Posted Date: August 29, 2016
Increase in entanglements necessitates removal of collapsible tunnel from list of approved obstacles.
Effective immediately, the collapsible tunnel has been removed from the list of approved obstacles for USDAA-licensed and produced events. As with all things, over time changes are necessary in order to maintain safety as a sport continues to evolve and grow.
The collapsible tunnel (or "chute", as popularly referred) was an original obstacle in the sport dating back more than 30 years and aided in the fascination that drew people to this exciting and dynamic sport in its early days.
In recent years, we have seen an escalation in the number of entanglements and report of injuries, which drove the USDAA Advisory Committee earlier this year to request a review and possible changes to the collapsible tunnel.
We undertook a review of the obstacle and sought out reports, videos, and photos that might shed light on problem. We determined that specifications needed to be revisited to address the more varied surfaces used for events today.
Over the past few months, we have had discussions with equipment manufacturers and others on the identified variables, ranging from the different surfaces upon which events were being held and whether a tunnel was staked, weighted or otherwise secured, to the weight, length, construction (hemming), and other factors related to the obstacle itself.
After studying the variety of environmental and operational factors, it was determined that increased incidents of entanglements were the result of a broad set of attributes. More specifically, characteristics of the fabric in a variety of environmental situations, combined with the speed and impact with the chute material in what has become a fast-paced event were the cause, and not chute length alone. Receipt of a third-party report submitted to USDAA late last Friday, addressing physiological issues for dogs surrounding an entanglement or uncontrollable exit from the chute provided additional support to our findings, which facilitated our current ruling.
In determining to eliminate the obstacle from the list of approved obstacles, it was determined that:
- the characteristics of the chute on the collapsible tunnel are too varied to accommodate the current state of the sport today.
- chute length alone seemed to have little bearing on overall safety, as evidenced by numerous videos and photos reviewed on flips out of chutes as short as 6' and entanglements and difficult exits in chutes as long as 12'.
- the collective characteristics of a fabric, combined with performance speed and the variety of surfaces upon which the obstacle (and fabric) is used, whether staked or not, all play a role in how the obstacle performs.
- the obstacle characteristics have grown counter to the nature of the sport, where speed is a factor.
- risk is hidden until the moment of an incident, and it is not reasonable to assume that it is something that can be trained with reliability.
Judges have been instructed to substitute one or more of the following in place of the collapsed tunnel to facilitate flow in their course designs:
- Single or Spread hurdle(s)
- Long Jump
- Pipe tunnel
The collapsible tunnel highlights the importance of competitors, judges, groups, and others to file injury reports on incidents that occur throughout the year. The Injury Reporting Form
can be downloaded from the USDAA Forms & Documents Library at www.usdaa.com.