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Q & A Update, Rules Proposal
Posted on 10/10/2013 in The Coonhound Advisor.

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Please Note: The Question/Scenario and Answer below originally ran in the Advisor Column in the 2013 July Issue. The UKC’s response to the scenario was based on very basic common sense and scores the dog in that specific situation for what it did and without any doubt. However, further consideration for variables that are often included in such situations suggests that it is in the UKC and the sport’s best interest to retract that original answer/response and replace it with the one provided here. Otherwise when the scenario varies even just slightly, it complicates matters too much.
We ask that you remove the original Advisor response from any copies you made or stored in your memory bank and replace it with the one provided in this column. The question and answer, as it appeared in that original column, are listed below followed by one that eliminates complications with regard to all other variables otherwise.

Question: Dogs A, B, C, & D are struck in that order. Dog A is declared treed. After five minutes, no other dog is with him and we go to his tree. When we get there we find Dog A treeing in a den at the base of the tree. His head and part of his shoulders are in the den. The handler pulls him out and ties him back. We look in the den and see an opossum in the den just far enough back the dog couldn’t get to him. When we step back and look at the tree there is a coon sitting in the top of the tree! How is this dog scored? Should we give him the benefit of the doubt?
Original Answer (Retracted)
A: There is no doubt this is a sticky situation. On one hand you have the dog obviously treeing off-game. On the other hand you have a raccoon sitting in plain sight in the same tree.

In a different situation where the coon and opossum were both sitting on the outside, we would give the dog the benefit of the doubt. If a coon were on the outside, the dogs were treeing in normal fashion, and a den was seen which happened to have an opossum in it we would also give the dog the benefit of the doubt.

In this case though, there is no justifiable reason to give the dog the benefit of the doubt. All that can be done is to minus (in a Registered cast) or scratch (in a Nite Champion or Grand Nite Champion cast) the dog. It is abundantly obvious that the dog was, in fact, treeing the opossum. This is probably the only time we would not give the dog the benefit of the doubt when a coon and off game are seen in the same tree.

Amended Answer: The dog is obviously showing that his sole interest is with the opossum in the den/hole of the tree, regardless of any coon being elsewhere in the same tree. Therefore, common sense suggests that scratching (Champion) or minusing (Registered) the dog is, in fact, the correct action that should be taken and any consideration of giving this dog the benefit of the doubt seems unacceptable. When a dog(s) is treeing on the tree, it becomes much easier to give the dog the benefit of the doubt.

However, we can easily include several variables to the given scenario to then make it a far more complicated, unfair and inconsistent manner of scoring the situation. For instance; let’s put more than one dog at this tree, and the hole is only large enough to occupy one dog at a time. While one has his head in the hole going after the opossum, the other dog is standing on the tree treeing. When the hole opens up, the other dog takes a turn and the two swap positions until the cast arrives.

The bottom line is that we can’t award minus points/scratch for one dog (the unlucky sucker that happened to be the one with his head in the hole when the judge arrived), and give the benefit of the doubt to the other dog and award him plus points.

So for the sake of suggesting any form of measured distance, a dog must be in relation to the off game; it is in the best interest of the sport to not even open the door for any variables - period. Instead; that there be a simple and consistent scoring procedure for any such situation. Therefore, UKC maintains that whenever there is a coon and off game seen in the same tree, regardless of any unique or obvious scenario such as the one given, the dog declared treed should be awarded plus points. Yes, sometimes a dog may be getting a huge break when scoring in this manner but it is the lesser evil - all things considered.

UKC Coonhound Rules Proposal
Official 2013 Ballot Information
The following proposals are all that will be reviewed, discussed and voted on by the Rules Committee on Friday, August 30, 2013 at Autumn Oaks. The Rules Committee is made up of two individuals representing each one of UKC’s seven Chartered Breed Associations. A majority vote is required to pass any proposal. The Rules Committee will be chaired by Allen Gingerich, Senior Director of Hunting Events, United Kennel Club, Inc. The results will be posted on the Coonhound News Page and published in the October issue of COONHOUND BLOODLINES.

Any passed proposals will go into effect January 1, 2014.

1) Change available tree position points to:
(b). 125 points for dog declared treed first, 75 points second, 50 points third, 25 points fourth. After one minute, second tree position is not available. After two minutes, third tree position is not available. The only position available after two minutes is fourth tree position.

2) Eliminate (d) and change (g) to:
(g). Dog treeing, but not declared treed, when judges arrives, will be awarded next available tree position. In the case of two or more dogs, split tree points are awarded. Those strike and tree points will be minused, regardless of how the tree is scored. Dogs shut out on strike to receive minus tree points only.

3) Eliminate Rule 5b and add to Rule 4:
Any dog(s) coming into a tree, after the judge arrives, to receive its strike points minused, regardless of how tree is scored. If dog is shut out refer to Rule 3(d).

4) Add to deleted points section:
If a majority is not reached to plus, minus or circle strike and tree points, when scoring trees and a hunting judge is used.

5) Implement time period for dog not hunting to:
(d) Failing to make any attempt to hunt within any 15 consecutive scorecard minutes. Time is temporarily paused when time out is called or if dog is leashed at a tree but it then continues when dog is recast. A dog must be gone for five minutes or be declared struck before time is lifted.
6) Replace (i) with:
(i) If dog trees on its first three trees of the hunt without having opened on track (judge’s decision).
7) Add rule to cover dog aggression towards cast members as follows:
If dog shows aggression towards any cast member.

Rule 8. TIME OUTS:
8) Remove (c) and replace with:
When all dogs in cast are on leash and have been scored.
9) Remove (i) and replace with:
If all dogs are declared treed or on leash time out shall be called after 10 minutes if hunt time has been used walking to split tree(s). Time is back in during shining time or if dog leaves tree.

10) After rule stating: {Where dogs split up Judge will go} etc. add sentence:
If all dogs are declared treed and handled, cast may score trees in most convenient order.
11) Change rule: {Permission will be given for other handlers to go to their dogs on split tree} to:
Judge may give handler permission to handle dog on a split tree unless cast is in the process of shining or scoring tree.

Rule 16. TIES:
12) Change tie-breaker rules to:
All ties to be broken as follows:
1) The dog that has the most plus first tree points.
2) If still a tie, the dog that has the least number of total minus points.
3) If still a tie, the dog that has the most plus strike points.
4) If still a tie, the dog that has the most circle tree points.
5) If still a tie, the dog that has the most circle strike points
6) If still a tie, dogs involved with hunt in one hour intervals until tie is broken, or flip a coin if all parties agree.

13) Replace rule that states: {spectators may not shine the tree} with:
Spectators may not shine the tree, unless all handlers in cast agree. However, spectators are not included in the majority required to score trees and shall have no part in any scoring discrepancies.