Bylaws, Rules & Regulations... boring stuff right? until you are affected or worse neglected because of them.
Usually these sorts of formal documents are written to protect an association from liability and chaos - establishing protocols to instill fairness and avoid conflict - which is all well and good. But time changes things and from time to time these documents need updating to keep them relevant and effective. In the case of PDCA they got a complete top to bottom overhaul.
It took the PDCA board over two years to wrangle the details, but the final documents met their objectives: Dilute positions of power, empower members, remove punitive rules and wording and keep it short and simple.
"The original PDCA Bylaws were constructed in the heated era of the ADCA split and much of the wording reflected the distrust that was prevalent at that time. And they were also written before the internet was as accessible as it is now and even before things like social media existed and that's huge!" says PDCA president Laura Christofk.
“Rethinking and improving the way PDCA does business has been my priority since I was elected in 2017. The previous Bylaws and Rules & Regs were actually hindering our ability to make some positive changes. I feel we kept much of the essence of the rules but reworded most to allow some flexibility as to how to execute.
A perfect example is voting and terms. Our old Rules & Regs dictated very specific time lines, and it had to be by mail, and there was no chain of custody to prevent tampering, etc. Everything was so specific it was obsolete in today's environment. These days there are third party voting apps that are easy, secure and usually provide a greater response rate. Now we can utilize one. An election should be about allowing as many members to participate as possible; how that happens should not be set in stone.
One big change we made was changing the Secretary and Registrar roles from elected positions to appointed staff, mainly to be able to allow the Board to screen their qualifications before entrusting them to such important duties, but also to be able to remove them promptly if need be.
We also wanted to take the opportunity to gently educate and encourage responsibility on the part of newer breeders with a "Best Breeder Practices" statement that is now a part of the new Registration Forms. Accuracy is critical to a registry, and breeders collectively own the registry so they need to ensure what they enter into the record is accurate. We considered mandatory testing, but because it cannot prevent fraud, it seemed to miss the objective. We wanted to make it clear that we take accuracy and truthfulness seriously. We are looking at those registration forms with a fine tooth comb and will not tolerate any shenanigans.
To ensure fairness and transparency, we have implemented a Genetics Committee comprised of several experienced Dexter breeders from our membership (names to remain anonymous) to evaluate and investigate anomalies that are submitted on registration forms. Deb Botruff, our registrar is sharp as a tack and she scrutinizes the details of each registration and checks and compares data if entered in the other registries. She admits it's a bit OCD, but she takes pride in the accuracy of "her database"- her words. If something does not add up, she sends it to the Genetics Committee.
We, the Board, felt the best way to handle sticky issues like this was to allow the members (or at least a representative group of them) make inquiries and recommend a course of action to the Board to vote on. Yep, that's allot of people making an uncomfortable decision; not the Registrar."
These new documents are refreshingly brief and easy to understand – no legal-speak and ensure members can be as involved in the decision making process of the Association as they choose to be and should serve PDCA well.