Statement on Membership

Posted in KUSA News


It is both curious and disappointing that members of KUSA, who should have the best interests of the organisation at heart, express such vehement opposition on social media to Fedco’s decision to redress an historical deficiency in the Constitution by expecting owners of dogs entered at KUSA’s Championship Shows to be members of the organisation.

Fedco is committed to proper and responsible governance of canine affairs in South Africa, including all forms of dogsport, and putting certain essential controls in place is an integral part of that. KUSA is a full member of the FCI, which brings with it the obligation “to ensure that their own members comply with these statutes, the FCI regulations, circulars and decisions of the FCI General Assembly and General Committee at all times”. How is KUSA expected to meet its responsibilities towards its principals in an unregulated domestic environment where it has no control over the behaviour of those entering its shows? How can KUSA justify dishing out the FCI’s internationally accredited awards to those who seek to exempt themselves from KUSA’s jurisdiction and thereby also from compliance with the rules of the FCI?

If we look at two countries where dogsport is structured much along the same lines as in South Africa, there can be no doubt that the decision taken by Fedco is appropriate and correct. In Australia, in order to enter a dog in any Championship Show, it requires membership of the State body, e.g. DOGS NSW or DOGS Victoria. The State bodies have representation on the overarching body, the Australian National Canine Council, but function independently and set their own membership fees. In New Zealand, entry in Championship Shows is subject to owners obtaining membership of the New Zealand Kennel Club.

Apart from the issues relating to governance, regulation and obligations incurred under membership of international bodies, please consider the following:

It is virtually unprecedented not to belong to the unions, or the governing bodies, of the various sports practised in our country. Without regulation, there cannot be effective administration of any sport and requiring membership is part of that. The privileges derived from organised sport are reciprocated by supporting the governing structures, through membership, which not only enables participation, but also the benefits, awards and titles negotiated on behalf of members. Membership fees also ensure the sustainability of the governing body.

For the same levy on entry fees received by KUSA, members and non-members currently receive equal privileges and benefits from KUSA, in other words, members effectively subsidise the privileges and benefits of non-members. The privileges derived from KUSA include

  • KUSA’s national awards
  • the international awards KUSA administers on behalf of the FCI
  • the advantages of KUSA’s membership of the FCI
  • the benefits from KUSA’s international agreements with foreign National Canine Organisations
  • access to the expert opinion and knowledge of KUSA-trained judges
  • access to accredited judges from all over the world
  • international recognition of South African dogs
  • international recognition of South African judges
  • cover under KUSA’s General Public Liability insurance
  • being entitled to receive KUSA communications to members on various issues
  • use of KUSA’s administrative services
  • use of KUSA’s dogsport infrastructure

Although any person entering a Championship Show submits to being bound by the KUSA Constitution, effective sanctions against transgressors are inevitably linked to the privileges of membership. To bring a complaint against a non-member under Schedule I is, to put it bluntly, an exercise in futility. It is therefore important for KUSA, when practising good governance and effective control, to do so over an inclusive body of members.

Some of the reasons advanced by those who currently condone KUSA’s exploitation by non-members are:

  • that Championship Show entries will be prejudiced.

The vast majority of owners entering Championship Shows are KUSA members. Regarding the minority, Fedco does not believe that most of them will object to becoming members if the non-member option were no longer available. Those who want to show their dogs and win KUSA-accredited awards will concede that the membership requirement is fair and equitable and will join.

A further concession has been made that the membership requirement does not apply to Breed Classes at Specialist Championship Shows. This covers the argument that some owners only come out to support their breed club shows and obligatory KUSA membership would adversely affect entries at these shows.

  • that owners who want to show-train their puppies will not join KUSA.

The ideal training environment for puppies is at Non-Championship Shows where there is no membership requirement. Once an owner has decided that the puppy is ready to compete for the local and international awards offered by KUSA at Championship Show level (Specialist Show Breed Classes excluded), then it’s not unreasonable to expect the owner to make a reciprocal commitment to KUSA by joining as a member.

  • that KUSA already collects a levy on every entry.

Correct – R18,50 per entry for Championship Shows and R3,25 per entry for Non-Championship Shows – not enough to cover KUSA’s show-related administrative expenses.

  • that KUSA just wants to “fleece” exhibitors and make more money.

Like all voluntary organisations, KUSA’s income is under constant pressure. In order to meet its financial obligations, KUSA strives to maximise its income from all income streams, including membership. The harsh reality is that, if KUSA were not financially sustainable, the entire registry of purebred dogs in South Africa would collapse and, with that, all forms of dogsport. One is astounded that anyone with KUSA’s interests at heart would argue against increasing KUSA’s revenue and ensuring its sustainability.

  • that the membership requirement cannot be “policed”.

KUSA does not “police” compliance with any of its regulations. Like with all KUSA regulations, imposition of compliance is a reactive process, in other words, KUSA will only investigate when a complaint is lodged. Those found to have breached KUSA’s regulations are normally informed of the breach and requested to remedy it with retrospective effect.

From the above it follows that there is no obligation whatsoever on Show Secretaries or any officials of showholding clubs to check the membership status of any owner entering the show.

The membership requirement for those entering a KUSA-licensed show will be prominently indicated on the new Show Entry Form and the provision of a KUSA Membership Number (already provided for on the current Show Entry Form) will be obligatory.

To encourage new members to join, the Entrance Fee of R253,00, which new members pay, has been waived for a year.

It’s surprising that some long-standing KUSA members have been actively campaigning to have the Fedco decision overturned by coercing clubs to write letters of objection. Most difficult to understand is why clubs would take the advice of people who have no good reason for objecting, other than misguided self-interest.

I appeal to Provcos and their clubs to apply basic common sense to this matter and to lend their support to Fedco’s decision to redress a Constitutional deficiency which has been long overdue.

Chris Griffith

Chairman: Federal Council of KUSA