PDT: Good afternoon Mrs. Pat Laurans, thank you so very much for joining us on Pure Dog Talk today
PL: Absolutely my pleasure, I think this is a wonderful, wonderful work that you are all putting together, so that people that love dogs learn more
PDT: I appreciate that very much Pat, we hope that we can continue to do that. So, we’re gonna talk today about a couple different things. We’re gonna start with your work as the delegate, from actually my personal club, the German Wire Hair Pointer Club of America, and I want you to tell us a little bit about what a delegate does. I mean this is something that I think people don’t necessarily understand fully.
PL: I think the first thing one has to understand is that the delegate of you club is your voice to the AKC. It really can make a difference in terms of the sport, in terms of you understanding the roles and responsibilities in terms of how your club actually works, and is it doing the very best it can for your club. There’s really quite a bit of importance to the position of delegate, because they have some unique powers. They approve rules governing dog shows in field trials, they approve amendments to the AKC bi-laws, they nominate and elect delegates to serve on the AKC board of directors and the delegate standing committees, they approve new member clubs, their votes can oppose or overrule an AKC board decision to disapprove a delegate candidate, or to remove a seating delegate. Only a delegate can serve on the AKC board, and they can vote to discipline and even expel a member club, so that first part.
PL: Second part, and this is really important. How do they exercise these powers? It’s really important for your club’s delegate to attend and vote at the 4 quarterly delegate meetings, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s just as important for them to attend and participate the day before these meetings with the delegate standing committees, because it is in those committees where so much of the work gets done. So much of the work gets done, so many of the topics get brought up that become the things that become the things that get taken to the board, or can shed light on to things that the board brings to us.
PDT: I mean these are really big things, and this is what we’re talking about. Can you give me an idea, what’s a recent thing that came before the delegate body that was brought up from the membership, to a club, to the club’s delegate, to the delegate body, etc.?
PL: Well I’m going to do it more as an example from a committee, ok? And this is going to be something we talk about later, and I’m going to give you two examples, this has to do with parent clubs, because of course I’m on the parent club committee, I was the advisor to the one I served on the AKC board and then when I chose not to run again, I became a member and have been chairman of the committee for 16yrs. An easy proposal was one where we proposed to have parent club conferences, which we’ll talk about later, that would allow parent clubs to bring members, or send members to the conference because basically they’re all learning the same thing, and they’re all feeling that they have to reinvent the wheel which isn’t true.
PL: That was an easy one. A hard one has to do with the fact that this committee brought forth a proposal whereby, at a national specialty with a certain number of dogs and bitches entered depending upon the breed, and that breeds schedule of points. The reserve winners dog and or bitch, could at that one show only, get a major. This was brought to the board and the board turned it down. This was brought to the delegate body which supported it, and then it was approved, so we had to do a little ground work, and we had to fight for something that we felt was correct. It took a number of years in between, but finally all parties agreed on it.
PDT: And I think people have found that to be successful, don’t you?
PL: Oh absolutely
PDT: I mean certainly I’ve seen it happen. I’ve personally handled a dog that I saw it happen to, so I think it is a valuable thing particular for breeds like ours like the German Wire Hair Pointer, where majors are hard to come by.
PL: A couple of other things on how they can exercise their powers: A member club through its delegate can propose amendments to the AKC bylaws, or AKC rules directly to the board.
PL: They inform all members of their member club of their action, and they act as ombudsman for member clubs and their dealings with AKC. Now the next thing that’s important is, what are the qualifications for a person to become a delegate?
PL: One, they represent a member club, both member club and the individual are in good standing with the AKC, the individual is a resident US citizen or has permanent resident alien status, they meet all of the occupational eligibility criteria, they may not have been found guilty of, or admitted to the theft of embezzlement or misappropriation of funds or property from an AKC club. Now this next part is not a rule, but I think it’s really important and this is something that the delegate advocacy committee, and the rest of the committees have agreed upon in terms of suggestions for perspective continuity. You want to think in terms of perhaps a ten-year involvement in AKC events and or activities. You want the delegate or proposed delegate to have a willingness to serve for five years or more.
PL: You want them to have a willingness not only to invest time and effort, but in many instances expenses, in order to serve as the club’s delegate. You have to believe that they are an individual and the person is willing to speak up and become involved, and that there’s a willingness to engage others in crucial conversations. This individual really needs access and skills to use a computer, or the support of someone with the access and skills. We have come in to a new way to communicate and this is important. Next, we look at what a member club could expect from their delegate. I really think that the club needs to be able to expect a long-term, five years or more commitment, to represent and serve that member club. They need to commit to attend and participate at delegate meetings.
PL: And by that, I mean not only the official meeting, but at the committee meetings as well.
PDT: And do you see Pat, not enough participation, is that something you guys run in to?
PL: Fortunately the parent club committee doesn’t, we usually have over 100 delegates in the room at the time before our meetings.
PL: But there could be more. I was once part of a committee that made some suggestions that I think were too far out in the future, and one of my suggestions was after a certain number of absences, the person should no longer be a delegate. But it didn’t happen. They need to report on the actions that are taken at the meetings, and if there are things that are coming forth that particularly might involve their breed, or their group it’s especially important for those things to be vetting perhaps with the board or membership. And when applicable, they vote as directed by the member club, they should always vote as directed by the member club. Now some member clubs have had a delegate for a long while and say, you discuss with us what you need to and we’d like to know your opinions on it, but in many of the instances your there more than we are, and we want you to use your best discretion.
PDT: Right. Sorry, just quickly before I lose it in my pea brain. I wanted to go back to one of the things you were talking about in order for a delegate to be eligible, and discuss their work options, and can we talk about what are the things that make you ineligible to be a delegate as employment?
PL: Ok those are certified in the rules and regulations, many of which I disagree with. My own opinion, is if they’re in good standing and that’s who the club wants, that person should be able to be a delegate. As things stand now, a person who is a judge, who accepts a fee for judging, may not be a delegate. I think that by doing that, and this is my personal opinion, we limit the pool of people and in some instance, by their ability to afford to be a delegate.
PL: Or we set up the situation where you’ve got a really good delegate who’s been doing a great job and once they decide to judge and accept a fee, they can’t judge anymore. And this is the same thing with professional handlers, I disagree with it. I believe that if the club feels the person is worthy of representing that club, I would love to see that happen. It hasn’t happened, we voted on it a number of times. I’m going to say something that isn’t very politic, but I’m known for that.
PL: Uh-huh. I am not sure whether there is a certain number of people who believe in that because they believe it’s a purity issue. I do believe that there’s a certain number of clubs who choose to instruct their delegate to not allow it to happen because it gives them a financial edge, because they don’t have to pay the judge. They may be giving a donation or something like that but it’s not the same as a fee.
PDT: And that was what I was just going to say. I think I know many, you judge certainly and many other delegates that do, who wind up donating their fees and the club pays a donation instead of paying the judges, their sort of way of around that. So, I wanted people to understand that it’s ok that the delegates are judging, they’re just not getting paid to be there.
PL: Right. There’s a couple of things that a delegate should be able to expect from a club though. And that’s a long-term appointment as the delegate unless something really unusual happens, a forum where what they report is shared with the membership, discussion and guidance on issues especially ones that impact them, an assistant with delegate expenses to expand who might become a delegate, and to maximize their participation. Now that’s really hard for some clubs.
PDT: Ya I was just going to say, I think that’s something you’d like to see more clubs be able to do for sure.
PL: Right, but they can’t always do it because of the size of the delegate body, the situation of their treasury, and I think that’s sort of difficult. Now when we were talking about attendance at the standing committee meetings, I’m going to give you a list of the difference committees and just give you an example of some of their parameters: Parent club committee, there’s an all-breed committee, there’s a obedience/agility and tracking committee, there’s a field trial and hunting test events committee, there’s a canine health committee, there’s a bylaws committee, there’s a dog show rules committee, there’s a delegate advocacy and advancement committee, there’s a herding dog and coursing events committee. The chairman of each of those committees represents that committee at something that’s called a coordinating committee, which is where we share what we’ve done in our meetings and try to work together. So, I think from my prospective that sort of sums up the delegate position, what a club can expect, what a delegate should do, and hopefully what the club can do for the delegate.
PDT: Ok, and I think that’s awesome Pat. One final question is just simple actually for my own curiosity, does the delegate then select the committee that he or she wants to participate in? Or does the member club actually give them direction on that?
PL: I think it varies.
PL: First of all, the committees are established by an all-delegate vote.
PL: In other words you may put your name in to run to become a committee member, and every September there’ s a vote and either you become a committee member or not. Now, certainly I would think that hopefully delegates who are all breed delegates would attend the all-breed committee their clubs then tell them to.
PL: Certainly the parent club committee would be stocked with a lot of parent club delegates, but I also find we never have the all-breed committee, and parent club committee at the same time, because there’s are the two largest gatherings.
PL: Yep. So, there are a number of people who are attending the parent club committee meeting who belong to a parent club, but are an all-breed representative. I do find that a lot of the, and I think this is great, a lot of the parent club committee delegates and perhaps the all-breed committee delegates and others, also do put a great deal of stock in to the canine help committee. So, I think that gives you an idea of what the committees are, and that there is a plethora of information that can be shared and be very valuable to the individual and to the clubs themselves.
PL: The parent club committee did all the work towards getting the funding, and I have to admit that happily so, AKC and at that point IAMS, was very, very generous of three parent club conferences. They were held in 2002, 2004, and 2007. The objective was that each club would send one representative, although some of them did send two because they were willing to pay for it and we had the space to pay even more to attend those conferences. They were valuable at the time, but over the years I still heard from many attendees who told me about the incredible experience they had.
PL: You know the experience was meeting like-minded dog people who were all working hard to protect, preserve and promote their breeds. These individuals during the conference, got to know more about one another whether it was in the meetings sharing ideas, problems, successes and concern, or when there were formal presentations. Sometimes the presentations were informal whether they were sitting in the halls, at meals, the bars, but the idea was each club had similar concerns, similar projects, they didn’t need to feel they were out in the hinterlands solving all of these things by themselves.
PL: They were working together now and they could share solutions. As a result of the conferences, we had a network, an online network spawned and to this day, there are online forums. And to this day I still hear from people who say, I just learned something about constitution and bylaws, or about who to get as a videographer, or what we could do in terms of online voting. There’s still a lot of education that goes on. The thing that’s great and I hope it comes to pass, are the parent club committee is very hopeful that we can have another conference.
PDT: Oh that would be awesome.
PL: Now here’s the things that the conference was designed on, they had three goals in mind. One, to improve the performance of parent clubs. Two, to improve the relationship between the parent clubs and the AKC, which sometimes could be strident, but after these conferences where so many AKC people participated and had meals with people, and talked with one another, that helped a lot.
PDT: Ya, people actually talking.
PL: Absolutely. And lastly, to build lasting links of the parent club conference is only the start of the development process.
PL: There were educational units that covered the structure of the AKC and how it worked, basic functioning of a parent club from a constitutional point of view, AKC and how to do a better job in producing them, legislative issues and their relationship to the parent club, financial controls and taxes in the use of non for profit foundations, health issues and how breeds deal with them, rescue and how different parent clubs address it, how public relations and social media can be an effective tool of the parent clubs and others. A key club of the parent club events were the discussion groups that met at night, and they facilitated discussions between people who were interested in the same thing. We had groups of club officers, we had groups of FSS breeds, we had dock and crop breeds, we had people whose main interest was in financial concerns and wanted to do that more in depth. As a result of it, this thing that we spawned which is the parent club conference list, which every attendee enrolled, and then people who are officers in the parent clubs may also enrolled, the original list goes back to the first conference. And keeps on growing and growing with parent club members discussing every day, the problems of their parent clubs. So, this had, not only an immediate result at the time of the conference that helped the clubs themselves, but it’s had an ongoing mission, that’s still to this day even though our last conference was ten years ago.
PDT: Ya, I’m still on it from when I was president of our club. It’s amazing what you get from that.
PL: Yep, yep
PDT: And so moving kind of segue I guess from that, you have been through your work with the parent club conference, if I understand correctly, very instrumental in the creation of disaster relief trailers. Can we talk about that for a little bit? Cause those are pretty cool, I have to tell ya.
PL: Ya they are. This was an idea that a delegate come up with after having seen a trailer that was locally funded, and realized how helpful that could be. As a result of it, with a strong committee, strong leadership and wonderful staff participation from AKC reunite, and the AKC reunite board, both individual participation and financial participation, as well as great financial participation and support from clubs, I’m going to tell you that at this point in time, we’re got 55 trailers in 27 states.
PDT: That’s pretty awesome
PL: Four are still in production, and there’s 25 communities that are actively working on this. Now first of all, I think people need to understand what the AKC Pet Disaster Relief Trailers do cause its sort of mind boggling. They help local emergency management agencies provide animal care services immediately following a disaster. The trailers are stocked with essential non-perishable supplies to house at least 65 pets during the first 72hrs after a disaster is declared. Just for interest sake I’ll tell you about some of the contents. They have a generator, crates, microchips, and scanner, bowls, collars, leashes, cleaning supplies, maintenance equipment, administrative supplies, training materials and a lot more. Now these supplies allow the local emergency management crew to set up either a co-location for example, at a High School where the Red Cross is taking care of the people. And our Pet Disaster Trailer allows their dogs to be at the same site, but since there are rules and regulations that go back to things like allergies and things of that sort, the dogs, cats etc., can’t actually be in the sleeping facility. So, we are providing that. What this does, I mean, a huge number of people when Katrina happened, they wouldn’t leave their homes because they wouldn’t leave their pets.
PL: Now by having something like this and having a co-location, people can leave their homes and know that their pets are safe. They can go to where the trailer is on site, they can walk their dogs, they can feed their dogs, they can play with their dogs, they can be with their dogs and they can know that their dogs are safe. Now the trailers are fully donated to local emergency management agencies by generous from AKC Reunite, AKC clubs around the United States, and local emergency management groups. Now what does this mean? It means that once the trailer is given to the local emergency management group, they own it. They take on insurance requirements, storage, maintenance, the trailer and contents, as well as the deployment of the trailer following a disaster. One of the great things that’s happened recently, is a number of people in local clubs in the area are getting trained to work in emergency management, so they’ve not only helped to provide the trailer and the resources, they become part of the team. This helps the dogs, this helps the community.
PDT: Ya. And I think one of the things that is so important is that we’re showing our communities that pure-bred dogs and people with pure bred dogs are helping them. We aren’t the bad guys.
PL: That’s right. Now let’s just talk for a minute about how a club can acquire one for their area.
PDT: That would be great.
PL: Now the trailers cost $22,000 to build and stock. But locally we only ask clubs to raise $12,000 and We Reunite will match that, they will put in $10,000. So, the $22,000 cost, it’s only $12,000 to raise.
PDT: Right. It’s very doable for even small clubs. I mean my personal local all-breed club, and we’re tiny, has one because it’s so amazing.
PL: Right. And your parent club, the German Wire Hair Pointer Club of America was one of the very first clubs to have one. So, it can happen and the clubs are also building up grass root relationships with their county. This is important.
PDT: Yes, huge.
PL: And that’s part of the contract that they have to bring out the trailer to certain events. They can choose the events and each club that donates $1,000 or more, depending on the size of the donation, gets their logo put on the trailer.
PL: So following those easy steps to acquire a trailer for the area, if your club contacts AKC Reunite, lets them know about your efforts to start fundraising, you’ll get some great educational materials to help the system outreach. You can partner with other clubs, even businesses, veterinarians, individuals to reach the goal. Reaching out to local emergency teams and speaking to them about pet sheltering plans and the importance of the AKC Pet Disaster Relief Trailers, also goes to assist in our relationships with the community. Once the $12,000 is raised, the emergency management required paperwork is received, the logos are received, production of the trailer begins, stocking, branding and delivery of the trailer can take up to 90 days. Once the trailers delivered, your club can team up with them to put together an unveiling presentation to showcase the trailer to the community, have them come to your shows, and you can also work with them if there are members in your club who want to participate as part of that transition group.
PDT: Ok so you had one other thing that you wanted to talk about that I think is a pretty amazing effort that you’ve been involved with for an awfully long time, and that was Take The Lead.
PL: Ya. Now Take The Lead started from a need. People in the sport of dogs were dying from various illnesses without insurance, without medication, without help. And it’s funny because it started as a seat of the pants event where a group of people go together and said hey, we have to do something about this, let’s have a party. And we did, and this was 15yrs ago, much to our amazement we raised $15,000 and we said, oh my gosh, what are we going to do with this money? So, we had to get lawyers, and we had to get accountants and find out what it was all about. We had to set up bylaws that would work with the state nationally, and the efforts of Take The Lead are to help people in the sport of dogs who have a terminal or life threatening illness. Now is the last year we also established an emergency fund, whether it was flood, disaster, wreck
PL: They were ways in which people can also get some one-time assistance in that area. It’s sort of amazing what happened.
PDT: It is amazing, isn’t it?
PL: Because today, Take The Lead has awarded more that 4.6 million dollars to members of our dog family who are in need.
PDT: I just think that’s incredible, it gives me goose-bumps Pat, it really does.
PL: It give me goose-bumps too, and the thing that’s been so amazing about it, you know our sport and our world is competitive. But it’s competitive because we compete against one another whether it’s in the show ring, whether it’s for awards, whatever it may be. I have to honestly say that in this instance of Take The Lead, the cross section of people who have been on the Board of Director runs the gamut, and there has never been an instance that I am aware of, where we have had one bit of competition. It’s been the smoothest, most communal, working together group of people I’ve ever worked with in my life.
PDT: That’s pretty awesome.
PL: I just think it’s terrific
PDT: It is. It is pretty amazing. And realistically, you said, how many years it’s been going now?
PL: I believe it’s 15
PDT: It’s a relatively short time to have given so much to so many different people, it just boggles the mind to me.
PL: And if you want to know about it, its: www.takethelead.org
PDT: Yep, and we will have a link, a direct link in our show notes on the website that people will be able to go directly to the website.
PL: You can go to the website, there’s an application there, there’s what’s going on
PDT: There’s ways for people to donate
PL: Ways for people to donate, there’s ways for someone to apply, there’s ways to get information. It’s just been great, and the clubs. I mean individuals have been wonderful, I mean clubs all around the country whether they have a potluck supper or a casino night, or a wine tasting, they have events that support Take The Lead.
PDT: Right, and that’s something that I’m sure Take The Lead would always be happy to talk to anybody about, from any club, anybody that wanted to have an event to raise money.
PL: Ya, I think you can go online, but also if anyone needs to call the office, it’s 1-800-814-1123
PDT: Perfect. We’ll have all that contact information in the show notes so everybody can find it. I guess the only thing else I’d say, you just received the AKC Lifetime Achievement award from the American Kennel Club, which I think is pretty spectacular, and so you’ve spent your life to our pure-bred dog fan seed, so I guess have a little bit of pick your brain in terms of what can we do? What’s our future, what’s your recommendation for people as they’re going forward?
PL: Well first of all, and I want to say just a little bit about the award. The award was a total shock because nothing I’ve done, I’ve done it for me because I cared about this. Because I love these things and I think that’s what an awful lot of us do. That it has to do with not so much what can we do for us, but what can we do for dogs, what can we do for the sport, what can we do for one another, and I think that’s part of the whole answer. We need to go beyond ourselves, we need to go beyond what we hope or need for ourselves. I think we need to go into the idea, what is best for the dogs, what is best for the people who participate in our sport, where do we go in the future. I think one of the big things that sets us apart as AKC breeders, as AKC participants, is not only our love for the dog from companionships point of view, but our care for the dog from a canine health point of view. Not too many years ago, the constitution bylaw of the American Kennel Club was adjusted so that it included canine health, ok. It starts now: The object of the of the club shall be to advance canine health and the wellbeing and publish an official study book, to endorse and enforce uniform rules regarding governing pure bred dog events, the regulate the conduct the persons interested in breeding, registering, selling, purchasing, exhibiting and running pure bred dogs. And it goes on from there, and I think that from a point of view of breeders, most of all we want our dogs to have good homes. We want our dogs to be healthy. We want the people we have hopefully screened to do everything possible to ensure that the dogs flourish, meet experiences, have great temperament and represent our breeds, The American Kennel Club and our breeding program, in a way in which they are wonderful pets. And that’s what they are first. First, they give us all their love, hopefully we give them all of our love, and secondarily, we enjoy activities together that go forth with what our breeds were created to do. And I think that’s how we have to treat one another too. We have to support the American Kennel Club and if in fact we have areas in which we think things can be improved, we need to take it to our clubs, we need to take it to the delegates we need to try and help improve things.
PL: For us to sit around and just complain, accomplishes nothing. We need to be participatory, and we need to give of ourselves our time, our expertise and our caring.
PDT: I cannot do more than a hallelujah on that one, that is, I absolutely agree 100% Pat, I really think you nailed a lot of it right there.
PL: Why thank you. It’s been my honor and my privilege to be part of a group of people who love what I love, and that’s dogs.
PDT: Thank you very much for your time Pat, I really, really appreciate it.
PL: Thank you Laura, good luck with the project. Bye bye
PDT: Thank you.
PDT: As always if you have any questions or input, we’d love to hear from you. The show notes and links to resources on today’s topic are available at puredogtalk.com. Drop us a note in the comments, or email to Laura at puredogtalk.com Remember guys, this podcast is for you, so if you want to know something, give me a holler, we’ll do a podcast for you. If you wouldn’t mind, you could help me out here. Take a couple minutes to visit iTunes and give us a review. This will help share the love with others out there in the sport. This has been Pure Dog Talk with your host Laura Reeves. We hope you can join us next time as we continue on the journey to success with your purebred dog.