The FCI in Changing Times

An interview with President Rafael de Santiago about China and the 2019 FCI World Dog Show.

dog show

Rafael de Santiago judging the Eukanuba World Challenge in Orlando, Fla., in 2013.

The climate has been stormy around the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) recently, primarily due to its decision to allow China to host the 2019 FCI World Dog Show — in spite of China’s lack of anti-cruelty laws for the protection of animals and because the country has little experience in organizing major dog shows. Three Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden and Finland), which host many of the biggest FCI shows, have expressed a wish to possibly resign their memberships, which would seriously damage both FCI’s status and finances. The reason for Scandinavia’s dissatisfaction is the way in which the vote for the World Show in China was handled, and how the “one vote per country” rule allows newer members from small dog countries to have a disproportionate influence in FCI affairs compared to the Scandinavian countries.

Dogs in Review’s Bo Bengtson talked to FCI President Rafael de Santiago at the FCI World Dog Show in Milan and via correspondence later in the year from different countries, with de Santiago traveling between FCI meetings and judging assignments in Greece, Italy, Bogota, Germany, China and Croatia, with an occasional visit back home in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Photos courtesy of Oleg Bochkov, HOTdog Magazine, Russia; Chris Choui, Asia Dog World; Roberto Velez-Pico and Bo Bengtson’s archives. Special thanks to Carla Molinari for her assistance.

Q: Please outline the situation between AKC/FCI and the dog fancy in China from the FCI’s point of view. How do you think the present conflict with the AKC supporting the National General Kennel Club on one side and the FCI having accepted the China Kennel Union on the other can be resolved?

dog show

De Santiago with Dinky Santos, President of the Asia and Pacific FC Section (far left), Mr. Cheng, President of the China Kennel Union (right of de Santiago) and Franki Leung, Secretary of the Asia Pacific FCI Section (far right).

The FCI and the AKC are in very good standing, and we look forward to our continued cooperation. We chose to work with different bodies in China, but we understand that the AKC has discontinued its cooperation with the NGKC. The FCI and the CKU, on the other hand, have reaffirmed their strong will to keep cooperating. I cannot say anything about the quality of dogs within the NGKC, but I can confirm that CKU dogs are excellent, true to the FCI breed standards. There is no conflict between FCI and AKC about China. If information about the rupture of the cooperation between AKC and NGKC is true, we definitely invite the AKC to discuss a possible cooperation with the CKU with us. A country like China needs the support from the major canine organizations — and the AKC undoubtedly is one of them.

Q: Why can’t FCI accept that China is such a vast country that there might be a need for more than one national kennel club? Isn’t that already the case in some Asian countries (e.g., Korea)?

The FCI position is based on our statutes, which require that there can be only one organization (member) per country. This is to avoid the situation where a dog can get different registrations in the same country or its owner chooses the “cheapest” organization in a country — i.e. an organization where, for example, no control, at any level, is carried out. When FCI accepts an organization as a member, we have the guarantee that it fulfils certain qualitative and quantitative criteria. In Korea, two clubs exist — as far as we know — but the FCI cooperates with one only, the Korea Kennel Federation.

Q: There has been talk about the FCI taking actions against AKC judges who officiate at shows in China that are organized by a non-FCI club. How will that work?

This is not an issue, and it is not on the agenda right now. If one day it should be, we would deal with this situation in a democratic and clever way.

Q: What about registrations for exports and imports to and from China?

We are aware that due to the different lines of cooperation (AKC/NGKC and FCI/CKU), some problems may arise. However, they have been minor so far. In addition, if AKC has stopped cooperating with NGKC, the problem might be solved without any further talks being necessary. If not, we are ready to sit down at the table and try to find a solution, which we have not been able to reach so far.

Q: At the FCI meeting during the World Show in Italy in June, China was voted to host the FCI World Show in 2019. Although there were some questions about whether the vote was totally democratic, that seems to have been an unfair suggestion. In your opinion, however, is CKU ready for this responsibility? They are pretty new as FCI members. How large are their shows, and how many have there been so far? How many members does CKU have? How many dogs do they register per year?

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Awarding Best Breeder’s Group in 2014 at the FCI World Show in Finland to the Shellrick’s Shetland Sheepdogs from Sweden.

I have judged CKU shows on different occasions and have observed a real development and improvement in quality over the last few years. CKU is committed to dogs; I have no doubt they will run an excellent and impressive World Dog Show. Those of us who travel to Shanghai truly will be surprised. Over the last three reported years (2012-2014), CKU has organized 31 international shows, of which 15 took place in 2014. This reflects the true taking-off of CKU on the dog scene. Entries range from 250 to 1,600 dogs. There is huge potential to exploit, and we have no doubt that CKU will take the challenge. [The most recent statistics available from China are from 2012. That year, CKU registered 36,793 puppies from 10,194 litters, held 10 national all-breed and nine international CACIB shows, and had 93,083 individual members and 123 breed clubs. At that time, CKU had registered a total of 273,019 dogs. According to these statistics, the first FCI international shows were held in China in 2008. — B.B.]

Q: We also need to address the question of whether it’s a good idea for FCI to hold a World Show in China in view of the uproar that the dog-eating “festival” in the city of Yulin has caused, and the fact that some Chinese still eat dog meat. Would you please comment on this and answer the critics who feel this is not a good idea?

Anyone can say that not having the World Dog Show in China is a triumph for animal welfare, but that just boils down to ignoring the sad reality. To say that all Chinese are cruel to animals is just racism — dog lovers in China need massive support instead of harsh attacks and punishment! This is true, however, only if we want significant changes.

I strongly believe that celebrating the World Dog Show in China will be a great opportunity to educate and help to create a dog-loving society in China.


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