In a move for clarity for shows, clubs and exhibitors the board of directors of the Irish Kennel Club has voted to cancel the issuing of all show licences in Ireland for 2020, leaving the show calender empty and ensuring the safety of members and exhibitors during the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic.
In a bold move which received almost unanimous support on Irish dog show related social media pages, it was clear that this was a major decision for the governing body as the organisation relies to a large extent on the income brought through the running of shows by the affiliate clubs and societies and the famous St Patricks Day/weekend International FCI shows, as well as the October International shows.
Other important issues for exhibitors and judges were also addressed in the decisions made. The move came as the number of exhibitors posting on Facebook groups regarding uncertainty about the shows taking place in the remainder of the year increased. Posts on social media groups also began to have a divisive affect which became a worrying development. Ireland has had an impressive record so far in the war against the virus, with current daily confirmed cases now below the 100 mark and dropping, along with the number of Covid related deaths but the whole issue of show insurance, planning the running of safe practice in judging and social distancing and the size of the gathering meant that keeping to government guidelines would be extremely difficult and could not guarantee the safety of those attending.
With the constant worry of a second wave happening with the lifting of restrictions for the public, it would be a big gamble for clubs to plan and pay out major financial sums only to have an event cancelled just bays before the show is due to take place. This is what happened with the Celtic Winners/ St Patricks day show in March and there is little doubt that given the circumstances the IKC will be in a difficult position financially and much thought will be needed on how to further tackle the situation the organisation has found itself in. The clarity and decisive nature of the announcement however was applauded and the Irish show scene has a definite decision which many in other countries would like also.
In a statement the Board of the IKC said: ‘The Board of the Irish Kennel Club took the difficult decision to postpone the two IKC International Shows in March in the hope that we could re-schedule later in the year. As stated at the time, the Board confirmed that exhibitors who entered these shows would be credited within the IKC accountancy system and the monies ring fenced into a designated bank account, and this is the case.
‘The situation has developed to a stage where the re-scheduling of these events is not possible, so they are now officially cancelled.
‘In this regard, the Board of the IKC has now taken the decision to issue a refund of your entry fees, less a service charge of 3 Euro per transaction to cover external administration costs. We are working with our external provider and we will complete this task as soon as possible, so please bear with us.
‘Regarding our office, in line with Governments Road Map for return to work, the IKC are happy to announce that we expect to re-open on 29th June (initially no public front desk). We are delighted our members have continued to support us by submitting your applications on-line and by post and our staff are eager to return to work to process same. Regarding IKC Judges Licence the Board has decided that as there is no opportunity to judge this year the current judging licences will be valid until the end of 2021. We thank you for your understanding and continued support.
‘Finally, and taking into account the instructions and policies of the Government and the Health Authority in these challenging times, the Board has made the difficult decision to cancel all Dog Show licences for 2020.
‘Regarding An Ard Comhairle meetings, we will of course arrange a meeting as soon as this is permitted, and proper protocol is in place. (Probably in NSC).’
Margaret Conran O’Gorman (Exhibitor and Secretary of Clonmel Championship show) ‘Like every other Show person I am missing shows and most especially the social aspects. Having had the unenviable task of cancelling Clonmel and District Canine Club All Breed Ch Show in August, there was endless speculation regarding The Irish Kennel Club Ltd and their cancelled events.
‘When the announcement was made it was read by me with sadness and pride. These are extraordinary times for everybody and the IKC are no different. There will be many financial losses by many companies and the IKC will be no different, and yet they made the difficult decision to put its members and their well being first. I congratulate the Board of Directors of the Irish Kennel Club Ltd in acting so responsibly at this very difficult time. I look forward to 2021 when we can all put our shoulder to the wheel and get our hobby back on track.’
Caryn Coogan (Buzleo Pugs) said: ‘Hats off to the IKC for its brave decision to introduce a moratorium on dog shows for 2020. The recent lack of clarity on this issue has created speculation and frustration for a lot of people. Now the IKC, the Irish Show Committees and the Irish Exhibitors, Can relax, stay at home, stay safe, sit back and look forward to 2021.’
Rev. David Gibson (Brookhaven PWDs and Hounds) said: ‘I was very impressed by the leadership and forward thinking of the IKC. This statement is testament to how seriously the IKC takes its ‘duty of care’ to its members. It also eliminates any further need for online speculation as to when shows will return as this was becoming divisive.’
Sally Burns of the Grayco Poodles said: ‘I agree with the IKC’s decision to cancel the shows for 2020. I’m sure there will be many upset and frustrated exhibitors and societies but the fact remains that health & welfare of all are a priority. I couldn’t even imagine how you could get or be insured for shows during this pandemic which opens another door of discussion. I feel we could use this time now to plan ahead to improve our shows and events and also to make a little extra time to check on those whose mental health depended on those fun days out.’