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Code of Ethics

Statement of Purpose (rev. Jan. 1997)

The Flat-Coated Retriever Society of America, Inc. is comprised of members who are dedicated to preserving and improving the character, working talents, type and soundness, both physically and mentally, of the Flat-Coated Retriever. Every person who owns a Flat-Coat has a large responsibility to protect our breed.

Breeders should place strong emphasis on the multipurpose nature of our breed, as defined in the Breed Standard, when evaluating breeding prospects. The Breed Standard as approved by the American Kennel Club is the only standard of excellence by which Flat-Coated Retrievers shall be judged.

While breeders are central to the issue of ethical conduct through their decisions on which dogs to breed and where puppies are placed, each owner of a Flat-Coat must be accountable for protecting and preserving our breed.

With these thoughts in mind, the FCRSA Code of Ethics has been written to establish a minimum criteria for the responsible ownership of a Flat-Coated Retriever.


The following requirements are considered to be ascertainable standards needed for the welfare of our breed. They are of sufficient importance that violations, if verified, will result in disciplinary action by the Board of Directors.

General Requirements

  1. Member must be in good standing with the American Kennel Club and comply with all AKC Rules and Regulations.
  2. Member shall never sell or give a Flat-Coat to a third party agent, pet shop, health organization or laboratory for the purpose of experimentation. Nor shall a Flat-Coat be sold or given for auction, raffle, prize, or under any circumstances where the member cannot personally approve of the home to which the dog is going.
  3. Dogs should be kept in a safe and healthy environment, with proper shelter from weather conditions provided.
  4. Dogs should have regular veterinary check-ups.
  5. Dogs should have appropriate preventative health care. This may include measures such as vaccinations and heartworm preventative, as applicable.

Requirements for Breeders

A Breeder is defined as anyone who owns or is responsible for any bitch or dog that is bred, even if bred only one time.

  1. All dogs that are bred must have an OFA number (or board-certified veterinary equivalent) and CERF number (or board-certified ophthalmologist equivalent). Dogs outside the U.S. must have their country s equivalent of these two certifications.
  2. Breeding stock must not be aggressive towards humans or other dogs. For the purposes of this Code, aggressive is defined as an unprovoked attack on a human or another dog.
  3. Breeders should not knowingly breed any dog or bitch that has itself, or is known to have repeatedly produced; hip dysplasia, significant eye problems, or any other significant condition that affects the physical and mental soundness of the dog.
  4. All breeding stock should be in good general health and of sound temperament.
  5. Breeders should not breed any bitch more than once a year, or more than twice in any two year period, if bred on consecutive seasons.
  6. Unless there are compelling reasons otherwise, puppies should not be released to their new homes before their 49th day of age.
  7. Puppies or dogs that are placed as pets must be sold with AKC limited registration, spay/neuter contracts, or on a co-ownership basis with the breeder.
  8. Breeder should provide purchaser with a written contract specifying, at least:
    1. his or her guarantee for the puppy or dog covered by the contract;
    2. that the breeder must be contacted if the purchaser no longer can or wants to keep the dog;
    3. that the dog, and any of its offspring, will never be given or sold to any person or party listed above under "General requirements 2)".
  9. Puppies must be registerable, and the breeder must supply the purchaser with registration paperwork in a timely manner, preferably withing 1 month of the purchase of the puppy unless otherwise stated in the purchase contract.
  10. Breeder must be willing at any time to take back or help relocate any Flat-Coat he or she has sold.


Alleged violations of the Code of Ethics should be reported to the Ethics Committee Chair. The Ethics Committee will investigate the report, following a published procedure that provides for due process, and if an apparent violation(s) is found, may do one f two things; issue an Observation, or, refer the matter to the FCRSA Board of Directors. Upon further investigation and finding a violation(s), the Board may take one of the following actions: Issue a(n)) 1) Observation, 2)Warning, 3) Censure, 4) Temporary Suspension, 5) Permanent Suspension.

Any member suspended temporarily or permanently by the Board shall have the right to appeal the decision to the general membership at the next annual meeting, provided the request for appeal is received by the Corresponding Secretary not less than 6 weeks before the annual meeting.

Any substantiated violations of AKC Rules and Regulations will be forwarded to the AKC by the Board of Directors.

Enforcement actions taken by the Board will be published in the newsletter to keep the membership informed, however information identifying violators will be omitted, except in the case where a suspended member appeals as described above, and would therefore be identified in the proceedings of an annual meeting as documented in the minutes.


Each prospective member will affirm that they will comply with the Code o Ethics, by signature on the application for membership. Each member will reaffirm compliance annually by signature when membership is renewed.

Accepted by:______________________________ Date:________________


  • Report of Complaint Received by Ethics Committee Chair (2 weeks)
  • Investigator appointed (3 weeks)
  • Investigator contacts Complainant and obtains supporting documents, if any (3 weeks)
  • Investigator contacts Subject of complaint and provides Complainant's documents (4 weeks)
  • Subject to respond to Complaint (3 weeks)
  • Conference between Investigator and Subject (2 weeks)
  • Subject submits following up materials, if any (4 weeks)
  • Ethics Committee meets to consider the complaint



    1. After receipt of a complaint, the chairperson of the Ethics Committee will first evaluate whether the complaint involves alleged violations of the Code of Ethics. if the complaint relates to matters outside the Code of Ethics, the chairperson shall notify the complainant that the Ethics Committee has no jurisdiction over the complaint. if the complaint may relate to alleged misconduct prejudicial to the best interests of the society or the breed, the chairperson shall notify the complainant of the disciplinary procedures available under Article VI or the FCRSA Bylaws. If the complaint does relate to alleged unethical conduct then, within 2 weeks after receipt of a complaint, the chairperson of the Ethics Committee will appoint a member of the committee to perform the investigation. In selecting the investigator, the chair will make reasonable efforts to select a member who is not well known to either the complaining party or to the subject of the complaint. If the investigator feels that she/he cannot, in good conscience, be impartial in investigating the matter, then she/he may be recused from participating in this process. If none of the members of the committee feel that they can investigate the case, then the FCRSA president shall appoint a temporary member of the Ethics Committee for purposes of investigating the complaint.


    1. Within three weeks after being appointed, the investigator will contact the complainant and obtain any supporting materials, including documents, statements from witnesses, etc., that the complainant ay with to submit. The investigator should have at least one telephone conference with the complainant in order to explain the investigatory process and clarify the facts and issues involved int he complaint. The investigator should explain to the complainant that she/he has a right to submit any further supporting documentation, but that all of the materials submitted will be provided to the subject of the complaint in order to allow the subject the opportunity to fully respond to the allegations. The complainant should not submit any materials which she/he does not want to be provided to the subject to the complaint.
    2. Within three weeks after receiving all materials from the complainant, the investigator will notify the subject of the complaint and provide all documents obtained during the course of the investigation to the subject. The investigator will have at least one initial telephone conference with the subject ot explain the process and o notify the subject that she/he has an opportunity to provide any documents or witness statements in response to the complaint. The subject will have four weeks within which to respond.


    1. The investigator will then conduct a conference with the subject of the complaint. The conference may take place in person or by telephone. If the subject wishes a personal meeting, it is up to the subject to arrange and pay for any travel costs which may be involved. The conference will take place at a mutually convenient time for both the investigator and the subject, but in no event will it be held more than three weeks after all documents have been received from the subject. The subject will be informed that the meeting will be tape recorded by the investigator.
    2. The investigator has the discretion as to whether to allow legal counsel for the subject to be present at the meeting. During the meeting, the investigator will allow the subject a reasonable time to clarify the facts of the case and respond to the charges. If time permits, the investigator may allow supporting witnesses to be heard during this meeting.
    3. The investigator will notify the subject that she/he has a right to submit any summaries or follow=up correspondence within two weeks after the hearing.


    1. Within six weeks after the conference, the Ethics Committee will meet in person or by conference call to decide whether probably cause exists to believe that a violation has occurred. If so, the case will be referred to the Board for further action. A quorum of the Ethics Committee must be resent in order to make this determination. A quorum is defined as a majority of the committee members. If enough members have recused themselves so that a quorum is not present, the FCRSA president shall appoint temporary members so that a quorum may be achieved.
    2. The committee will receive copies of all documents which the investigator has obtained relating to the complaint. The investigator will summarize the investigation and the results of the conference with the subject.
    3. A majority of the members making up the quorum must vote for a finding of probably cause in order for the case to be referred to the Board. The Ethics Committee investigator will have a vote during these deliberations.
    4. If the committee decides probable cause is present, and that the appropriate response is to issue an Observation, it is empowered to do to, with a memo notice of the action and full particulars sent to the Board.
    5. If the committee decides probable cause is present, and that the appropriate response might be other than an Observations, it does not need to prepare a lengthy decision, but merely to forward the materials it has received to the Board along with a written determination that the committee has voted that probable cause exists to believe that a violation has occurred.


    1. The Ethics Committee and Board of Directors will use reasonable efforts to maintain the confidentiality of this entire process. While neither the Committee nor the FCRSA can be responsible for inadvertent disclosures, the Ethics Committee and Board of Directors will strive to respect the privacy of the parties during its investigation. No public announcement will be made by the committee or board regardless of its decision. The complainant and the subject will be notified privately by the committee or board of its decision.

Copyright © 1999, Flat-Coated Retriever Society of America, Inc.
Last Revised: May 24, 1998
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