In a statement issued this week the Kennel Club is to allow exhibitors the option of being catalogued without address details in an effort to deny interested parties the addresses of breeders and exhibitors of specific breeds. The move will prove of particular interest to sighthound breeders, some of whom have been targeted by thieves in recent years.
At the Kennel Club AGM last May the plight of breeders who have suffered this problem was placed before members by senior member Mr Nick Bryce-Smith who, with his wife Marie, exhibits Salukis.
Speaking to OUR DOGS earlier this week Mr Bryce-Smith was delighted with the result of the General Committees deliberations, saying that the move was a positive help to those who fear such unwanted attention.
Catalogue compilers will now have to create an optional anonymity box for exhibitors to tick as required. In some cases complex computer programmes will have to be modified to accommodate the new regulation which has immediate effect.
Owners of pedigree dogs across the UK have been living in fear of an organised crime ring which is operating from Kent in the East to Gloucestershire in the West and as far north as Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
Although the police forces in various counties treat the disappearances as random, isolated incidents, there is nothing random or isolated about the escalating number of thefts. The crime syndicates modus operandi is to make careful observations of the dogs they intend to steal usually from dog owners who breed or exhibit their dogs regularly at shows and who, in many cases, live in isolated homes. Then the gang moves in when the owners are not about and steal the dogs they require. The thieves then contact the distraught owners and demand a ransom usually hundreds of pounds for the dogs safe return.
One West Highland White Terrier breeder from Kent had two of her dogs - one of which was qualified for Crufts - stolen from her kennels in October 2001. She started placing adverts in her local free papers and was horrified when several other dog owners came forward and said that they, too, had had their dogs stolen.I started doing my own investigations and even drew up a large map of the areas where dogs had been stolen, the breeder told OUR DOGS. It was obvious to me and many of the other owners that there was a definite organised ring operating in the area, coming off three main routes. I conveyed this information to the police when I reported the theft to the police and showed them my map, pointing out all the other thefts, all of which have taken place in the past two or three months, and they simply werent interested. In fact, the officer I spoke to pointed out that the thefts covered areas beyond their boundaries and said they couldnt encroach on those areas.
The breeder also discovered that the police log most of the dog thefts as the dogs merely being missing, unless a theft is actually observed taking place.
If they listed all the thefts as actual thefts, the figures would go through the roof, she added.
Malcolm Moss, Conservative MP for North East Cambridgeshire, has called for a national campaign to make dog owners aware of the canine crime syndicate and called on the Government (Home Office) to take action.
This is a national problem and it needs addressing nationally, said Mr Moss. From the evidence I have seen, it is an organised crime ring which operates with inside knowledge and steals peoples pets.
Dog owners have a right to the same protection of the law as any other taxpaying citizen and I intend once again to make this point very clearly to the Minister and demand that these cases are taken seriously.
The Home Office merely dismissed the thefts as a matter for local police forces. Kaye Fitzgerald-Gorham of the missing dog organisation Lurcher Search said that the problem of organised dog thefts was growing worse.
At Lurcher Search we operate in conjunction with several other dog charities and groups who run logs of missing dogs, but perhaps its time for us to join forces and operate a nationwide network, she said
The spokesperson for the Kennel Club commented: The Kennel Club is aware that sometimes pedigree dogs are taken by opportunists or stolen to order, and we have also heard of instances where dogs are stolen, and then a ransom demand is made for their safe return.
This issue obviously causes a great deal of distress for both dog and owner and our advice would be that owners remain extremely vigilant and do not leave their dogs unattended in the garden or car whilst shopping, for example, and also ensure that the dogs are microchipped or tattooed, as this will assist greatly in the speedy reuniting process and also conclusively prove ownership, should a dispute arise.
A Central Dog Theft Registry would be a good idea in instances where the dog was not microchipped. The Dogs Home, Battersea, for example currently operate a 'Lost Dog Line' for the London area, which has been phenomenally successful with regard to reuniting lost - or stolen - dogs that are then abandoned, with their owners.
The KC announcement issued last Tuesday said:-
DISCLOSURE OF ADDRESSES IN CATALOGUES
number of concerns have been raised over the past year concerning
the theft of pedigree dogs which may be related to the addresses
of exhibitors appearing in show catalogues.
These concerns have also been raised by Breed Clubs and the Avon & Somerset Constabulary.
Discussions took place on this issue and at its meeting held on 15 October 2002 the General Committee agreed a change in the following Regulations to allow for exhibitors to have the choice as to whether they wish their addresses to appear in catalogues.
At the beginning of each breed classification an alphabetical index containing the names and addresses of exhibitors, the number and name of each exhibit and the numbers of the classes in which it is entered, giving a separate line to the name of each exhibitor, and full particulars of each exhibit as given on the entry form completed by the exhibitor. The number and name of each exhibit must be given in each class for which it is entered.
At the beginning of each breed classification an alphabetical index containing the names of exhibitors, addresses (unless requested by the exhibitor to be withheld for publication), the number and name of each exhibit and the numbers of the classes in which it is entered, giving a separate line to the name of each exhibitor, and full particulars of each exhibit as given on the entry form completed by the exhibitor. The number and name of each exhibit must be given in each class for which it is entered.
Open and Limited Shows.
Names and addresses of all exhibitors and full particulars of each exhibit as given on the entry form by the exhibitor.
Open and Limited Shows.
Names of exhibitors, addresses (unless requested by the exhibitor to be withheld for publication), of all exhibitors and full particulars of each exhibit as given on the entry form by the exhibitor.
Therefore, societies are requested to arrange with their printers for a box to appear on entry forms that exhibitors are able to tick to request that their addresses do not appear in catalogues. The name of the owner, name of the dog, its breed and breeding details will still be included in catalogues it is only the owners address which can be omitted at the exhibitors specific request. The address must continue to be supplied to the society.
Additional reporting by bernie Lovitt