Mr. Michael Liosis Director of Club Relations COPY American Kennel Club 260 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10016
November 7, 2001
Dear Mr. Liosis,
I wish to express my thoughts regarding the recent request sent to your office from the Greyhound Club of America's Board of Directors. This request involved the Board's desire regarding American Kennel Club recognition of racing bred greyhounds. The Board asked that the AKC not recognize National Greyhound Association (NGA) bred greyhounds as greyhounds and to deny them registration.
I am certain that the Board presented their reasons for asking this. I would like to counter with some thoughts of my own on the subject.
The greyhound is probably the oldest documented purebred breed of dogs that we know of. Written descriptions (standards) of the greyhound have been found dating back to the first century. Until the turn of the nineteenth century, the greyhound's primary purpose was to compete in the athletic sport of coursing the hare on the plains of England. There was no formal dog racing, nor were there dog shows. Though dog shows were a bit ahead of dog racing, both came about at the same approximate time about one hundred years ago. Some people took greyhounds and made them racing dogs while others made them into show dogs. The same genes went into both the track and the show greyhound. In both groups we find some dogs that exemplify the standard that was taken almost verbatim from the Book, Stonehenge, The Greyhound. This book by a Dr. Walsh was written as a treatise on coursing and the coursing greyhound.
Now that AKC has adopted lure coursing as a performance event for greyhounds, both groups are afforded an opportunity to allow their dogs to participate in a simulated version of the sport for which they were originally bred. This is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to test our dog's expertise in this arena. There are those who have had great success in the greyhound performance trials by combining the two groups of greyhounds
Both groups, the show and the racing dogs, are greyhounds even though neither was bred for the coursing of hare. One was bred for track racing and the other for the dog show. Though many show breeders claim that their dogs are the true coursing type while the track dogs are aberrant, a greyhound is only a coursing dog if it courses. Others are simply hypothetical coursing dogs. I do not feel that a greyhound bred for the show ring is any more a coursing dog than is a greyhound bred for the track. Both are equally non- coursing greyhounds.
I am speaking as a show greyhound breeder. We have bred over 100 champion greyhounds including many who were BIS, Group and Specialty winners. The current number one greyhound and number two hound is our breeding. Some years ago, we also participated in lure coursing and are proud of our multi group-placing dog that won the breed at the Grand National at the age of seven years and also completed his ASFA championship. I have no particular ax to grind in this matter except for the one of reason and fairness.
The track dog is a pure bred greyhound with as much pure blood as the show born greyhounds. Furthermore, in a breed with as small a gene pool as has the greyhound, it is pure foolhardiness to preclude the possibility of being able to acquire a degree of hybrid vigor from an outcross to another bank of genes. In addition if there was to be discovered some serious genetic ailment in our show dogs it would be far more difficult to control with just this tiny gene pool that exists in the show community of greyhounds. I have read that The Kennel Club in England has recently added additional classes in their championship shows for track greyhounds and for coursing greyhounds. It seems that they certainly consider the performance greyhounds as true greyhounds.
I have seriously attempted to see the logic in the Board's position but I cannot. Since there are so few "rescue" greyhounds cross-registered and, of those, even fewer appear in the show ring. I do not think it could be fear of competition, surely. Furthermore, though some people combine the two bloodlines in the expectation of obtaining better coursing dogs, this should not be a concern to those who do not wish to go that way. There has been some animosity between the two factions due to insults sent back and forth, but I cannot believe that grown people could be so offended that they attempt to evict from their world of greyhounds those who differ with them. Many of the officers and Board members are personal friends of mine and I do not wish to impugn their motives. They are, I'm sure; persons of integrity who have what they feel are valid concerns. However, I simply cannot see the justification for such a drastic move. The officers of the club are only transitory but the decisions they make are not and will be with us for many years to come.
There are show greyhounds, track greyhounds and coursing greyhounds but all are irrefutably pure- bred greyhounds and as long as this fact can be supported by proper documentation, all three belong in the GCA studbook, in my opinion.
cc: Alfred L. Cheaure' James P. Crowley Ken Marden Hon.David C. Merriam
I am writing you concerning the unilateral decision of the Board of Directors of the Greyhound Club of America to petition the AKC to bar greyhounds with NGA ancestry from AKC registration.
I am neither a member of the GCA (nor a resident of the United States) so for the past few years I felt that the actions of the GCA were no business of mine. I had been invited to submit an application for membership, but could see no need.
It appears that being a member of the GCA would not have made a difference in the arbitrary and bigoted actions of this board. Their petition is against the vote of the Membership (1997) to have the AKC continue to register greyhounds with NGA blood. There was no poling of the Members, and no way for the Members to have their voice heard. Surely a matter of such importance, once decided, should not be changed on the undemocratic whim of a few. If there was to be some discussion about barring dogs with NGA blood, it should be reviewed on a anniversary of once every 10 (or 25) years, after much REASONABLE discussion among ALL greyhound owners and interested parties.
The reasoning of the BOD is specious to say the least. The fact that many AKC "Show" greyhounds are radically different in appearance to many registered with the NGA does not say that either is 'correct" The statement "How do we even know that they are purebred" is ridiculous. The ongoing criteria to register a Greyhound with the NGA is far more onerous than registering a dog with the AKC. What the heck would you add to a breeding program of NGA breeding to make them more desirable to a person involved in NGA? If you were into marathon running of long distances, maybe a little Saluki blood, but for the Track, the NGA greyhound owner has exactly what he wants.
The registration system of the AKC is far from faultless. Without getting in to the whole can of worms of the AKC registering thousands of dogs produced by Puppy Mills (we get them every day by the truckload coming across the border to Canadian Pet Stores) I can give you a few examples of dogs "slipping through the loops" when being registered by the AKC.
Of course there is the famous Saluki, RED PRINCE, a dog of mainly Desert Bred lines. This dog was registered with the AKC with a false pedigree. He was a dominant stud in his time and sired a great many successful show dogs. His papers were pulled by the AKC for a period of time, but he was later reinstated, as he was an ancestor of a great many AKC show salukis. There are the many 'racing" whippets, all going back to a few individuals imported from England. These and their descendants are all registered with the AKC, even though the original hounds are "non- ped" stock, with false pedigrees. There is a strong belief that there has been recent infusions of greyhound blood to these lines. A challenge was mounted by some individuals concerning this, but the day before DNA work was to be done, there was a "tragic' accident and the bitch to be tested died, and the body disposed of.
A person in California with a male and female whippet, imported a very young pup from England (non-ped). He registered it as a single pup, the offspring of his 2 AKC whippets. Even though the colour was very unlikely if at all possible, this pup was successfully registered with the AKC
To summarize, AKC registration does not guarantee the ancestry of any dog, and while the NGA may not be flawless, it has MUCH stricter control over breeding program and registration. So the statement "how do we even know they are purebred" is a real joke. NGA dogs are purebred Greyhounds. The fact that they are not twinned clones to the type produced by 'show breeders' is irrelevant. They, their owners and admirers should not be penalized by either the GCA or the AKC.
I am enclosing several documents with this letter: - A copy of a letter which I tried to email to both the President and Vice President of the GCA. They were both returned, but I also sent a copy to the corresponding secretary of the GCA, and assume that it is available to the various members of the Board of Directors, as I also posted it on a Greyhound List (Greyhound Fanciers) - Also included in this letter to you is a Theoretical Litter document which outlines a litter which I might breed in the fall of 2002. Under AKC rules for registering Foreign Born Dogs the resulting pups would be eligible for registration with the AKC if they were born in the United States, but NOT if they were born in Canada. A number of their ancestors are NGA, If the NGA registry was not accepted by the AKC, the resulting Certified Pedigree from the Canadian Kennel Club would show individual Greyhounds with their original NGA numbers and the offspring of Can Am Ch Windwood Virtual Reality SOR FChX out of Can Ch Windwood Millenium Goshawk ORC FChX would be ineligible for AKC.
I sincerely hope that the American Kennel Club demonstrates an integrity of purpose and a lack of bigotry, unlike the Board of Directors of the Greyhound Club of America, and that the petition of the BOD to have the AKC ban greyhounds with NGA blood will be summarily be rejected.
26019 40th Ave
Aldergrove, British Columbia
(Canada) V4W 1W3
Ph & fax (604) 856 2850
To:Sue Lemieux, Mary Ellen Gorske, and other members of the GCA Executive:
I am not a member of the GCA, but feel I must make my complaint public re the board of the GCA soliciting the AKC to refuse registration of NGA greyhounds. I realize that my plea to allow a diverse gene pool will just flow past you. You have decided that these dogs and their owners are unworthy of even a casual glance. This, as a personal choice, is one you can make in your own breeding program. BUT Your arbitrary decision to try to have the AKC refuse registration to greyhounds with NGA in their pedigree will totally eliminate 25 years of careful breeding of multi purpose greyhounds in my kennel (WINDWOOD Perm Reg'd) It is entirely up to you, and each individual involved in the breed, whether you wish to include NGA blood in your breeding program. Likewise, it should be MY decision if I choose to have straight show lines of a mixture. I have chosen the latter, and am outraged that you feel that you have the right to dictate to me which lines I can choose.
If your proposal to the AKC is implemented, all the fine hounds I have bred over the past 25 years, and any offspring produced in the future will be ineligible for AKC registration. What right do you have to eliminate my entire breeding program, a thoughtful one which I have worked on for many years. I have not just picked up a stray NGA bitch and found a pet quality male that some unwise Show breeder has allowed to go to a pet home unaltered. I have carefully chosen complimentary individuals, with impressive credentials and ancestors, and pr oduced fine multi purpose Greyhounds. I find it difficult to understand why this so offends you, and even though it obviously does, I do not believe that this gives you the right to bar me and my dogs for AKC registration and event.
A dog from my very first breeding finished his AKC Ch undefeated from the classes, and last year another CAN AM CH WINDWOOD VIRTUAL REALITY SOR FCHX finished his bench AKC bench Ch. This is not the exception. There are others through the years who have completed AKC Bench Ch titles, and all the while ranking among the top amateur running dogs in North America.
I am sure that this letter from someone, not a GCA member, whose breeding program you must obviously despise, will do nothing to change your mind, but at least I have made my thoughts known to you.
British Cloumbia, Canada.
TO: Mr. James Crowley Executive Secretary American Kennel Club 260 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10016
Dear Mr. Crowley,
Once again, I must implore the administrative body of The American Kennel Club to very carefully reconsider the ramifications of closing the stud book to the National Greyhound Association Greyhounds.
The Greyhound Club of America is once again attempting to persuade the AKC Board of Directors to close the Greyhound breed registry to those Greyhounds they consider to be ugly mongels, namely those registered with the National Greyhound Association.
The Board members of the Greyhound Club of America have not polled their entire membership regarding this issue. In the past the majority of GCA members have supported keeping the AKC Stud Book open to all Greyhounds of accepted registries, which is as it should be. Many other Greyhound owners have voiced their concerns about limiting registrations to the GCA. Over the years requests for membership applications have been ignored by the GCA, keeping their administration small and exclusive and not necessarily in the best interests of the breed.
The American Kennel Club's mission statement: "Maintain a registry for purebred dogs and preserve its integrity. Sanction dog events that promote interest in, and sustain the process of, breeding for type and function of purebred dogs. Take whatever actions necessary to protect and assure the continuation of the sport of purebred dogs."
Greyhounds registered with the National Greyhound Association are undeniably purebred greyhounds and should continue to be recognized by the American Kennel Club. Their registry is an old and respected organization, and great pains are taken to insure the integrity of their pedigree records.
Very few NGA greyhounds are actually cross-registered with the AKC, maybe a dozen or so a year, if that. In this, the insistence that race-bred Greyhounds will totally overwhelm the AKC-only bred dogs, the GCA is "crying wolf." The number of track-bred Greyhounds that have been adopted, which number in the thousands, have no bearing on this issue, as these dogs are spayed or neutered and almost exclusively kept as pets.
Despite the limited number of cross-registered Greyhounds, many of these athletic dogs and their offspring have proved themselves worthy in the conformation rings, on the lure coursing fields, and in the long-term breeding programs of dedicated fanciers in the USA and in Canada. If the registrations of NGA Greyhounds are denied, will the mandate also include those dogs originally registered in Canada, in England, in Ireland, in Australia? Will the current and past AKC registrations of such dogs be voided? Many NGA Greyhounds who participate in AKC lure coursing and other AKC performance events do so under ILP numbers -- will those numbers be rescinded, and those dogs deemed ineligible?
The AKC is planning on organizing a sighthound racing program in 2003 -- dual-registered Greyhounds and their offspring could be among the AKC's staunchest supporters!
The Greyhound breed, never many in number, is already working with a frightening small gene pool. Concerned veterinarians have written to the Greyhound Club of America before regarding this issue, strongly suggesting that to limit the gene pool any further is to doom the breed to an increase in serious health issues, which already plague the AKC-only bred Greyhounds. The health issues regarding the track-bred Greyhounds being quoted by the GCA are not based in fact, nor are they supported by real numbers. The simple fact is that animals bred for performance cannot be plagued by health issues -- even if for financial reasons alone.
Please carefully consider your actions. Do not let the few current Board members of the Greyhound Club of America, acting against the wishes of the majority of the Greyhound community, do irrepairable harm to the Greyhound breed by successfully petitioning the AKC to close the American Kennel Club stud book to all but a very few Greyhounds.
The future of the breed is in your hands. Please, please consider your actions very carefully, and deny the GCA petition to close the stud book.
From: Rob & Elaine Summerhill email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Cc: James Crowley email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Subject: [gcaaction] Closure of the AKC Studbook
Dear GCA Board of Directors and Nominees,
Even though I am not a GCA member, this issue is important enough for me to voice my dismay over the recent actions of the GCA BOD in their attempts to close the AKC studbook to NGA greyhounds.
There is no compelling reason to close the book. Below is a short list of reasons to keep the studbook open.
Registration statistics prove that there are very few NGA greyhounds cross registered into the AKC studbook. This negates the fears of some that NGA greyhounds are taking over the breed ring.
There are well known breeders in both the USA and Canada who have successfully integrated NGA dogs into their breeding programs, producing greyhounds that win in the breed ring and in performance venues of all types. Their breeding programs, some of which have been in place for 30 years, will be totally negated.
With the small gene pool within greyhound show lines, both here and abroad, the breed needs all the genetic diversity it can muster. In doing pedigree research, very few show lines go back to dogs other than Eng. Ch. Treetops Hawk or his sire, Parcancady Lancer. Closing the studbook creates even more of a genetic bottleneck for the breed. One has only to look at the Basenji and other breeds with a very limited genepool to see what lies ahead for greyhounds.
This issue was previously discussed and handled by the GCA BOD for two years before they presented it to the membership for a vote. That GCA BOD acted in a responsible manner, as is required in the GCA ethical standards as adopted by the GCA on October 23, 1993. I quote, "Each member shall accept any majority vote of the club as the wishes of the club. Proposed changes that might benefit the breed or the club will be made in an orderly and responsible manner."
The GCA BOD and some of its members are violating the club's ethical standards by not accepting the majority vote of the club just four years ago to keep the studbook open to NGA greyhounds. They further violate the ethical standards by not acting in a responsible manner with regards to this already settled issue by not discussing the pros and cons and the end results of their impromptu and impulsive action. They are also displaying a lack of tolerance for others, another violation of the club's ethical standards.
Because BOD vote was to close the studbook ONLY to NGA greyhounds, it can be presumed that theirs is a political statement against greyhound racing, currently a legal activity, especially since there isn't any question that NGA greyhounds are actually greyhounds. The BOD hasn't the right to force their political viewpoint on anyone. As United States citizens, we rebel against this kind of tyranny. This is, after all, the "land of the free and the home of the brave" as has been exhibited this past week.
In closing, your actions are exclusionary, impulsive, and tyrannical, violating the GCA's Ethical Standards as adopted on October 23, 1993. Even if your actions were undertaken with good thoughts, they violate the rights of all greyhound owners, both GCA members and non-members. This action to close the studbook is neither good for the breed nor the club as it is detrimental to the health and welfare of the breed and causes a schism within the club. It has the potential to tear apart the GCA. Please rethink your actions.
I wish to convey the very stongest objections to the request from the Board of Directors to close the AKC stud book to dogs registered with the National Greyhound Association (NGA). I am a long time (25+ years) Greyhound breeder, two time winner of the Pedigree Breeder of the Year award, and the breeder of more than 50 bench and field champions in both Canada and the US.
The arguments put forth by the GCA board to support the closing of the studbook contain unsubstantiated claims and general allegations. I would like to address these issues.
They claim that the AKC Greyhound is in danger of being overwhelmed by the large numbers of NGA dogs. AKC records show that the number of NGA Greyhounds cross registered with the AKC has remained stable for the last 10 years (except perhaps for a surge since this subject came up). Further, NGA registrations have dropped from a high of almost 40,000 per year in 1991 to about 19,000 in 2000 (the last year for which figures are available), due partly to a request from the NGA for a voluntary reduction in breedings. If NGA registrations have been reduced by 50%, how could it now suddenly pose a threat to AKC Greyhounds that didn't exist before?
They also claim that NGA dogs somehow will introduce 'disease' to the AKC dogs. As someone who has done extensive research and testing for inherited diseases in the Greyhound, I feel I can speak with some authority. According to the OFA, hip dysplasia does not occur in the racing Greyhound. However, it also lists the incidence of hip dysplasia as just under 5% in the AKC Greyhound - one of the highest levels among the sighthound breeds. Bloat is another common problem among AKC Greyhounds, but virtually unknown among NGA dogs. Conversely, a form of PRA does occur in the NGA dog, and is very uncommon in AKC dogs. Osteocarcoma and cardiomyopathy occur in both, and recently SAS has been confirmed in AKC Greyhounds and has been traced to Scandinavian imports. Most surprisingly, those members of the GCA board that claim to be concerned about the health issues of NGA dogs don't do any genetic screening on their own dogs!
Proponents of closing the stud book also claim that AKC and NGA Greyhounds are different in type, and have been kept separate for many years. This is patently untrue. There have always been breeders that occisionally incorporate NGA dogs into their breeding program, and there are still breeders that do so today. These dogs compete sucessfully in the show ring, and in fact there are members of the AKC Board that (as judges) have awarded points to dogs with NGA blood. Of great amusement (to me, anyway) is the fact that two very outspoken GCA members that also judge recently awarded points (unknowingly, I'm sure)to two different dogs that are 1/= 4 NGA, even as they proclaim that NGA dogs are different in type, should have ribbons withheld in the show ring, and have nothing to offer the AKC dog....... They also claim that racing breeders do not breed to the standard, however, every book that I own on racing Greyhounds and racing (and there are many), includes the standard, a detailed explanation of the standard, and the influence of conformation on running ability. I also find it curious that even as they claim that NGA breeders don't breed to the standard, they are presently trying to change the standard to fit the dogs they are currently breeding, and explaining that the correct size, as stated in the standard, is no longer relevant.
As a Canadian Greyhound fancier, I would be immediately and adversely affected by a decision to close the stud book. As a breeder, I acquired an NGA dog a number of years ago, and incorporated her into my breeding program. I am now showing and coursing her grandchildren. However, under AKC rules for foreign dogs, all dogs within a 3 generation pedigree must come from a registry recognized by the AKC. If you close the stud book to NGA dogs, my dogs would no longer be eligible for AKC registration or competition, because of a breeding decision I made 10 years ago! It seems inconceivable to me that my dogs would no longer be considered 'real' Greyhounds, a= nd in spite of the fact that they have earned AKC bench championships and field championships, their offspring would not be eligible for AKC registration. This would create a serious hardship for me, as a majority of my puppies are sold to US homes. Many other Canadian breeders would be in the same situation.
I also find it very troubling that two of the GCA members that started this current drive to close the stud book compete in shows in the same geographical region that I do, and that my dogs, more often than not, beat theirs. Both have indicated that they are aware that this action would remove my dogs from competition. I would hate to think that this entire action was initiated out of petty jealousies, or a desire to get rid of the competition, but I'm afraid that from where I sit, that would appear to= be one of the factors, especially since this subject has already been put before the membership of the GCA, who voted by a majority to leave the stud book open. The current Board of the GCA is in violation of their own constitution and Code of Ethics by attempting to overturn the stated wishes of the membership.
Except for a brief period during the 1960's, the AKC has always recognized and allowed the cross registration of NGA dogs. In fact, the National Greyhound Association (formerly the National Coursing Association), is actually the oldest registry in North America, and pre-dates the AKC.
As I see it, the only justifiable reason to close the stud book would be for allegations of fraud, incorrect registrations, questionable recordkeeping, etc. The NGA's pedigrees and recordkeeping are above reproach. They require DNA testing on all dogs, and both breedings and whelpings must be registered within 10 days. There have been no allegations against the registration practices of the NGA from those who wish to close the stud book.
As a breeder, it is important to me that I have the freedom to breed my dogs as I see fit, and as long as I prove my breeding program in the show ring, in the field, and with genetic testing, I do not believe the Board of Directors of the GCA has the right to dictate what I may and may not include in my breeding program. There are many serious and committed breeders like myself who are not members of the GCA, but are nonetheless affected by their actions. Although the director's terms ar= e transient, the effects of their actions will be with us for many years.
With a breed as numerically small as the Greyhound, and with a limited gene pool, I do not believe that it is in the best interests of the future of the breed to exclude the majority of purebred Greyhounds in North America from the AKC, and I ferverently hope that the American Kennel Club will see fit to continue to allow Greyhound breeders the freedom to include NGA dogs in their breeding programs as they see fit.
American Kennel Club 260 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10016
I have been a breeder of show Greyhounds for twenty-five years. I have been a licensed lure coursing judge for the same length of time. I am also an AKC judge for Greyhounds and judged the Greyhound Club of America's national specialty in 1997 and its accompanying lure trial. I have been a member of the Greyhound Club of America since 1979, and have served on its board and as its president in the 1990's.
I am writing to request that the American Kennel Club reject the request of the Greyhound Club of America's Board of Directors to refuse AKC registration to Greyhounds that are registered with the National Greyhound Association (NGA) I urge that you refuse their request for the following reasons:
1. National Greyhound Association Greyhounds are purebred Greyhounds and it has been possible to register them with the American Kennel Club for the entire history of the AKC with the exception of the years from 1949 to 1969. That temporary closure came about because in 1934 the racing Greyhound owners tried to break the racing NGA registry by requiring that all racing Greyhounds be registered with the AKC. For the next decade and a half, thousands of NGA Greyhounds were registered with the AKC. In 1949, the NGA offered to exchange AKC papers for NGA papers. The NGA put a deadline on the exchange after which they would no longer provide NGA papers to AKC registered dogs. In retaliation, the AKC refused for the first and only time to grant AKC registration to NGA registered Greyhounds. The closure extended for twenty years until, in 1969, the Greyhound Club of America requested that the AKC resume granting AKC registration to NGA registered Greyhounds, and the AKC has done so up to the present day.
2. A few breeders, who want to produce dual-purpose show and lure coursing Greyhounds, have done so by combining bloodlines from entirely AKC bred Greyhounds with AKC registered NGA bloodlines. The resulting dogs have been very successful in both conformation and lure coursing competition. There is no possible reason to deny these breeders the ability to continue combining AKC and AKC registered NGA bloodlines in their quest to produce the ideal dual-purpose Greyhound. Refusing to grant AKC registration to NGA Greyhounds would do this. It is my understanding that the appearance of an NGA registered Greyhound in a three generation pedigree would also make most Canadian show Greyhounds ineligible for AKC registration because they do combine AKC and NGA bloodlines.
3. With less than 200 show Greyhound puppies registered each year, the show Greyhound is one of the AKC's least numerous breeds. Nearly all show Greyhounds trace their pedigrees back to Ch. Treetops Hawk in the 1950's. Worldwide, show Greyhounds share a very narrow gene pool. In England, for instance, only fifty show Greyhound puppies are born each year. While they are generally a healthy breed, recently some nasty health problems like sub aortic stenosis have turned up in the breed. The NGA bred dogs provide a performance tested, healthy, large gene pool of pure bred Greyhounds who can be helpful now and in the future. The use of AKC registered NGA dogs can both widen the show gene pool and deal with specific genetic health problems in the show dogs. If the AKC stops granting AKC registration to NGA bred Greyhounds, it will no longer be possible to use them to improve the health of the show lines. That is a door that we shouldn't close.
4. What about showing NGA bred Greyhounds in the conformation ring? All Greyhounds are judged against the Greyhound standard. When that standard was adopted in 1929 it was based on the writers' visualization of a pretty coursing dog. The Greyhound breed was not created by being bred to a written standard. Greyhounds were created over thousands of years by being coursed. They were bred to a performance standard, by breeding speed to speed. Over the years, show Greyhounds have gotten seriously oversized while racing Greyhounds have stayed closer to the sizes requested by the standard. (60-65 pounds for bitches and 65-70 pounds for dogs.) The showing of an NGA bred Greyhound creates no problem. It is judged against the same breed standard as any other Greyhound. Judges who have done that, have granted more than a dozen racing Greyhounds their AKC Championships. They have also won Groups and two, Ch. Mutual Friend and John O'Groats, were all breed Best In Show winners.
5. In 1997, the general membership of the Greyhound Club of America voted on whether to ask the AKC to halt the granting of AKC registration to NGA Greyhounds. The measure was defeated. 60% of the 62 voting members voted against the measure. The AKC continued to grant AKC registration to NGA registered Greyhounds. The current GCA request was voted for by a paltry six board members. It does not reflect the will of the membership of the GCA. The opinion of the GCA membership was last shown in the 1997 vote where they defeated the same request that has now been put forth by the board. The action of the board to overturn the vote of the general membership is a violation of Robert's Rules of Order which, according to the GCA Constitution are supposed to govern the actions of the club.
Please reject this ill-considered recommendation of the GCA board. It does harm to breeders and to show Greyhounds alike.
Patricia Gail Burnham Past GCA board member and past president (1989-94) I didn't spend six tough years on the board trying to empower the general membership, only to sit by quietly and watch them disenfranchised by the current board of directors.
12 September 2001
Mr. Michael Liosis Director of Club Relations American Kennel Club
Dear Mr. Liosis
I am a member in good standing of the Greyhound Club of America. I served on their Board of directors for five years and as president for two years during the 1990s. . When I was an officer of the GCA we used to take copies of Robert's Rules of Order to board meetings and used it to settle a lot of disputes.
I was therefore appalled on 26 July 2001 when I attended the GCAs general membership meeting and we were told that the Board of Directors, quoting you as their authority, was going to remove from the general membership their ability to make motions and vote on them at general meetings, special meetings and by mail. President Sue Lemieux said that they would allow the previous general membership votes to stand but would disallow them in the future. The part of your letter to Rose Mary Conner that they quoted as their authority for this action was the following:
"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, the 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."
I would like to suggest that you might want to reconsider your advice in light of both Robert's Rules and the GCA constitution. The GCA constitution allows the general members to call special meetings of the club and to participate in two regular general membership meetings a year. What would be the point in calling a special meeting if the general members were prevented from making motions and voting at such a meeting? What is the function of general meetings if the general members are prevented from making motions and voting at them? Are we supposed to just listen to the minutes from the board meeting and then go home? You say that the powers of the members are specifically granted by the bylaws. I submit that it is the powers of the board of directors that are specifically granted by the bylaws and that any powers not so specified are reserved to the members.
What does the tenth edition of the unabridged Robert's Rules of Order have to say about board votes? It says:
On page 465: "A society has no executive board, nor can its officers act as a board, except as the bylaws may provide; and when so established, the board has only such power as is delegated to it by the bylaws or by vote of the society's assembly referring individual matters to it." Since the assembly is the general membership, the board has only such power as is delegated by the bylaws or the general membership.
On page 466: "Usually in organizations meeting monthly or oftener, and sometimes in those meeting quarterly, the board is not given so much power, since the society can attend to much of its business at its regular meetings. . . .In any event, no action of the board can conflict with any action taken by the assembly of the society; and, except in matters placed by the bylaws exclusively under control of the board, the society's assembly can give the board instructions which it must carry out, and can countermand any action of the board if it is not too late (as it would be, for example, when a contract has already been made)."
This section provides that in the event of a disagreement between the general membership (assembly) and the board, the general membership rules. The board can't overrule the general membership. It is the other way around. And the general membership CAN conduct business at its meetings. That makes sense of the provision in the constitution that allows the general membership to call special meetings. It would be silly for the general membership to call a special meeting if they were banned from conducting business at such a meeting. The right of the general membership to make motions and vote on them was so obvious to the drafters of the constitution that it wasn't specifically mentioned in the constitution and therefore falls under the guidance of Robert's Rules.
According to Robert's Rules, the general membership (assembly) has power over the board. And that means that all of the previous and future GCA general membership votes should stand.
The writers of the GCA constitution thought that the power of the general membership was so self evident that they didn't spell it out. The function of the Board of Directors is to represent the interests of the members who elected them. Unfortunately some of our board members forget that detail once they are on the board, and they vote for their own special interests. When the board votes in their own interest instead of representing the majority of the general membership, then it is time for the general membership to use their powers to vote to correct board errors. Authority is delegated from the general membership to the board. Delegating power to the board does not prevent the general membership from exercising its own power and presumably the ultimate power in any club rests with the general membership and is expressed through their votes.
Having staged their bid for power, the GCA board wasn't through with us yet. In April of 1997 a vote took place in which more than half the members participated. The general membership defeated a motion to recommend closure of the AKC studbook to the registration of National Greyhound Association (NGA) Greyhounds. (The only time the stud book has been closed to NGA Greyhounds was from 1949 to 1969 as a result of a squabble between the NGA and the AKC over who would register racing Greyhounds.) The GCA got the AKC studbook reopened in 1969. In 1997 we thought that the vote of the general membership had resolved the issue. We were wrong.
In May of 2001, the anti-NGA folks opened up with a barrage of letters to dog magazines advocating closure of the studbook to NGA Greyhounds. This occurred just before the Western Specialty, timed to give few of their opponents an opportunity to reply before the Western. At the Western board meeting, six board members voted to overturn the earlier general membership vote and to close the studbook to NGA Greyhounds. This was a carefully orchestrated vote that took place without discussion at 11:05 P.M. after the board had been asked to vacate their meeting room. I was amazed that this vote was taken for two reasons. In the first place President Sue Lemieux told those attending the general membership meeting the next day that the board had decided to allow the earlier general membership votes to stand. And secondly, you had recommended postponing a vote on the NGA issue it until Robert's Rules of Order could be researched. The following is an excerpt from Secretary Rose Conner's account of her phone call to you.
"Conner: We discussed the presentation of this undertaking and its implications at the next Board meeting on July 25, 2001 at Lompoc. Your suggestion, which I respect as appropriate, was that we present these letters at the board meeting, discuss the implications, and say that we will be working closely with the AKC, going over a whole lot of things to come up with a joint GCA/AKC solution. All motions in question will be addressed and considered in the total context of their entirety. However, until the process is completed, you strongly suggested that major initiatives not be brought to a vote, for fear of possible challenges, given the current murky status of so many issues and prior voting patterns.
You specifically applied this caution to the current initiative to close the GCA (Sic-it should be AKC) Studbook to dogs of NGA registry, an initiative that was discussed for presentation to the board at Lompoc. (In this case, per our subsequent conversation of June 18, you indicated that the question as to the rescinding or revisiting of an issue previously voted on five (sic-it was four) years ago, albeit via a non-valid vote, needs to be researched in Robert's Rules before an opinion could be made as to its current status. However you felt that the status of this and other potential issues should be defined by the time of the October Eastern (National) board meeting.
Therefore, out goal is to have this project completed before the Eastern (National) Specialty board meeting (on October 3rd, 4th, or 5th 2001). June and I will be happy to meet with you at the AKC at any time if it will expedite the process or clarify questions. We are all, of course, at your service and will help you in any way appropriate. Sincerely Rose Mary Conner."
Ignoring your advice to wait until the Eastern Board meeting to allow time for Robert's Rules research, the board voted to close the studbook. When the secretary related the board's NGA vote at the General Membership Meeting the next day, I made a motion to send the question of closing the studbook to NGA dogs to a vote of the general membership. My motion was ruled out of order on the basis that a call for a vote of the general membership conflicted with the guidelines in your letter. This is the first time in the history of a club that a general membership motion has been declared out of order. It doesn't speak well for the future of the club.
The secretary said that, if the general membership didn't like a board vote, we could vote them out in the next election or petition them with a 2/3 vote of the membership to reconsider. She was wrong. There is no provision in either the constitution or the standing rules for petitioning the board for reconsideration. There is, however, a provision for amending the constitution, which hopefully the members of the GCA will utilize to make explicit in the Constitution their ability to make motions and vote on them at general membership meetings and by written ballots.
In the phone call to Rose Conner, you said that no precipitate board action should be taken until Robert's Rules could be researched. You were right, and this whole mess could have been avoided if the folks who planned it had read Robert's Rules. Then they would have known that they didn't have the authority to do what they have attempted. Robert's Rules of Order has saved the club much strife when previous boards of directors were guided by it. What does Roberts say about reconsideration of a matter previously voted on? It says:
Page XLVII "Another important principle is that, as a protection against instability-arising, for example. from such factors as slight variations in attendance-the requirements for changing a previous action are greater than those for taking the action in the first place."
So in order to overturn the 1997 NGA vote, a vote of the general membership greater than a simple majority would be required.
Some GCA members are more annoyed at the attempt to close the studbook than at the power grab by the board. Others are more concerned about the board's depriving the general membership of the ability to make motions and vote on club business in the future. In a 3,000-member club it might make sense to vest all the power in the board of directors. But with a mere 150 members it is perfectly reasonable to allow our general members to vote on matters of major interest to the general membership. This allows the general membership to correct board actions that do not reflect the interests of the general members.
Since it was my motion at the general membership meeting that was disallowed, based on your advice, I am requesting that you reconsider that advice in view of both the GCA constitution and Robert's Rules and advise the club to accept any future motions that request a general membership vote. I also request that you inform the club that the previous general membership votes are not "null and void." And that the general membership is authorized in Robert's Rules to make motions and vote on them at special and general membership meetings and by mail ballots. What we need in the GCA is more democracy, not less.
Patricia Gail Burnham 5305 Illinois Ave Fair Oaks, CA 95628
cc: Alfred L. Cheauré James P. Crowley Ken Marden
Board of Directors 25 January 2002 American Kennel Club 260 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10016
Dear AKC Board Member:
SUBJECT: THE HEALTH OF RACING GREYHOUNDS
The folks who are asking you to close the AKC studbook to racing Greyhounds claim that racing Greyhounds are not being bred for health and longevity. They are wrong. What racing Greyhounds are being bred for is the physical strength and the excellent heart and lung function needed to make them run fast. Good heart and lung function often results in longevity. Being bred for running ability for hundreds of years is what gives Greyhounds one of the lowest rates of hip displaysia among all dog breeds. In the Summer 2001 Celebrating Greyhound's magazine there were six racing Greyhounds in their In Memoriam page. Only one of them died at an age younger than twelve and that was a dog that died of kidney failure at seven. Two of the others lived to be 12. Two lived to be 13, and one lived to be 14. At the last Adoptive Greyhound reunion at Dewey Beach there were several 17 year old racing bred Greyhounds. I have never heard of a show Greyhound that lived to reach 17. I have had small show Greyhounds who lived to be 14 and 15 ˝, but I have never been able to get one of the 100-pound males to live to the age of ten.
While we haven't been allowed to see the GCAs letter requesting closure of the studbook, in letters to dog magazines, the pro-studbook closure people have cited Von Willibrands Disease, hypothyroidism, osteosarcoma, epilepsy and aggression as occurring in racing dogs and they have said that there is a danger of racing Greyhounds introducing those health problems into show Greyhound bloodlines. I would like to answer their charges one at a time.
VON WILLIBRAND'S DISEASE. One Greyhound adoption organizer has stated that some of his dogs proved to be bleeders when they were operated on. That led him to test his adoptive dogs for Von Willibrands Disease and he found that many of the dogs tested positive for Von Willibrands . He therefore concludes that racing dogs have a high rate of Von Willibrands Disease.. His facts are right, but his conclusion is wrong. What is true is that the vast majority of adoptive racing Greyhounds are carriers of tick borne blood diseases like babesiosis and erlichia. And curable tick diseases cause some racing dogs to have blood-clotting problems. They bleed under the skin without an injury. When they are operated on, they bleed. Studies have been done that tested both successful and unsuccessful racing Greyhounds for tick diseases and they found that most successful racers are free of tick diseases, while many dogs that are retired due to poor performance do have tick diseases. Studies have also been done that show that most racing Greyhounds are exposed to ticks and tick diseases on the farms where they are raised, long before they reach the track.
So if tick diseases cause the bleeding what caused the positive Von Willibrands tests? In the 1990's I had a half dozen show bred Greyhounds tested for Von Willibrands . Most of them came back testing positive, either as affected or as carriers. In thirty years of breeding show Greyhounds, I have never had a single dog with blood clotting problems. I was upset about the test results, and mentioned them to Helen Hamilton DVM. She laughed and said the same thing had happened to her. Years earlier she had tested her show Greyhounds and had them come back positive. Then she tested the entire kennel population that they came from, and to validate the test she divided some individual samples in two and sent them in to be tested as if they came from two different dogs. When she got back the results there were lots of positives and lots of instances where the divided samples came back with entirely different readings for the same dog. Her conclusion, and I have seen her data and agree with her, was that Von Willibrands testing doesn't work for Greyhounds and results in false positives. I don't know how reliable Von Willibrand's testing is for other breeds, but Greyhounds have higher red counts, lower white counts and other blood peculiarities when compared to non-Greyhound dogs. The test is not valid for them.
Both show and racing Greyhounds have thin, fragile skins and they often get skin tears that require stitches. If a dog actually had a bleeding problem it would show up long before most people would get around to a lab test for Von Willibrands. The simple fact is that Greyhounds running at speed are injury prone and they have been selected for centuries for being able to heal from their inevitable mishaps. If any of them they have genetic bleeding disorders, they are at an insignificant level in both show and racing dogs.
OSTEOSARCOMA: There are no specific figures on rates of Osteosarcoma in either racing or show dogs. All the information is anecdotal. With thousands of racing dogs adopted each year a few of them turn up each month on the Internet lists with osteosarcoma. But if you divide the number of reported osteosarcoma cases by the thousands of adopted Greyhounds, the percentage of racing dogs affected with osteosarcoma is tiny. And the show Greyhound population is so small that if you were to transfer the osteosarcoma rate from the racers to the show dogs the number of show Greyhounds with osteosarcoma would be exceedingly small. There have been show Greyhounds who have died of osteosarcoma, so it already exists in show Greyhounds. Is it more widespread in racing Greyhounds? No one knows. The rate could easily be the same in both populations. . We hear of more cases of osteosarcoma in racing Greyhounds than in show Greyhounds because there are more racing Greyhounds. Or racing Greyhounds could have a slightly higher rate because one of the causative qualities that predispose a dog to osteocarcoma is trauma. And during their careers, racing Greyhounds undergo a lot of trauma. The stress of running actually remodels their bones. Small stress fractures are common. So are fractured hocks. Any of those could predispose a dog to osteosarcoma later in life
HYPOTHYROIDISM is extremely common in both show and racing Greyhounds. Keeping the populations separate will have no effect on the rate of hypothyroidism in show Greyhounds.
EPILEPSY occurs in both show and racing Greyhounds now. Again, keeping the population separate will have no effect on the rate of epilepsy in show Greyhounds, in fact. In fact, my suspicion is that racing Greyhounds have a lower incidence of epilepsy than show Greyhounds. Epileptic dogs don't race well and would be culled from a racing kennel. I know of several epileptic show bitches that have been used for breeding.
TEMPERAMENT AND AGRESSION: Racing dogs have been bred to tolerate living in close kennel confinement while staying calm enough to maintain their racing weight. Since the start of racing in 1926, the excitable and nervous dogs that couldn't tolerate those living conditions have been culled out of the breeding population. Dogs that are aggressive on the track are also culled. The result of eighty years of selection for temperaments that kennel well and race clean has produced a temperament that is easier going than the average show Greyhound. Jane Bulman, who bred both racing and show Greyhounds, told me that her racers were laid back and easy going while her show bred dogs were more demanding than the racers. And I know one breeder who combines AKC and NGA bloodlines who highly selects for the calm, unflappable temperament of her original racing dog. I find the intensity of some of my show bitches amusing. Demanding is their middle name. But the average dog owner would prefer the calmness of the racer. If the proponents of stud book closure have raised questions about any other diseases, I would be happy to address those diseases, if you will let me know what they are.
One of the proponents of studbook closure has produced show Greyhounds that have been diagnosed on post mortem with sub aortic stenosis, a lethal hereditary heart problem. Having that kind of a lethal health problem in our tiny breeding population of show Greyhounds is the best argument for keeping the studbook open to NGA Greyhounds. We can't afford to eliminate the possibility of breeding to racing Greyhounds that have had their excellent heart and lung function regularly tested by their racing performance.
I hope you agree that here are no health reasons for closing the AKC studbook to racing Greyhounds. And there are substantial health reasons for keeping it open. The show Greyhound gene pool is tiny. We already have one lethal genetic disorder in it. It would be an extremely bad idea to limit our future breeding options by closing the studbook.