An agility competitor attended a disciplinary hearing at the Kennel Club on Wednesday 21st August to answer allegations brought against her concerning her conduct during an alleged incident at the North Norfolk Agility Club Open Show held on 1st April 2002.
The Rule A42 complaint, brought against Miss Claire Arend of Scratby, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, by The Kennel Club read thus: "She did repeatedly punch a Border Collie, Sundance Shep, being handled by Miss Cressida Mansfield in the head and shoulders and then threw the dog with force to the ground and subjected the dog and handler to sustained verbal abuse."
After an emotional and at times tearful four hour hearing, the Disciplinary Sub Committee, under the chairmanship of Mr Bernard Hall, found that they could not uphold the l continued from front page complaint as presented.
The Kennel Club case was presented once again by Mr Martin Evans, Council to The Kennel Club, whilst Miss Arend was represented by her mother Dora Dorlys Arend-Iseli. Also in attendance, in addition to the six members of the Disciplinary Sub Committee and witnesses, were Mrs Caroline Kisko the Secretary of The Kennel Club, Mrs Linda Branwhite, the KC Disciplinary co-ordinator and Mr Gary Johnson, also from the KC, plus members of the Canine Press.
Mr Evans opened the hearing by presenting a "Case Summary". The background to the case being that on 1st April 2002, Miss Arend and a Miss Cressida Mansfield were both attending the North Norfolk Agility Show with their dogs. Miss Mansfield was in a busy area with her dog, a Border Collie (Shep), whilst Miss Arend was standing nearby with her dog a "working type" English Springer Spaniel (Dylan). Miss Mansfield let go of her Collie's lead and it ran across the Miss Arend's Spaniel. Mr Evans then stated that it was alleged that Miss Mansfield saw Miss Arend grab the Border Collie, pinning him to the ground, whilst repeatedly punching the dog to the head and shoulders and shouting verbal abuse at him. It was further alleged that she then lifted the dog by his collar and threw him onto the floor. It was further alleged that this left the dog limping and dazed.
Mr Evans pointed out to the DSC that there would be conflicting evidence presented to them at the hearing and that they had to decide whether the admitted behaviour of the Respondent amounts to behaviour discreditable or prejudicial to the interests of the canine world. if the answer is YES, then the complaint is made out and the conflicting evidence would be immaterial. If however the answer to the question was NO then the DSC would have to decide what actually did happen. The factual issue that needed to be decided was "what did Miss Arend do in order to separate the two dogs? I.E., did she shout, repeatedly punch and throw the collie, or simply slap in once and push it away to prevent injury to herself and/or her dog?
first witness to be called was Miss Cressida Mansfield, owner
of the Border Collie "Shep", involved in the alleged
incident. She stated that on the day in question she was standing
near to the secretaries tent awaiting a prize giving for one
of the classes along with several other people including Miss
Arend. She lent down to tie her show lace and lost grip on
Her nine year old Border Collie ran over to Miss Arend's springer growling, a distance of about 10 metres, Miss Mansfield then alleged, that as the dog approached, a man standing with Miss Arend, her spaniel was pulled away by a man standing with Miss Arend.
It was then alleged that Miss Arend grabbed the Collie, pinning it to the ground and proceeded to punch him repeatedly in the head and shoulders whilst shouting verbal abuse at him. It was further alleged that she then lifted the dog off the ground and threw him backwards where he landed awkwardly about two metres away leaving him with a limp on one of his back legs. Miss Mansfield alleged that Miss Arend had punched Shep many times with her clenched fist, with full force, not merely slapped him.
When pressed on the number of punches thrown, Miss Mansfield was unsure of the number but thought it to be more than (say) seven blows, she simply wasn't counting. The dog did eventually recover and no veterinary assistance or advice was sought... She confirmed that she had been attending agility shows for about seven years and had never before witnessed such swearing in tone or volume or such a sustained viscous attach before. It was about 15 minutes after the alleged attach that Miss Mansfield visited the secretaries tent to lodge a formal complaint.
In reply to questions from the Sub Committee Miss Mansfield stated that no blood had been drawn from either dog and that Miss Arend had used a clenched fist. The whole incident had taken just a few seconds and whilst she did not have a perfect view of the incident, she could still clearly see what was happening.
next witness to be called was Miss Zena Hills who was standing
close to Miss Mansfield, immediately prior to the incident.
She stated that "Shep" had slipped his lead and
ran over to the Springer and "mouthed over its neck".
She stated that in her opinion, most of the commotion was
noise and the Springer Spaniel did not cry out in any way.
She then alleged that Miss Arend reacted "very violently",
sitting on the Collie's back and punching it repeatedly to
the head about 15-20 times, then grabbing the Collie by the
neck throwing him to the floor shouting "Get that f***ing
dog away". She had considered intervening, but did not
dare to as it was alleged that Miss Arend was shouting and
swearing loudly. In her opinion Miss Arend was completely
out of control of the situation.
The third witness of the day was Melanie Douglas, who had been attending the show with her husband and was standing with the group awaiting a prize presentation. She has made a joint statement with her husband, Mike, in the Secretaries tent, shortly after the incident.
Her version was that she had not seen the Collie actually run over but had been attracted by the noise of the incident. She stated that she saw the owner of the Spaniel grab the Collie by the scruff of the neck, separating the two dogs, pinned it underneath her by sitting on the dog and then continually punch it about 15-20 times in the head. It was then alleged that she had picked up the Collie by his scruff and "chucked" hum 1-2 meters backwards. In her written evidence she alleged that Miss Arend had screamed "You stupid f***ing dog".
She also saw the collie limp off with it's owner, but at no time had she seen any blood drawn.
In reply to questions from Mrs Dora Dorlys Arend-Iseli and the sub-committee Mrs Douglas stated that the whole incident had lasted about two to three seconds and she had been surprised there had been no injuries, but had been "shocked and horrified" by the incident.
On being asked why she thought why the collie had made a b-line for the springer Mrs Douglas thought that probably they had been "eyeing each other up" and that it was the noise of the incident that had her turn her head towards the incident.
A third witness was called, Sue Bowen, who stated that she did not know anyone involved in the incident. She stated that in her opinion, the dog had been hit with great force about 10-12 times by Miss Arend, who was on her knees holding and hitting the collie with her fist..
These were not mere "slaps" she alleged but fill blown punches. After the attack, she had witnessed the dog being led away limping.
Mr Evans then drew the attention to the sub-committee of two written statements from witnesses who were not attending the hearing. These were from a Mrs R A Barnes and Mrs S Hobdell. Mr Evans pointed out that whilst these statements should be taken into account by the sub-committee as the witnesses could not be cross examined, probably not as much weight should be attached to their evidence than if they had attended in person.
hearing then broke for lunch. the first witness to be called
after lunch was Mr Matthew Clifton, who had attended the show
with Miss Arend. His version of events was that he had been
standing with Miss Arend when the Border Collie "came
out of nowhere" and attacked Miss Arend's spaniel, pinning
it to the ground and repeatedly biting him. He stated that
the owner of the Collie made no attempt to remove the dog
or break up the situation. He witnessed Miss Arend attempt
to break up the fight and in the process of doing so sustained
bites to her hand. he stated that she shouted at the dog and
slapped it on the head and lifted it into the direction of
the owners, The springer was very distressed and shaken by
the incident. There appeared to be no blood on the dogs but
the springer did have some saliva on it's neck and hindquarters.
He estimated that there had been no more than three or four
slaps, not punches made to the collie.
He also stated in written evidence than he had witnessed Miss Mansfield and several of her "friends" in the secretary's tent conferring whilst composing their respective statements of the incident. He also stated that he witnessed the same collie still behaving aggressively to the point that the handler had to remove it from the secretaries tent. Mr Clifton also went with Miss Arend to the James Padget Hospital where she received medical attention to her bitten hand which involved cleaning the wound, bandaging it and Miss Arend also received an anti-tetanus injection as a precautionary measure. He could not however recall which hand sustained the injury, but confirmed that the bite had drawn blood.
next witness was Mrs H Evans. Her version of events was similar
to those of Mr Clifton but she did state that Miss Arend shouted
"Don't you dare touch my dog", pushing the collie
to the ground and then away. During the incident, Mrs Evans
also confirmed that a bite was sustained to Miss Arend's hand,
but also could not recall which one. The meeting was then
referred to Mrs Evan's written statement and diagram which
had been previously submitted to the KC.
Finally Miss Arend who had remained silent during the hearing, the questioning of the witnesses being made by her mother, had the opportunity to address the sub-committee.
The emotion of the afternoon had clearly reached Miss Arend who was tearful and had to stop on more than one occasion to regain her composure.
She read from a previously written statement and was plainly distressed to be recalling the incident. Her version was simply that her Springer was the victim of an unexpected and unprovoked attack which no one else had made any effort to stop. She felt that she had only used reasonable force and had slapped the dog definitely not punched it to assist in ending the attack.
She held up her right had which had several rings on when she said were on permanently and would have made such action impossible without severely injuring the Collie. She did however admit that in the heat of the moment she had used bad language, which probably include a single "f" word, but this was in the heat of the moment when she was under great stress. She stated that her Springer "Dylan's" was a very well behaved and passive dog and during the attach had submitted fully to the Border Collie, but that the Collie had not stopped and "just kept going" at the springer, which is why she had to intervene.
She genuinely believed that her dog was at risk of sustaining serious injury. At no time did the owner of the collie make any attempt to assist, which is why she had to list the collie off her dog and away from the incident. Despite the fact that he had been bitten several times, Dylan sustained no puncture wounds, this Miss Arend put down to his very thick and woolly coat. Miss Arend was then allowed a few moments to regain her composure by Mr Evens before he and the sub-committee asked her their final few questions.
In summing up, for the Kennel Club, Mr Evans pointed out the conflicting evidence which had been presented, but also pointed out the fact that many of the witnesses did not know each other or either of the parties involved prior to the incident and this had to be taken into account. he was satisfied that the incident had not lasted a long time and it was not in dispute that the owner of the Collie made no attempt to assist during the incident.
It was up to the sub committee to decide if Miss Arend had acted reasonably or not during the incident and whether the force used was excessive. That bad language had been used was not disputed and this also had to be taken into account.
the summing up, the sub committee recessed for 30 minutes
to consider their decision. When recalled the meeting was
told that the complaint had not been upheld. Miss Arend once
again became tearful and hugged her mother for several moments
before regaining her composure to thank the Sub-Committee.
Following the hearing the following statement was issued:
The Committee have studied the evidence and while not condoning Miss Arend, on her own admission, for hitting the Border Collie, Sundance Shep, cannot uphold the complaint as presented.
Although we find that she took inappropriate action against the Border Collie we do not find that she repeatedly punched the dog or subjected the dog or the handler to sustained verbal abuse.
Following the decision of the Disciplinary Sub-Committee on 21 August 2002 the following note is added by way of further explanation:
Counsel for the Kennel Club said in his closing speech that this was a difficult case in which two accounts of the same incident have been given which could not be readily reconciled one with the other.
The Committee agreed that there was an irreconcilable conflict of evidence and ultimately gave Miss Arend the benefit of the doubt.
It should be appreciated that in Rule A42 cases of this nature the Kennel Club seeks to undertake a neutral, fair and thorough enquiry. As a general proposition, the Kennel Club is obliged to and will investigate all allegations of a serious nature including incidents of harsh handling and if substantiated, penalties would undoubtedly follow.
The Disciplinary Sub-Committee was made up of Mr Bernard Hall as Chairman, Miss Jean Lanning, Mr Eric Smethurst Mr John Banbury, Mrs Irene Terry and Mr Stan Ford.