24 February 2014
to: Doug Ljungren, VP of Performance and Companion Events
re: AKC Board Minutes 2/7/14 - CAT rule change - minimum age reduction
Dear Mr. Ljungren -
I am writing to ensure you are aware of my acute dismay at the recently published AKC Board Minutes, dated 7 February 2014 in which the following change is announced on page 10: "The Board VOTED to amend the Regulations for Coursing Ability Tests, Chapter XV, Sections 3 and 9, to open the Coursing Ability Test (CAT) up to a wider range of dogs by (1) lowering the minimum age for a dog to participate to 6 months..."
I must express to you my most strenuous objection to this change, and to the manner in which it was carried out. As the immediate past-Secretary, previous President, and current Director on the Board for Albuquerque Whippet Fanciers Association/Lobo Lure Coursing Club, we were not allowed the opportunity to provide feedback on this proposal. Neither were current active Lure Coursing Judges asked to weigh in.
As you are aware, lure coursing is a Performance event, not a Companion event. As an agility competitor since 2001 and a lure coursing participant and judge, I am keenly aware of the distinction between the two categories. Your own involvement in field trials no doubt gives you a similar appreciation.
As you can see from this chart the average age for growth plate closure of the critical tibial crest (stifles being the last joint in which growth plates close, and in all canines the joint most prone to injury) is 11 months, with the range being up to 14 months (the study used beagles and greyhounds). In my own borzoi, I have seen (via digital radiograph) some males' growth plates still open at 18 months of age.
It is therefore my considered opinion - as owner, breeder, and judge - that the 12 month age MINIMUM for entry into any lure coursing activity is an essential safety rule. I find it unconscionable that AKC would enable entry in a performance event by immature animals.
It has been brought to my attention that several clubs will be dropping CAT events from their hosting activities; countless judges have stated that they will decline CAT assignments; and the NM club has lost its FTS for future CAT events. Please work with the AKC BOD to rescind this rule change before dogs are needlessly put at risk of suffering career-ending injurys.
Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.
AKC LC Judge
AKC Breeder of Merit
AKC LC Field Rep
and the following AKC clubs, of which I am a member in good standing:
Albuquerque Whippet Fanciers Association / Lobo Lure Coursing Club - President
Rocky Mountain Borzoi Club - Performance Chairman
Borzoi Club of America - AKC Delegate