OK, I heard back from some more folks regarding the fiasco with the tattoo proposal I submitted to IAGARB. All supportive! And I also got an email from Alexis Woodbury. I will let it speak for itself:
I wanted to respond to you since I am the committee member who talked with Mr. Gehr at ARBA. The Standards Committee is aware that many IAGARB members also have memberships in ARBA, and appreciates your interest in participating in both organizations.
I personally am one of those members with dual membership and wanted ARBA's input on showing in both organizations. Most importantly, I felt it was crucial to inquire how IAGARB's tattoo procedure would relate to showing in ARBA. In order to make an informed decision, I requested current information directly from the ARBA.
The conversation with Mr. Gehr was both lengthy and informative. I am pleased to take this opportunity to report more of our discussion, and am confident that it will give you a clearer understanding of the reasons for our decision.
As was reported, and as you are well aware, Mr. Gehr did respond to showing in both organizations by saying rabbits are judged by phenotype. A German Angora or a Giant Angora that has German in its background can be shown as a Giant as long as it fits the ARBA Standard.
After I explained the IAGARB procedure of tattooing the member number in the right ear and the rabbit information in the left ear, Mr. Gehr said ARBA judges check the left ear for the tattoo, and both ears for conditions like ear mites--having a tattoo in the right ear would probably not be an issue, but the decision is left up to the judge's discretion and the judge has the final say.
Mr. Gehr then brought the issue of registering Germans as Giants into the conversation. He went on to discuss where ARBA would have serious concerns, including the concern with trying to register rabbits that have non-recognized breeds in their backgrounds.
He said for most ARBA members, the object of showing their rabbits is winning Best of Breed, Best in Show and Grand Champion. He added that in order to earn the designation of Grand Champion, the rabbit must first win enough leg slips and also be registered which requires the presentation of a pedigree. He stated that if a German Angora were shown as a Giant and won enough leg slips, it still could not be awarded Grand Champion status. If a non-recognized breed appears under any of the generations listed on a rabbit's pedigree, that rabbit can't be registered.
You stated that this last discussion regarding registration should not have had any bearing on your request and may have even clouded it. At the time, I felt it was important to share the entire conversation, including registration, with the Standards Committee as members of both ARBA and IAGARB venture to participate in activities offered by each organization.
Even though ARBA registration was included in our discussion concerning showing in both organizations, it was NOT the basis upon which the committee made a decision regarding your request to use a personal tattoo system on rabbits that are presented for IAGARB registration. What did influence our decision were the following points:
From its inception, IAGARB has been constitutionally mandated to follow as closely as possible procedures set in Germany--not just with breed standard and registration, but with tattooing as well. In Europe a rabbit's ear number can include between 8 to 11 characters. Because rabbit ears are thinner and more sensitive toward the tip of the ear, it was agreed that the potential stress of a long tattoo was too great a burden on one ear.
Over the years, most members have used the German method of tattooing that includes member number and rabbit information. For that reason, and consistency in our registration data base, the decision was made at the 2007 AGM to standardize the IAGARB tattoo procedure to a single system--member number in the right ear and rabbit information in the left. The wisdom of this decision has resulted in policy that benefits all IAGARB members by providing information we all can recognize.
All members are assigned a member number--no one else will be assigned that number. The rabbit information is equally important. Even when a pedigree isn't available, the rabbit's age can be determined from the tattoo. By using this system, all IAGARB members can easily determine the age of the rabbit and the breeder. Since member numbers are listed in the Membership Directory, ALL members can be easily recognized by their member number.
Finally, Mr. Gehr indicated that the IAGARB system of tattooing both ears shouldn't be a problem on ARBA show tables, but you have expressed a recent concern with multiple rabbits tattooed with the same rabbit info. In reviewing all scenarios, it is possible that more than one rabbit on the table could have the same tattoo in the left ear, but if the IAGARB system is properly followed, these rabbits won't have the same tattoo in the right ear, thus preventing any confusion.
Janet, everyone on the Standards Committee appreciated your thoughtful petition as it has allowed us to consider and review procedure as it relates to IAGARB members and their interests. We did take into consideration that you have used your personal tattoo system for a number of years, but in the best interest of IAGARB and all members, we stand by the tattoo procedure as ratified in 2007.
Hopefully this letter will help to clarify any misunderstanding.
(Read and approved by the Standards Committee)
To which I replied:
Thank you for your input. I just want to further clarify three things:
"In reviewing all scenarios, it is possible that more than one rabbit on the table could have the same tattoo in the left ear, but if the IAGARB system is properly followed, these rabbits won't have the same tattoo in the right ear, thus preventing any confusion."
ARBA judges do not look in the right ear for ID purposes. In order for them to know to do so, the exhibitors of the animals would have to instruct them to do so, thus identifying themselves as the animal's owner, and this is frowned upon. ARBA tries to judge animals as anonymously as possible.
You also stated:
"He stated that if a German Angora were shown as a Giant and won enough leg slips, it still could not be awarded Grand Champion status. If a non-recognized breed appears under any of the generations listed on a rabbit's pedigree, that rabbit can't be registered."
This is true. If any recognizable German names are in the three generation pedigree, the animal should not be registered. However, once those animals are in the fourth generation, the issue is solved. At any rate, my reason for showing, at least at this point in time, is not for registering or gaining Grand Championships. Not that that has any bearing on anything. :)
Lastly, I would appreciate it if the next issue of the newsletter had a correction in it stating clearly that the proposal submitted did NOT involve registering Germans as Giants with ARBA.
Now, some things just scream to be pointed out. First of all, the account of the proposal given in the newsletter said, "The petitioner requested that we make allowances for those people who wish to register their rabbits in both the ARBA and IAGARB systems." This is a clear distortion of my proposal, and belies what Alexis is claiming. Alexis also claims that the discussion of registration with ARBA had no bearing on the decision, yet that is not what the newsletter states. Further, the account in the newsletter is supposedly from the AGM Meeting Minutes. Now, most clubs I have been a member of make the reading of the minutes one of the last things they do before closing the meeting, and they are then voted on. So, everyone at that meeting apparently felt that the account in the minutes is accurate.
Alexis' claim does not jibe with the letter that was (belatedly) sent to me by Leslie and Charlene, either. So who is being honest here?
I also find it curious that IAGARB does buck their "constitutional mandate to follow as closely as possible procedures set in Germany--not just with breed standard and registration, but with tattooing as well" when they want to. As Alexis points out, Germans only use one ear for tattoos, not both.
At any rate, when I have a Giant I want to submit for IAGARB testing, I'll have to use the IAGARB system. Fine, I'll deal with it.
I have to wonder what else they'll come up with.