PACT Complaints Procedure

1. Aims of the PACT

1.1 The aims of the PACT are set out in the association’s mission statement and can be found under About Us

2. Aims of the PACT complaints procedure

2.1 To ensure that all complaints are considered, handled and investigated in a professional manner.

2.2. To treat all complainants and PACT members fairly and according to the principles of the PACT mission statement, the PACT code of conduct and the law.

2.3 To seek resolution between the complainant and the PACT member.

2.4 To actively and sincerely investigate all complaints.

2.5 To apply the complaints procedure to all full members.

3. Valid complaint criteria

What constitutes a complaint?

3.1 Any material in breach of either the mission statement or code of practice of the PACT.

3.2 Any behaviour or conduct in breach of either the mission statement or code of practice of the PACT.

Examples of complaints:

1. False, misleading or unscientific information on members’ website, social media or other marketing and promotional materials.

2. Use of unethical, harmful and aversive methods and techniques.

3. Causing avoidable stress, distress and/or harm the welfare of an animal and/or client.

4. Failing to maintain suitable and adequate insurance.

Examples of issues which will not be considered complaints.

1. Failure to adequately resolve a client’s training issue (within reason).

2. Failure to keep an appointment or follow-ups.

3. Disagreement over payment for services.

4. Pointing out the failings or mistakes of others, or voicing differing opinions, in regards to others working within the field of dog training, to clients or veterinary professionals. Others may include non-PACT members, or those who are working within or outside the ABTC.

Where issues are raised by either a client, others working within the industry of animal behaviour and training, or veterinary personnel members these would not be subject to the full complaints procedure, and it would be expected that the matter could be resolved informally.

4. Who can lodge a complaint?

4.1 Anyone may lodge a complaint, including existing PACT members, members of the public, veterinary professionals, and members of other organisations. This list is not exhaustive.

5. Complaints procedure

5.1 All complaints must be made in writing and submitted by either e-mail or post to the PACT office. Complainants must give their full name, contact phone number, e-mail address (if available) and postal address. Full contact details will be requested if not initially provided. Failure to provide this information will render the complaint null and void. Anonymous complaints will be disregarded.

5.2 The complaint will be logged with the administrator. Membership status of the individual will be checked and if found not to be a member the complainant will be informed that no action can be taken by the PACT.

5.3 The letter of complaint and contact details of the member will be passed to the designated complaints member.

5.4 The complaints member will contact the complainant by phone, email or letter to determine the particulars of the complaint. The exact details of the complaint will be verified and documented by the complaints member and submitted to the complainant for agreement.

5.5 Should the complainant advise of independent parties who may be able to support the complaint, validity will be checked by the complaints member.

5.6 Should the complainant supply names and contact details (phone number, email address and postal address) of those independent parties referred to above, they will be contacted in writing by the complaints member. Failure to provide the above details will mean no contact will be made.

5.7 The complaints member will contact the PACT member who is the focus of the complaint, in writing by email or post, to notify and explain the details of the complaint, including the name of the complainant and witnesses if applicable. The complaints member will forward copies of all relevant documentation to the member by either email or recorded delivery. The PACT member will only be asked to respond once all documentation has been received.

5.8 The PACT member will be asked to submit a written response to the allegations within 14 days of receipt of all documentation. Extensions may be granted at the discretion of the complaints member.

5.9 The complaints member will consider the PACT member’s written response and, if deemed reasonable, no further action will be taken and both parties will be informed in writing.

5.10 Should the complaints member not consider the PACT member’s written response appropriate or reasonable, he/she will be informed in writing. Mediation between the complainant and PACT member will be undertaken if necessary to reach an acceptable complaint resolution.

5.11 Should resolution not be reached by both parties, or the alleged offence is considered to be serious, the complainant and PACT member will be asked to attend a specially chaired meeting of the PACT. This meeting will take place at a convenient location for both parties, at a mutually suitable time and date. The PACT member will be given 28 days written notice to attend a meeting of the Committee and written details of the complaint made against them.

The complaints panel will consist of the complaints member and relevant members of the PACT complaints committee as agreed upon by the Directors. The PACT member and complainant will be allowed to bring another person. Both parties will be given the opportunity to present their case or be represented by another who will do so for them, e.g. solicitor.

The complaints panel will determine the nature of the meeting, how best to proceed and whether cross examination is necessary or appropriate. Should either the PACT member or complainant decline or refuse to attend this meeting, it may proceed in their absence.
Within 14 days of the meeting a decision will be made by the complaints member and other committee members. Members may not be suspended or expelled unless at least two thirds of the committee present votes in favour either. The member and complainant will be informed of this decision in writing.

5.12 In the event of a further or more complaints being received at any time during the 5 years after a first warning has been issued, the complaints panel will investigate and ensure the credibility of the claim and reserves the right to terminate membership immediately.

6. Additional points

6.1 The complaints member may deem the use of phone calls necessary for ease, clear communication and clarity. In this case, the PACT member will be contacted and a mutually convenient date and time agreed on. Members will not be called unexpectedly and questioned. Phone calls between the complaints member and the PACT member will last no longer than 30 minutes; if this is not sufficient time then both parties should agree on another date and time.

6.2 Discussion of the actual complaint will only happen once the member has been informed in writing of the nature of the complaint and provided with copies of all documentation relating to it.

7. Sanctions

7.1 Sanctions will be appropriate and reflect the weight of the offence. For example, they may include offering an apology to the complainant, completing CPD within a specified timeframe, suspension for a period of time, or expulsion for serious or continuing repeated offences. Failure to comply with recommendations may result in further disciplinary actions by the complaints member.

8. Follow-up to complaint

8.1 If the complaint is not upheld, a record will not be kept nor used in any future proceedings.
8.2 If the complaint is upheld, a record will be kept on file for five years, and may be taken in consideration if other complaints of a similar nature are received in the future.

8.3 Details of an upheld complaint will not be passed on to any other organisation either formally or informally.