The cluster committees understand the concerns some people may be feeling about attending dog shows this summer. Working with the Governor’s office and other state officials to ensure that whatever regulations are in place at that point in time will be followed, these shows will be anything but “normal” dog shows. We’re working to balance safety with the “toe-in-the-water” re-opening of the dog show world. Once the mid-June time frame was established as a good time, based on the models available through Emory Healthcare and the CDC, we worked with Glenn Lycan and his Event Operations team at AKC. They didn’t just go the extra mile, they went several extra miles to help the clusters reschedule instead of cancel. Without their expertise and can-do spirit, these shows wouldn’t be happening.

Georgia hospitals haven’t been over-run with coronavirus cases as was predicted – just the opposite is true. They cancelled everything that could be cancelled, expecting to be deluged with patients suffering from novel corona and the influx of cases didn’t happen. There are empty beds in Georgia hospitals. The vast majority of people who contract the disease have a mild case, rather like a cold, and recover without need for medical intervention.

People who depend on dog shows for their livelihood are bleeding money. There are professional handlers who don’t know how they’ll make their mortgage payments, meaning that they’ll lose their homes along with their businesses. There are vendors who are bleeding money and will have to shutter their businesses because the bulk of it came from in-person sales at shows. The contract workers at show venues are bleeding money because no events are happening there.

Dog clubs and the AKC are bleeding money. They rely on income generated by events. Without them, the dog show world will collapse.

COVID-19 has been released in the world and it’s not going to magically go away once the “shelter in place” regulations are lifted. Those regulations exist not to keep people from contracting the disease but to keep the rate of infections low enough that the medical community isn’t overwhelmed. In spite of the daily drum beat of gloom and doom from the media, this disease, while contagious, isn’t dire enough to justify collapsing the world’s economy and ruining the lives of business owners and their employees. At some point, the “shelter in place” rules will be eased and people will start venturing out again. And at some point, people will likely be exposed to COVID-19 unless they choose to stay inside their house, disinfecting everything and everyone before it’s allowed to come into their presence.

Between now and the closing dates the clubs and cluster chairmen are monitoring the situation and will make whatever modifications are necessary and required by Georgia state law to provide the safest environment possible for attendees. We understand that many in the dog show community will not feel comfortable attending and we respect their decision. We also understand that many in the dog show community want and need to have dog shows happen. Our sport supports a huge range of business owners – large and small – and we don’t want to see them fail.

Dog shows will begin again at some point. We believe that mid-June is the right point. Reasonable, well-intentioned people may believe otherwise, and we respect their decision for their own clubs and businesses.