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The Bearded Collie Club Board holes up in its den as members challenge violation of Club Bylaws re: the BCCA President’s AKC Suspension.


November 7, 2011  Nov. 25 update | We're told Susan Lybrand has sent a letter of resignation.


Susan Lybrand, BCCA President, forged her co-owner’s signature on two registration applications.  AKC suspended Lybrand but contrary to the BCCA Bylaws, the Board did not remove her and Lybrand refused to resign.


TheDogPress agreed to cover this story (and invite you to blog - jump to link below) because it contrasts so vividly with AKC’s position on The Davino Case {ref 1} while reflecting the stance of other dog club boards which have so little regard for their Bylaws and the members they were elected to represent.  The ongoing problem in the Toy Fox Terrier Club is but a recent example. {ref 2}


BBCA Member Diane Banks’ summation of events highlights the Board’s failure to enforce the Bylaws.  We have also quoted prominent members of the Bearded Collie Club, demonstrating the Board’s failure to communicate with the members who elected them.  And finally, a response we were able to obtain from the BCCA Board (jump to link) which so far as we know, is the club’s first communication with the membership. 


"October 30, 2011

Dear Susan Lybrand, BCCA President, Rosemary Schroeder, Cindy Alspaugh, Elizabeth Hayes, Casey Minner, BCCA Officers, and  Pat McDonald, Mary Lott, Cindy Mendonca, Janet Atkins, Stacey Blau, Lisa Voss, and Joanne Williamson, BCCA Board Members;


"I have thought long and hard before writing this letter.  It is with a heavy heart that I have to voice my thoughts about what has happened in the last few months within the Board of the Bearded Collie Club of America of which I have been a member for 20 years.


"After the 2011-12 elections, it was noted on an online list which Joanne Williamson had created to help with communications for the BCCA members that charges had been brought up against Susan Lybrand by the AKC.  Many members asked what they were, prior to her becoming President in July.  Joanne had correctly responded that unless Susan Lybrand was found “guilty” of any charges by AKC, members did not have a right to access that information from AKC.


"Fast forward to the National Specialty 2011:  There was a decision made by the executive BCCA Board that the *official ruling of August 15, 2011, finding Susan Lybrand guilty of forging a signature on an AKC registration document with the loss of registration privileges for the next 6 months and an imposed $500.00 fine, would not affect her in her role as our club president.


*From the October 2011 AKC GAZETTE/TheDogPress-Suspended Page:

The AKC’s management Disciplinary Committee has suspended Ms. Susan Lybrand (Allen, TX) from AKC registration privileges for six months and imposed a $500 fine, effective August 15, 2011, for submission of registration applications containing the false certification as to the signature of the co-owners of the dam. (Multiple Breeds)


"By definition, this suspension precludes Susan Lybrand, from being in “good standing” with the AKC per the following AKC Bylaws excerpt from the AKC Board of Directors meeting on August 8-9, 2011:


The Board convened on Monday August 8, 2011 at 8:00 a.m. All Directors were present, as were the Executive Secretary, the Chief Operating Officer and the Assistant Executive Secretary.


“In Good Standing”

The Executive Secretary reviewed AKC’s definition of “in good standing” with the American Kennel Club. There are a number of AKC privileges which may be suspended including Registration, participation in events and judging approval. A person may be suspended from any one of these AKC privileges while maintaining other privileges. There was a motion by Dr. Garvin, seconded by Dr. Battaglia, and it was VOTED (affirmative: Dr. Garvin, Dr. Battaglia, Dr. Newman, Dr. Smith, Mr. Menaker, Mr. Kalter, Dr. Davies, Mr. Goodman, Ms. Scully, Mr. Amen, Mr. Arnold, Mr. Ashby; opposed: Mr. Gladstone) to define “good standing” as a person who has not had any AKC privileges suspended. This clarification will be added in italics to the first sentence of ARTICLE VI, SECTION 5, of the AKC Bylaws.


"I am having a difficult time reconciling the decision of our executive board in light of the BCCA’s By-laws which govern the club:


Article I.  Membership

Section 2.  Rights and Privileges.  A member shall be considered in good standing if his/her dues for the current year shall have been paid and if he/she shall not have been suspended in accordance with Article VI.  All members in good standing shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges of the Club except as specified in these By-laws.


ARTICLE VI.  Discipline

Section 1.  Any member who is suspended from the privileges of the American Kennel Club automatically shall be suspended form the privileges of the Club for a like period.


"To join the BCCA, I was required to fill out information about myself and then have a fellow member sponsor me. I had been asked to adhere to a code of ethics as a Breeder and adherence to the By-laws of the BCCA. The requirement for extensive information and sponsorship was a thoughtful part of the privilege of joining a dedicated organization.  Even now, standards have been raised so it’s been asked of members/breeders to adhere to more regulations, like the submission of certain health checks if one wants to list a litter in the Bagpipes. Why? Because guidelines were created and enforced in the BCCA in order to maintain and improve the health and integrity of our breed, the Bearded Collie.


"Our club relies on the trustworthiness of its board members as a reflection of its intent to uphold practices that substantiate the integrity of the breed standards.  The BCCA sponsors its own rescue organization with a large fund base; it has a charitable trust fund, and donates funds to health research for the betterment of the breed. So the Board is accountable for the monetary funds as well as responsible for setting an example of being ethical in their dealings as owners, sportsman and breeders while being volunteers.  The Board members are the first to uphold the By-laws.  If the Board can’t uphold them, then where is the credibility for disciplining any BCCA member for any misconduct?


"The President received this suspension from AKC for deliberately violating a rule. Beyond the clear inconsistency with our by-laws, why would the consequences within our club be NOT in line with the over arching AKC organization? There are consequences when you do something illegal.


"If we members, who are also breeders, are required to comply with AKC rules when doing related paper work, then why would a Board member not be responsible to comply? It’s often a very complex and inconvenient sequence to get the proper paper work signed, but we do it because it’s the right thing to do.


"The key for me here is to do what is right.  Under Article VI, it states, any member who is suspended from the privileges of the AKC automatically shall be suspended from the privileges of the Club for a like period.  Our BCCA President was suspended from registration privileges for 6 months.  While that may not be all AKC privileges, it still puts the President in poor standing with the AKC (the AKC’s own ruling) and therefore in poor standing with the BCCA.


"By the BCCA’s By-laws, Susan Lybrand should lose these for 6 months as well.  When the 6 months are over, they are over-- the consequences are served with the BCCA as she will have served them with the AKC.


"This is not a topic that will go away.  I ask that you as a Board to be open with the membership.  It again has to do with the integrity of the Board in dealing openly with a matter that was publicly posted by the AKC.  As a member, I have not been given any information from the Executive Board; a board that was voted in by the membership and dealing with a matter that has to do with our By-laws and an AKC suspension of a fellow office and club member. Email communication would even preclude the need for an emergency update to membership.


"In closing, I ask each of you to make the right decision and uphold the By-laws of the BCCA.  Mrs. Lybrand, if the Officers and/or Board does not take any action then I ask you to make the right decision and step down for 6 months and deal with the consequences of the By-laws of this club that you were voted in to serve.  The repercussions of this matter are far reaching than I believe some of you are taking to heart.


Most sincerely,

Diane Banks

Liberty Bearded Collies"


Miranda Mulders - Houston, TX - had this to say:

“I knew before the election that Susan Lybrand was under investigation and I feel it’s unethical / shows no integrity to know you’re guilty but run your own agenda anyway.  How could she possibly not know it would be bad for the club if she was elected president and then found guilty?  It clear and simple that when the AKC suspends someone, the BCCA should also suspend but here we have the majority of the board is not doing what it’s supposed to be doing."


David Williamson speaks for many members:

"I believe something is wrong when a person has many opportunities to divulge that s/he is involved in a situation being investigated by the AKC but doesn’t make it known to the BCCA board and the entire BCCA membership.  I believe something is wrong when an officer receives a suspension/fine by the AKC on August 15 but doesn’t make it known to the entire board and membership until early October during the national specialty and then continues to hold office.


"If any board members knew about the suspension/fine after August 15 and didn’t disclose it to the membership, I believe something is wrong with that as well.  Weeks of time to discuss it and the board couldn’t communicate with the membership?  Really?  Being a former board member myself, I remember how we were repeatedly urged to answer all inquiries and concerns promptly…In contrast, my one letter and several emails to the current board were only answered by 4 board members."


Karen Barratt on what the previous President should have done.

"I feel that Susan Lybrand should be suspended along with everyone who supported her.  If I had been BCCA president at the time of the spring election, I would’ve called Susan and talked with her about going through with the election process.  I think this is a huge embarrassment for the BCCA.  I’m told that two other breed clubs have already suspended Susan Lybrand, and here we are, turning the other way.  I am worried that the board will go on doing what they want to do.  In fact, I think the board is doing a poor job with this situation and is just stalling until February when the six-month suspension is concluded."


Robert Gleason  followed procedure, even notified AKC, no response!

"The first news I heard of the Suspension was the morning of October 24.  A few emails later I was aware that Susan had not resigned as BCCA President and that a portion of the BCCA board had taken the extraordinary action of taking a vote of confidence rather than confirming what I would have expected to be an automatic suspension under article VI of the BCCA bylaws.


"Further emailed inquiries to BCCA board members who had been a part of that vote received no response so about October 26th I emailed Michael Liosis (Director Club Relations) and Dennis Sprung (AKC President) and asked for clarification.  I have not as of November 6th received a response from either gentleman.  We sent a ii Letter of Complaint {3} and the required $10 deposit to Cindy Alspaugh Corresponding Secretary of the Bearded Collie Club of America on October 27th. On November 1st, not having received any acknowledgment of receipt of that letter, I emailed a copy to Cindy and copied in ALL the BCCA board members. As of today Nov 6th I have no response from the BCCA secretary.  If all of the club members who have told me that they were also sending complaint letters did so, Cindy should have more than a dozen formal complaints.


"On a more positive note, I have received confirmation from Jan Grebe, President of the French Bulldog Club of America and Janet Gray, President of the English Setter Association of American that Susan is automatically suspended as required by their bylaws (the same section that is in the Bylaws of the BCCA) and that further action may be taken."


TheDogPress contacted the Bearded Collie Club Of America for the Board’s position.   Rosemary Schroeder, Vice President, sent the following response on behalf of the BCCA Board.  Ms. Schroeder will be stepping into the role of leadership for the Bearded Collie Club Of America Bard and the BCCA membership.


Rosemary Schroeder Synopsis of BCCA Actions

“Things continue to evolve in this case, and the Board of the BCCA is working diligently to try to understand all sides of this matter.  This is a difficult, time-consuming process.  We have been delayed waiting on responses from AKC while attempting to read and digest all the emails we have received on both sides.  The information following represents the facts at the time this column is going to press.


“When Susan received the letter from AKC announcing her suspension, we immediately went to our By-Laws to review Article VI, Section 1 which reads as follows:

Section 1. Any member who is suspended from the privileges of the American Kennel Club automatically shall be suspended from the privileges of the Club for a like period.


“Since Susan was suspended only for reasons related to a registration matter and retains all other rights and privileges of the AKC, our first response was to question whether this section of our By-Laws means suspended from ALL AKC privileges or ANY AKC privilege.  The By-Law, as written, is open to interpretation.  We asked our AKC delegate to contact Michael Liosis of AKC for clarification of this rule.  Mr. Liosis replied as follows:


"The interpretation as to what "the privileges" of the AKC means is left to the club's board until more definite language is inserted in the by-laws.  The Board can take the position that suspension from any AKC privileges or all AKC privileges shall also result in suspension from the club.  Once the Board makes this determination it must be applied in the same manner to all future cases.  Once the by-laws are amended to include "any" or "all", the by-laws would prevail."


“It was remembered that such a case had occurred previously in 2006 with a member who was suspended from AKC event privileges.  The board at that time had ruled NOT to suspend the member.  Thus a precedent had been set by that previous board.  At the Annual Board Meeting in October, Susan announced her suspension to the board members who were present, and the information received from the AKC was shared.


“Susan offered to step down as President.  However, a motion was made and a "vote of confidence" was taken.  The motion was passed.  Shortly afterwards, unrelated to Susan's suspension,  it was published in the Gazette that the AKC Board, at their August meeting had passed a motion to define good standing as a person who has not had any AKC privileges suspended.  This raised more questions from the membership and several board members.  It should be noted that this amendment was made relevant to a specific article, Article VI, Section V, in the AKC By-Laws which applies to AKC delegates.  Mr. Liosis was again contacted to ask if this applied in Susan's case.  Below is his reply:


“The conduct that caused Ms. Lybrand’s suspension occurred well before The American Kennel Club’s Board of Directors clarified the term “in good standing” as it pertains to the use of the term in Article VI, Section 5, of The Charter and Bylaws of The American Kennel Club to mean a person not suspended from any AKC privileges."


“The majority of the Board at the annual meeting believed that we should follow AKC's advice and should follow the previous precedent that had been set."


So does violating a club’s Bylaws set precedent for a second violation?  Did AKC’s Department of Club Relations give advice or not and if so, does it support the Beardie Club’s own Bylaws?  Would the BCCA Board and/or Susan Lybrand have reacted in the same way had TheDogPress not agreed to cover the story and pressured the Bearded Collie Club Board for a position statement?  And missing from this story; Did the BCCA suspend Lybrand or not?  According to the Vice President, Susan Lybrand has only “stepped aside” for the duration of her suspension.


Why did AKC suspend Lybrand but in a similar case, the person who forged her co-owner’s name on a litter registration and subsequent individual dog registration was NOT SUSPENDED?  Perhaps, with exposure in the press, she will be suspended but the contrast is sharply defined in The Davino Case covered in October.


TheDogPress blog invites your comments and/or similar Breed or Kennel club experiences.


{1} The Davino Case Co-Ownership Forgery

{2} AKC & Breed Club Presidents Sued for $1.8 million

{3} ii Letter of Complaint to the BCCA Board


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