Remembering Marvin Cummings – Beloved ARBA Judge

Marvin Leroy Cummings, 89, of Lutz, Florida passed away Saturday, June 15, 2019 in Tampa, Florida.  Born on August 24, 1929 to Edwin and Elva Cummings of Bolivar, Pennsylvania, Marvin was a U.S. Air Force veteran who had served at MacDill AFB in Tampa in addition to other locations across the country.  He worked as a station agent for many years with National Airlines and later with Pan American Airlines at Tampa International Airport.

Marvin was a co-founder of the former Castle Heights Church of Christ in Tampa and later became a longtime member of the Lutz Church of Christ.  Marvin enjoyed carpentry, farming, and raising livestock as his hobbies.  He especially enjoyed raising show rabbits and traveled across the country for many years judging rabbit shows for the American Rabbit Breeders Association. Marvin was a continuous ARBA member since 2/12/60 and became ARBA Rabbit Judge #256 on 7/26/68 then received his cavy license 1/1/85.

Marvin was preceded in death by his beloved daughter Cynthia who passed away in 2014.  He is survived by his dear wife of 65 years, Genevieve, by his son Andrew, by his grandchildren Dreema, Kenneth, and Johnny, and by his great grandchildren Mason and Marilynn. 




Remembering Vern Palmblad – Beloved ARBA Judge

It is with a heavy heart that we share the passing of our beloved Vern Palmblad on April 15, 2019.  Born LaVern Palmblad on June 1st, 1924 on a farm in Gresham, Oregon, Vern began his rabbit hobby at age 7, joining 4-H the next year. He had held a continuous membership since then, becoming a leader in 1949. He was an inaugural inductee to the 4-H Hall of Fame in 2004 after over 70 years of participation and service. Vern joined the ARBA in 1968 and became licensed rabbit judge #405 in 1977. He has judged all over the US and Canada, and has continued judging into his 9th decade.

His 90th birthday was cause for celebration at the Oregon League of Rabbit & Cavy Breeders State Show in June of 2014. Throughout his life, Vern dedicated his time to educating youth in the rabbit hobby. Along the way, he raised many breeds including New Zealand, Californian, Palomino and about 35 of the other breeds.

He enjoyed judging youth shows and fairs because of the educational opportunities they offer. Scores of Oregon and Washington adult exhibitors have fond memories of Vern judging their showmanship competitions when they were kids. Many families boast that Vern has helped three generations of 4-H families succeed with raising and showing rabbits.

In addition to his work with 4H and the youth, Vern was a founding member of the Oregon League of Rabbit & Cavy Breeders. He served that club as President, Vice-President and Director, holding office for about 17 years of his long membership membership. He was named OLRCB Person of the Year in 1991 and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006. Vern’s skills as an auctioneer were well known and he was routinely sought out to help raise money for the youth programs and the kids’ activities and competitions.

Vern was also instrumental in the formation of the Crazy 8’s Rabbit Club in Canby, Oregon. He and his wife Barbara still take an active role in the success of their show each year. Vern had been a member for more than 35 years of the Washington State Rabbit Breeders and in 2004 he and Barbara were given Honorary Life Membership in the organization due to their involvement in Washington State activities. Vern has been an important part of the Washington State youth program, helping wherever needed, and again, his knack for raising money for the program as their auctioneer has been utilized for years at fundraising events.

Vern was known for his quick wit and loves a good joke. Many judges and exhibitors have fallen victim to his good natured pranks at shows, including stuffed rabbits in judging coops. Of course, he often got a dose of his own medicine as well from others, taking it well with a big grin and a good laugh.  Vern took very seriously his role as a senior ARBA Judge and Mentor. He had spoken at many Judges Conferences, and often counseled new judges on ethics, behavior and dress code. He has always been one to “call it as he sees it” and there was never a doubt about his stand on an issue.

Vern’s contributions to the hobby, his booming voice behind the table and his good nature have been an integral part of the rabbit show experience in the Pacific Northwest for decades.

This is an adaptation of the biography written for the 2015 ARBA National Covention Dedication to Vern; we thought this would be a fitting and comprehensive means to honor Vern, but by all means only touches on highlights of this remarkable man’s life.  Our deepest sympathies to his loving wife, Barb, his biological family and our ARBA-family who has been deeply touched by Vern’s love and dedication through the years.  We are all better people for having Vern Palmblad in our lives.


A Message from the ARBA Executive Director

Dear ARBA members:
The British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture has issued the attached media release regarding an isolated RHD infection in Parksville, BC.  Please note that after follow up discussions with Ministry officials, this has been categorized as an “isolated infection”. No other suspicious deaths have been reported. This was one location, a single feral colony of about 20 to 25 rabbits appears to have been wiped out. Insect vectors were not implicated in the 2018 outbreak and the isolate of RHDv2 last year shows no characteristics normally associated with the 2 strains. Tissues have been submitted to the national laboratory in Winnipeg to have the strain from this event determined.
Breeders are encouraged to maintain healthy biosecurity measures to minimize risk of infection.  Please review the fact sheets provided regarding RHD and how you can protect your herd.  click here
More information will be provided as it becomes available.  Again, the Ministry of Agriculture has not categorized this infection as an outbreak.  If you have questions regarding the upcoming shows in BC please contact the show secretary for more information.
All the best,
Eric Stewart
ARBA Executive Director



Message from PA Department of Agriculture

In an effort to provide the most up to date and reliable information regarding the recent isolated RHD1 infection in PA, Executive Director Stewart met with officials at the PA Department of Agriculture headquarters last week. We have been provided the attached letter from the officials detailing facts pertaining to this isolated infection. It is important to note that the ARBA is working with government authorities to provide the most accurate information possible and that operating off of social media conjecture benefits no one. Should you have a question or concern, please contact your District Director.




The ARBA Hall of Fame Welcomes our 25th Inductee. Dr. Chris Hayhow

By Current ARBA President Josh Humphries

Being inducted into the ARBA Hall Of Fame is the highest honor that a member of our association can receive. It is my great honor

to tell you about a member who has been instrumental in the development and success of our beloved organization.

The ARBA Hall of Fame was established in 1952 and there are only 24 members that have received this highest honor. Tonight we will add a 25th member to this prestigious group.

Dr. Chris Hayhow joined the ARBA on September 12, 1967 (over 50 years) and is a life member of this association.
Dr. Hayhow earned his ARBA registrars license in 1971 and has been an ARBA Licensed Judge 581 for over 30 years. Dr. Hayhow has judged in 40 states and most provinces of Canada.

Dr. Hayhow has raised most of the breeds in the ARBA Standard of Perfection, he won Best Rex open at the 1971 ARBA Convention as a teenager; bred

and exhibited outstanding Rex, Polish, Netherland Dwarfs, Dutch, and New Zealand’s as a youth member. Chris has shown Dutch rabbits for many years and has helped his children enjoy the rabbit hobby with Dutch, English Angoras and Mini Lops.

Dr. Hayhow served as the ARBA District 9 Director from 1995 to 1996, as he resigned when he relocated to Nebraska.

Some of Dr. Hayhow’s greatest contributions to our association began when he served as the ARBA President 1998 – 2004 and again in 2006 – 2010.
While President, Dr. Hayhow revised the ARBA Convention Guidelines. During his presidency he helped guide preparations for a

new ARBA Guidebook, and re wrote the ARBA Show Rules.

In 1998 Dr. Hayhow initiated the funding for the ARBA Hall of Fame Library and in 2002 dedicated the Library to the late Dr. T. E. (Doc) Reed, and the late Oren Reynolds former Editor of the Domestic Rabbits Magazine and Advisor to Chris while serving on the ARBA Board.
In 2001 Dr. Hayhow received the prestigious ARBA Award of Excellence from Oren Reynolds.
Education is very important to Chris as he supported and helped plan for the ARBA Judges Academy development.

Additionally Dr. Hayhow initiated the ARBA President’s Award of Excellence.

With his vision the ARBA was able to go from 8,000 to 20,000 coops. He also coordinated the purchase of show equipment, and building of judging units for our annual ARBA Convention and Show.

Chris was very fortunate in having mentors in the association such as Harry Rice, Oren Reynolds, Jeannie Maddox, Fibber (Fib) McGehee and Joe Frizzell.
The highest honor Chris has received to date from the ARBA was when the 2011-2015 ARBA Standard of Perfection was dedicated to him.
I served as the ARBA District 6 Director for 6 years under the leadership of Dr. Chris Hayhow. Chris has been a mentor to me and I attribute my success as the ARBA President to Dr. Chris Hayhow. DR



Executive Director Stewart has been in touch with officials from both Ohio and Michigan for follow up information regarding suspicious cases of rabbit illnesses.  Michigan reports that there have been no RHD positive cases within the state.  Ohio reports that other than the one isolated case of a RHD positive rabbit test, no additional animals have tested positive for RHD.  The premises in Medina County Ohio which yielded the positive RHD rabbit test remains under quarantine.  The surviving rabbit that resided in the horse stall where the RHD positive rabbit lived in Medina County OH, has since been surrendered and after multiple tests the surviving rabbit has tested negative for RHD.  Other government agencies, in cooperation with OVMA, have also collected samples from nearby wildlife and all samples collected have tested negative for RHD.  Breeders are encouraged to maintain reasonable bio-security measures; however, note that this single isolated case of a rabbit testing positive for RHD in Medina County, Ohio is not categorized as an outbreak.



We are sorry to report that a RHD2 infected rabbit has been confirmed in Medina County, Ohio. When learning of the statement this afternoon, the ARBA immediately mobilized to obtain facts regarding the infection. In speaking with the Ohio State Veterinary Services office, we were able to determine that the report is unfortunately true. Although the identity and general location of the owners are confidential, we have learned that the rabbits were maintained privately and were not show rabbits. Rabbits maintained on the property were not transported on or off of the property for some time. False positive tests can be common, however in this case the tests were performed by Plum Island labs and PCR was conducted twice with the same result- RHD2 was isolated. Testing takes time, hence the delay from suspected infection and the notice being provided today; the ARBA was not alerted until this afternoon. Ohio State has involved multiple agencies in their efforts to conduct epidemiological study to determine how this isolated rabbit became infected, and to assess the of risk transmission to domestic rabbit populations in Ohio and North America. At this time it has not been categorized as an outbreak, the property that had housed the confirmed infected rabbit has been quarantined, and the ARBA will be the primary industry contact for updates from the OVMA. In the meantime, your ARBA Board of Directors are reviewing this serious concern and will be providing immediate updates both through the ARBA Website and ARBA Facebook page. We recognize the concerns with upcoming shows and the ARBA National Convention, both being at the forefront of the biosecurity conversations. Although the RHD2 virus was identified in British Columbia earlier this year, there is no evidence of any correlation between the BC infections and the infection identified in Medina County, Ohio. 

Please review the OVMA news post below long with the fact sheets regarding RHD and prevention. Expect immediate updates the moment they are available from the authorities. It is recommended to not act upon information from other sources. The ARBA will be the first point of contact for disseminating any developments regarding this serious concern. 

Vet Zone Article – Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease
RHD Fact Sheet
First confirmed U.S. case of RHD2 found in Medina County | OVMA News & Classifieds


ARBA Election Results


Josh Humphries – 2957 votes *
Joel Marshall – 2095 votes


Rusty Westhoff – 2590 votes *
Jeff Hardin – 2435 votes


Arlyse DeLoyola – (elected by acclamation)


Theresa Christen – 367 votes *
David Cardinal – 213 votes


Jim Rowland – 217 votes *
Jeff Albright – 196 votes
Errean Kratochvil – 31 votes


Terry Fender – 517 votes *
David Moll – 430 votes
LeAnn McKinney – 370 votes

* Elected


ARBA Office Relocating

The ARBA Board of Directors has finalized its decision to relocate the ARBA headquarters office from Illinois to Pennsylvania. This is a business decision that is expected to reduce operating costs by an estimated $20,000 per year that will help to maintain fee schedules despite inflation. In addition, the net proceeds from the sale of the existing facility and subsequent purchase of a facility in Pennsylvania is expected to provide a significant cash reserve
The current ARBA headquarters office will close on June 1st and the Pennsylvania office will begin operations on June 4th. During this transition period there may be some delays due to the conversion from one facility to another; however, every effort will be made to minimize service interruption. The Board has directed that any questions regarding office relocation be fielded by ARBA Steering Committee Co-Chairs, Mike Avesing and Roger Hassenpflug. Due to the involved nature of the relocation preparations, Eric Stewart may not be able to return your call immediately as he is currently occupied with the office transition.
Josh Humphries
ARBA President

RHD Update RE: British Columbia, Canada

The ARBA has been formally notified that there are two rabbitries on Vancouver Island, BC with confirmed RHD infections.  We were warned that there was the potential for these infections but asked to not release any notice until results were confirmed through testing.  Both rabbitries were utilizing recommended bio-security measures.  In speaking with one of the owners today we collected additional recommendations for means by which to potentially receive additional support in BC for containing the outbreak.  Please continue to look for more updates as we obtain additional information to keep you informed of all developments with the RHD outbreak in BC.

ARBA Statement Regarding Recent RHD Outbreak in British Columbia, Canada

The ARBA has remained vigilant in its monitoring the RHD outbreak in British Columbia, Canada.  The authorities have confirmed that there have been no identified infections in any rabbitry.  Testing has found the virus in two Eastern Cottontail rabbits (non-native species to BC), but no new infections identified in any other feral domestic rabbits.  The authorities have not determine the definitive source of the RHD outbreak but all leads indicate the feral population infected at Vancouver Island University was likely the first.  Allegations that rescue groups were sending rabbits from BC to Washington have been investigated and no RHD infections have been identified within the USA.
Citizens in BC have been offered the opportunity to obtain the RHD vaccine by contacting their veterinarian to be placed on the order.  There are no plans for the vaccine to become available within the USA.  It is illegal to obtain, possess, or administer the RHD vaccine within the USA.  Any rabbit vaccinated will test positive for RHD therefore if there were an outbreak, all rabbits testing positive for RHD would be eliminated.  The USDA-APHIS have strongly encouraged the ARBA to continue educating members regarding sound management and bio-security measures.  Keep in mind that the virus can be introduced on your shoes, clothing, objects, other animals, insects, and even within our own sinuses.  If you see suspicious deaths or any symptoms you feel may be RHD, immediately contact your veterinarian or any veterinary professional.  This is a mandatory reportable disease. The virus can be killed from surfaces using a 10% bleach solution.  There is not a cure for RHD and the mortality rates are generally so high that many outbreaks will end due to the rabbits being dead.  Prevention is key and we encourage you to please read the attached pdf fact sheets on the disease and appropriate bio-security precautions you can take.
Members in British Columbia have been quite responsible with how they have managed living within the outbreak areas.  We commend these breeders for their sacrifices and willingness to voluntarily quarantine their herds during this crisis.  We remain optimistic that the outbreak can be contained.  In the meantime, the ARBA Show Rules do permit show committees the option to deny entries from areas within 150 miles of a confirmed RHD outbreak.  Some clubs have decided to cancel their spring shows, but note that this is not a decision mandated by ARBA or the authorities at this time.  The single most important thing we can each do as rabbit breeders is to not panic.  Read over the literature provided, make judicious decisions regarding husbandry practices, and continue to enjoy our hobby.  The ARBA will continue to communicate with officials both within the USA and Canada thus remaining up to date with any and all developments.
Members are encouraged to download and print the following articles…

Mini Rex Sable Variety, Lionhead Siamese Sable Variety, and Tan Abyssinian Cavy Recognized as of December 1, 2017

The Sable Mini Rex, Siamese Sable Lionhead, and Tan Abyssinian Cavy passed their 3rd and final presentation at the 2017 ARBA Convention in Indianapolis, IN. The ARBA office has prepared official standard inserts formatted to fit the pages of the 2016-2020 ARBA Standard of Perfection for the new varieties:
12/1/2017 ARBA Standards Inserts (Mini Rex, Lionhead, and Cavy)

ARBA Partnering with FFA

To promote it’s recent partnership with Future Farmers of America – FFA, the ARBA has added a new page to its website to serve as an immediate resource to FFA members as well as advisors who are interested in expanding their current market and/or breeding rabbit programs. Below is a link to the new page…
FFA Resource Page

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