At the February Board meeting the CFA Board considered two items that would directly affect the Siamese breed if passed: AOV Tonkinese and a pointed and white division of Oriental Shorthairs. The results of the votes of both items were not favorable for the Siamese breed.
The Board did turn down the idea of a pointed and white division at this meeting. But this only postpones the inevitable. The proposal of the pointed and white division was flawed in several areas. It did not include color standards, as required by the CFA rules. Twenty-five individuals of these new colors had not been shown in the seven CFA regions, as required by the CFA rules for new colors. The cats were not being added to the already existing bicolor division of ORS (all colors and patterns, with white, are placed in bicolor divisions of all other CFA breeds). The general standard did not specify where the white was to be, as it does in the Ragdoll standard for this same color class, and there was no disqualification for not having white in sufficient amount or white in the correct places, as the Ragdoll standard has.
In spite of the proposed new standard having the multiple flaws listed above, and not meeting CFA rules in several areas, five Board members voted to pass it. Those people were Gary Veach, Liz Watson, George Eigenhauser, Darrel Newkirk and Linda Berg. All philosophical differences aside, the five listed above were more eager to get pointed ORS into the show ring than to uphold CFA rules, Darrel Newkirk, after professing to support WIAB last year while needing our votes, voted for a color class of ORS that could have added ORS to the show bench that looked exactly like ours. All it would take was a pointed and white with no white “V” on the face.
Next year we can expect both Kim Everett and Joanne Cummings to join these five, if enough cats are shown to meet the requirements. Neither of them have committed to making sure that the ORS standard for the pointed and white cats includes any provisions to ensure that they do not mimic Siamese, however.
The Tonkinese issue is even more disturbing. The Board totally broke with all former CFA Boards in voting to approve AOV Tonkinese. First of all they ruled in October that the Siamese and Burmese breed councils were not affected. This was not only the first time in CFA history that a matter involving a breeds and standards issue was decided at an October meeting, they may have violated the CFA constitution to do it. Article XI of CFA constitution clearly states: “Notwithstanding the fact that the Councils shall serve the Executive Board in an advisory capacity, the Executive Board shall not alter or amend any part of the standards for any breed, or add thereto, without first obtaining (within the prior 12 months) the approval of 60% of the members voting of the specific Breed Councils affected.” The Board has always asked a breed council if it was affected in the past, it has never determined for any Breed Council if it was affected. Ballots have always been sent out to the breed councils involved to ask the membership if they were affected, and those ballots have been reviewed at the February meeting. This Board totally upended that process. It took up an issue that belonged in the February breeds and standards meeting and usurped a right that belongs solely to the breed councils. This sets a precedent that will reverberate throughout all of CFA and all breed councils for years to come.
The result was that the opinions of two of CFAs largest and oldest breed councils were totally kicked to the curb. In a ten to 8 vote, pointed and solid Tonkinese were accepted. This was even after Joan Miller passed around pictures demonstrating the similarity of Burmese and solid Tonkinese Grand Champions, even after there was discussion regarding the conflicts with the newly recognized European Burmese, even after Pam Delabar attempted to get the Tonkinese BCS to define what would now be unique about the breed (he stated that the Tonkinese were uniquely “moderate”). Seventy percent of the Siamese BC voted that we were affected, and almost all of the Burmese BC voted they were affected, but our voices were not heard. Those in a rush to get the AOVs into the show ring easily dismissed even the promise that was made by the Tonkinese breeders to get accepted.
The most frightening thing about this whole outcome is that CFA has now separated itself from all efforts to place breed changes into a consistent pattern that breeders can rely on. And CFA will pay. I predict that if this is allowed to stand, that CFA becomes a smaller and smaller organization, similar to TICA, and will have little weight and less standing in the big debates to come. It will be less and less possible to have a say in areas like legislation and animal rights when we spend all of our energy fighting over what can be shown. What these shortsighted board members have accomplished is to bury CFA in a growing group of breed council disputes that could drag on for as many years as there as breeds, times four. Every CFA BC has its own group of AOVs, new colors, new breeders with new concepts of that breed, and this terrible decision at the February meeting, will open the doors to all of them. How can the Board deny the silver Abby’s, the shorthair Somalis, the straight eared Scottish Fold, the mitted Ragdoll, etc., when it has just approved a situation that will throw three breeds into direct conflict over both type and color. (And how much more time and energy will be spent trying to sort out this situation they have created with the Burmese, European Burmese and Tonkinese Solid AOVs?)
This outcome of the February Board meeting makes this year’s elections very important. While the CFA Board may have made the decision to mire itself in breed trivia for the foreseeable future, the fate of the Siamese breed has not been decided yet, and we can still salvage our cats from extinction. We need to get out and work for people who will help us to save protect our breed. Pam Delabar and Kim Everett are both running for VP. Pam kept to her word when she said she would support all CFA policy regarding the defining of breeds, and she gave the Tonkinese breed council secretary every opportunity to tell us why this breed would be considered unique with the addition of the AOVs (which he was not able to do). Pam did not vote for the Tonkinese AOVs, and she has stated that pointed and white ORS belong in the bicolor class of the breed, positions that have not been taken by Kim Everett. Mark Hannon is running for CFA secretary and he has a record of voting to protect existing breeds, unlike Rachel Anger, who has stated that she would like to see WIAB overturned. In the regions, we need to support Lonnie Hoover, and Debbie Kusy. If these people are elected, we may be able to get some protection in place for our breed. Failing that, the only alternative that I can see is to work to establish cutoff dates for all breeds that currently outcross to the Siamese. Cutoff dates would at least protect us from the efforts that will be made to devour the Siamese breed by placing it in one big group, similar as to what was done with the Persian breed.
If you are still unconvinced that the Siamese breed needs to protect itself, I want you to recall just a few short years ago we gave the Havana Brown Breed Council permission to use the Siamese breed as an outcross. This was with the “promise” that this breed council would not register the pointed cats that resulted from these breedings. Well, with the decision just handed down by the Board, that “promise” is meaningless. It is the hybrid, not the parent, breed that controls what happens to the AOVs. If, (and remember this is just theoretical, I have not heard that Havana Brown breeders want to show pointed Havana’s), if the Havana Brown BC changes its mind, and decides it wants to register AOVs now for “breeding purposes”, this Board will only consider the Siamese BC to be “advisory”, since, according to them, it is the prerogative of the hybrid breed to “change its mind”. Once the Havanas have AOV status for their pointed cats, they can play the same game the Tonk breeders did. Create color classes for the AOVs, write color descriptions, begin showing them as AOVs and in a few short years, viola!! A pointed Havana Brown class! We have no guarantee anymore that this scenario will not play itself out. It’s all up to the Havana Brown breeders and what they decide, not Siamese breeders. And if we continue to allow the Siamese to be used for outcrossing of any kind, we are putting our breed at risk.
I would also like to bring everybody up-to-date on what is happening with our annual awards. In response to feedback that has been received from Breed Council members we are initiating the following changes:
Sponsorship of awards: This year we are going to take a page out the North Atlantic Region’s playbook and allow BC members to sponsor individual awards of this year’s winning Siamese. A sponsorship form will be distributed in the next mailing and online that will enable you to choose an award and contribute to it. This will help the Breed Council to fund all awards, and possibly increase them from top 10 to top fifteen.
Photos: This year we will include a picture of your Grand, DM, or top ten winner for a small fee (the Best in each category will still be included for free). This gives everyone a chance to have their cat included in the booklet that is an historical record of our breed, and will help to pay for the cost of printing the booklet.
Business card and club ads: We will try accepting ads for a small cost to help offset the cost of the awards booklet. Rates will be included in the information sent out with the sponsorship form.
While these changes will not eliminate the need to raise money to support our awards, it will hopefully allow us to expand them and raise their quality. We will have more information available online, and will also be sending out forms to all those not online. Please let either Mary Kolencik or me know if you have not received any information by April 30.
Additionally, I will be sending out a poll later this year to get your feelings regarding what we can do to protect our cats as much as possible. Please complete it when you receive it, and return it to me. It is really important that we get as much feedback as possible regarding this important issue. This is a highly critical time for our breed.
Debbi Stevenson. BCS