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CANCER IN THE MASTIFF CLUB
It is difficult to diagnose the myriad of problems plaguing the Mastiff Club of America because we are overwhelmed with the devastating side effects.
February 2017 | TheDogPress.com
Bonnie Blink, Guest Columnist
We go from doctor to doctor, try one prescription after another, and never seem to get to the core problem but there is a cancer in this club. The tumors are a small core group of scoundrels that have been in control in one way or another for many years. The metastases are the friends and allies that support them. This core group varies some over time but there are some cells that are constant for an amazingly long time.
Much time could be wasted trying to understand their motivation which may simply be power and control. There is however, a very good chance there has been some financial gain over the years, ranging from trips paid for by the club and free rooms at events, to the infamous missing $60,000 that has never been explained.
We seem to have forgotten this photocopy of the Mastiff Club Charter and the essence of the Certificate of Incorporation as filed in the State of New York.
Many members have been aware of misconduct, inequitable application of rules, manipulation of elections, lack of accountability, failure to follow bylaws, actions not in compliance with laws in our state of incorporation, actions not in compliance with banking laws, no understanding of fiduciary duty, and questionable practices over the years.
So how do these people stay in control and continue to do things as they please? That may be the biggest problem of all. The answer to that is bullying. Subtle or blatant. Should anyone dare to question this core group or their allies, that person becomes the target of relentless attack until they either learn to be quiet or are run off. Many good people know who the infectious agents are and where the metaphorical bodies are buried but they have chosen to turn a blind eye, stay in the club, and just keep quiet. Or they have walked away.
When a newcomer gets involved, say on the Board of Directors, and begins to see things that don’t seem quite right, they might start to ask questions. Over the years, a few people have spoken out loud, some even to the point of filing lawsuits. Without fail, they have been bullied to the point that they either left the club or resigned from whatever position they held and stopped participating.
Why can’t anyone effect a change and cure the disease? It boils down to this: Cures cost money. The first round will cost $100,000 or more on a lawsuit. If the issue is missing money, ask about it and the people who have had their fingers in the financial pie for decades will spin a story so convoluted no one can figure it out. Why does the Mastiff club use a complicated accrual accounting method? Why doesn’t it just use a simple cash method?
Why hasn’t there been an audit in years even though Club and Board members have requested one?
If the issue is bylaws violations, people are told this is how it has always been done. Point out that the Board is doing business contrary to NY State non-profit law and the board will ignore you because you are making a big to-do about nothing. I’m told one person even went so far as to write a clerk at the NY Attorney General’s office asking for proof that NY doesn’t care what our little club does! Object to having a person added to the election ballot because two parliamentarians have stated that the person is ineligible to run for office and you’ll be told “You can’t tell that candidate no because they donate a lot of money to the club.”
Bring any of these issues to the attention of the membership and you quickly learn the true meaning of the old adage about shooting the messenger! You are the bad guy for pointing these things out. It’s like calling the cops to report a robbery and you get arrested for reporting the bad guy. Studies point out the masses don’t like to be told they are supporting a bad leader. If people have to acknowledge they are being fooled, they take it personally. So they’d rather continue to support the bad guy and pretend it ain’t so.
Then there’s always the group that just bob their heads like dogs on the dashboard and say, “Can’t we just get back to this club being about the dogs?”
Members who have been around long enough may know who the scoundrels really are – and what happens to people who rock the boat. They have chosen to sit low and stay safe.
Turn to AKC for guidance and they will tell you to read the pamphlet about working things out. Persists and you may be advised to reach out to a professional parliamentarian. You could pay that professional a lot of money to learn that your gut instincts were right and many things are being done contrary to the charter, the laws of the land, the bylaws, Robert’s Rules of Order etc. But so what? The majority of the Board won’t care.
And if you take all that back to AKC, they may simply decide that they don’t have jurisdiction.
Pay an attorney $10,000 to consider your case. Then end up being told that you are ultimately looking at upwards of $100,000 and lots of time….and for what!? Not many have that kind of money to get a club to follow the rules!
In the end, you either sit down and quit rocking the boat, hoping that you can do a few things here and there to benefit the club and the breed, or you walk away completely. Obviously that is what people are doing.
In 2005 there were 850 MCOA Members. Today there are 534 members. The club has lost too many valuable members over the years. If the membership trend continues, by about 2029 the Mastiff Club Of America will cease to exist.
We should step back and realize what the Charter suggests, that the Mastiff Club Of America was formed to promote the breeding of Mastiff dogs, define precisely and publish the breed standard, to procure its adoption by breeders, judges etc., to protect, advance and increase interest in the breed by offering prizes, creating publicity, giving and supporting shows where Mastiffs are exhibited, all without profit to anyone.
To do any less is a disservice to our breed. The Mastiff Club Of America won’t have to worry about educating anyone because there will be no MEMBERS left to inspire.