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Rules and Policies
Posted on 02/08/2013 in The Coonhound Advisor.

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With exception to those lucky southerners, many of us will be denned up for another month or two, so this might be a good time to brush up on some rules and policies before the hunts are back in full swing. This month’s topics come by way of the Advisor archives that you’ll find in debated conversations amongst many handlers. Maybe some of them would be better off by doing less talking and more reading?
Remember, the latest edition of the Advisor book is a great source of valuable information. It is available for only $15 through the UKC Magazine Department, subscriptions@ukcdogs.com, and on the UKC website store at www.ukcdogs.com/cgi-bin/commerce.exe?preadd=action& key=C-BA-4353-CA.

Biting or Attempting to Bite
Q: Why is there no rule punishing dogs that bite handlers? Last year at Plott Days, I was bit by an English dog. The hunting Judge scratched the dog, and the Master of Hounds put the dog back into the hunt because he said there is no rule that concerns this issue. The dog was tied about five to seven feet from the tree and the dog was pulling the chain towards the tree they were treed on. I walked behind the dog. It turned, saw me and came at me and stretched the chain and grabbed my hand. I DID NOT walk between the tree and the dog. It left teeth marks in my hand and a lot of slobber, and the Judge had seen the dog do it.

I think something should be done about this because not only did the dog bite me but also another handler in the same cast. If a dog bites another dog it’s scratched. Why isn’t the penalty the same when a dog bites a handler? MC

A: Although we hear about this problem from time to time, it is really not reported very often considering the number of hunts held each year. It is true that the Nite Hunt rules do not address the problem of dogs biting people. It most likely was never enough of a problem that past rules committees felt the need to address it. (At least the committees that I’ve sat in on have not discussed it)

UKC’s interpretation of the situation is as follows. Dogs are not scratched for “aggressive behavior”. They are scratched for “fighting or attempting to fight”. Fighting or attempting to fight is clearly defined as when dog is interfering with other dogs through aggressive behavior. According to the current rules, the MOH made the right call.

When the rules are that clearly defined, my hands are tied. I’m not against scratching a dog for biting a person. I don’t like the idea of it either. I do have some questions as to how it would be enforced. If it were decided by a rules committee that a dog would be scratched for biting a person, what would you use as criteria to make sure it was legit and not just someone saying a dog bit them simply to put the dog out of the cast? Most of the time this situation occurs when handlers are handling dogs at the tree, or when the cast is spread out shining the tree. Will there be enough people to witness the situation? Would the bite have to be bad enough to draw blood or would you scratch them even for nipping someone? What about snapping at their own handler? I do see some problems with enforcement.

I do agree that a club is certainly within its rights to refuse entry to any dog with a history of such action. (See the Entering Dogs portion of the UKC Coonhound Rulebook.)

Scoring Trees/Sending Handlers to Tie Dogs at Split Trees
This topic never gets old so let’s spend just a moment with a discussion of scoring trees. There are a couple important things to remember when scoring trees. First, in order to score plus or minus, it takes a majority of the cast decision to do so. A Judge’s vote holds no more weight than anyone else when it comes to voting on how trees should be scored in a hunting Judge situation. Sure, in a non-hunting Judge situation, it’s solely the Judge’s decision. But in a hunting Judge situation, trees are scored by a vote of the cast members, and each cast member has equal say. It takes three people on a four-dog cast to plus or minus a tree. Can you believe this question still gets called into the office almost every week?

Also, it is mandatory that all cast members go to each tree to participate in the scoring. In split tree situations, it is not permissible to send two handlers to one tree to score it while the remaining two handlers score the other tree. Even in the essence of saving time, this is not acceptable. The rules say points will be plus when coon is seen by a majority of the cast when hunting a Judge is used. This is much different than saying, “by a majority of the cast members present at that tree.” All cast members must vote on how to score each tree, and those votes must be made in good faith after having searched the tree in question for the allotted time.

The Implied Scratch
True or False: There are things that you can be scratched for during a UKC licensed Nite Hunt which do not appear in Rule 6 (The Scratch Rule). Think about it. What is the penalty for doing something that the rules plainly state cannot be done?

If you answered yes, you can scratch a dog for violations other than those specifically listed in Rule 6, then you are correct and you can skip to the next topic. For those of you who answered false, and I know there are some because of the calls we have received, then read on and I’ll bring you up to speed regarding UKC’s interpretation of the implied scratch.

Basically, anything the rules specifically say you can’t do, you can be scratched for doing. For example, you won’t find in Rule 6 anything that says you will be scratched for squalling at a tree when a dog that has been declared struck is still out on trail. However, Rule 17 says, “No squalling nor any action deemed to be interfering with dog(s) to be done during the first seven minutes of shining time unless all dogs declared struck are at tree and leashed.” What do you do to someone who insists on squalling even though there are hounds on trail? You’re right, scratch him.
There are many examples of things that various rules tell you cannot be done. Some (not all) examples of rule violations that will get you scratched, even though they don’t appear in Rule 6, are listed below:
• Climbing or cutting trees or killing coon.
• Refusing to stay with the cast.
• Shining split tree before Judge arrives.
• Arriving at a tree before the Judge.
• Failure to leash dogs at the tree.
• Encouraging or discouraging dogs. (Does not mean you can’t pet your dog at the tree.)
• Squalling at a tree with other struck dogs on trail.
• Shining the tree during the two minutes the handler with first tree wished to shine alone.
• If your spectator shines tree before it is officially scored.
• Refusing to vote on a question.
• Threatening or intimidating others.

There are situations where the rules tell you what to do other than scratching the dog, if you violate that particular rule. For example, Rule 17 also says, “Judges are not to let hunters call dogs off trail without counting those points minus.” If it wouldn’t have specified, “…without counting those points minus,” then I would be inclined to say that you would be scratched for calling dogs off trail. But the rules are very clear as to what you should do in that situation.

Many of the situations outlined above admittedly are rather minor offenses even on a strictly judged cast. You know and I know that at the Forks-Of-The-Creek Coon Club this Friday night, at their UKC licensed event, someone will get off with only a warning that his spectator is not allowed to shine trees. But the only way to be consistent with final interpretations, if it gets to that level, is to say this. The penalty for doing something that the rules specifically state cannot be done, in cases where the rules do not offer a different specific penalty, is to be scratched from the cast. I think that’s about as simple to interpret as we can make it.

It is acceptable to allow a handler to go to a split tree to tie his or her dog after the five minutes is up or trees are closed; however, that handler must then return to the original tree to help score it. And trees must be scored in that order. The dog that was declared treed first, will have his tree scored first. Can that be an inconvenience sometimes? You bet it can. Trees must be scored in the order that they were declared, and those trees must be scored by all cast members. Sorry if it takes more time, but that’s what the rules call for.