Stuffing of Cat Shows
Published May 2006

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YOU CAN'T LEGISLATE MORALITY

People who mouth this familiar slogan think they are saying something profound while it is really a superficial statement. Every thinking person knows that a high proportion of all legislation has a moral base. This is true of of the criminal law, civil law, business and commercial transactions. Professional and amateur sports have policies to ensure fair play. Fortune 500 companies have ethics committees.

The line between a smart campaign and a dirty campaign
is crossed when exhibitors start stuffing shows.

CFA can create a system which penalizes stuffing and other unfair campaign practices
if they choose to accept the challenge.

YOU CAN'T LEGISLATE MORALITY?

OF COURSE YOU CAN!

The article Stuffing—What Is It? explains exactly what stuffing is, how it is done, the role it plays in the determination of CFA's national winners . . . and finally, the disheartening effect it is having on the CFA show scene and how it tarnishes our national winners.

Now that we all know what is going on, let's talk about possible solutions.

Because of the huge response to the article, It's Not Whether You Win Or Lose, published in our May 2, 2006 issue, the editorial staff of PandEcats.com & ShowCatsOnline.com were able to host several round table discussions to brainstorm the best way to eliminate stuffing.

Ideas and proposals were gathered from a cross-section of people devoted to the betterment of CFA. The brainstorming sessions included contributions from experienced national campaigners, CFA's Regional Directors, judges, knowledgeable newcomers to CFA, and business and legal personnel. A wide variety of solutions were proposed, debated, rejected, considered and refined. When the smoke cleared, the participants had designed a five-step plan to end the stuffing to manipulate national standings that has tainted the CFA show rings for far too long.

While this plan is not the only possible solution, we do feel it offers a blueprint worthy of consideration...

The Five Step No-Stuffing Plan Includes:

    1. Understanding The Extent of the Problem
    2. Writing The Rule
    3. Appointment of an Ethics Officer
    4. Investigation of Stuffing
    5. The Penalty

Part One: Understanding The Extent of the Problem

In order to understand the extent of stuffing that took place just in the past show season, CFA can examine the results of the shows in the continental United States for the 2005-2006 season. Targeting only those shows with a national count for Kittens and/or Championship and/or Premiership, the following information could be gathered:

  • The number of entries which were shown in only one ring for each of Kittens, Championship and Premiership.
  • The names of the owners of the cats shown in only one ring.
  • Cats names could be correlated to note if the same cats were shown in a single ring in more than one show.
  • The names of the judges in whose ring the cats who were shown in only a single ring.

    This information is easily analyzed with the use of an Excel spreadsheet.

Please Note: Because stuffing is not against a specific show rule, there can be is no implication of wrong-doing by exhibitors who have stuffed in previous show seasons other than their a willingness to play in an unsportsmanlike manner. Noting the names of campaigners who have stuffed previously is useful only to double-check that these individuals cease the practice of stuffing if a no-stuffing rule is passed. Special attention should be paid to those campaigners previously entering the largest number of cats shown in only one ring at a show and those campaigners who entered large numbers of cats in numerous shows that were shown in only one ring.

How Can Stuffing Be Stopped?

Clearly, in order for stuffing to be stopped, a rule must be fashioned to make it specifically against the rules.

Simply legislating against the mechanics of stuffing will not work. The clever campaigner will soon find the next loophole.  For instance, the suggestion was made that ring-by-ring scoring would stop stuffing because the cats would no longer count for all rings when placed in a single ring. Determined campaigners would simply place the stuffers in all the rings. Rather than allow campaigners to slither through that loophole, a new rule must address the INTENT of stuffing as opposed to simply trying to define the mechanics of stuffing.



Part Two: Writing The Rule:

Once the leadership of CFA acknowledges the damage that stuffing to manipulate national standings is creating, hopefully they will make the decision that stuffing is no longer acceptable and will be penalized severely.

Because stuffing has a financial advantage for clubs, it is not a reasonable expectation to ask clubs to vote against their own interest . . . even if the hope would be that they would do the right thing for the greater good.

Similarly, there are clubs which are controlled by the exhibitors who routinely stuff as part of their winning campaigns—so again, this is not something that they would support against their own personal agendas.

A rule prohibiting stuffing needs to be a show rule change instigated at the Board Level as part of their responsibility to safeguard the interests of CFA. Because stuffing contributes to the financial position of cat clubs, it is not a reasonable expectation for clubs to vote against their own best interest.

One of the stumbling blocks the leadership of CFA has struggled with regarding the stuffing issue has been how does one define stuffing?

The No-Stuffing rule needs to concentrate less on the mechanics of stuffing (since they can vary widely). The No-Stuffing rule needs to address the INTENT of stuffing.

A suggested approach might be:

Any breeder, exhibitor, show official, or other participant in CFA activities who is found guilty of the practice of STUFFING or reverse STUFFING a show may be reprimanded, prohibited from exhibiting, denied access to CFA services and facilities, including the registration of cats, transfer of ownership, placement of advertising in CFA publications, and/or fined. As well, any points gained by cats owned and/or co-owned by the individual(s) found guilty of STUFFING will be voided for the show in question.

STUFFING is defined as ANY attempt, directly or indirectly, by any exhibitor, show official, show club, judge or their agents to manipulate the national standing of a kitten/cat by entering and showing kittens/cats in a cat show for the intent of artificially inflating the count of the show.

Reverse STUFFING is defined as ANY attempt directly or indirectly by any exhibitor, show official, show club judge or their agents to enter kittens/cats in a show with no intention to actually show said cats, but with the intent of causing an inflated absentee rate for the show.


 

Part Three: Appointment of an Ethics Officer

CFA should consider appointing an Ethics Officer whose responsibility is to oversee and ensure that the practices in CFA's show rings are carried on in an ethical and sportsmanlike manner. The ideal candidate would be an experienced business person with insight into the national campaign scene. The candidate should be aware of the practice of stuffing and how it has flourished. The candidate should know the major players who have been stuffing. The candidate should not be a judge or a person from the upper echelons of CFA. The candidate must have the courage and passion to pursue the the goal to see an end of stuffing.

  • The first and foremost responsibility in year one of the Ethics Officer's tenure would be to report and investigate all suspicions of stuffing to manipulate national ranking.
  • The Ethics Officer will be the conduit through which CFA will protest unethical behavior on behalf of the organizations. Individual exhibitors will not have to lodge a protest, they need only report it to the Ethics Officer who will investigate. If substantial suspicion of stuffing is confirmed, a protest on behalf of CFA will be made.
  • The Ethics Officer would not only handle reports of suspicious entries, but would also contact the national campaigners of the season from time to time and touch base with them and ask in confidence what, if anything, they have seen going on. They should be contacting both first-time and longtime national campaigners.
  • The Ethic Chairman would especially want to be notified of any new twists on stuffing, being on guard against a campaigner trying to find a loophole around the new No Stuffing Rule.
  • The Ethics Officer must be willing to study the results of the shows each week, with emphasis on the campaign shows. Special attention should be focused on individuals and shows red flagged from the previous season.

Confidentiality

In order to remove the reluctance people often feel about lodging a protest, exhibitors need to be able to report suspicions of stuffing to the Ethics Officer in confidence. The Ethics Officer can then evaluate the circumstances, and if warranted, recommend that a formal protest against the people involved be lodged ON BEHALF OF CFA. The names of people providing evidence of stuffing will remain confidential.

The CFA Protest Committee should consider expanding its role to filing protests on behalf of the CFA BOD when stuffing occurs.  It will make a difference if the organization initiates a protest rather than an individual exhibitor.


 

Part Four: The Investigation of Stuffing

Once the No-Stuffing rule is implemented, CFA should be willing to investigate all reports of stuffing. While there may not be concrete evidence (signed checks for payment of other entries, etc), there are red flags that would make an investigation necessary.

  • Cats or kittens shown in a single ring of a show is an indication that they may be stuffers.
  • A large number of non-competitive entries from a single owner(s).
  • Entries being paid for by a campaigner(s).
  • Report from entry clerks, master clerks or judges of suspicious entries.

Legislation along with protesting infractions will work as long as a strong BOD stands firm on its commitment to eradicate these behaviors. 



 

Part Five: The Penalty

The penalty for stuffing must be severe. It has to have teeth. And the CFA must be prepared to give it bite. CFA must consider adopting a zero-tolerance policy if it is to be successful in ending stuffing.

The suggestions from the round table of experts varied widely and brought about a lively discussion. In the end, it was decided that having a range in monetary fine and length of suspension would allow more egregious cases of stuffing to be dealt with more severely.

Suggested penalty might include:

Any individual(s) found to be involved in stuffing a cat show will be fined up to a maximum of $5,000 per incident and suspended for a minimum of six months and a maximum of one year per incident. As well, any points gained by cats owned and/or cats co-owned by the individual(s) at the show in question will be voided.

Individuals involved may include, but not be limited to, the owner(s) or co-owners(s) of the cats instigating the stuffing, owner(s) or co-owners(s) of the stuffer cats, the entry clerk knowingly accepting stuffer cats, and judges being pre-noticed and agreeing to accept stuffer cats in their rings.

On thing that everyone agreed with was that not only the campaigner must be penalized, but also the people who co-operate with the stuffing should suffer the consequences.

Ideally, the rule against stuffing will be made effective for this show season. Campaigners, cat clubs, entry clerks and judges should made aware that not only will CFA no longer tolerate this behavior, but is determined to initiate a zero tolerance policy. No warnings. No gentle reminders. No back-room pep talks.


 

What Can YOU Do To End Stuffing?

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of ending the practice of stuffing is the policing aspect.

The leadership of CFA cannot end stuffing without your help.

The leadership of CFA are not at every cat show. They are not studying entries and national standings. They are not comparing the show counts week to week.

Regardless of how strong we make the rule against stuffing, inevitably, there will be some campaigners who will try to find a way around the rule. They will simply attempt to do it under the radar.

How Can We Stop The Stuffing?

Like a Block Watch where neighbors agree to report suspicious activity in their community, the honest and ethical exhibitors in CFA must pull together and support our leadership. It will fall to the exhibitors "in the trenches" to be willing to report anything that smacks of possible stuffing. We must remove the stigma, the understandable reluctance that we often feel in reporting unacceptable behavior.

If we want things to improve we must remain silent no longer.

The CFA Board cannot correct behavior if no one tells them about it. While we often assume that everyone knows what's going on, the truth is they may not... so let each one of us involved in showing - exhibitors, clubs, entry clerks, master clerks, judges - be on the lookout for entries that seem suspicious of being "stuffed".

Be sensible. Don't make it a witch hunt. Simply let each of us do our individual part to clean up what is happening in our show halls.

The shows are CFA's showcase for our cats. Our national cats are our highest profile ambassadors of CFA. It is imperative that CFA end stuffing!

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