I sometimes feel like I’m spending a lot of my time defending my fellow breeders, in large part because almost all of the breeders I know personally really are ethical people who love their dogs and their breeds. I also defend conformation showing, which I know seems trivial and superficial to anyone outside of the fancy. It’s a sport I have mixed feelings about, but at its best I enjoy it as a fun way to meet with friends, have a look at their dogs, and maybe take home some ribbons.
At its worst, however, showing becomes a world filled with shady, amoral behavior, none of which seems to have anything to do with the well being of the dogs, and most of which has to do with greed, ego and money. When at its worst, it becomes hard to defend either showing, or the breeders involved in it.
This would be one of those ‘worst’ situations.
A recent criminal case based in Venice reveals a darker side of the $330 million American dog show industry where greed and ultra competitiveness can lead to allegations of cheating, corruption and vindictive acts.
Venice dog breeder Melinda “Mindy” Holmes, 48, was arrested this month on a felony extortion charge in the falsification of a champion show dog’s veterinary records and demanding money to keep those records hidden.
The allegations have rocked the Greater Venice Florida Dog Club, of which Holmes was a member in good standing for several years.
“I’m just in shock,” said Rita Figg, a founding member of the Venice dog club when she learned of Holmes’ arrest on Feb. 12. “I’ve never heard of anything like this happening before.”
According to sheriff’s reports, Holmes in 2009 first threatened to release damaging documents about a Pembroke Welsh corgi, named Ty, bred by AKC judges Rutledge and Nash Parker of North Carolina unless they paid Holmes $18,000.
The Parkers claim Holmes fraudulently changed Ty’s veterinary records to show the dog had been cosmetically altered through surgery, which would prevent him from competing and could permanently damage the Parkers’ judging and breeding careers.
The Corgi involved in this case, Champion Happiharbor Saddle Lane Ty, is not just any show dog, either – he’s the number four ranked Pembroke Welsh Corgi in the country. Ty was exhibited at Westminster this year, but while Ty didn’t place in the ribbons this year, he has numerous prestigious wins in his past, including Best in Specialty Show.
The article doesn’t specify what surgery it was alleged that Ty had had performed on him, but it’s possible that none of his wins would have been awarded if it was proven that Ty had received cosmetic surgery.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi breed standard states -
A dog must be very seriously penalized for the following faults, regardless of whatever desirable qualities the dog may present: oversized or undersized; button, rose or drop ears; overshot or undershot bite; fluffies, whitelies, mismarks or bluies.
I assume that Holmes was threatening that Ty had one of these ‘serious’ faults corrected. Holmes, who breeds Corgis under the “MapleCreek” prefix, was the breeder of Ty’s dam. She and the Parkers had apparently done breedings together in the past.
More from the Herald Tribune:
The Parkers, according to arrest documents, paid Holmes $3,000 to keep the falsified records private, but refused to give her $15,000 more she demanded.
Then, a month before this year’s Westminster show, Holmes reportedly e-mailed Ty’s vet records to the dog’s handler to discourage her from showing the dog. Breeders often own the dogs, but handlers are the ones who present the dog in competitions.
Reached for comment in North Carolina, the Parkers would not discuss specifics of the incident beyond what was in the police report. But Rutledge Parker said he and his wife fear further retaliation by Holmes.
“I’ve never dreamed of something like this happening. I don’t know how to react to it,” he said. “This was all about money, and that’s clear from the police report.”
Read the rest of the article here.