds Authority. Audits would have to be made.

Also, after due consideration and looking at the potential size of the activity being offered, it is felt that it is not in the best interest of the Clustered circuit, to permit another activity. Further, with the scheduled all-breed match by the Cary KC, it would cause a potential overload and possible disruption of the circuit activity. The TarHeel Labor Day Circuit has as their prime responsibility quality support to this show fancy who will be attending this clustered event.

Below the typed text was a handwritten note from Mr. Peters advising Mr. Schoeneman to look for another venue for the debate.

When I was notified of the loss of the venue, I called Mrs. Babuin to see if we could solve her problems and retain the use of the Jim Graham building. During a very cordial discussion, Mrs. Babuin listed the following problems.

First, she said the Federation should not be charging admission. I told her that perhaps we could find expense money elsewhere and the Federation could refund the money already collected. After all, the Federation was only charging $5.00 a head so we weren't talking about a lot of money.

She then complained that the Federation had opened the debate up to the "public." I pointed out that the dog show itself was "open to the public," but that I doubted anyone other than dog fanciers would spend their Saturday night listening to Dr. Holt and I discuss federal regulations.

She complained that the Federation had sent notices to "organizations." I told her that to my knowledge, only organizations made up of dog fanciers had been notified. I also asked if any objectionable organizations had been invited. She admitted that she did not know.

She then expressed concern that the activity would be disruptive. I explained to her that I am a 58-year-old, slightly overweight retired Air Force officer and attorney, that I am a director of the Kalamazoo KC and a former director of the Scottish Terrier Club of America, that I am the current AKC Delegate for the Kalamazoo KC, the author of a book on Scottish Terriers and winner of a DWAA award-in other words, a fairly typical and altogether respectable member of the dog fancy and unlikely to be disruptive.  When she assured me that I wasn't the problem, I pointed out that Dr. Holt was equally unlikely to be disruptive.

She agreed, but then said the issue was moot since she had already promised the room to another organization. When I asked the name of the organization, she said it was the Cary Kennel Club. I then told Mrs. Babuin that I had spent many hours preparing for this debate and that I had entered a dog in three shows of the cluster. I asked her whether the cluster might consider reimbursing me for the time and money I had expended in reliance on her promise to make the building available, and she said that I should take it up with the Federation. I pointed out to her that the Federation intended to honor their agreement and we ended our discussion. A lawsuit was never threatened.

Later that same afternoon, Federation members located another venue but, because of the club constitution, could not come up with the rent money in time. A gracious member of the dog community put up the required $1100. and the Federation prepared to go forward with their plan.

I tried to call Dr. Holt during this time and AKC refused to give me his phone number. A courteous young lady in the Legislation office told me that they were being "protective" of his number because "of what's going on right now." She said she left a message for Dr. Holt to call me, but he never did.  

A representative of the Federation finally reached Dr. Holt to tell him about the change of venue. At that point, Dr. Holt said he did not intend to participate in "that circus." Truth be told, I didn't believe that Dr. Holt used the word "circus" until I saw his e-mail on this list. Since I have been in almost daily contact with the Federation for the past 10 days, and since Dr. Holt has been somewhat less accessible to them or me, I can only assume that someone has greatly exaggerated to him the ordinary trials of hosting an educational event in conjunction with a dog show.

The dog community is hungry for reasonable discussion of this issue. They are tired of what they perceive to be propaganda and hysteria from both sides. I am very disappointed that we have lost this opportunity for two reasonable and respectable members of the dog fancy to debate this issue in front of our peers.

Permission to cross-post is granted.

Dateline Sept. 2, 2005


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