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2003: that was the year that was

JANUARY

THE FIRST of many news items relating to hunting – and the Labour Government’s ongoing battle to ban it – graced the front page of OUR DOGS’ very first issue of the year, in which a poll revealed that the majority of the British public would like to see a compromise over hunting with hounds. The survey, conducted by NOP, found that 59% either opposed a ban on the grounds of civil liberty or agreed that hunting should be allowed to continue under licence, thus striking a balance between civil liberties and animal welfare.

ANOTHER regularly recurring topic throughout the year was that of Pet Theft, with a survey by Sainsbury’s Bank showing that one in 233 dogs in the UK is stolen each year – some 25,650 in total. Some areas of the country have seen a massive 40% increase in pet theft cases in the last year.

THE SAD DEATH of a canine hero was reported this month. Gold sable GSD ‘Khan’ - Shadowsquad Sherekhan for Braeduke was born on 29th June 1993 and bought by Ann Wynyard, who shows under the Braeduke affix, principally Tibetan Spaniels, but also for Cavalier King Charles and also Labradors.

Khan joined Ann at her Northampton home and was accepted as a larger sibling by her Tibetan Spaniels, although in those early days the gawky, underweight puppy was at the bottom of the pack.

At eight weeks old Khan weighed only 10 lbs and suffered from occasional lameness as a youngster. He was a life-long sufferer Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency – or EPI as it is known – which meant he was troubled with diarrhoea all his life, although he received medication for this. However, Khan had a strong constitution and the heart of a lion, because he rallied and became a big, strong healthy dog. With careful exercise his lameness disappeared and he was extremely active. Just before he died, he weighed 110 lbs.

Khan became famous in 1998, making local and national newspaper headlines when he saved Ann’s life – twice, each incident being within a few months of each other.

In March, the noble dog pulled his owner out of a steep, snow-filled gully she had slipped into. As Ann recalls:" I saw a fat, bushy tail coming down towards me from top of the slope – Khan was reversing himself down to me, whilst keeping himself from slipping down. He looked at me as though to say ‘Well grab on, woman, I can’t stay like this all day!’ I grabbed his tail and then his collar and for the first time ever I used the command ‘Pull!’ and he did. I was able to retrieve my stick as he hauled me up and used this to help gain purchase on the side of the slope."

Once out of the gully, Ann’s leg was in considerable pain from the fall, but Khan supported her all the way back to the car, after which she was able to drive them both home.

Khan received two medals for bravery, one from the British Association of German Shepherd Dogs and one from Pro-Dogs, which was presented to him by athele Suzanne Dando.

As if this heroic rescue wasn’t enough, Khan hit the headlines again a few months later in June 1998 when he tackled the so-called ‘Althorp Panther’, an ‘Alien’ Big Cat spotted several times close to the Althorp estate. Khan pursued the panther-like animal and followed it over the wall, after which I heard a terrible yowling sound from the woods."

Ann called Khan several times and then saw him scramble slowly over the wall, after which he fell to the ground, pawing at his jaws. Ann was horrified to see that he was covered in blood and had sustained several scratches and bites to his body and face, inflicted by the large wild animal.

Over thirty stitches were required but, showing true resilience, Khan made a full recovery with no apparent scarring and was soon able to accompany Ann on walks again.

"I’m certain that I might have been attacked by that panther," says Ann. "Khan saw it off for me and fought it with no thoughts of saving himself. He was a double hero that day."

"He was such a brave dog with the heart of a lion," says Ann. "He didn’t shirk his duty, he was loyal to me and an incredibly affectionate dog. He was very much my dog and was unique. There will simply never be another Khan."

CONTROVERSY reigned over the Kennel Club’s plans to "shake up" the Open show scene, with the KC issuing a list of Frequently Asked Questions about its new regulations relating to Open and Limited shows. A new Show Certificate of Merit was introduced to allow dogs to gain a further qualification at such shows. Meanwhile, OUR DOGS received a huge postbag from readers on the subject of the ‘shake up’. Opinion remained divided on whether the new regulations would achieve anything useful or simply allow the status quo to continue. Business as usual for 2003 then….

MEANWHILE the KC’s Canine Events Conference came up with the idea of ‘Companion Shows’ which, operated by the KC’s own Companion Dog Club, established in 2001, would make the previously titled ‘exemptions shows’ more accessible and easily understood by the public.
CRUFTS hit the news early in he year when the show office announced an increased entry for the 2003 show, with a provisional total of 20,860 dogs entered, equalling 22,428 entries, gaining lost grounds caused by the postponement of the 2001 show. Overseas entries were up, with the new pet passport laws, together with the advent of online entry facilities making it far easier for foreign exhibitors to enter.

FEBRUARY

THE 1991 DANGEROUS Dogs Act was one of the subjects in an Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons, called by the pro-dog Tory MP Andrew Rossindell. In responding to Mr Rossindell’s comments, DEFRA’s Animal Minister Elliot Morley made it clear, in polite parliamentary language – that the Labour Government would not be amending the DDA:
“The main problem was the Pit Bull Terrier, which became notorious not only for illegal dog fighting but for a number of well-documented attacks on individuals. It is a very broad, muscular, smooth-haired dog noted for its strength and determination: a very dangerous cocktail of characteristics and features.

There are concerns that organised dog fighting is still taking place. Unfortunately, pit bull types can go under other names: for example, American Staffordshire terriers, Irish Staffordshire terriers and American bulldogs. They may not be called pit bull terriers, but they are pit bull types and prohibited under the 1991 Act. That is an abuse, and it is unfortunate that people try to present and sell such dogs as some form of Staffordshire bull terrier, thereby encouraging illegal activities. That does no good to the reputation of the Staffordshire bull terrier breed, which is completely undeserved. The hon. Gentleman may be interested to know that, by the end of April, my Department will have published a leaflet to assist enforcement agencies, as well as those whose work may bring them into contact with dogs, with guidelines on identification to help them to deal with some of the problems that he has rightly outlined.

“As long as there is a threat that the number of dogs specifically bred for fighting could be on the increase and that members of the public could be placed in danger, there is not a credible argument for removing those dogs from section 1 of the 1991 Act. I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman was arguing for that, as he was expressing worries about the confusion between breeds."

BRITISH AIRWAYS decided to enact its own brand of ‘Breed Specific Legislation’ this month when the airline banned three bracycephalic (flat faced) breeds of dog from all flights that carry pets under the Pet Passport Scheme. The ban was placed on Bulldogs, Pekingese and Pugs just before Christmas 2002, although no formal statement was made as to this change of policy.

When asked a series of questions about the reasons for the ban, BA put this down to the fact that the breeds in question are "prone to breathing difficulties and stress" and stated that they had taken veterinary advice. However, when questioned as to the origin of this advice and whether the ban was prompted by any particular incident, BA simply declined to answer the questions.

It was later discovered by OUR DOGS that a Bulldog had died en route to Australia aboard a BA flight in early October 2002. The dog, a pet owned by a family in the north of England who do not wish to be identified was sent as cargo on a BA flight to Sydney. The dog was secured in an approved airline travelling crate and sealed in the plane’s hold. The crate was removed form the hold during the plan’s stopover in Singapore, at which point the dog was seen to be alive and well, but in a state of some excitement.

The crate was then placed in he hold again for the remainder of the onward flight to Sydney. However, upon arrival the dog was found to have died. It is believed that the dog, already not used to such long distance travel had become excited upon arrival at Singapore, thinking that it had reached its destination and was due to be removed form the crate. After being placed back in the hold, the dog, already in a highly excited state may have become further stressed and succumbed to some kind of seizure, most probably a heart attack.

When asked if the airline might review its ban in the light of a letter being sent to the airline by the Kennel Club seeking to reach some better understanding of the issue, BA’s response was equally dismissive: "Our position has not changed and we are happy that our policy change is in the best interests of animal welfare."

Meanwhile, low-cost airline Ryanair took the decision to ban dogs and cats from all their flights from April 2003, largely as the result of a court case involving stress caused to a dog on a flight to Ireland – although this fact was not revealed until later in the year.

US-based UNITED AIRLINES meanwhile, relented on their own breed ban. The American Kennel Club (AKC learned that as of February 15, 2003 United Airlines eliminated the restrictions against shipment of dogs that were imposed almost three years earlier in June 2000, and again allow them to be shipped as either excess baggage, cargo or ‘carry-on’.

"The many letters written to United by dedicated fanciers played a significant role in prompting United's decision," said Noreen Baxter, AKC's Vice President of Public Education and Legislation. "We are extremely pleased with this turnaround. The ability to travel with their dogs is crucial for both pet owners and fanciers."

"The AKC Canine Legislation department staff has worked tirelessly to reverse the embargo since it was imposed three years ago," added Patti Strand, member of the AKC Board of Directors. "The work of our contacts in Washington and strong opposition against these restrictions from the fancy has brought about a very positive action by United Airlines."

THE WORLD’S first cloned animal, Dolly the sheep passed into immortality this month after she was put to sleep due to lung disease. Dolly made history when she became the first animal to be cloned from an adult cell. The prestigious journal Science declared the Finn Dorset sheep the scientific breakthrough of 1997.

Prof Richard Gardner, chairman of the Royal Society working group on therapeutic cloning, said: "We must await the results of the post-mortem on Dolly in order to assess whether her relatively premature death was connected with the fact that she was a clone.

"If there is a link, it will provide further evidence of the dangers inherent in reproductive cloning and the irresponsibility of anybody who is trying to extend such work to humans."

One of the key unanswered questions about Dolly remains her true ‘genetic age’. Although she was born on July 5 1996, all the cells in her body sprang from a single cell in a six-year-old ewe. Some would argue that her age at death and the age of the ewe would make her 12. In 1999, researchers found evidence that Dolly might have aged prematurely and two years later she developed arthritis in a hind leg and hip.

Dolly was due to be stuffed and put on public display after the post mortem examination. She was later put on display with another sheep born at the institute, Morag, one of a set of twins, which was donated after dying of a respiratory problem.

THE WORLD DOG SHOW shot itself in the foot by banning docked breeds from taking part. The ban came about by order of the German Courts as part of the ‘animal rights’ laws passed in Germany in 2002 which prohibits the docking of dogs’ tails

The ruling means that docked dogs from the UK and other countries where tail docking is not illegal could not be entered at the show and demonstrated yet another example of the German Government’s arrogance and bias against dogs

The German Kennel Club – VDH instigated a legal challenge to the ruling which was heard at the Administrative Court in Gelsenkirchen. The VDH had tried to gain an exceptional ruling to allow foreign dogs that are legally cropped or docked in accordance with the laws of their respective countries to participate in the World Dog Show 2003.

After exhausting all the legal possibilities - including an application to pass a preliminary order for this year’s show only - and also including the services of a renowned administrative lawyer, the VDH’s application was dismissed by the court.

The ruling hit entries for the World Dog Show 2003 extremely hard necessitated the FCI thinking carefully on the choice of host country and venue for the show in future

FIREWORKS faced severe restrictions, when a Bill put forward by Labour MP Bill Tynan to introduce stricter controls on the sale and use of fireworks passed its second reading unopposed in the House of Commons on the last day of February.

In a rare display of unity, MPs from all parties gave the Bill their unequivocal support, heartened, no doubt, by the official backing of the Government for the long-overdue legislation which could see an end to the misery caused to people and animals all year long due to the unrestricted availability of fireworks.

The Bill was warmly welcomed by a consortium of twelve of the UK’s leading animal welfare organisations including: The Blue Cross, The National Canine Defence League, Battersea Dogs’ Home, RSPCA, SSPCA, Pro-Dogs, The National Dog Wardens Association, Pet Care Trust, Wood Green Animal Shelters, Cats’ Protection, The Kennel Club and The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

The debate was attended by 141 MPs, a record for any Private Member’s Bill being read on a Friday – and left after making one brief remark, much to the delight of many present.

Every MP spoke in favour of the Bill during the lengthy debate, many of them only offering mild criticism that the Bill did not go far enough and should be harder on misdemeanours relating to firework misuse, although the view was expressed that the Bill could, of course, be amended at Select Committee stage and ‘beefed up’.

Many MPs came to the Chamber armed with petitions from their constituents, while almost all who spoke alluded in some way to the harm caused to animals by fireworks.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Melanie Johnson gave the Government’s support for Mr Tynan’s Bill, saying: "I can give the House the reassurance that the Government support it [the Bill]. I am also pleased to hear from Members on both sides of the House about how my hon. Friend has gained the support of organisations such as the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, the RSPCA, the Blue Cross and many others, such as Cats’ Protection, which we have just heard about.

"The British Fireworks Association, which represents the fireworks industry, also broadly supports the Bill. That is important, and represents a recognition on its part that there is a growing impatience in the community about the difficulties that people are experiencing with fireworks, and that these issues need to be addressed.

"…Hon. Members raised the same points in a variety of ways and we all know that we must address them. The protections necessary for humans, animals and property are major concerns. Our powers are limited at the moment and we cannot introduce those protections now. The Bill's main purpose is to provide the capability to use regulations to address the problems associated with fireworks. As Hon. Members recognised, it will give us enabling powers to make regulations that control, among other things, the times of the day when fireworks can be used. We will also be able to set a maximum noise limit on all fireworks sold to the public, to require suppliers of fireworks to be licensed, to ensure that public firework display operators meet requirements before giving displays and to control the importation of fireworks. All those measures will play a role in solving the problem. So a package of measures will resolve the difficulties that many people face."

MARCH

THE LOOMING war against Iraq saw an unexpected recruit to the peace campaign; a dog who would be joining ‘human shields’ in Iraq. Gustavo, a St Bernard, arrived in Baghdad after an overland journey from Rome with his owner, Juliana Tucci, an Italian grandmother.

Mrs Tucci, who has seven children and seven grandchildren, wears a black scarf carrying the logo "Human Shields" in red letters. She decided to bring Gustavo to Iraq because of the part St Bernard dogs have played in rescuing people from avalanches.


"He is a symbol of peace," said Mrs Tucci. "This dog saves lives in the mountains, so he is a symbol of saving lives. "The diminutive grandmother said she would stand outside a power station during any allied attack on Iraq. Gustavo will join her.

"Gustavo goes with me everywhere. He is very quiet and polite," said Mrs Tucci, 70. "I am very old and I thought my presence here in Iraq and Gustavo's presence would help to encourage the young people to come here."

BREED SPECIFIC LEGISLATION reared its ugly head again, this time in New Zealand with media hysteria about ‘dangerous dogs’ showing no signs of abating as newspapers, TV and radio programmes demanded the introduction of draconian breed specific legislation which, they claimed, will prevent attacks by ‘dangerous’ breeds.

Anti-BSL campaigners are facing an uphill struggle to sewing media and public opinion away from BSL and onto more sensible dog control laws, which ‘punish the deed, not the breed’.

On Sunday, 3rd February the Sunday Star Times newspaper ran a one and a half page feature on dangerous dogs. It coincided with the shocking news of a horrendous dog attack on seven year-old Carolina Anderson while playing in a public park two days earlier. The dog was eventually wrongfully named as an American Staffordshire Terrier.

Carolina will require surgery on her face for years to come and all responsible dog owners roundly condemned the attack.

However, the Sunday Star Times feature was ready to go to press prior to the attack. In that article the reporter referred to the ‘dangerous breeds’ being the so-called ‘fighting breeds’. There was an illustration of three ‘breeds’ of dogs with a short description about them under each photo. One was of two pit bulls, one was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the other was a Bull Terrier. But of great concern to Staffordshire Bull Terrier owners in New Zealand was the inclusion of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier in the first place, particularly as there have been no factual incidents of Staffordshire Bull Terriers biting anyone.

The father of the little girl who had been attacked had a meeting with Prime Minister Helen Clarke and showed her photos of Carolina's face straight after the attack. The Prime Minister commented on TV News after the meeting that "The photos were horrific". She promised to bring in tighter Dog Control legislation, mentioning the banning of certain dangerous breeds as one option and muzzling all dogs when in public. The Prime Minister has promised to put through legislation quickly. She has called for all Territorial Authorities (local government authorities) to put forward submissions by Wednesday 19th February with regard to the existing Dog Control Act 1996 and its effectiveness.

CRUFTS took place with very positive media coverage and a popular winner in the diminutive, but handsome form of Pekingese Ch Yakee A Dangerous Liaison – aka ‘Danny’ – shown by Bert Easdon and Phillip Martin. Danny was, in fact, reserve BIS at the 2002 show and Toy Group Winner in 2001, so his victory was all the sweeter.

However, Danny’s victory was marred when, later in the month, it was claimed by anonymous disgruntled exhibitors that the dog had received corrective surgery. According to a report in the well-known journal of record, the Scottish Sunday Mail, Danny’s faced investigation and possible disqualification by the kennel Club after undergoing surgery for ‘a facelift’.

Later on, the article grudgingly admitted that the surgery was on the dog’s throat, rather than on his face, but pointed out that strict KC rules state that any dogs which undergo any treatment that may alter their appearance face a ban from competing.

Owners of show dogs have to supply a vet's report showing when and why any surgery was performed, in order that the KC may grant certification to allow the dogs to be shown, if the surgery is deemed not to be cosmetic.

It was alleged that Mr Easdon and Mr Martin failed to disclose a throat operation Danny underwent at Glasgow University Vet School last June.

Mr Easdon spoke to OUR DOGS, saying that he had been "inundated" with calls from the media following the Scottish Sunday Mail’s "revelation". "I’m a bit loath to say too much, as the matter is currently ongoing between ourselves and the KC," he said. "However, I’m getting a detailed report from my vet who has been away on holiday until this week. The report will confirm that the dog had a routine throat infection."

Mr Easdon admitted that surgery was involved, but had been carried out by the vet because conventional treatment of Danny’s throat infection for pharyngitis and tonsillitis had failed.

"It certainly never changed his appearance and I didn’t think I had to tell the Kennel Club all the details," he added. "Danny has been famous since he was seven months old when he gained his first CC and since he was 10 months old when he won his first best in show. I think someone’s tipped the papers off out of jealousy at his win, even though after winning Crufts he’s now retired. I just hope it all can be sorted out amicably."

The KC investigated the matter and found nothing untoward and took no action against Danny or his owners. However, the story kept the tabloids going for a while…. Surprisingly, very few of them reported the final outcome.

MORE Crufts controversy was to be found thanks to that peculiarly British brand of mismanagement that is sometimes explained away as a ‘quirk’ of our national character that led to exhibitors in three breeds being disappointed that their dogs were denied the chance to compete for Best of Group. Malinois and Laekenois Belgian Shepherd Dog, Alaskan Malamute and Papillon Best of Breed judging was not completed in time for the winning exhibits – including two overseas international champions – from being called for the Group and thus denied their chance to compete for Best in Show.

On Sunday, the winning Papillon American Ch. Cadaga Civil Action, handled by John Oulton, was excluded from the Toy Group judging – and also a chance for Best In Show, having been highly tipped for the top beforehand, due to late judging. This prompted Philippa Forester, the BBC’s Crufts TV presenter to issue an apology on behalf of the KC to the dog’s owners, Linda and Stanley Sohn from the USA, and offer a somewhat half-hearted explanation as to why judging was sometimes late. "This happened yesterday with the Malinois," said Miss Forrester, who was, it must be said, clearly sincere in her delivery, "Sorry Guys!"

Complaints were made to the Kennel Club by exhibitors in all the affected breeds.
A Crufts spokesperson said, "Crufts is aware of this issue and the situation was unfortunate for the exhibitors concerned. All Crufts judges are provided in advance with order of judging schedules that outline both the estimated commencement and completion of judging. They are further informed that if they do experience difficulties with adhering to their timings, then they should inform the Crufts Stewards’ Office, who will intervene and do everything in their power to ensure that breeds are fully represented in the Group Ring. We will be investigating this matter to see whether this procedure took place with regard to these relevant breeds and, if considered necessary, an announcement will be made in due course."
The whole sorry episode was summed up by exhibitor Nicola Finch who declared: "If this sort of thing happened at a Championship Show, the KC would be down on the show management like a ton of bricks demanding to know what happened and why, and seeking guarantees that it shouldn’t happen again.

"But when it happens at the KC’s own show, the world’s most famous dog show, then there has to be something wrong somewhere. Essentially, it’s all down to bad management, so it’s no good the Crufts office trying to blame the judges who were working flat out to start with – that’s just trying to pass the buck. Let’s hope they accept that mistakes were made and actually do something about it to prevent the same situation from occurring at the 2004 show!"

AMERICAN AIRLINES faced a humiliating climb down over their seven-month long policy of ‘profiling’ – or specifically banning - certain breeds of dogs from being carried as cargo on board AA flights.

Jeffrey P. Helsdon, the Legislative Director of the Doberman Pinscher Club of America broke the news, telling OUR DOGS: "The change in AA policy comes after an initial storm of protest from the pure-bred dog fancy in general, organized in large part through the leadership of the DPCA. Over the past six months, members of the DPCA Legislative Committee have conducted confidential, high level negotiations directly with AA officers charged with the responsibility for implementing the breed profiling policy. At one point, a DPCA Legislative Committee member held discussions with an AA officer in the first class section of an AA 747 travelling across the Pacific to China."

As a result of the DPCA's intensive, high level negotiations, AA designed, and was about to implement, a crate securing procedure that will be used on all dog crates flying on AA flights irrespective of breed of dog being shipped, to ensure the safety of passengers and crew flying on AA flights. Releasable cable ties will be used on all crates flown in cargo.

American Airlines announced its new policy on August 7th 2002, stating that the airline would no longer accept the American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Bull Terrier, Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers.

The ban was implemented on the advice of AA’s insurers after a pit bull terrier escaped from an approved airline travel container in the hold of a 757 on a domestic flight from San Diego to New York’s JFK airport. Flight personnel did not discover that the dog was free until the plane landed, and the pilot summoned the dog’s owner, who was aboard the same flight, to capture the animal. Apparently the dog had caused "some damage" to the hold, although the extent of this was not revealed, but airline staff took photographs of the damage.

Soon after this, the airline consulted insurers about the incident and queried which dogs should be banned to prevent such an incident occurring again – apparently oblivious of the fact that any breed of dog could escape under similar circumstances.

According to the spokesman, the insurers came up with a lost of breeds which were considered ‘dangerous’ and the Airline introduced the ban immediately.

At the time of going to press, American Airlines had not commented on the matter, but spokesperson Tara Baten later sniffily conceded that the ‘leak’ was, in fact, correct and that the breed ban would be lifted.

APRIL

MICROCHIPS are always good for a story – and the front page story in the April 4th issue was a good one! Thousands of British pet owners whose animals are fitted with PETtrac microchips discovered they were no longer registered on a UK pet registry database, as the US-based PETtrac parent company, Avid, decided to keep all registration details "in house".

Any British pet owner with a query about their pet’s registration or wishing to report a pet stolen had to call a Californian hotline and hope that the operator is au fait with the procedures necessary to deal with their enquiry.

A PetLog spokesman told Haddon: "We tried to keep PETtrac on side, as we feel one central point for reunification is the key to the success of microchipping.

"We supply a unique 24 hour 7 day reunification service to all other suppliers of microchips in the UK. At the time we felt strongly that PETtrac should have informed their customer base of their intention and let the customers decide but they chose not to do this. We constantly revisit this scenario with PETtrac in the hope of resolving it and providing peace of mind for all owners."

Pretty much a case of ‘chipping sod off’ to pet owners then!
RABIES is also headline grabbing stuff, although an increase in scientific tests to establish whether a form of rabies found in bats has become endemic in Britain followed the sad death in November 2002 of Scottish bat enthusiast David McRae. Mr McRae, who was 56, was the fourth person in Europe to die from the bat rabies since 1977 and the first to die from any form of the disease acquired in Britain for a century.

A young bat caught by a cat near a house on the Lancaster canal in summer 2002 was found to have lyssavirus - only the second time the strain has been identified in a bat in Britain.

Tony Stevens, a spokesman for the British Veterinary Association and a former head of the government's veterinary laboratory agency, said it was important to discover whether the bat rabies could spread to cats or dogs.

Plans for a pilot bat study in Lancashire, which could be extended to other areas, were announced by the Department of the Environment.

DOG THEFT took on a sinister new dimension when a 36 year-old woman was attacked by two would-be dog thieves whilst she was walking her dog in a Stevenage park The men approached her and tried to grab her dog, when the woman resisted, one of them men drew a knife and slashed her across the stomach before running off empty-handed. The woman later made a full recovery, although, as the investigating detective observed, this signified a worrying trend towards a new brand of dog theft.

BREED SPECIFIC PRAISE could be a phrase to get used to, but remains sadly all too rare a commodity. However, if Councillor Robert Evans had his way, Staffordshire Bull terriers would be venerated all year round in their native county. A temporary event was staged by the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Exhibition Society at Sandwell Park Farm, Staffordshire was staged this month and attracted flocks of visitors.

Councillor Robert Evans, who serves on Sandwell Council and has kept Staffordshire Bull Terriers for 25 years, said a permanent exhibition could also help to put the borough's name well and truly on the map as Staffie is revered by dog lovers across the world.

Councillor Evans said: "We need a permanent venue to record the history and the contribution this community made from the 1920s onwards. They were a group of working class men who worked exceeding long hours and still found time to form themselves into a group to get the breed registered.

"If they hadn't done this the Staffordshire Bull Terrier would be a mongrel and may not even have been around today. This heritage belongs to Sandwell."

A SAD end to the month with the death of OUR DOGS columnist Harry Baxter, a man of stature who described himself as "a student of dogs". We carried many touching tributes to him. Harry had led what could be described as a rich an varied life, teaching in Central Africa and America and, later, teaching Shawhili to Danish professionals who were bound for work in Africa.

As a dog lover, Harry had kept and enjoyed many breeds, but had showed very little and judged even less. His interest was in the dogs themselves. Eccentric and irascible to the last, he refused to kowtow to modern technology, preferring to send his contributions to OUR DOGS by post, refusing the offer of a fax machine when offered one by the paper.

MAY

PET FOOD SALES were higher than ever in 2002, according to market research published this month by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association in their annual report, with no less than 1,273,000 tonnes of dog food sold in the past year, helping towards total ales of £1.9 billion!
Pet keeping trends were also covered, with Cats still outstripping dogs as the UK’s most popular pet – 7.5 million, as opposed to dogs at 6.1 million.

SADDER STATISTICS could be found in the RSPCA’s Annual Report, which showed a consistent rise in cruelty cases against animals for the year 2002. Whilst the year 2001 highlighted many animals suffering due to ignorance and neglect, 2002 exposed a darker side to the way some people treat animals. Although it was heartening to see a fall in numbers of cases prosecuted, those involving violence towards animals rose with a total of 57 prison sentences imposed – up from 46 in 2001. In 2002 one in every 10 prosecutions involved a violent or brutal act on an animal.

In another busy year for the society inspectors investigated 114,004 complaints, made over 54,500 advice visits, gave 4,775 verbal warnings, rescued 11,311 animals, and prosecuted 910 people for cruelty offences.

BSL RECEIVED a welcome dent again, this time thanks to a ruling in New York that ruled the concept of BSL – in this case against Pit Bull Terriers – to be unconstitutional. The case, filed by the Washington Animal Foundation (WAF) drew upon a ruling made the previous year in Alabama.

The NY court ruled that the law is unconstitutional because it is in the nature of ‘ex post facto’ (after the event) law and violative of the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution in that it provides "…nor shall any person be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law".

The ruling also stated that in addition to the absolute bar on pit bulls the law does not tell the reader (of the law) whether the village, it's agents or assigns, have the power to confiscate the offending animals and if so, what compensation, if any, owners would afforded. This too runs foul of the Fifth Amendment.

Poul Poulson of WAF hailed the New York ruling as a great victory for the anti-BSL movement and expressed the hope that other courts in other States would arrive at similar rulings at other hearings scheduled for 2003.

DEMPSEY, the most famous pit bull in the UK – literally ‘the one that got away’ from a death sentence under the hated 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, died this month, at the grand old age of 17.

Dempsey was owned by Diane Fanneran, of Hanwell, west London. - Dempsey had never shown any aggression to any other dog or human being in her life, yet she found herself on death row for over three years, thanks to the intransigence of the law. Dempsey was being taken for a walk by family friend Mark Cichon one evening in April 1992, correctly muzzled and leashed, in accordance with the newly enacted law. Suddenly, she began to choke, trying to vomit, but unable to because of her muzzle. Mark quickly removed the muzzle to allow Dempsey to be sick, at which point two police officers pulled up in a patrol car and informed him that he had broken the law by having a Pit Bull unmuzzled in a public place.

Thus it was, the next day, 16th July, Diane, in a state of shock delivered Dempsey to Ealing police station, from where she was taken to be placed in solitary confinement in a bare concrete kennel in the station yard, later to be taken secret kennels.

From here on, the legal merry-ground that was the DDA began. There were numerous appeals made on Dempsey's behalf over the next three years, first by the solicitor acting for Mark, then later by the solicitor acting for Diane, well-known DDA expert Trevor Cooper. The appeals were heard at Crown Court, the High Court, the House of Lords and the High Court again. All were rejected. The law said that Dempsey had to die.

Dempsey’s story was reported extensively in the canine press, as well as local and then later, national and international newspapers. The French actress turned animal welfare campaigner Brigitte Bardot was so concerned about Dempsey's plight that she offered to fly the dog out to France to live out her days at her own animal sanctuary, entirely at Ms Bardot's expense. The offer was put to the then Home Secretary Michael Howard, who bluntly refused, saying that he could not intervene in the process of law.

A final date was set for the case to be heard in the High Court in November 1995 and there seemed no other legal argument to save Dempsey’s life. But with just two days to go to the crucial hearing, anti-DDA campaigner Juliette Glass discovered a legal loophole by checking through the case notes of another, little known DDA case which bore remarkable similarities to Dempsey’s case and had been dismissed by the High Court when it was found that the dog’s owner, had not been informed of the court hearing – just like Diane Fanneran. As Juliette Glass herself remarked, this was truly a case of divine intervention. The High Court heard from Ealing magistrates that if Diane had been in court that day, matters might have progressed very differently. The two High Court judges considered this new evidence, and, pointedly remarking that they took a very dim view of the prosecution's whole case and promptly ordered that Dempsey be released.

Twenty-four hours later, before TV cameras and press reporters, Diane and Dempsey were reunited. - The pair had only seen each other once for a brief meeting since Dempsey was seized. For the next few days, Dempsey was the most famous dog in Britain, appearing on TV and in newspapers. She even knocked Princess Diana off the front page of the Daily Mail!

Dempsey’s health deteriorated rapidly in early May and she was put to sleep by a vet in her own bed, held by Diane’s partner Keith. Dempsey was buried later that day in Diane’s back garden – ironically in the same site as a grave was dug for her in 1995 when all hope seemed lost.

Diane said: "She was a truly remarkable dog, and my life is all the richer for having known her. She was good, gentle and happy – in fact, she was never happier than when my grandchildren used to come and visit. Even well into her old age, she would always play with them. She never let her experience of her lost years change her character for the worst – she was always my very special girl."

ANOTHER DOG closely associated with the DDA was Rickson, the Bull terrier sentenced to death under the DDA in 2001 after biting a child – allegedly in self defence. Rickson’s case had been dragging on since the Fury Defence Fund took over the legal appeal against the death sentence – and a state of legal impasse had been reached, after the House of Lords had rejected an appeal on the dog’s behalf.

The case was now referred to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, who agreed that there were flaws in the legal process of Rickson’s case and would be conducting an inquiry. Once again, a young dog, held in solitary confinement in city kennels, received a stay of execution.

A BIG SHAKE-UP at the Kennel Club when 211 KC members – about 28% of the total membership accepted a recommendation by the KC Committee and voted in favour of opening up membership to associates of five years’ standing or more. This meant that with immediate effect, associates could put themselves forward for membership and enjoy the heady heights of acceptance at Clarges Street, as long as they had a proposer and seconder, and the General Committee approved their application.


JUNE

UNEXPECTED good news on the BSL front this month when Norway announced that new canine legislation for Norway would NOT be breed specific in nature, as had been mooted by Government officials previously.

There would be no banning of any breed in the actual law, nor would any breeds be specified or listed as ‘potentially dangerous’. However, the Department of Justice will be given the option to any ban breeds they may later think to be dangerous. They can do this by regulations/directions ‘acclaimed’ by the King, which means that Parliament itself will not be involved in instigating and legislating for breed bans, although strict criteria must be met.
Amazingly, just two weeks later, the Government managed to force through a ban on the Amstaff thanks to the backing of one of the main Opposition parties.

Although it was ruled to be illegal to breed or import Amstaffs, owners of existing Amstaffs would be allowed to keep their dogs until they died of old age.

GIBRALTAR decided not to be left out of the BSL loop and enacted Breed Specific Legislation – for no other apparent reason than a desire to ‘harmonise’ with the UK and Spain, both of which have breed specific laws.

IN a press statement dated June 2nd, the Gibraltar Social Democratic Government announced the introduction of the Dangerous Dogs Ordnance which came into effect a month earlier, on May 7th. The statement read:

‘Within five months of the legislation being enacted dogs known as Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshires, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino or Fila Brasiliero and dogs appearing to be a cross breed of or substantially of one of these types, must either be exported permanently, destroyed or exempted. Failure to take one of these courses of action or anyone who imports such a dog, which has now become a prohibited import, will be liable to prosecution.
‘The Minister for the Environment may grant compensation of up to £200 to the owner of any dog destroyed within this period.

‘Any person being the custodian of any dog to which the Ordinance applies and which is registered and licensed under the provisions of the Animals and Birds Ordinance may apply within two months of the legislation being enacted i.e. by 7th July 2003 to the Commissioner of Police for an exemption to keep the dog on the grounds that it does not and will not foreseeably represent a danger to the public or property. Application for exemption forms and further particulars may be obtained from the Environmental Agency at No.37 Town Range.

‘Unless a dog of the type described above has been exempted, it must be permanently exported or destroyed by 7th October 2003.’

AUSTRALIA moved a step closer to a nationwide ban on the docking of dogs’ tails when Queensland Minister for Primary Industries Henry Palaszczuk welcomed the announcement made by the Australian Northern Territory Government to support a ban on cosmetic tail docking of dogs in the State.

Mr Palaszczuk said the NT Government's decision meant Australia was a step closer to implementing a national ban on the "cruel and unnecessary practice" of cutting a dog's tail short soon after birth. "Queensland will be implementing the ban in October and importantly we want the support of all governments to implement a national ban by 1 December 2003," he said.

Mr Palaszczuk addressed the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) national conference in Cairns. The AVA, along with the RSPCA and other animal welfare organisations, was pushing for a national ban on tail docking.

FOOTBALL hooliganism cast its jaundiced eye on dog ownership but was soon ruled offside thanks to a swift substitution which saw OUR DOGS playing centre field.

The UK Football website Football365 caused outrage in the animal welfare world with its so called ‘Fun Features’ article. The article, written by David North and entitled No Football? Then Why Don't You..., suggested that bored football fans should buy themselves a dog for the summer and "once the season starts again, you can always hand it back to the RSPCA or simply throw it in a river".

The shocking article was posted onto the UK Pets website by site editor Steve O'Malley. Within two hours of the posting on UK Pets, the news had been cross-posted around the Internet and was being read across the world by outraged dog lovers.

Rivals Digital media were inundated with angry e-mails, faxes and telephone calls from outraged pet owners, without even being aware, initially, as to the nature of the problem.

Elizabeth Ryan, Marketing Manager, Rivals Digital Media expressed her surprise when OUR DOGS contacted her. "Yes, I can see the problem with this and how it could cause offence. I’ll get straight on to the website to have it removed."

The article was removed within three hours of Rivals Digital media being appraised of the situation, thanks to the intervention of OUR DOGS.

PETER JAMES, former KC Chairman from 1996 to 2002 was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List, in recognition of all his work to raise the profile of pedigree dogs in the last years of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. Amongst the many tributes paid to Mr James, OUR DOGS commented that the MBE was "….a fitting tribute to a man who was, by his own admission, a reluctant chairman."