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Ear Wars Rages On

It all started at the ‘97 Regional. A prominent exhibitor had been showing several uncropped boxers, and her prominent handlers had been winning with them. Some other exhibitors complained about the fact that judges were putting these uncropped dogs up. So the ABC Board of Directors, at their Regional meeting, voted to have the president send a letter to all AKC boxer judges stating the board’s position on the matter, which was that ears on boxers in the showring are supposed to be cropped.

Unfortunately, the letter was worded in such a way that it appeared the board was telling judges that the board, "by resolution," had made natural ears in the showring a "fault." That’s when the proverbial you-know-what hit the fan. Since the ABC By-Laws say that the only way to change the standard is by a 2/3 vote of the membership, many people who had been indifferent to the controversy up to that point became incensed by what they perceived as the board’s disregard for the ABC By-Laws. There was already a petition circulating to amend the standard to specifically allow for and describe the breed’s natural, uncropped ear (Amendment A), and soon after the board’s letter was sent out, the petition had the signatures of over 15% of the ABC membership!

The subsequent election was pretty confusing, with three separate issues up for a vote (Amendment A, proposed by petition; Amendment B, written and proposed by the board; and the Regional judge’s election), three conflicting sets of instructions, and a requirement that voters sign the amendment ballot envelopes, but NOT the judge’s ballot envelopes! To make a long story short, Amendment A failed with 41% of the vote (339-241), and Amendment B passed (407-169) with more than the required 2/3 of the vote. However, a number of complaints were made to the American Kennel Club about the voting procedures (the ABC By-Laws state that ballot envelopes are to be annotated with the voter’s assigned voting number, not his/her signature), and the AKC refused to accept the results of the amendment election because the voting procedures did not conform with the procedures spelled out in the ABC By-Laws.

The war was on again. Amendment B reads, "The foregoing description is that of the ideal Boxer. Any deviation from the above described dog must be penalized to the extent of the deviation." Before the ABC was notified that the American Kennel Club had "thrown out" the whole election, Dr. Bob Oliver, the ABC president, wrote a letter to the editor of Dog News, an all-breed magazine that advertises that it is sent to all AKC judges (March 13, 1998 - p. 272) in which he stated, "The membership of the American Boxer Club by its vote on the two amendments has made a strong statement to the effect that they do not want the standard changed and that Boxers exhibited with uncropped ears must be penalized as should any deviation from the Standard." My understanding of that statement is that the top officer of the ABC was advising boxer judges that he considered the breed’s natural ear to be a deviation from the Boxer Standard that those judges "must" penalize!

At that point, the pro-choice voters "did the math": it was obvious from the numbers of ABC members who voted for BOTH the pro-choice Amendment A AND the apparently anti-choice Amendment B that many voters did not understand that B could be interpreted as making the boxer’s natural ear a "deviation" that would be penalized in the ring. In the meantime, at the ABC membership meeting in May ‘98, a member moved that Amendment A be sent to the ABC Standards Committee (that’s what the pro-choice people had wanted all along, so they didn’t insist that A be revoted) and that Amendment B be revoted. Both motions passed, and the ballots for the revote of B have already been received by all ABC members. However, there’s another "twist" to the election this time around: the American Kennel Club will allow a breed standard to be amended ONLY ONCE EVERY FIVE YEARS!! That means that if ABC voters vote "yes" on Amendment B, an amendment that is so ambiguously and unclearly worded that it adds nothing to the standard except more confusion, the Standards Committee will be unable to make any meaningful change or addition to the Boxer Standard for five (5) years!

Given that scenario, and the fact that Amendment B can apparently be interpreted as making the boxer’s natural ear type a "deviation" from the standard (how illogical can you get?!), here’s hoping that ABC members and members of ABC member clubs vote "NO" on Amendment B. The next issue of B.U. will include the results.

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Editor: Virginia Zurflieh
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