Accessible Version

IAABC Policies And Procedures For Handling Complaints Of Ethical Violations

General Purpose

  1. The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, Inc., hereafter referred to as "IAABC,” is dedicated to advocating for the professionalization of the animal training trade, promoting the professional development of animal behavior consultants and trainers, and endorsing ethical practices that align with IAABC values.
  2. The IAABC, in furthering its objectives, administers the IAABC Code of Ethics, hereafter referred to as the "COE,” which has been approved by the IAABC Board of Directors (the "Board”).
  3. This IAABC Policies and Procedures for Handling Complaints of Ethical Violations ("Policies and Procedure”) document provides procedures and guidance for handling and resolving complaints of ethical violations ("Complaints”) brought against Members under the COE.  It specifies the procedures for processing complaints and for the work of the IAABC Ethics Team ("Team”) and the IAABC Ethics Office ("Office”).  It sets forth: procedures for judging the ethical conduct of members, imposing sanctions as appropriate, and the appeals process. 


  1. To be accepted, an ethics complaint must pertain to a "Member,” meaning an individual who:
  2. Is a current member of the IAABC; or
  3. Who was a member of the IAABC when the alleged violation(s) occurred.

Eligibility To File Complaints

  1. The following individuals may file complaints (serve as "Complainants”):
  2. Any individual(s) who has a good faith reason to believe that an IAABC member violated the COE.

Ethics Team Members

  1. The Ethics Team is a volunteer team of the IAABC with six (6) to nine (9) members appointed by the Ethics Director, including one (1) Team Leader.
  2. Team members are non-management members of the IAABC in good standing appointed each year by the Ethics Director.  Team members serve for two (2) year terms.  Any vacancy occurring on the Team is filled by a non-management IAABC member in good standing appointed by the Ethics Director.  Each year, one (1) Team Leader is appointed by the Ethics Director.  The Team Leader is ideally a Team member who has served at least one (1) year on the Team.
  3. Team Members who have served a minimum of two (2) years on the Team will be eligible to serve on the Ethics Hearing Panel ("HP”).  HP members will only review and adjudicate complaints forwarded by the Ethics Director for an Appeal Hearing.  The HP will always consist of at least three (3) members but not more than five (5) members.    

Role, Function, And Responsibilities Of The Ethics Team Members

The Ethics Team shall have the following duties and responsibilities: 

  1. Aid and support the Ethics Director in:
    1. Reviewing and assessing at least annually the COE and the Policies and Procedures and recommending any proposed changes to the Executive Director and Board for approval;
    2. Receiving and processing complaints of alleged violations of the COE;
    3. Developing and implementing membership education as to the COE;
  2. Any Complaint Review Panel ("CRP”) member or HP member, as described in more detail below, with a conflict of interest shall disclose such conflict and withdraw from participation in any case as soon as they are aware of the conflict.
  3. The Team members have an obligation to act in an unbiased manner, to work expeditiously, to protect the confidentiality of Team activities, and to follow procedures to protect IAABC and the rights of all individuals involved.  

Ethics Director

The Ethics Director is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the IAABC Office and program.  The Ethics Director shall have the following duties and responsibilities:

  1. Implementing, overseeing and monitoring the day-to-day operations of the ethics program as documented in the COE and Policies and Procedures;
  2. Investigating and acting on matters related to ethics violations in accordance with the Policies and Procedures ;
  3. Maintaining all relevant records for the Office;
  4. Reporting on a regular basis to the Executive Director; 
  5. Appointing and managing Ethics Team volunteers;
  6. Assessing the effectiveness of the ethics program;
  7. Reviewing and assessing at least annually the COE and the Policies and Procedures and recommending any proposed changes to the Executive Director and Board for approval;
  8. Developing and implementing COE training and education for the membership, IAABC leadership and staff;
  9. Serving as a knowledge source and consultant for management, the board, staff, contractors and membership
    1. Providing input on the implementation and effectiveness of IAABC ethics and internal organization culture initiatives, including training on ethical decision-making, the resolution of ethics issues, and efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace in IAABC’s hiring and staff development practices.  
    2. Providing consultation to the board, staff, and management during policy development for LIMA and ethics-related initiatives.


  1. All timelines provided represent guidelines followed for the purpose of efficiency and to set general expectations. Timelines are not required or guaranteed, and the Ethics Director may approve a protracted timeline due to the complexity of the case, availability of CRP members, or any other circumstance that presents an obstacle for the Ethics Team to perform under the published time constraints. Processing of Complaints outside the published timelines does not constitute a violation of the Procedures, nor does it provide grounds for dismissal of a Complaint.


  1. Any complaint regarding an alleged violation of the COE must be filed in accordance with the procedures set forth herein.  
  2. Complaints shall be limited to subjects specified in the COE.
  3. As described below, ethics Complaints must be submitted in writing via the electronic Complaint Form. Only Complaints submitted via the Complaint Form will be considered. We cannot accept or hear Complaints submitted in any other way.
  4. Correspondence related to filed Ethical Complaints are to be addressed to the IAABC Ethics Director by email only and marked "confidential.”


  1. Upon submission of a Complaint, Complainant will agree to be bound by the Policies and, and agree to keep submission of the Complaint, the identity of the Respondent, the alleged violation, and any related act or determination by the Ethics Team, confidential, other than as noted herein.
  2. Confidentiality shall be maintained throughout the process. Confidentiality is defined as disclosure only to the parties necessary to process the complaint, including but not limited to the Ethics Team, witnesses, and IAABC members responsible for providing technical or administrative information related to the complaint, and only to the degree required for their participation.
  3. Once a determination has been made, the parties involved will be notified of that determination. Details of the determination shall remain confidential except as provided in L.8. and N.2. above or as required by law.
  4. Violation of confidentiality by any IAABC member may be considered a violation of the Ethics Code. Violation of confidentiality by a non-member may result in dismissal of the Complaint and may result in civil penalties.
  5. The confidentiality obligations imposed by these Procedures do not preclude a Complainant, Respondent, witness, or any IAABC member involved in a Complaint from consulting legal counsel. Complainant and Respondent may seek the assistance of counsel in drafting statements and in responding to any questions asked pursuant to these Procedures.
  6. The Board reserves the right to disclose the names of parties and resolution of a case if in the best interests of the organization.
  7. A party to a Complaint may petition the Board for permission to disclose the names of the parties and the resolution of his/her/their case. The Board may grant disclosure for good cause. The Board may consult the Ethics Office in making the good cause determination.


  1. It is contrary to the values of IAABC for any Member, Director, officer, committee member, or employee to retaliate against any Complainant who in good faith reports a violation of the IAABC Code of Ethics.
  2. Retaliation against someone reporting a violation in good faith will not be tolerated and will be considered a violation under the IAABC Code of Ethics and grounds for discipline up to and including, without limitation, revocation of IAABC Membership and/or revocation of IAABC credentials, removal from office, or termination of their employment.
  3. Retaliation includes, without limitation, any actions that threaten, harass, or discriminate against a Complainant, or any negative employment or related action against a Complainant (e.g., discharge, demotion, or negative review) for filing a report pursuant to these procedures.