Review of the year with Nick Mays

The first-ever cloned cat, shown here at seven weeks old, with Allie, her surrogate mother

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Thus wrote Charles Dickens, the great British novelist who was, towards the end of the year, ranked in 41st place in the BBC’s 100 Great Britons competition, whereby the British public could nominate their British heroes throughout the ages for the title of the Greatest Briton of them all.

Of course, Dickens is always quote-worthy, and his observations often perceptive. We all have years when it can, indeed, be the best of times and the worst of times – I know I did in 2002, but I emerged from the year with a sense of optimism and hope for the future.

Thus it is – and I would hope, always will be - with the Dog Fancy. Political decisions threaten to affect our hobby for good or ill, cat clubs have their internal rifts and schisms, while individual cat fanciers go through their own periods of change.

But essentially, our dogs remain unchanged. Of course, there are new breeds being recognised, new show standards being written, but, to quote another Great Briton, John Lennon (ranked 10th in the same poll): "It’s been a hard day’s night and I’ve been working like a dog."

Says it all really.

JANUARY

THE NEW year started with old news, so to speak – the case of ‘Dino’, the GSD sentenced to death for accidentally nipping another dog’s owner when that dog attacked him in January 2001, rumbled on.

Dino the dog on death row with owner Carly Lamont, who is hoping for a happy outcome

Dino’s owner, Carol Lamont from East Hunsbury, Northampton, was advised by her original solicitor to plead guilty to the charge of "allowing her dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place" under Section 3 of the DDA. Magistrates accepted the plea and ordered that Dino be destroyed, even though this was the dog’s first and only offence. Mrs Lamont and her husband Bryan then engaged Trevor Cooper to act on their behalf, and he challenged the destruction order at Northampton Crown Court in September, the court upheld the magistrates' decision, saying that Dino had attacked the other dog without any provocation and continued to pose a danger to public safety.

After the appeal failed, Mr Cooper sought Permission to Appeal to the High Court for a Judicial Review of the case, using the legal technicality of when a dog constitutes a danger to public safety. The appeal hearing was heard on November 12th 2001, but the High Court judges Lord Justice Laws and Mr Justice Crane, both agreed the Crown Court and magistrates had acted reasonably and within their powers.

A further appeal took place on November 28th, hingeing on the fact that if the High Court ruling was followed, then this would set a precedent that the Dangerous Dogs Act 1997 Amendment was fatally flawed. On Wednesday 19th December, their Lordships announced that they had agreed to certify "points of law of general public importance". They had allowed three questions to be certified (lodged) with the House of Lords to consider the finer points of the ruling. Trevor Cooper was given until January 3rd 2002, to formally lodge the petition with the House of Lords.

Mr Cooper told OUR DOGS: "The ruling, and with it, the whole crux of the DDA Amendment Act 1997, is to be scrutinised by the highest court in the land – the House of Lords. I cannot say with any certainty what their Lordships ruling may be – but this is of crucial importance to dogs everywhere. Let us hope that the New Year brings with it some good news for Dino, his owners and everybody else."

Little did Mr Cooper, or the Lamonts, know that Dino’s case was due to rumble on for many months to come….

THE KENNEL CLUB came under fire –again – in early January when the results of an OUR DOGS Online Poll regarding the increase in fees were published. The question asked; "Is the Kennel Club right to increase fees?"

The answer was pretty unequivocal: "Yes," said 7.2% of voting readers. "No!" said 92.8%.
Clarges Street had heard the voice of the masses….

SCOTLAND FACED a Hunting Ban in 2002, as the Scottish Parliament geared up to forced a vote on the issue, after the first draft of the anti-hunting Bill was shown to be unworkable.

The Scottish Countryside Alliance threatened legal action against any such ban, so the stage was set for a show down between MSPs and pro-hunters.

THE GOVERNMENT announced its intention to introduce the far-reaching Animal Welfare Bill, which is designed to update and consolidate several pieces of animal legislation spread across the Statute books for England and Wales. The plan was broadly welcomed by many animal welfare charities as well as specialist animal groups and organisations, many of which have been pushing for an overhaul of the animal welfare laws for some years.

At this early stage, the Bill – which was being considered under the aegis of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)- is purely as the consultation stage, and the views of interested parties and members of the public were being sought – largely through a large section on DEFRA’s website which listed the main points of the proposed Bill in its entirety. DEFRA had already sent a consultation letter to many organisations for their input, including the KC.

THE ANIMAL SANCTUARIES (Licensing) Bill put forward late in 2001 by Labour MP Ian Cawsey, (Brigg and Goole) was due to receive its Second Reading in the House of Commons in January 2002, but was not called due to lack of time on the day. The Bill was aimed at ending the scandal of badly-run private sanctuaries where rescued animals do not receive proper care and attention, sometimes ending up with worse welfare problems than before they came into rescue.

Ian Cawsey remained optimistic, however, that the essence of his Bill may yet be preserved, thanks to the Government’s own proposed Animal Welfare Bill.

SAD NEWS from across the Big Pond. Ex-Us President Bill Clinton’s faithful Labrador Buddy died when he ran out in front of a car.

Buddy had arrived at the White House in 1997, much to the disgust of the First Family’s incumbent pet, Socks, the cat. There was certainly no love lost between the two, although the President was find of telling reporters that Socks’ bristling and spitting at Buddy whilst firmly standing his ground on the White House lawn was a sure sign that the two were "making progress". When the Clintons finally left the White House at the end of Mr Clinton’s tenure, Socks went to live with Mr Clinton’s secretary, Betty Currie, at her home in Virginia.

GERMAN campaigners opposing the Federal Government’s draconian ‘Fighting Dog’ laws were pinning their hopes on an edict from the German Constitutional Court which, they hoped, might show up the shortcomings of the Breed Specific Laws.

The Court has requested in writing, from each of the 16 Lander, or States Governments, (which includes the Ministerial Presidents down to every government group and office associated with the dog laws and ordinances, State veterinarians, etc.) that they have until March 15 to provide clear proof WHY these breeds should be banned in Germany.

If any of the Lander refused or failed to provide adequate evidence, the court would simply annul their laws as unconstitutional.

German anti-BSL campaigner Cathie Detmar welcomed the Court’s request, and told OUR DOGS: "At least the court is not going to sit on its ass for the next two years. We all know what evidence the different government agencies have used to come up with this list of banned breeds... 90% have used literature about ‘fighting breeds’ and 10% spoke from ‘personal experience’...that is what is officially on two different court records! So I am very interested to see what they provide the highest court in Germany. That’s if they manage to provide any real evidence at all, of course.

"The VDH has been fighting this sort of spurious ‘information’ for years, long before the harsh laws were introduced. But now it will be interesting to see whose evidence the court prefers – the VDH’s or the Landers’. I know who I’d believe!"

THE FUTURE of Dog Shows was the topic under consideration when both Don Wieden and David Cavill put out the call to dog enthusiasts to turn the tide of the Dog Fancy’s decline.

David Cavill congratulated the KC on its planned Canine Events Conference which was considering raising the profile of dogs and Dogdom in the face of decreasing numbers of dogs kept as pets and ever-hostile anti-dog legislation.

Don Wieden listed numerous points as to where the British dog scene was failing and urged readers to make known their views on how things could be improved. His final warning was blunt and to the point:

"Who’s listening out there? The dog show scene is diseased, it’s sick, it’s dying. Treat it before it’s too late."

FEBRUARY

CLONING HIT the headlines during February when the dream of cloning much-loved family pets came a step closer as it was announced that American scientists had succeeded in cloning a domestic cat for the first time in the form of two-month-old tortoiseshell kitten, called CC - short for "carbon copy".

The female kitten was created by Dr Mark Westhusin and colleagues at Texas A&M University in College Station, home of the much-vaunted ‘Missyplicity Project’ which has been trying, for the past five years, to create a cloned dog.

The team took DNA from an adult female tortoiseshell cat named Rainbow and injected it into a "hollowed-out" egg cell whose nucleus had been removed. The egg was then ‘kick-started’ into life with an electric shock and implanted into a surrogate tabby mother.

The experiment, reported in the journal Nature, was paid for by John Sperling, an 81-year-old financier who owns a company called Genetic Savings & Clone. Mr Sperling said that he aims to offer the technology to wealthy people seeking to clone their favourite pet animals and wants to charge pet owners to clone their animals.

Cloned cats are expected to attract a price tag of around £7,000, although the price is expected to fall to around £700. Cloned dogs will be much more expensive, with £70,000 being the initial price, possibly dropping to a mere snip at £5,000.

However, despite plenty of cloning companies suggesting price tags for their services, no more cloned cats – or dogs - were forthcoming during 2002. However, plenty of pet owners were willing to pay hundreds of pounds for their beloved pets’ DNA to be stored by the cloning companies until ‘such time as the technology becomes available’ to replicate the pet in question. In the meantime, all cheques gratefully received…

A SOMEWHAT MORE beneficial genetic breakthrough was reported this month with the news that the scourge of Copper Toxicosis may be eradicated from numerous breeds with a tendency to suffer from this hereditary liver disease, thanks to a startling new scientific breakthrough announced by the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.

The official announcement of scientists’ isolation of the defective part of the genome responsible for the disease was made at a special meeting held at the Kennel Club, involving the three Bedlington Terrier Breed Clubs and representatives from the Liver Malfunction Committee, who have spent the past twenty years instigating research and testing into the disease, and officials from the KC’s own Genetic Testing Group.

The meeting heard from Jeff Sampson, the KC’s Genetics Co-ordinator, who stated that, using the Utrecht data, it would take "just weeks" to devise an effective DNA test for Bedlington Terriers, using blood samples, to screen individual dogs for the inherited disease.

The new, definitive test would be able to indicate which dogs were "Carriers", "Positives" or "Clears", and the data from each test would be included on registration paperwork.

Eventually this would lead to 100% clear bloodlines in the breed.

CRUFTS ANNOUNCED a massive entry of 22,243 from 20,860 dogs – a decrease of 694 dogs on the 2001 total. However, this year’s show saw a grand total of 278 overseas exhibitors from 15 countries showing over 300 dogs – largely thanks to the introduction of the Pet Passport Scheme allowing exhibitors to bring their dogs into the UK without the need for quarantine.

REGISTRATIONS for Breeds and Groups were down in 2001, according to KC figures published in February. The total of 220,799 was 26,515 or 20.72% down on 2001. At 2002 fee levels, this was due to represent a loss of income of £318,189.

TOWARDS the end of the month, a determined coalition of individual animal lovers, animal welfare organisations and MPs called for Government action to impose an outright ban on the sale of fireworks and the creation of stricter licensing laws for organised firework displays.

The Coalition Against Fireworks For Animals – CAFFA – is headed by nurse Julia Clugston from London and has the backing of several MPs from different parties.

Julia, who owns two rescued dogs and helps with wildlife rescue, is concerned at the increasing number of powerful fireworks being available all year round, and the resulting stress and injury which they cause animals.

"The campaign came about because many people are concerned about the effect of fireworks on animals," Julia told OUR DOGS. "We were fed up with being fobbed off by the police and local authorities that ‘nothing could be done’ so we decided to ask members of animal welfare groups and MPs to join us to ask the Government to bring about legislation to deal with this problem."

CAFFA is supported by animal welfare groups including the RSPCA, SSPCA, and NCDL. Top animal welfare campaigner and broadcaster/writer Carla Lane has also added her voice to CAFFA’s.

"All animals are affected by fireworks," said Julia, "Domestic pets, farm animals, wildlife, animals in sanctuaries. And let’s not forget, people are affected, too. Many elderly people and young children are terrified of the noise. It used to be bad enough with fireworks going off on November 5th and a few days either side this date, but nowadays firework noise can start at the beginning of September and continue in January. The growing use of fireworks on New Year’s Eve is a growing problem, but people can now buy fireworks all year round and want to use them for parties, weddings, or just when they feel like it. It is both anti-social and harmful to animals.

"Ideally we’d like to see the Government ban fireworks, but we know we won’t get that. So what we’re trying to achieve is limiting the times and dates for the use of fireworks,"
A Petition bearing 40,000 signatures of people calling for a ban on private firework sales was presented to 10 Downing Street in 2001, but so far there has been no public Government response. Another petition of close on 130,000 was handed in to the Prime Minister, yet another indication of the growing impetus of public demand for action against nuisance fireworks. However, as November approached, no Government action was announced.
The topic of Fireworks was one which would gain prominence throughout the year…

A HUNTING BAN in Scotland was passed by the Scottish Parliament by a margin of 83 to 36, with 5 abstentions. However, pro-hunting campaigners pointed out that the Bill was so badly worded that it would still allow for foxes to be pursued by mounted hunts as long as the fox was shot at the end off the hunt rather than brought down by hounds.

The ban may have been enacted, but its application was yet to be seen….

MARCH

HUNTING TOPPED the news again in March when the Government announced yet another attempt to bring a Bill before Parliament to ban hunting with dogs in England and Wales.

The previous attempt to ban hunting had seen a stalemate between the Houses of Commons and Lords in 2001, when the Peers overturned a Bill set to ban hunting outright by voting for the status quo. The Government had refused requests to use the Parliament Act to steamroller the Bill onto the statute books, in which case it ran out of Parliamentary time.

Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael presented a new Bill to the Commons on March 18th, which offered three options: An outright Ban, the continuation of hunting under license in certain areas and the status quo. Once again, MPs voted by a massive majority for an outright ban, by 386 votes to 175, a clear majority of 211, similar to the same majority in favour a ban in 2001.

The Middle Way option garned 169 votes in favour, 371 against, whilst the status quo only attracted 154 votes for and a massive 401 against.

Despite the careful Government rhetoric that this was not a party political issue and that the whole issue was a Free Vote, Labour left winger Tony Banks indicated where his views lay, asking why the Government was afraid of imposing a ban, as the rural hunting community were "nearly all Tories."

Perhaps not surprisingly, the House of Lords created another impasse when they voted in favour of the Middle Way to allow hunting to continue under regulation, by 366 votes to 59, a majority of 307.

And so the ill-tempered debate rolled on….

BSL reared its head yet again with news that Austria was considering the introduction of breed-specific laws, having firmly resisted the example of its larger neighbour Germany for several years.

Catherine Walker, a British anti-BSL campaigner who lived in Austria for many years with her German husband, had written to the Upper Austrian State Government to urge them not to act in haste.

State Minister Dr.Josef Pühringer replied to Catherine Walker’s letter, stating that any legislation would be drawn up "in consultation with experts". In a rather arrogant assertion that the legislation would be breed specific, Dr Pühringer added: "…keepers of dogs will, on the basis of breed specific characteristics need a permit from the Buergermeister (mayor).

The State government will take the advice of the Veterinary Chamber on which breeds or crosses should be subject to permit."

However, he added, quite categorically: "We haven't made any decision yet ... the Staffordshire Bull Terrier will not be on the list."

Catherine Walker commented: "I hope that the Upper Austria vets are as clued up as the Salzburgerland ones. I am hoping that they will be made to understand that a breed list is totally a No-No, as that is the general feeling among Austria's 'experts'."

DOCKING WAS next under the Government spotlight for a potential ban, when Environment Minister Elliot Morley disclosed the Government’s intentions in a Commons written answer on the subject. Any such legislation is bound to cause even more rancour amongst the rural community – already reeling from the Government’s plans to hunting with hounds - who view the docking of working dogs’ tails as a perfectly responsible ‘practical animal management technique’.

The latest attempt to ban docking looked to be the most convincing so far. Mr Morley’s own Department for Environment and Rural Affairs had begun consulting on its flagship Animal Welfare Bill and was expected to publish a draft version of the Bill before the end of the current Parliamentary session. Given Labour’s huge majority – and inherent lack of understanding of complex issues relating to animals – the Bill could well be on the statute books by the end of 2003. The draft proposals for the Bill include an outright ban on tail docking and this was confirmed by Mr Morley in a written answer to a question raised by an MP. However, Mr Morley did temper his answer by saying that the Government was "still canvassing opinions on the subject before taking a final decision."

CRUFTS, as ever, dominated the news in March and this year there was something of an upset: the winner was a foreign dog!

For once, national press coverage of Dogdom’s premier show was largely positive, with most tabloids otherwise engaged on endless diatribes about the result of ‘Popstars’. Even so, several papers managed to make even a small mention in their later editions that a "Foreign Dog" had won Crufts.

Best in show at Crufts 2002 under Mrs Pamela Cross Stern was the Norwegian owned white Standard Poodle Nor. Ch Topscore Contradiction, pictured here with handler Mikael Nilsson

The Times, which actually excels by carrying a daily list of winners from Crufts next to the Court Circulars, gave a neat boil down of the final Group Winner line-up and the success of Norwegian Standard Poodle Nord Champion Topscore Contradiction, aka ‘King’. His owner Kari Glenna was quoted as being totally bemused and befuddled by King’s historic victory: "I don’t believe it. I am very nervous. He is just a family pet, not a show dog. I never expected this."

BIS judge Pamela Cross Stern was full of praise for King, whom she described as "a poodley poodle". She went on to say: "It was surprising to see a European dog win, but I don’t judge the dogs on where they come from."

The Guardian carried an equally good report, with an excellent action shot of King doing a lap of honour at Crufts with his handler. Kari Glenna’s comments were reported much as in The Times with the wonderful understatement from Kari who said of her elegantly cut, well-prepared and professionally handled family pet: "I don’t know anything about showing dogs, but I think he won because he likes to run around the ring."

APRIL

MORE FIREWORKS this month when a determined coalition of individual animal lovers, animal welfare organisations and MPs pushed the Government to act to impose an outright ban on the sale of fireworks and the creation of stricter licensing laws for organised firework displays.

The Coalition Against Fireworks For Animals – CAFFA – is headed by nurse Julia Clugston from London and has the backing of several MPs from different parties.

"The campaign came about because many people are concerned about effect of fireworks on animals," says Julia. "We were fed up with being fobbed off by the police and local authorities that ‘nothing could be done’ so we decided to ask members of animal welfare groups and MPs to join us to ask the Government to bring about legislation to deal with this problem."

CAFFA is supported by animal welfare groups including the RSPCA, SSPCA, PDSA, The Blue Cross, National Canine Defence League, and Vegetarian International Voice for Animals (VIVA), Hillside Animal Sanctuary, Redwings Horse Sanctuary, Endangered Dogs Defence and Rescue (EDDR) and animal rights organisation Animal Aid.

CAFFA staged a meeting at the Jubilee Rooms in the House of Commons on Friday, March 15th.

Only two MPs attended the meeting – Barry Gardner and Joan Ryan, but other guest delegates spoke, including Deana Selby of the NCDL, George Ilford of the PDSA, Martin Coots of Hillside Animal Sanctuary and Noel Tobin from the National Campaign for Firework Safety.

It was agreed by all attending that there was a clear and pressing need for a Bill to be placed before Parliament and onto the Statute books to impose controls on fireworks. Barry Gardner said that the best way to attract wide cross-party support was for people across the UK to write to their local MP urging them to support any Bill that would restrict the sale of fireworks on the grounds of public nuisance and distress and injury to pets.

Mr Gardner pointed out that if sufficient cross party support could be gained, then the issue could be removed from the control of the Department of Trade and Industry and brought under the Home Office’s jurisdiction.

LACEY, THE white Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross seized by police in 1993 as an illegal, unregistered pit bull 'type' dog and held at secret kennels for just under nine years until her death on February 24th was finally laid to rest. She spent a total of 3,252 days in custody, the longest period any dog has been incarcerated under the Dangerous Dogs Act. However, many anti-DDA campaigners pointed out that she need not have remained incarcerated for the past four years at least, and only remained so due to the refusal of her owner, Spanish-born Montse Christian to register her as a Pit Bull ‘type’ dog and thus secure her release.

Even the Home Office and Scotland Yard were prepared to make great concessions to allow Lacey her freedom, including the fact that her neutering, tattooing and microchipping would have been paid for by the Metropolitan Police.

Vet Trevor Turner said that the owner of the kennels where Lacey was held had been very kind to the elderly dog, especially when her health began to deteriorate.

"He said he’d keep a close eye on her," added Mr Turner. "I felt that if she was neutered as part of the identification process, then this would be an asset and stave off any threat of pyometra."

Mr Turner concluded: "It is a shame that Lacey has now died, when, if Mrs Christian had agreed to having her registered, the dog could have been released in very short time. I didn’t consider that Lacey’s welfare was being put first by Mrs Christian. People were bending over backwards to help her and this did not appear to be appreciated."

LACEY: A CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS:

MARCH 1993: Lacey and her littermate Maite are seized from the Christian family home by officers of the Metropolitan police.

DECEMBER 1993: Maite is released without charge back to Mrs Christian. No court determination on Lacey’s ‘type’ takes place.

MAY 1994: The Crown Prosecution Service drops proceedings; the police re-seize Lacey under Section 5(4) of the DDA.

JUNE 1994: Monste Christian has an emotional reunion with Lacey at a police station after she has been re-seized. It is to be their last meeting.

NOVEMBER 1994: The Metropolitan Police seek a destruction order on Lacey at Richmond Magistrates Court. The application is dismissed by the court.

MARCH 1995: Application is made for Lacey’s release to Croydon County Court, under Unlawful Interference of Goods Act. Summons issued against Commissioner of Metropolitan Police. Judge Goodman rejects the application, although he is critical of the Act and calls for "clarification of [the] confused legislation arising from the DDA."

JUNE 1997: DDA is amended, and the Index of Exempted Breeds register re-opened. Justice For Dogs plans to secure Lacey’s along with those of Judd and Buster by having her registered as a pit bull ‘type’.

NOVEMBER 1997: Montse Christian pulls out of JFD’s plans to secure release of Lacey with Judd and Buster, who are released shortly afterwards.

MARCH 2000: Montse Christian engages JR Jones and Co solicitors.

JULY 2000: Another attempt to secure Lacey’s release under Unlawful Interference of Goods Act at Croydon County Court. This is also unsuccessful. Costs of £250 awarded against Mrs Christian, met by Fury Defence Fund.

JULY 2000: Lacey examined by Vet Trevor Turner Staffordshire Bull terrier judge James Beaufoy. Both concluded Lacey is not of the Pit Bull type.

Montse Christian dismisses JR Jones and all papers are released to Juliette Glass of FDF.
SUMMER 2001: Home Office and Metropolitan Police indicate to Justice For Dogs they are happy to see Lacey released if she is placed on the Register. Police offer to pay all costs involved in neutering, tattooing and microchipping her. No instructions received from Mrs Christian.

JANUARY 2002: Lacey suffers a stroke at the kennels where she is held but rallies.

FEBRUARY 2002: Sunday 24th. Lacey dies peacefully in her sleep. She has been held in custody for 3,252 days – the longest period any dog has been held under the DDA.

PET KEEPING TRENDS were the subject of the Pet Food Manufacturers Association’s annual report which showed that the gap between the number of dogs and cats in the UK had widened considerably in the previous year.

According to the report. just under half the households in the UK own a pet, ranging from dogs, cats and rabbits to the more exotic snakes and spiders. Dogs and cats have traditionally been the most popular British pets. Their population has remained fairly stable over the past six years and in 2001 amounted to 13.6million. However, over the past 10 years changes in lifestyle and how households are structured has affected the relative populations of dogs and cats with the cat population gradually increasing to out-number dogs.

Dog ownership had shown a gradual decrease over recent years, with more people living alone, and with more couples both going out to work. Urban living and modern working lifestyles favour the free living, independent cat over the more dependent dog. Cat ownership is greater in the more urban South; dog ownership tends to be more popular in urban areas - 65.2%.

Of the 24.5 million UK households, just under around 45% own a pet. In 2001 the number of households owning pets was: Dogs: 4.8million. Cats: 4.8million. 540,000 households own a budgie.

Of the households owning a dog, 78.5% have only one dog and the remainder have two or more. Of the households with cats, 62.2% have one cat and the remainder have two or more. The highest levels of cat ownership is in the 35 -44 age group. The highest levels of dog ownership is in the 45-54 age group.

The 2001 dog population is broken down into: Toy 5.7%, Small 20.8%, Medium 26%, Large 43.6, Giant 3.8%

It has been estimated that approximately 59% of dogs are pedigrees. The most popular breeds are:

1. Labrador Retriever
2. Yorkshire Terrier
3. Border Collie
4. (Joint) Jack Russell and German Shepherd

A ST BERNARD named ‘Yogie’ became the latest victim of a prosecution by police under Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act – for biting a police officer who blatantly ignored a ‘Beware of the Dog’ sign and a warning shout from Yogi’s owner and marched up his drive.

Steve Prestage was putting some tools away in his garage at around 10am on March 22nd when he saw a police van pull up in the lane near his home in Copthorne, Crawley, West Sussex. A sergeant got out of the van and walked up Mr Prestage’s drive, apparently ignoring a prominent ‘Beware of the Dog’ sign fastened to the gate, to ask directions to a nearby cottage.

Mr Prestage’s six year-old St Bernard Yogie started barking at the officer, whom he saw as an intruder on his territory. Mr Prestage called out to the officer to stay where he was and that he would get Yogie indoors, but the officer ignored him and continued to march towards the dog. Yogie lunged at the officer and bit him in the arm, leaving a puncture wound. The officer is said to have spent two nights in hospital receiving treatment for the injury.

56 year-old Architect Mr Prestage expected a possible warning from the police, but was astounded when, three days later, six police officers – two of them wearing full body armour - turned up at his property with a warrant to seize Yogie under Section 3 of the DDA, for being ‘dangerously out of control in a public place’.

Mr Prestage opted for trial by jury at Crown Court and the case was set to continue throughout 2002….

APRIL ENDED with the grim news that the House of Lords Judicial Committee had refused the appeal to save the life of Dino the GSD, sentenced to death under the DDA. Solicitor Trevor Cooper and Dino’s owners vowed to fight on via the European Courts.



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