The Kennel Club has issued advice to people using Facebook and
other social media platforms to discuss issues concerning Kennel
Club-based activities such as breeding, competing with and judging
The Kennel Club is made aware on a regular basis of conversations
held on public internet forums which sometimes include disparaging
comments on dogs bred, one-sided accounts of private disputes,
criticism of judging from exhibitors and other judges, and in
extreme cases threats made against individuals.
The Kennel Club is unable to directly intervene in the majority of
such cases and has issued the following guidance which is intended
to provide advice to people who have been the subject of such
allegations and criticism, those who have been involved in such
discussions, and also to give direction on when the Kennel Club can
and cannot intervene.
To those conversing on social media
This is addressed to those who think that careless, uninhibited
and ill-considered comment and criticism aimed at judges, dogs and
exhibitors on Facebook and other forums is acceptable and that its
impact will not offend, hurt or deeply distress, alongside damaging
Freedom of expression and opinion is, of course, a right of all -
but that should be in the context of normal and civil behaviour. In
other words if you have something worthwhile to say, then it should
be said in a spirit of constructive criticism and not in an
Judges should take great care in joining in such conversations
since it is not acceptable for judges to criticise fellow judges'
decisions in a disparaging way. Judges should keep a distance from
contentious issues and maintain an independent and private view.
This is a matter of perception, public confidence and general
respect for those involved in any breed at a senior level.
Judges should certainly not give indications about preferences and
intentions on placing for a forthcoming appointment.
Anyone judging at Kennel Club licensed events is warned that in
certain circumstances the Kennel Club will refer inappropriate
content to the Judges Sub-Committee for a review of status and
To those reading social media content
Anyone who finds him or herself targeted, or the subject of such
conversations, is advised to ignore such material and not to read,
respond or engage in the conversation. The law is intended to offer
protection from the more extreme material.
Try to put the matter into perspective; everyone's reality is
subjective and most of the material is a matter of opinion, on
occasions an expression of anger, and is often not based on
verified fact. Rude, spiteful and ill-informed comments say more
about those writing them than about those who they seek to
In extreme cases of direct threat or harassment, then the police
should be contacted.
The Crown Prosecution Service recently issued guidelines on
prosecuting cases involving communications sent by social media and
these can be found at
These guidelines take the approach that there must be something
more than 'the expression of unpopular opinion about serious or
trivial matters, banter or humour even if distasteful to some or
painful to those subjected to it' before intervention is
The Kennel Club has to apply a similar approach and policy and is
therefore unable to intervene in the majority of cases.
It remains our advice that it is better not to read, engage or
respond to this sort of material. Sometimes it is better to
allow those who choose to air views on these channels the freedom
to do so, even if they do not do so in an adult and mature fashion.
Those who wish to read such postings should treat such content,
particularly if critical, with caution and not make any judgment or
assume the truth or foundation on the basis of what is being
written. Social media content should generally be treated as gossip
and not a validated and reliable source of information.
Ultimately if you feel you have to join in, be informed and be
polite; if you have to read the content, do not assume what is said
is true; and if you are the subject of gossip or rumour then treat
it for what it is. And remember that the most effective and
practical way to deal with offending material is not to join in or
A few general guidelines that all social media users should follow
are included below:
You are responsible for what you post since it is a public
Maintain privacy: Do not post confidential
information. Do not discuss a situation involving named or pictured
individuals without their permission.
Does it pass the publicity test: If the content
of your message would not be acceptable for face to face
conversation, over the phone or in any other medium, then it is not
acceptable for a social networking site.
Think before you post: If you feel angry or
passionate about a subject, it is wise to delay posting until you
are calm and clear headed. There is no such thing as a 'private'
social media site, even if you delete a post.
Be aware of liability: You are responsible for
what you post on your own site and on the sites of others.
Individual bloggers could be held liable for commentary deemed to
be libellous, obscene or which infringes copyright.
What the Kennel Club can and cannot do
The Kennel Club's jurisdiction lies primarily with the enforcement
of its Regulations and issues arising out of registrations and
incidents at licensed events. It does not have any remit or
authority to censor material on the internet, or to censure those
involved, and is therefore unable to intervene directly in the
majority of cases.
However, there are ways to deal with the extreme versions of
offending material online, including complaints for defamation or
harassment or sending malicious correspondence. These are criminal
or civil offences and forum moderators are usually (or should be)
quick to respond and remove content that has no place being
Extreme cases of threat or bullying should be reported to the
legal authorities and to the Kennel Club for consideration and