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Do AKC Rules against altering a dog's appearance cause conflict between canine health and showing a dog?



Dog Show Rules Violation?


What to do if a dog has a hereditary health problem that can be surgically corrected?  Let the dog suffer so that it can be shown and no AKC show rules are violated?  Or do surgery to alleviate pain without disguising it was done - and then show the dog?


Both letters are thought-provoking and both sides of the issue are objectively presented.  It is not uncommon for canine health and show rules to conflict as regards moral and ethical concerns for the fancy and the AKC.  Although the owner of the dog with the eye problem will not show her and the veterinarian says it isn't hereditary, what if the dog changes hands and is bred from?  AKC makes the rules governing dog shows but is not in the mediation business.  This is not an unusual quandary for exhibitors and judges who are obligated to make at least cursory examination for disqualifying faults or show rules violations.


Ruth Hoffman, Alowan, responds to Rumors Of Investigation

"The rumor mill is busy. "As far as I know, AKC is not investigating me in any way. In order to be sure, I have written them. I haven't received a response yet, and will post again when I am sure.


"As for what has happened, see my letter below. It is in the mail.


To the Nominating Committee:


It has come to my attention that my friend Regina May has objected to my nomination to the Board, on the grounds that I violated Chapter 11, Section 8, of the Rules Applying to Dog Shows. Here is my response.
Last fall, at a CERF clinic, Gracie was diagnosed as sub-luxated in both eyes. The following day I got a second opinion from Dr. Matthew Chafkin, at the Veterinary Referral Center of Colorado. He confirmed the diagnosis, and mentioned that he had noticed that, during a laser surgery not related to LL, the lens would sometimes get attached to the back of the iris; and that he was thinking this was an accidental side-effect - if he could reproduce it, might be beneficial in cases of sub-luxation by keeping the lens from moving, thus preventing full luxation.

I told him that he was welcome to try it on Gracie. Soon after that, he performed the experimental surgery on one of her eyes, leaving the other as a control.

As Regina said, I immediately publicized this on the Web. I also told Beth Ward-Sanders, who is Gracie's breeder, and with whom I co-own her.

Gracie is my first AKC show dog. I thought that it might not be right to continue showing her, since I knew she had a hereditary defect. Beth told me that it was up to me, but that she would like to see her finish. I know that plenty of people have finished dogs that they had no intention of breeding, so I went ahead and entered her in the Rocky Mountain Classic in February. I compromised with my conscience by deciding that it would probably be her last show; or, if not, that I wouldn't go to any great lengths to finish her if she didn't get her remaining major at the RMC.

Please note that it was my decision to show her; I am not blaming Beth in any way.

During all this, the thought of violating Chapter 11, Section 8 never crossed my mind. But, since that is what Regina is accusing me of, I will defend myself.

I did not break the specific rules. They ban showing a dog "changed in appearance by artificial means;" and say "A dog is considered changed in appearance by artificial means if it has been subjected to any type of procedure that has the effect of obscuring, disguising or eliminating any congenital or hereditary abnormality..."

Since LL is not visible to the naked eye, the surgery did not and could not "obscure" or "disguise" it. In fact, the surgery makes it detectable, because when the pupil contracts in bright light, it appears square. Neither did the surgery "eliminate" it. We hope that it will prevent that eye from progressing to full luxation; and an eye exam of any dog who has had this surgery will still reveal lens luxation.

It's highly experimental, and Gracie was the first dog to have it done. In other words, the surgery was done to see if it will work, rather than to fix the eye.

My broadcasting of Gracie's sub-luxation demonstrates that I had no intention of hiding it. Therefore, I believe I am not guilty of a rule violation.

There you have it, folks. You can make up your own minds about what happened. I know Regina well enough to be sure that she is following her conscience, and that it is not a personal attack on me. She is still my friend, and I hope will continue to be.


Signed: Ruth Hoffman (sorry, website has moved or changed)


This is Regina G. May's response to the situation:

I have never had a problem with Ruth Hoffman and Elizabeth Ward-Sanders mini bitch "Gracie" having any type of surgical procedure to help alleviate the LL condition. I personally believe that whatever we can do to help improve quality of life is to be commended.

I do take issue to the fact that she was entered and shown in conformation after this well publicized surgery. The surgical procedure, experimental or not, correcting the condition or not, I believe exhibiting this animal was unethical. And I believe it to be it a violation of AKC rules.

Every debate, argument or disagreement most certainly has sides that are taken in its defense or opposition. I have chosen to believe my interpretation on this rule to be a violation, and therefore I filed a complaint with the AKC. Ruth, you believe your interpretation of the rule is not a violation. We both have read the rules pertaining to this issue, and we perceive them differently.

The MBTCA (Miniature Bull Terrier Club Of America) and everyone who has knowledge of this issue are not qualified to make a judgment in this case. You have publicly stated you will defend your case, thus the only solution to this issue is to have the organization who wrote these rules be the deciding factor, that being The American Kennel Club.

And I cannot help but believe that the Miniature Bull Terrier Club and fellow exhibitors will benefit on the ruling the AKC would make in this matter. Since LL is a very serious problem in our breed. A ruling of whether it is acceptable or a violation for a dog to compete in conformation, now and in the future.

I would suggest that a letter of your position regarding this issue, typed or hand written such as you sent out to the Nominating Committee, as it was quite honest and thorough, would be beneficial in determining a decision on this matter.

As all correspondence to the AKC Investigative Department is done only thru the mail, phone conversations are not possible, and all correspondence must also be signed. They do not accept copies. Address your correspondence to; (address provided)

Signed, Regina G. May (sorry, website has moved or changed)



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