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UKC Misconduct Rules and Forms
Posted on 04/23/2012 in Your Dog, Your Rights.

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by Sara Chisnell, UKC Legal Counsel

This month, I’m going to stray a bit off the legislative path to unroll the (insert drum roll here) new UKC Misconduct Rules and forms. After a lot of research, revisions and discussion, the new rules are finally finished. I believe this will make it much easier for clubs to conduct hearings, and makes the overall misconduct and hearing process much smoother, easier to understand, and fair to the parties involved.

One of the first changes you’ll see in the revised rules is a better defined “Standard of Conduct” that should better assist club officials in identifying misconduct. The new expanded definition reads as follows: “United Kennel Club events are intended to be family-oriented recreation for dog enthusiasts and their UKC-registered dogs. Accordingly, UKC expects the highest standard of conduct at these events. Misconduct is defined as behavior or actions that are not in the best interest of the sport of purebred dogs. Conduct considered prejudicial to the sport of purebred dogs is any action or behavior that could cause an average, reasonable person or family to be offended or potentially repelled from the sport of purebred dogs; i.e., conduct incompatible with a family friendly environment.”

A wide array of unsportsmanlike conduct could fit this definition of misconduct. UKC is very much a family-oriented dog registry, and family-friendly events are the very heart of UKC. Unsportsmanlike conduct that could negatively affect the family-friendly atmosphere should not be tolerated, and should always be reported. Club officials should err on the side of caution when unsure as to whether an incident qualifies as misconduct or not, and should always instruct the complainant to complete a UKC Misconduct Complaint Form for review by host club officials.

The Complaint form should be used for any wrongdoing during or associated with an event. This could run the gamut from unsportsmanlike conduct to falsification of an event-related document, to abuse or neglect of a dog or abuse of motel rooms by individuals attending the event.

The Complaint Form should not be used during hunting events for a rules question that cannot be resolved with the UKC Event/Hunt Chairperson. That situation does not fall under the Misconduct Rules and requires a UKC Formal Complaint Form. The UKC Misconduct Complaint Form is to be used for event related misconduct only.

The UKC Misconduct Complaint Form
Upon notification of any event-related complaint, a host club official must provide the complaining individual with a UKC Misconduct Complaint Form, shown here.

The complaining individual must complete section 1, and must sign the form. The host club official shall assist the complainant in completing Section 2 for information on the accused individual, and Section 3 for information on potential witnesses. The Complaint must then be forwarded to UKC with the Event Report.

The Complaint will be reviewed by UKC within 30 days, when possible. If UKC decides that the Complaint warrants a hearing, UKC will notify the club. The club then has 14 days to appoint a Hearing Committee (none of the members may be a witness or party to the Complaint), set a hearing place and date (within 30 days of receipt of the notice to hold a hearing), and notify the accused of the hearing. The notice to the accused must inform he or she that they are not permitted to have an attorney present and also include the following wording:
a. The accused may be present during the testimony of all witnesses;
b. The accused may question all witnesses;
c. The accused may present witnesses on his/her own behalf;
d. The accused may testify on his/her own behalf.

Witnesses may be notified of the hearing by regular mail or telephone. If the accused is unable to attend the hearing on the date set by the club, then he or she must notify the Club President within three days of receiving the notice. The Club President must make every reasonable effort to set a new hearing, but the hearing date cannot be postponed more than 10 additional days.

The UKC Hearing Procedure Form
The biggest change in the new Misconduct and Discipline procedures is the new UKC Hearing Procedure Form. Previously, when conducting a hearing, the Hearing Committee would simply complete the backside of the UKC Misconduct Report and Hearing Form. Now clubs have a four-page UKC Hearing Procedure Form that will take them step by step through the whole entire hearing process.

The Hearing Chairperson must nominate one of the members of the Hearing Committee to be the Record Keeper for the hearing. The entire form must be completed and each step initialed by the Record Keeper. The UKC Hearing Procedure Form is very self-explanatory, and should help ensure the Hearing Committee that no portion of the hearing is missed. It also provides plenty of room for notes and summaries in order to provide the UKC Disciplinary Action Committee with a more complete record in order to make a better informed decision.

Another key difference in the new Hearing Procedure: the complainant and witnesses may testify via speakerphone if they are unable to attend the hearing, or in the alternative, make a signed, written statement to be read aloud at the hearing. The accused may not testify via speakerphone, but may submit a signed, written statement. This gives the accused another option if they truly are unable to attend the hearing. Whether or not these options may be used are completely at the discretion of the Hearing Committee. The new Hearing Procedure Form no longer has the portion that asks the club to recommend what discipline should be taken. Club members are not equipped to decide what discipline is appropriate, and the UKC DAC has always made the decision for discipline, so the discipline recommendation portion has been deemed moot.

Other Changes
There are now separate procedures when an individual has a complaint against the club itself, or a club official. Those complaints should be sent directly to UKC, as having a club hold a hearing against itself is pointless. The new rules provide instructions on reporting misconduct that’s not event related, and also incorporates the rules for clubs to handle bad checks that were recently introduced. The new UKC Misconduct and Discipline rules better define the various levels of discipline that UKC might take against an individual. The terms of suspension have also been updated to the current UKC terms of suspension.

Between the revised UKC Misconduct and Discipline Rules, a simpler UKC Misconduct Complaint Form, and the very user-friendly UKC Hearing Procedure Form, event misconduct hearings should now be much more straightforward and easier to conduct for all involved.

Click here to view the Misconduct & Discipline form for Hunting Programs

Click here to view the Misconduct & Discipline form for Dog Events