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UKC 2009/2010 Rule And Policy Changes
Published Feb 1, 2009

The Chartered Breed Associations voted on all rule change proposals at the 2008 Autumn Oaks. A total of five of those passed. Each rule or policy change is addressed below. All changes are effective January 1, 2009.

Proposal 2 – Passed - Rule 3(d) 
Rule 3(d) addresses strike and tree points for dog(s) that are shut out on strike. In other words, dog(s) who had not yet been declared struck when another dog in the cast has already been declared treed. The current terminology is as follows: {Dog cannot receive plus or minus strike points if he is not on trail when first dog is declared treed unless he trees on separate tree.} Due to the terminology it has been UKC’s interpretation that a dog that has been shut out would not be eligible for any strike points, whether it be plus, minus or circle, unless the dog in fact treedon a separate tree. 

The argument with this terminology/interpretation is; that in situations where a dog that is shut out on strike, but does not tree on the tree shut out on, could in fact be declared struck in and then walk into the cast or the eight get the dog etc. etc.. but would not receive minus strike points. Only because it did not tree on a separate tree. If you think this doesn’t sound right or fair then you’re not alone. How can a dog that has been declared struck get away with the eight getting them or come back in without penalty? Not anymore! 

The terminology in Rule 3(d) will now be revised to read: {Dog(s) that are shut out (not struck before first dog is declared treed) must still be declared struck. They are eligible for tree points if they are declared treed within the five minutes. If they are at tree shut out on when judge arrives, strike points are deleted. For all other situations they are accountable for their strike points.} 

This change will eliminate any possibility of a dog receiving deleted strike points should they not tree on a separate tree other than the tree they were shut out on. I think most will agree this is a good change and the way it should be. I also like the terminology in that it is very clear and easy to understand. 

Proposal 3 – Passed - Rule 4(k) 
Your first instinct might be; there is no Rule 4(k)? You would be right actually. Until now that is. A Rule 4(k), which is in the minus portion of the rules, will be added for situations involving a dog(s) that are declared treed by the handler after a tree has been closed. 

Rule 4(e) is such that after a tree is closed no other dogs may be declared treed on that particular tree. UKC’s position in the past has been that a tree call should not be accepted by the judge unless the dog(s) was obviously on a separate tree. And for most situations this was a non issue other than the arguments that might come out of it mostly due to an uneducated handler who might not understand why or how a judge can keep him or her from declaring their dog treed. A well versed handler knows that at a point when it becomes obvious that his or her dog is obviously split they would simply wait until then and declare the dog treed. And if all dogs were now declared treed they could handle the split dog without waiting a separate five minutes; no big deal. 

However, using the current procedure of not accepting a tree call when the tree is closed, there is one scenario that can become a factor - the end of a hunt. We have all seen situations where it was not obvious that any dogs were split from one another until you actually arrive at the scene and see it. An example of that might be where you have three dogs declared treed. The five expires and hunt time is running out and will have expired before the cast can get to the tree. The fourth dog is now also treeing but it is “not obvious” that the dog is split. 

Under current procedure the judge cannot accept a tree call unless the dog is obviously split. In this case the handler is caught at the mercy of a bad break should they find the dog to in fact be split upon arrival. Especially, if the situation might make a difference in terms of winning the cast or hunt due to hunt time or the expiration thereof. 

A Rule 4(k) will be added to read: {Any dog(s) declared treed after five minutes expires and tree is closed; call will be accepted as a split tree. If dog is on closed tree when judge arrives, points will be minused.} Even with this change nothing will change in regards to declaring split trees in accordance with Rule 11. The judge will still declare a dog as split and record it as such when it is obvious to him/her. The only difference will now be that the judge will no longer have the authority to not accept a tree call after a tree has been closed. 

If a handler chooses to declare their dog treed then it would be recorded as a split, even when it’s not obvious to the judge. (in this situation only)It is very important to note or remember that this change will add more responsibility on the part of the handler. If a handler chooses to declare their dog treed after a tree has been closed it would simply result in tree points being recorded as split, regardless of whether the dog was obviously split by the judge or not, (in this situation only) and if the dog is found to be treeing on the closed tree; those tree points are minused and strike points scored accordingly in accordance with Rule 4(g). 

Proposal 4 - Passed. Rule 11
This proposal passed with four (4) yes votes, one (1) yes with an amendment, one (1) no, and one abstained vote. Quite frankly, there are several concerned rule experts mostly due from a “what if” perspective relative to the “option” factor in this proposal. Nonetheless, it passed and like other changes of the past that came with concerns, they usually work out substantially better than negative predictions of the opposition.

This change deals with Rule 11 when it comes to re-casting to dogs out trailing after a tree has been scored. The current rule does not allow for dogs to be re-cast if there is one or more dog declared treed prior to re-casting. The new rule will now allow it to be the handler’s option to turn back in to a dog on trail or not. Obviously, this would only be an option if there is at least one dog that is declared struck still trailing. If all dogs are declared treed the handler could not re-cast. Likewise, if no dogs are declared treed then not turning back in would not be an option (it would be required).

A portion of Rule 11 has been changed to read as follows: (After five minutes, first dog’s tree may be checked and that dog kept on leash until tree is scored, then he must be turned loose with other dogs that are opening on trail and will receive 25 points credit or discredit as deserved, or next available position. However, if dog[s] are already treed, handlers have the option to release dog[s] so long as at least one dog is still out trailing.)

Here’s a scenario/example of this rule. A, B, C and D are declared struck. Dog A and B are declared treed. Tree time is up and the cast scores the tree while D and C are still out trailing. While the tree is being scored, or sometime prior to recasting dogs A and B, dog C is declared treed. Dog D is still trailing. Since Dog D is still trailing, it is now the handlers’ option (Dog A and B) on whether each of them choose to re-cast or not. One handler may in fact choose to re-cast while the other does not. That is their choice. However, at the point when the handler makes the decision to turn back in or not their decision at that point is what they are stuck with. Should a handler choose the option to not turn loose then at no other point could they change their mind and turn back in. That is, until the next opportunity arises to cast or re-cast their dog.

Using the above situation as an example with one exception, let’s say handler A opted to turn back loose to Dog D while handler B opted to keep his dog on the leash. Before the tree time expired on Dog C, or before the dog is handled at the tree, it leaves the tree and is minused. In this scenario, Dog B would now have to be turned back in and could not be on leash any longer.

This rule change could, and in many cases will, add more handling expertise on the part of the handler to the equation in UKC nite hunts. It will certainly be interesting to see how decisions on this “option” will have an effect on a cast. It’s arguably the biggest or most talked about change of the rules.

Proposal 5 - Passed. Field Trials & Water Races
Proposal 5 will be a commended change for most enthusiasts who enjoy and participate in the sports of Field Trials and Water Racing. It has been my experience in the past four years that competitors especially would like to see a smaller number of dogs in the heats. In the old days, the rule was such that each category of entries would be broken down to heats of six dogs per heat.

Two years ago that rule was changed to allow for clubs to have the option whether they would run a maximum of four or six dog heats. Most clubs did in fact opt to run a maximum of four dogs in a heat, while some of the bigger entry events opted for the six per heat. That option was satisfactory for some while others felt that the “option” of six was still too many for several reasons regardless of the amount of entries they have.

Both Field Trials and Water Races are more of a spectator sport compared to a nite hunt. For one, they are run during the day versus at night. Under current rules, a club having 10 entries in a category would result in two races, and it was over. With the rule change, 10 dogs would result in double the amount of heats. The other concern has always been where up to six dogs at the tree, beating and banging around each other in all the excitement, is cause for concern in regards to a greater chance of temperament issues evolving.

Effective January 1, 2009, heats will be broke down to a maximum of four dogs per heat. Just like a nite hunt, where no more than four dogs are drawn to a cast. This should help eliminate concerns of too many dogs on a tree or trying to get on a tree. In addition, it will allow more heats to be run resulting in more action for spectators.

Proposal 7 - Passed. Nite Champion Wins
The final proposal that the majority of the Breed Associations agreed to pass is in regards to the maximum amount of Nite Champion wins awarded at an event. The new policy will allow for up to five wins to be awarded in the Nite Champion category. However, five wins will only be awarded if there are a minimum of 61 Nite Champions entered in the event.

This change is reflected in the rulebook under Titles of Excellence as follows.

# Of Nite Ch's Entered # Of Dogs Given Nite CH Placements
1-20 1
21-40 2
41-60 3
61 and over 5

Note: there are no provisions for four (4) wins. The policy simply allows for 2 bonus wins whenever there are over 60 dogs entered in the category. Event Reports will be modified to report bonus wins when applicable.

Master of Hounds/Hunt Director
Effective January 1, 2009, all clubs/organizations will have the option to use either a Master of Hounds or a Hunt Director Format. The MOH format will be no different than in the past, with exception to the Formal Complaint procedure. Any individuals not satisfied with a MOH ruling on a question may file a Formal Complaint for a fee of $20. If the FC panel finds in favor of the complainant the fee is refunded. Otherwise, the fee is forwarded to UKC for a final decision and the fee is dispersed into the Youth Fund.

Clubs may now also choose to use a Hunt Director. The Hunt Director will not have the authority a MOH would have, but nonetheless the individual is in charge of the event. A Hunt Director will be in charge of taking entries, drawing and calling casts, including publicly reading a checklist relative to a HD format prior to calling out casts. A HD will stay at the headquarters or clubhouse at all times during a licensed event. If a question arises in the woods, the complainant must first deposit $20 to the HD prior to assembling a panel. Otherwise, the question will not be heard. The HD must then assemble a panel of three qualified individuals to hear and rule on the question. If the panel finds in favor of the complainant the fee will be refunded.

A HD must stay at the clubhouse or headquarters. A HD will not be allowed to hunt/handle his dog(s) in the event. However, the HD’s dog(s) may be entered in the event and handled by another individual, including a family member. The HD will be responsible for the scorecards when casts return. The HD will check all scores and does have the authority to correct mathematical errors should they occur. The HD will also be responsible for doing the event paperwork and handing out win receipts etc.

The HD format may be used at all events, with exception to all Purina Points Events - including Regional Qualifying Events - where a qualified Master of Hounds must be used.

The option of using a Hunt Director versus a Master of Hounds should help satisfy those clubs who have had difficulties in the past especially, in today’s economy, with having to pay a Master of Hounds, etc. Refer to your 2009/2010 Coonhound Rulebook for more info on the HD format.

Locating Devices/GPS Systems
One of the changes you will see in the rulebook and on the back of the scorecard is in regards to GPS telemetry. Earlier this year, with the introduction of GPS systems, we addressed some concerns on their use in nite hunts. We stated that until further notice here is what you can or cannot do in regards to using GPS Systems. Since then, more testing has been done and in doing so found a few issues that could become a concern during the course of a hunt when using such a system. They are a great tool and have many useful features, for sure. One concern with the use of GPS Systems is dogs going underground or getting in tiles, etc. They may not pick up the signal at all, and the handler is at the mercy of whatever may become of the situation. However, so long as the systems are kept in the on position they would at least show the last spot or area prior to the signal having been lost.

The UKC has implemented an updated policy in regards to the use of GPS Telemetry as clearly stated in Rule 20. GPS receivers (only GPS) may be turned in the on position during hunting time but only if left in the vehicle. They may not be carried by a handler, judge, spectator, or otherwise. They may not be used during hunting time by any spectator who may be at the vehicle. Individuals found to be involved in any violation of this policy may be barred by UKC. Like all other locating devices a GPS System may be carried by the handler but must be turned off when choosing that option.

Rule 20 is quite clear in that using a locating device of any kind during hunting time is a barring offense. Nothing will change in that regard. Yes, we’re interested in allowing the use of new technology in our sport for the safety and whereabouts of hounds. At the same time, it’s important to note, and for hunters to clearly understand, they are not a tool to be playing games with or trying to sneak around seeking some kind of personal advantage during the course of hunting time.

A handler using such a system can easily eliminate any concerns of the judge or castmates simply by addressing others prior to the start of the hunt. Tell them you’re using a GPS and you choose to leave it turned on during the hunt, but will leave it in the truck. Or if you decide to carry it on you, then by all means let them know you’re carrying it with you but that it is turned off. And if anyone has any concerns, by all means get it out and show them it is in fact turned off. Don’t give any of your castmates an opportunity to suspect foul play. If you look suspicious, then you probably are. Don’t go there - eliminate those possibilities!

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