The ASCA Board of Directors knew that the decision to hold the National Specialty in Bryan, TX in 2021, 2022, and 2023 would be a controversial one. Some of the site fees and other financial data will be forwarded to the membership at a later time. There are numerous factors that the Board had to consider in making this decision. Some of them are outlined below.
- The Bryan site gave us a deal for 2022 and 2023 at the same rate, which is one of the cheapest of all the sites. That deal was only offered if the 2022 and 2023 events were held in Bryan. 2024 is only an option, if it is needed. The city of Bryan has also offered ASCA grants that help defray some of the costs.
- Bryan has some advantages over other sites: All events, except tracking and dock jumping, are under cover. Over the last couple of years, agility competitors have expressed concerns about being outside and at the mercy of the weather at most of the sites, which places the safety of dogs and handlers in jeopardy. Even though competitors may be willing to compete anyway, the possibility for injury to handlers and dogs due to weather conditions deserves careful consideration. Having it under cover also allows ASCA to ensure that the footing is more consistent year after year.
This is one of the problems with the Colorado site, in addition to being more expensive than Bryan. Recently, the Georgia consortium made the decision to place agility under cover, and in doing so, had to make some tough decisions regarding some of the other program events. This is only one of the problems that ASCA has encountered with the Georgia site. The Australian Shepherd is a working dog.
The availability, cost, and quality of the livestock, particularly cattle, is better in Texas.
There are other promising locations, but ASCA needs time to send someone to physically inspect the sites and to research the availability of livestock. These other sites that the Board is considering and researching appear to also have the potential of having all events under cover.
Sites are usually contracted two or more years in advance. If ASCA could have finished inspecting these sites by the end of 2020, which is now on hold due to the present situation, the possibility would have been to contract the site in early 2021 for the 2023 event. However, Bryan’s offer was a package deal for 2022 and 2023. The safest option was to accept the Bryan offer, which gives the Board plenty of opportunity to research the sites and time to make educated decisions.
- Many members had expressed the desire to have the National Specialty permanently in Bryan. In doing so, the positive financials and the overall success of the 2014 and 2017 events were used as justifications. However, the data acquired from the rotation system doesn’t give the Board a true indication of whether such trends would be sustained over time. Three years in this location will give the Board more suitable data to assess the feasibility of having a permanent site and whether the facility in Bryan would be a good candidate for that.
- Members of the Board have researched the facilities that members suggested, some of which were in the east and Midwest. These facilities were found not to be suitable and/or within a reasonable cost range for ASCA. Others had no dates available within the time frame that ASCA has the specialty.
- The COVID 19 situation has considerably changed the financial outlook for ASCA. It is entirely possible that ASCA will run at a loss this year, as it will probably become clear in the next quarterly report sent to the membership. Recovery won’t be immediate as some have suggested. It will take ASCA a couple of years to recover from this situation, assuming that the income for the rest of the year (following the suspension of isolation orders) is like the income from 2019. The Board has already been forced to take some money-saving actions to reduce the expenses for this year. These include publishing the July 2020 Aussie Times only in digital form to save on printing and postage expenses, putting on hold the system upgrades scheduled for this year, putting on hold any plans for a new building, saving on director travel, and taking advantage of government programs so that ASCA can sustain payroll and other operating expenses. The Board also acknowledges that many members are facing financial hardships and it will take them some time to recover to the point where they can participate at the same level they previously had. With all the uncertainties regarding income and the time ASCA and its membership will need to recover, holding the specialty in Texas for the next three years was the safest option.
The Board regrets that many members are disappointed with the decision, but it was not made lightly, and it was made with ASCA’s best interest in mind. We encourage all members to listen to the teleconferences that address the issue of the national specialty and all other issues. The recordings are available online. We hope that we can continue to count on the membership to help us promote and protect the Australian Shepherd.
Executive Secretary, Australian Shepherd Club of America
6091 E. State Hwy 21, Bryan, TX 77808 | (979) 778-1082