Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Bye-Bye (PSLRA) Puget Sound Labrador Retriever Club
PSLRAAfter being an active member for over 10 years, last night my hubby Dan resigned his membership to the PSLRA (Lab Club). I was sad for him because he grew up in the club, supported their events (obedience, agility & hunt tests) and participated whenever possible (Agility Trial Chair and/or Committee Member for several shows and was a shooter at their hunt tests). I should also add that so did both of his parents, Keith & Beth.
Unfortunately, over the last few years he has seen a club develop that as he said "Is no longer family friendly....and fails to foster relationships beyond the core click." Everyone's allowed their opinion and by no means does that mean every member falls into this category. On the contrary, the majority of members are WONDERFUL. So hang in there with me while I share some of the behind the scenes things that influenced Dan. I would venture to say the majority of the club has no idea what goes on...
Board Meetings & Minutes
Although Dan and I aren't able to attend the majority of the Meetings due to our work schedules, we read every word of the published minutes. It was our way of keeping up in a club that we considered ourselves active members of.
So it was a big surprise to us when we noticed that procedures and topics were occurring/being discussed & implemented, but weren't always properly documented or even mentioned in the meeting minutes. That seemed a bit strange to us so we asked about them, thinking we'd missed something. We received answers like "Not everything has to be reported to the Club Members" and "If you would have attended the meetings in person, you would have known."
First, the PSLRA membership is spread across the Puget Sound. There are active paying members in Alaska, Idaho, Eastern Washington and more. They, as well as everyone else who is unable to attend each meeting deserves complete & accurate Meeting Minutes.
Second, it is my understanding that the Club status require accurate Meeting Minutes. If you look at the AKC Board of Director Meeting Minutes, it is very clear what business and/or topics have been reviewed. This is not the case with PSLRA's Meeting Minutes.
Third, as a PAYING club member the Board should have an open door policy. Whether intentional or not, missing items and answers like those given above appear suspicious. They may not be, but perception is key and as a paying member, we'd like to know what the Board (who represents us and makes decisions on the funds we've given or worked for) is doing.
Budgeting, It's for Everyone
First, I applaud the Board Members for taking measures to control costs and request each event committee submit a budget for approval for their respective event. However, the budgeting was inconsistently applied to different events in 2009.
For example, the Spring & Fall Agility Trials are the two main money-makers for the club (most club members won't know this because the budgeting results are incomplete or non-existent in the Meeting Minutes, although they are specifically discussed at the Board Meetings). Unfortunately, the Specialties, Tracking & Hunt Tests generally require support from the Club's main fund.
Agility Trial Costs, What Everyone Should Know
When doing an Agility Trial, the main costs are Location, Equipment, Trial Secretarial Fees and Judging Fees. Keeping in mind that times are tough and as an active club member, last year on January 28, 2009 Dan & I secured and forwarded an equipment proposal to the Board which would have saved PSLRA over $2,400 per year over a 3 year period. We waited for weeks and did not receive a response or even an acknowledgement on the proposal.
It wasn't until we brought the issue back up were we told that for various reasons the club would not be able to accept the proposal. No problem, so the equipment vendor mentioned in the proposal isn't able to work at one location...but budgeting & securing the best price helps everyone, right?
Lesson Learned - Never Question The Board
Our next question was to ask why, when the committees were being asked to jump through hoops to reduce costs, why the board wasn't working to negotiate a better equipment rate with the CURRENT vendors. After all, other clubs were already receiving substantial discounts and Dan & I would rather see our club dues go further. Wouldn't you?
The reply from the current (soon to be former) President completely ignored the question and instead of addressing the issue, misdirected the topic to appear as a personal attack. Ugh, now why were we caring so much about money when the Board didn't want to take the extra step? So we moved on because it was clear there wasn't going to be a factual answer to our factual question.
2010 - Quotes from Vendors That Isn't Happening
As part of the new procedures that were recently put through by the Board, committees are to receive quotes from various vendors. Excellent! This should hopefully allow for reduced or negotiated pricing, right?
Wrong. So far, quotes have not been solicited from multiple vendors for the agility equipment (an annual estimated cost of approximately $4,700). Nor have they solicited quotes from multiple ribbon vendors (estimated annual cost of approximately $2,600). Nor have they solicited quotes from multiple Trial Secretaries (estimated annual cost of approximately $6,200). Oh, did I mention we're now 5 months out from the Spring Trial...time is running short.
Volunteers are Often Ignored
Budgeting issues aside, over the last several years, I've heard several PSLRA members volunteer for various committees, booths and other events. More often than not I've heard the following responses "Oh, so-and-so does that and we don't want to step on their toes" or worse yet, there is no response from the Board or a trial committee to a person's request to volunteer.
Our current (soon to be former) President & Board has done this to the Selthofer family on several occasions (if you're interested, the notes on just one example are below). The first note was sent on 10/26/09, the second on 11/24/09 and the third on 12/24/09. The delay in response has since lost 4 volunteers and will now cost the club additional funds in late fees to apply to hold the Spring Agility Trial. Why does this effect you? Because that's membership dues from 2 members down the drain.
Hiding Information, It's Just Bad Form
We hate to bring this one up, but somethings just need to be addressed.
We were disappointed when the current President received feedback from a disgruntled former PSLRA Member (and owner of one of her dogs) regarding the Spring Agility Trial and chose NOT to share the information with the entire Board or with any members of the Spring Agility Trial Committee.
The facts are that the former PSLRA member brought an injured dog to the trial and even went into great detail with some of the Trial Committee members about "How they weren't sure they're dog was going to run...how it hurt it's back previously" etc. The judge had laid an awkward line from the triple spread jump to the dog walk. Several handlers didn't recognize the challenge and didn't set it up properly, so their dogs weren't able to get a straight approach and subsequently came off the obstacle prematurely. Five judges reviewed the equipment and all of them found the equipment to be safe. Additionally, this particular piece of equipment had been in storage for the last year and was last used at the previous year's trial so there was no wear & tear on the equipment.
However, the disgruntled person took the opportunity to falsely claim that the equipment injured their perfectly healthy dog (which as we know is a stretch). In our opinion, they also took advantage of the friendship that exists with the PSLRA President.
More importantly the acting President had an obligation to the club and the Spring Trial Committee to bring any issues forward. Not sharing these items is disrespectful to the Trial Committee, undermines the efforts of volunteers and could be viewed as an abuse of a club position/power.
Lab Rescue, Where Is It?
We realize this is a personal topic of importance to us, but we rarely hear about Lab Rescue. Dan and I have both offered to host Agility Fun Runs to benefit Lab Rescue. I've volunteered training time to assist dogs in rescue. Again, our suggestions were ignored or written off as being not important.
Labs are the #1 registered dog in the AKC and the potential for rescue/labs needing assistance has got to be large. We belong to other clubs with less popular dogs and hear far more about their rescue efforts. Additionally, they have welcomed our suggestions and time stating that "Rescue needs all of the resources and assistance they can utilize..." I'm CERTAIN the Lab Rescue is doing something, but instead we hear more about breeder dogs needing homes.
We can't help but ask, why isn't PSRA a successful club with money, doing more to help rescue Labs?
There are clubs out there that appreciate their volunteers. Maybe PSLRA does, but they've failed to consistently spread the good will & cheer with all. We love our Lab Friends (both human & 4-legged) and will continue to be life-long friends.
Notes ignored by President of PSLRA:
October 26, 2009
Sent on 12/24/09