I started training dogs because I was good at it and enjoyed working with animals and helping both dogs and people have a better life. I have built my career doing what was right even in the face of opposition. When I began my first training class, I was told to alpha roll my dog and use a rattle can. I didn’t do it and searched to find better ways for the last 30 years. I did what I thought was right. Then I had the opportunity to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.
I hoped I could make a difference to how dog training was presented on a national scale. Two things were evident to me: that the public needed a chance to learn about kinder more modern training philosophies and that the APDT was the preeminent organization offering educational opportunities nationwide.
It didn’t go well and if you follow the APDT closely, you know that I resigned from the Board of Trustees because I couldn’t support the decisions of my fellow board members, nor could I continue to cosign the way they made decisions and presented information to the general members. The board fired the most effective staff and management team that we had in our history because they wouldn’t work past a personality conflict. They rushed the transition to a management company that had no institutional knowledge and without any reasonable ramp up time.
I don’t think the general membership really has a chance to know the problems with the “New APDT”. The board and the association management haven’t answered requests for information about the decline in educational offerings and conference registrations. Even after concerned prior leadership made suggestions and inquiries, nothing was answered. In fact, even in light of the need for transparency and effective leadership with open communication, the in-person board meeting in Lexington in June was only in session for a little over one hour, and there was neither old business nor new business discussed. Six months into a major change warrants a formal agenda item to assess current status. What they did do was compartmentalize the flow of information so that no one interested would see it. They have shut down most of the message boards including the well-read Yahoo group. All that is left is the “Official Community” and dissent (otherwise termed “suggestions”) has been relegated to a forum with only 30 odd participants.
The net result is that the general membership doesn’t know that the individuals who brought the association to the public have also resigned from their positions. Not only did I resign, but neither Katenna Jones, the Education Director nor Adrienne Hovey, the Chronicle of the Dog Editor, have chosen to stay with the organization. The candidates for the September Board of Trustees election haven’t been announced, and I believe there aren’t even enough candidates to fill the open spots on the board. I am disappointed in the current actions of the leaders of what I used to consider “Our Association”, but I am really more pained by the effort so many other people have put into helping APDT grow to the prominence and then are watching it decline and being unable to stop the landslide.
I just thought you should know.