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Complaints: Master of Hounds, Licensed Event Participants and Event Participants Reminders
Posted on 03/06/2008 in The Coonhound Advisor.

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April Advisor
Allen Gingerich

MOH & Licensed Event Participants
As much as we hate to see it the UKC Field Operations Department does receive complaints on officials from time to time. And if a licensed official cannot do their job sufficiently then we do want to know about it. The UKC does keep a file on hand of each and every licensed official - good or bad. This month we would like to take a little time and address a few issues. Addressing them will hopefully allow our officials to better themselves if they find themselves in these situations.

    1) the knowledge and ability to answer questions and make decisions sufficiently
    read and understand what you read
    2) Formal Complaint procedures
    3) licensed event participants
    4) participants, procedures & showing a little class

1.) It’s important to understand that if you are the presiding Official at the event you are expected to answer questions and make decisions when called upon at that particular event. It’s frustrating for event participants when they see an official that is not comfortable with making a decision and opts to call on another MOH who is simply a participant on their opinion before ruling on a question. Such actions obviously question the ability or knowledge to do the job required as the Event Official. How about an official making phone calls seeking opinions before making a decision? That’s bad and certainly not an option.

Every now and then difficult-to-score situations do arise during the course of a nite hunt. Fact is if a question comes back, no matter how complicated, the Official is required to give an answer without the advice of anyone else present or otherwise. Yes, sometimes you may have a situation where the official may not be very comfortable with their decision but event participants do have the option to file a Formal Complaint to be heard by a panel if they are confident the ruling was not in accordance with UKC rules. Bottom line – make that call. Even if it means stepping off to the side with your rulebook for a few minutes and evaluating the situation with a clear mind first before making your decision.

2.) If you find yourself questioning your decision, regardless of whether the situation went any further, then it’s probably best you sit down again and read your rulebook from front to back for a needed refresher course. We insist our licensed officials educate themselves to the best of their abilities and allow themselves to be the best they can be. Passing the Master of Hounds test is only a first step. Continuing education and knowledge of the rules and staying on top of any changes are a must.

Reading your rulebook from front to back and understanding what you’re reading will be a great confidence booster. As boring as that can be sometimes I guarantee it will remind you of certain things that you may have forgotten. In addition, you can always call the UKC office to clear up any questions you may have. Staying on top of things will allow you to do your job as an Official more adequately and comfortably.

3.) As an Official remember to never take it personal when a Formal Complaint is requested. It will do one of two things. 1)You may be satisfied with learning that you made the correct decision or 2) you learned something for future reference should your decision be overturned. If a Formal Complaint is requested then you must oblige. No exceptions. Make sure you notify a club officer that a complaint has been filed. See to it that they assemble a fair panel to hear the complaint within one hour after the posted deadline to return scorecards in accordance with the proper procedures.

4.) Along those same lines we also receive complaints on event participants, who may be a licensed official, who tend to get themselves involved with situations they shouldn’t. The most common complaints are getting involved with questions that come back to the presiding official and or tend to throw their weight around in the woods using the tool that they are a license holder.

Event participants who posses a UKC License should never get involved with questions that come in even if they are called upon by the Event Official or a participant. You can find note of such in Rule F under Master of Hounds Guidelines in your rulebook. You may advise the individuals raising a question that there is a procedure to filing a complaint and that procedure should have been followed. Otherwise, do not get caught up in it. And remember that when you are a participant at the event, even though you are a licensed official, you are simply a participant. Your actions as a license holder should always be above reproach on or off the field. In this case off the field.

5.) Participants Following Procedures & Showing a Little Class
In the same token participants at an event must understand that difficult situations do arise sometimes. It’s equally important for them to understand the proper channels to go through when the situation calls for it. Since it’s not an every day thing it’s important to remind everyone that procedures are in fact very important.

Most will agree that the most important thing for a handler in a nite hunt is to know the dog they are hunting and understand the Nite Hunt Honor Rules right? Likewise, the breed standards and rules as they apply to bench shows is what are likely the most important factor for that handler to know.

Procedures to handle questions or complaints that may arise during an event are sometimes not known or understood well enough in that it can become a frustrating problem for all involved. For example; in the nite hunts the last two sentences in Rule 11 are very specific when it comes to questioning calls and the procedures that must be followed. It’s also plainly states that if these procedures aren’t followed the Master of Hounds will not hear the question should it come back to them. If you don’t question a call in the woods at the time when it happens then you have no question. Sounds pretty simple right?

If you question something in the woods; follow through with asking for a cast vote right then and there. Don’t wait until you get to the tree or until after you’ve scored a tree or get back to the trucks. If you’ve went through the procedure of a cast vote and you still are convinced the situation is being scored incorrectly then by all means ask that a question mark be put on the scorecard. This is consistent with Rule 11 which states the question must be notated. That means, in simple terms, a question mark (?) must be put on the scorecard. Without it, once again, the question will not be considered.

Does it seem a little too procedure-happy that you must have a question notated on the scorecard? If there is a question mark on the scorecard then all cast members will know that they must go back to the clubhouse after there hunt is over to discuss the situation with the official. Consider this; you’re sitting back at the clubhouse with a decent score waiting for the last cast to come back. The last scorecard comes back and the cast winner tells the official “I have a question”. The cast winner is the only member that comes back with their opinion or story of the situation. That certainly wouldn’t be fair to another cast when a question is considered that has not been notated and other cast members may not even have been aware of a question that would be raised at the clubhouse.

The same is true for following procedures involving a Formal Complaint. If you contend that the Master of Hounds has missed a rule in their decision then you must ask for a Formal Complaint within thirty minutes of the scorecard having been turned in. All Formal Complaints must be heard by a panel on that same night while those involved are still at the club. If a Formal Complaint has been filed at the club then it is just as important for the club to follow the proper procedures and assemble a panel within one hour after the posted deadline to hear the complaint.

Participants must also understand that Officials are human beings just like the next person and can and do make mistakes. When addressing an issue with the Official they should never be shown disrespect regardless of the ruling. The same is true for the members of the cast you draw. Treat them with class regardless. Afterall we all have at least one thing in common if you really think about it. If things don’t go so well it doesn’t mean it’s alright to blow up and act stupid. If situations arise they can be handled appropriately without going to extremes. We simply need to keep that in mind.

If we could all just consider some of these issues when we go out to compete with our hounds it will allow everyone involved to have a better hunt – guaranteed. If you don’t already practice good standards or you don’t think it will work I encourage you to try it in the name of good sportsmanship and for yourself!

Q: Would you like to see an article on the two-hour maniac in next months Advisor or should we get back to A, B, C and D questions? Never-mind, I already know the answer. AG / MI