Greyhound Club of America Officers Speak Out
Eric Liebes resignation as GCA Treasurer
Eric Liebes' statement
Beth Anne Gordon's letter
Subject: GCA Treasurer Resignation
Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 23:06:45 -0500
From: Nancy Eric Liebes <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
May 20, 2002
At this time (and with much regret) I resign my position as Treasurer of the Greyhound Club of America. I feel I must do this now for several reasons. The Board of the GCA has become a one issue body. Every issue is decided in light of the Stud Book matter. It has become impossible for a voice of reason (and that had been my role on the Board for the previous five years) to have any positive effect. Almost every vote in the last year has been decided by a 6 to 3 or 7 to 2 vote. I am always in the minority; I am consistently embarrassed by the actions of the Board.
The Board, in its confident majority, is not following good procedure. The current membership elections are being conducted by e-mail. This is in spite of the specific instructions in our Constitution: "Applicants may be elected at any meeting of the board of directors or by written vote of the directors by mail." Also in spite of real time objections raised to the procedure by three Board members.
Recently it has become clear that the "Board" is making decisions without me. Last year the Recording Secretary sent a letter citing a Board "decision" for which there was no Board vote. I (and one other Board member) objected, she apologized. Now this is happening again and it is clear that nothing can be done to stop it. The specific example: I was informed by our Newsletter Editor that she had been told that the Board had decided to take over editorial oversight of the Newsletter. I'm on the Board and there was no discussion or vote. I am also on the Editorial Board for the Newsletter and we have still not been informed that our authority has been revoked.
The final straw for me is the rejection of the membership applications of George and Sally Bell. This is an embarrassment for the Board and for the GCA. George Bell is one of the preeminent Sighthound experts in the world. The two weak letters against them pointed out that they were performance oriented. There was positive discussion from 2 of the Board members and strong endorsement letters from previous Presidents of the GCA. So now it is clear, the GCA Board's obsession with the Stud Book issue has taken them to the conclusion that greyhound performance is bad. The club is closed to anyone who disagrees.
I can no longer be a party to it. My participation on the Board is having no positive impact on policy or procedure. My continued participation might be construed as support of the process and decisions on record. This is not true. The GCA can find someone else to manage the clubs funds in a (hopefully) responsible manner for the rest of the year. I await Sue's instructions about how transfer our funds to a new Treasurer. That Treasurer's first job can be to refund the Bell's application fees. I apologize to those who voted for me in my three elections. You can trust that I will support any opposition slate to the current group in power.
Three Officers of the Greyhound Club of America have composed a white paper explaining many of the issues surrounding the current heated discussion of closing the AKC Studbook to dogs of track registry. You have probably seen that white paper titled: "Closing the AKC Stud Book to Dogs of NGA Registration: The Facts from the Source".
I am currently the longest tenured officer in the Greyhound Club of America (Treasurer, 6th year). I was challenged in the 2000 election and garnered the most votes of any opposed candidate. I am in the minority position on the Board in the matter of the studbook. I was absent from the meeting when the motion was passed, but my vote would not have changed the decision (6 to 1). I do not challenge the authority of the Board to make this decision based on the interpretation of our Constitution and Board authority made by Mr. Liosis of the AKC in his letter of June 5, 2001. I have not been the source of any rumored or published criticisms to which the white paper refers. I have never owned a Greyhound of track background. Until now, I have restricted my comments to discussions within the Board. The white paper was written by several Board members without any discussion within the Board as a whole and I have decided to respond to parts of that document.
First of all, my personal choice to support continued registration of NGA dogs within the AKC has a very simple basis. These are demonstrably purebred Greyhounds. As objectionable as the racing industry is, no one has questioned the legitimacy of their registry. Also, we have no hope of educating the owners of these dogs (dogs that have gratefully escaped from the racing part of the industry, into rescue and then family homes) if we exclude them from our registry and therefore some of our events. If the owners of these dogs are excluded, they have no hope of learning and adopting the AKC's Mission and Objectives. The owners will not be bound by the GCA's ethical code. The studbook has been open for many years and none of the dire consequences feared have occurred. I am not threatened by the contention that our proper Greyhounds will be overshadowed by their plain cousins in the show ring. That is a Judge's Education issue.
So much for the topic at the heart of this disagreement. The Board voted in a legitimate way and the recommendation to close the studbook has been made to the AKC. The issues that I would like to discuss in response to the above referenced white paper are as follows:
1. The Board of the GCA thinks that they know the mind of the membership.
2. The Board of the GCA has given legitimacy to a closed petition, a violation of democracy.
This is not meant to be a comprehensive argument on this complex issue. The implementation of closing the studbook alone has implications in the relationships of the AKC with other Kennel Clubs around the world that will require careful consideration. This note is meant to be a window into issues about which I disagree with the majority of the GCA Board. I am not alone in my concerns on the Board or within the membership, but I choose to speak only for myself.
1. The Board of the GCA thinks that they know the mind of the membership.
As was described in the white paper, the GCA held a vote of the general membership in 1997 about the studbook issue. All members had an opportunity to vote. No one has challenged the fairness of this referendum. A clear majority of the voters decided to keep the studbook open. (As reported in the white paper 46 to keep open, 36 to close). This was the mind of the general membership and the Board at the time felt (properly) bound by that vote. I was a member of that Board.
The GCA had a history of asking the General Membership to vote to decide important issues. Mr. Liosis' written opinion of June, 2001 and the Board vote of July 2001 has reversed this policy, but I argue that we had governed the club this way for years and cannot ignore those results. More inappropriate still is the "recount" of this vote five years later. The white paper adds the count of those who did not vote and contends that the vote was not a majority decision. By all democratic principles it was a majority vote. Those who choose not to vote do not count in an election or referendum.
At this time, a GCA Constitutional amendment has been proposed to allow for membership votes on club issues. This will reinstate a long standing policy of the GCA. If that amendment passes, it will reverse Mr. Liosis' ruling.
The recent election of the nominating committee slate of three Board members has been claimed, in the white paper, as confirmation that the membership supports the closing of the studbook. There was much written campaigning that focussed on this as the major issue of the election. The election, however, was for three Board members, not the studbook issue. Voters cast their ballots for the people's names not the studbook issue. I have publicly held the position that the studbook should be kept open for many years. Shall my easy re-election as Treasurer in 2000 also be considered a referendum on this one issue?
I contend that if we want to know what the position of the membership is on this issue, we should ask them, not "recount" the results of a legitimate vote of the past or assume we know the reasons for their election choices. For a matter of this much importance a membership vote is appropriate.
2. The Board of the GCA has given legitimacy to a closed petition, a violation of democracy.
I have little to say about this matter. The petition has no legitimate status as a mechanism of determining the mind of the club. It was distributed to only some of the membership, it was distributed to only some of the Board. I have yet to see a copy of the wording of the petition. It is certainly possible that there was significant pressure applied to those who were undecided about this issue and were asked to sign the closed, private petition.
The proper use of this petition would have been for the Board to interpret it as an alert to open discussion on the issue. To the extent it was used in this way, it is OK. To contend that it reverses a previously held democratic vote or is an accurate measure of the mind of the club is inappropriate.
I am not a fan of the Racing industry nor of the type of Greyhound (no specific type) that they produce. Many more of these dogs are coming into family ownership through rescue each year than the responsible breeders of proper AKC type greyhounds produce. This raises many issues: education, health, and maintenance of good breed type among them. Closing the studbook to these purebred dogs does not solve these issues, it just pushes the issues aside to (perhaps) be dealt with later. These pure bred dogs and their owners will be abandoned by the AKC if they are excluded from the registry. This strikes me as an action in opposition to the Mission and Objectives of the AKC.
The Board of the GCA has made a recommendation to the AKC to close the studbook to NGA bred dogs. Members of the GCA Board claim that they are acting on behalf of the majority of GCA members in this very important issue. The statistics that support this claim are flawed. The petition that they say demonstrates it was a private document, not a measure of the majority opinion in the club.
Now the AKC must decide what to do with the GCA recommendation. The white paper that three GCA Board members wrote represents that the Board was acting on behalf of the majority of the GCA members. I contend that they cannot know what the majority of the membership believes. They have not asked. The last time the membership was actually asked (1997) the opposite was true.
Eric Liebes, Ph.D.
Treasurer, Greyhound Club of America
February 5, 2002
Honorable David C. Merriam
Chairman, Board of Directors
American Kennel Club
260 Madison Avenue
New York NY 10016
Dear Mr. Merriam,
I have been a member of the Greyhound Club of America (GCA) since 1983. I am also a member of the GCA's Board of Directors and was the one dissenting vote when the GCA board voted in July 2001 by a 6-1 margin to close the AKC studbook to National Greyhound Association (NGA) registered Greyhounds. I have refrained from writing to the AKC board up to now. However, I have just reviewed the letter sent to the AKC board by the president, vice president and recording secretary of the GCA and feel that I must provide an alternate point of view regarding this very critical issue.
At the same January AKC board meeting when the moratorium on NGA registrations was voted by the AKC board, you also voted to allow the Saluki Club of America (SCOA) to open their studbook to a domestic registry (the Society for the Preservation of Desert Bred Salukis [SPDBS]) with the caveat that in order for a desert bred Saluki to become registered, it must have a three-generation pedigree with the SPDBS. The request by the SCOA was voted on by their entire membership in 2000 and over two thirds (2/3s) of those voting agreed to open their studbook. The action was also unanimously affirmed by the SCOA board. It should be noted that the AKC board had directed the SCOA to conduct a vote in the early 1980s and had required a 2/3s vote. When the SCOA voted again in 2000, they continued the AKC direction of requiring a 2/3s vote.
The parallel between closing one breed's studbook to a domestic registry (NGA) and opening another breed's studbook to a domestic registry (SPDBS) is inescapable. Why is a request by six members of the GCA board being considered by the AKC board? The membership of the GCA was not allowed to vote on this issue, only the board voted on the question. It is also my understanding that when the Basenji Cub of America requested that their studbook be opened to ten specific Basenjis, this was based on a 2/3s vote of their membership.
Therefore, before the AKC board takes any action on the request of some GCA board members to close the Greyhound studbook, I request that the AKC direct the GCA to take a vote of the GCA membership and affirm that 2/3s of the GCA membership, (i.e., 2/3s of those voting), want to close the studbook. The fact that you were sent copies of a petition that was circulated in early 2001 and signed by 88 members of the GCA is not relevant to this issue since this petition was not an initiative of the GCA nor was it ever presented to the board. This petition was sent to you without the knowledge or concurrence of the GCA board. As a GCA board member, I was never informed that it had been sent to you.
One argument presented for closing the studbook to dogs of NGA registry is that the relatively few AKC registered Greyhounds (approximately 200 Greyhounds are registered with the AKC each year) will be overwhelmed by the thousands of NGA registered dogs. How this could happen is a mystery to me since most "track rescues" go to their owners without registration papers and usually with a requirement for spaying or neutering. Since the AKC recognized the Greyhound breed fifteen NGA registered Greyhounds have earned a bench championship and approximately 2,600 AKC registered Greyhounds have earned the title. This is hardly an overwhelming statistic.
While it is true that the relative numbers in the NGA and AKC registries are disproportionate, one cannot deny that NGA registered Greyhounds are purebred Greyhounds. Why prohibit the owner of an AKC registered dog from breeding to an NGA registered dog? Indeed, if you look into the pedigrees of many AKC show champion Greyhounds, you will find NGA registered dogs several generations back. There have been many Greyhounds of "half and half" registry (and their descendants) who have been outstanding performers in the show ring and in coursing. We should not forget that the standard for the Greyhound breed is based on the characteristics of a coursing dog, which is the function that established this breed. I am not nor have I ever been an advocate of the Greyhound racing industry . However, closing the AKC studbook to NGA registered dogs is not going to make the Greyhound racing industry go away.
AKC registered Greyhounds have a very narrow gene pool, with all stock originally coming from England. Torsion or bloat is a definite problem in AKC Greyhounds and recently subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS) has turned up in the breed. We all know that health problems can emerge very easily from a small gene pool. This has been demonstrated in numerous AKC breeds. The NGA Greyhound represents a gene pool of purebred Greyhounds who could be helpful to the breed in the future. If the AKC stops granting AKC registration to Greyhounds of NGA registry, it will no longer be possible to use them to improve the health of the show lines. This is a door that should not be closed.
Another argument made for closing the studbook is health problems in the NGA Greyhound. The study on von Willebrand's disease (vWD) in NGA dogs is flawed. The only valid test for vWD is a DNA test. All other tests have proved to be extremely unreliable. Until the study is repeated with a valid test, the results are highly suspect. Regarding osteosarcoma, which is present in NGA registered dogs, there is a definite connection between osteosarcoma and trauma, fractures and foreign bodies (screws and wires) used to stabilize fractures. Given the trauma an NGA Greyhound experiences as they race around an oval track at 35 mph, the presence of osteosarcoma is inevitable.
In summary, before the AKC board takes any action on this issue, I strongly recommend that the Greyhound Club of America be directed to demonstrate that 2/3s of the voting membership want to close the studbook. This has been the action required of the SCOA and the Basenji Club of America in similar requests. The GCA should not be treated any differently. I also hope that I have presented cogent reasons why the AKC Greyhound studbook should not be closed.
Beth Anne Gordon
GCA Recording Secretary
NOTE: This letter was sent to all thirteen AKC board members and six officers. Each individual received a letter addressed to him or her.