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Following Procedures and Filing a Formal Complaint
Posted on 08/24/2006 in The Coonhound Advisor.

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June Advisor
Allen Gingerich

Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace
From time to time it might be necessary to give everyone a little refresher course on the importance of following procedures when it comes to questioning calls that are made in the woods during competition. It’s not uncommon for a concerned owner or handler to call the office on Monday morning complaining of a call that was missed the prior weekend and sometimes expecting a quick fix. Unfortunately, too many times the answer given may be one that is not easily understood when it becomes obvious that proper procedures were not followed.

One of the most common steps that are frequently missed in the woods is covered in rule 11. The last sentence states {Situations not questioned and notated at the time Judge’s decision is made, will not be considered.} Most will agree the rule is pretty black and white. Example: The Judge minuses a dog for being off tree when the cast arrives at the tree. Nothing is said. The cast shines and scores the tree. After the tree has been scored, a handler wants to question the minus call for dog being off tree that was made before the tree was scored. Or another example, a Judge scratches a dog(s) for fighting upon arrival at the tree. Shining time may have been used to score the tree, time out is called and cast walks out to the trucks at the road when now a handler wishes to question the scratched for fighting decision by the Judge. In the past it has been said that a question might be entertained so long as nothing has transpired in the hunt from the time the call was made. That prior interpretation has been revisited and to be consistent with rule 11, the rule is too obvious when it states “not questioned and notated at the time” to open the door for questioning a call anytime other than when the decision was made.

Whenever you have a situation or call that was made that you don’t agree with you must question it immediately. Advise the Judge that you wish to question the call. You must then formally ask for your question to be voted on by all cast members at that time. According to rule 18, (4) each handler must vote or their dog will be scratched. If majority of the cast is not reached then the call stands. However, any handler that is not satisfied with the majority of cast decision retains the right to place a question mark (?) on the scorecard and present the question to the Master of Hounds.

Taking a question back to the Master of Hounds at the clubhouse should be done after the hunt is over unless it involves a dog being scratched or minused out of the hunt. Keep in mind it is not permissible to call a Master of Hounds from the woods with a question. After the hunt is over, even though you have a question on the card that needs to be resolved by the Master of Hounds, each handler must sign the scorecard before going to the clubhouse. A scorecard may be signed still with the right to protest. Not signing the card would automatically scratch the handler regardless of the outcome of the question. The Master of Hounds may change any scores after the question has been resolved if needed due to his decision.

Don’t be surprised when a Master of Hounds will not consider a question on the scorecard if it is determined that the question was not notated at the time the decision was made. That decision would only be consistent with rule 11. Any questions? Speak now or forever hold your peace!

Filing a Formal Complaint
While we’re on the subject of following procedures this month, we may as well have a little refresher course on the procedures for filing a Formal Complaint as well. Example, a disgruntled owner or handler comes storming in to the clubhouse demanding a Formal Complaint after an unpleasant night of coonhunting. No question has been recorded on the scorecard however he did not appreciate the way certain situations were handled in the woods but is now taking care of it! The Master of Hounds may inform him that a Formal Complaint will most likely not resolve the matter, however, when requested any owner or handler may fill out the form regardless of merit or procedures. Will filing a Formal Complaint solve the problem in this example? Probably not.

Procedures for filing a Formal Complaint are as follows. You bring a scorecard, with a notated question (?), back to the Master of Hounds for his ruling. No questions may be considered by the Master of Hounds after a period of thirty (30) minutes has elapsed from the time the scorecard was turned in. The Master of Hounds makes a decision based on the statements of each cast member and what is consistent with the Nite Hunt Rules. The cast members may be satisfied with the decision of the Master of Hounds and leave it at that. However, any cast members not be satisfied with the Master of Hounds decision where a rule violation may have been overlooked may wish to take it a step further. That step would be requesting a Formal Complaint form. Obviously, if the question involved a judgment call more times than not a Formal Complaint will not change the decision of the Master of Hounds. However, if an owner or handler feels a rule violation was missed than the Formal Complaint procedure may be necessary. The Formal Complaint form must be signed by the individual(s) and turned into the Master of Hounds no later than thirty (30) minutes after the posted deadline to return scorecards.

Next, the Master of Hounds will advise the club officers to form a Committee of three officers or club members within one hour after deadline. The hearing must take place on that same night. The Judge of the cast and the individual(s) filing the complaint must be present. The Committee will hear statements of all cast members involved still available on the grounds, and make a decision on whether to support or override the decision of the Master of Hounds. The event reports are then recorded according to the panel’s findings.

Last, the results of the hearing must be sent to UKC on the completed Formal Complaint Meeting Results Form along with the event reports. UKC will review the results of the meeting and will either agree or disagree with the club or organization’s decision; however, UKC reserves unto itself, in its sole judgment and discretion, the right to make corrections if necessary.

Just like the procedure for questioning calls in the woods, if you do not follow the proper procedure for filing a complaint on the night of the event, then you should not expect UKC to be able to fix it the following week. Procedures are in place for a reason. If we don’t follow them, we may as well throw them out the window.