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Review of the Year 2004 - Part 1 with Nick Mays


Clarissa Baldwin & Bumble

JANUARY

the year got off to a snappy start with reports that ‘Pharos’ one of the Queen’s beloved Corgis was attacked and killed by ‘Florence’, a Bull terrier belonging to the Queen’s daughter, The Princess Royal.

The tabloid media, led by that well-know journal of record The Sun, fuelled speculation that the offending Bull terrier was ‘Dottie’, the same animal that attacked two children in Windsor Great Park in 2002 resulting in a court appearance and fine of £500 for the Princess Royal.

The attack on the Queen's dog happened as the Princess arrived at Sandringham just before Christmas to join the Royal Family for their traditional Christmas celebrations. She knocked on a door accompanied by two or three (reports vary) of her Bull Terriers. As a servant opened the door, the Queen's Corgis raced down the staircase to welcome her and her pets. However, the greeting turned violent when Florence lunged for Pharos, biting his hind legs and breaking one in three places.

The Queen, who was upstairs recovering from a knee operation, heard the yelps and hobbled to see what had happened. She found Pharos lying bleeding with serious injuries. A vet was called and Pharos was taken to intensive care where he stayed overnight. The Queen agreed to have him put down on December 23rd.

A member of the Queen's household said that the Queen was "devastated and distraught". "Everyone knows what the Queen's corgis mean to her. They are loyal, faithful and cherished," the source said.

Naturally, the media went into overdrive at the news of Pharos’ death following the attack by Dotty, with the usual predictable comments about 'dangerous' Bull Terriers, whilst the Daily Mail carried ex-Labour MP Roy Hattersley's usual canine pontifications, linking the Princess’s dog’s behaviour to that of his own Staffordshire Bull Terrier 'Buster', who was prosecuted for killing a goose in St James' Park some years ago. Bull Terrier judge and anti-DDA campaigner John Branch appeared on several TV news items on Christmas Eve when news of the incident broke. Mr Branch declared that it would be 'inappropriate' to have Dottie (or Florence) destroyed, as many sections of the media were calling for. Interestingly, public opinion seemed to back Mr Branch's view, despite media attempts to play up to 'euthanasia' option.

Some newspapers quoted the RSPCA - of which the Queen is patron - as saying that its standard policy was for a dog to be put down, as the safest option, following a second serious attack.

However, RSPCA Press Officer Helen Briggs told OUR DOGS that their spokesperson’s comments had made it clear that they had no involvement in the incident. "The incident happened on private ground and neither we nor the police were involved, so we nor anyone outside of the Royal Family knows the full circumstances of the case," she said.

Dotty off the hook

A full week after the incident, Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying - rather conveniently for the Princess Royal - that Dotty was an innocent victim of mistaken identity.

It was reported that the culprit ‘could have been’ one of the Princess Royal's other Bull terriers, Florence, after vets compared the corgi's wounds with the two dogs' jaw sizes.

The Daily Mail quoted a 'palace servant' as saying: "There have been exhaustive inquiries - just like conducting a murder investigation. Statements were taken, the vet's opinions sought, the corpse examined and the upshot is that Dotty is off the leash."

THE surprise retirement of one of the UK’s best-known all-rounder dog judges was announced in the January 2nd issue of OUR DOGS. Pamela Cross-Stern who judged all groups and BIS along with KC CCs in 114 and, at the pinnacle of her career, was BIS Judge at Crufts 2002. Mrs Cross-Stern, daughter of the late Fred Cross, himself a famous all rounder in the 1950s and 60s, said: "I have had a very long and happy association with the world of dogs and through it have been very privileged to meet so many wonderful people all over the world."

BACK to the Palace again later in the month with the news that Florence, the Bull Terrier owned by the Princess Royal (now positively identified as the same dog that attacked one of the Queen's corgis before Christmas) later bit a maid at Sandringham.

The maid had entered the room with three other servants but they panicked after the Princess's two Bull Terriers started barking. They tried to run out of the room but one of the maids, named as Ruby Brooker 55, was caught by Florence and nipped on the knee. The Princess and her husband, Commodore Tim Laurence, were dining at a log cabin on the Norfolk estate at the time of the attack on Saturday evening. Royal staff members treated the maid's wound but, according to Buckingham Palace, the Princess insisted that a doctor was called. The maid's wound was bandaged and she was given a tetanus injection. Health & Safety officials later interviewed her as a matter of procedure. Both the Queen and the Princess were understood to have later spoken to Mrs Brooker and expressed their sympathy at her injury.

Since the death of the Queen's corgi, Pharos, Florence and Dottie - who was originally blamed for attacking Pharos - have been confined to quarters.

Mrs Brooker's husband David dismissed the hysteria generated by many tabloid newspapers over the latest incident. Speaking from the couple's house in Terrington St John, near King's Lynn, Norfolk, he told the Mail On Sunday: "We own dogs ourselves, so we are quite used to them. It's only to be expected that the Queen would show sympathy [to Ruby] and talk to her personally.

"Princess Anne saw her and apologised the same day. It was very amicable. Ruby carried on working and the doctor has given her the all clear. She knows Princess Anne's dogs well. I think they were bored because they were shut up."

HAPPIER news all round this month with the announcement that Clarissa Baldwin, Chief Executive of the UK's largest dog welfare charity, Dogs Trust, had been awarded an OBE in the Queen's New Year's honours list.

The honour was awarded in recognition of Mrs Baldwin's outstanding contribution to canine welfare for the past 30 years. Always an innovator, it was she who created the now famous strapline "A dog is for life, not just for Christmas," back in 1978 when she was asked by the charity's Trustees to come up with a phrase which would dissuade people from giving pets as presents.

Clarissa Baldwin has been a tireless champion of responsible dog ownership during nearly thirty years of service to Dogs Trust (formerly known as the National Canine Defence League.). In her current role, she has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities that have resulted in great improvements in dog welfare nationally, internationally and at a local community level.

Under her leadership, Dogs Trust was the first animal charity to take a ‘holistic’ approach to the problem of stray and abandoned dogs. Several years ago Mrs Baldwin decided that it wasn't enough just to rescue and rehome dogs, the problem needed to be tackled at source.

Mrs Baldwin spoke to OUR DOGS when the honour was announced. "I am so taken aback by it," she said. "But I don't deserve singling out - this honour belongs to everybody who works within the Dogs Trust, 365 days a year, doing their best for the dogs in our care, and elsewhere.

"I can only offer my humble thanks to them for all they do and to share the honour of the award with them." A happy resolution to a long-running story from 2003 when a local authority made a humiliating climbdown on their insistence that a dog enthusiast in the local area must apply for planning permission to change the designation of his house from a domestic dwelling as he owns more than six dogs.

As reported in previous issues, the insidious ‘Six Dog Rule’ threatens all dog enthusiasts who own six dogs or more and is being exercised by a number of local authorities across the country.

Owners have been told by planning officers that the ownership of six or more dogs is enough to compel them to apply for ‘change of use’ for their homes. Considerations such as the health and welfare of the dogs, as well as the conditions in which they are kept are, according to one local planning department official, ‘irrelevant’ in the application of this planning ‘guideline’, as is the size or breed of the dogs. However, few if any planning departments have any idea as to what status the owner’s domestic dwelling should be changed.

A well-known Shar-pei breeder and exhibitor who keeps 18 dogs, some in kennels and some in his substantial house, on a large and secluded property in Dorset was contacted by the local dog warden in 2002 on an unrelated issue and was then later visited by a planning officer. The officer simply stated that Mr P (name withheld at owner’s request) would have to apply for planning permission as he had over six dogs, and this made his home "no longer a domestic dwelling".

Mr P, who is also a local JP, asked the officer (whom we identify as Mr Y) what his home would be re-designated as. "I put it to him that it wasn’t a breeding establishment," said Mr P. "Half of our dogs are retired, and we only breed one or two litters a year, so we don’t even need a licence.

Nor is it a sanctuary, or a boarding kennels. We are devoted to the breed, and our dogs are our hobby. We show a lot, and because, like most dog people we know, we are responsible and sensible owners, we only keep the number of dogs which we believe we can look after properly.

We are fortunate to have an ideal property for our hobby, which was why we moved here nearly six years ago, and we have never had any complaints from anyone. The officer couldn’t tell me what ‘change of use’ we were supposed to apply for, but said that it was this particular Authority’s view that having more than six dogs was not ‘incidental’ to the ‘enjoyment’ of the property for domestic or residential purposes, and that consequently a new planning permission was required."

Soon afterwards, Mr P received a letter from Mr Y explaining that he had 21 days to apply for planning permission or he could receive an enforcement notice requiring him to reduce the number of dogs on his premises. Additionally, the cost of the required planning permission was £220. Mr P pursued the matter further with the planning officer and asked a number of searching questions by letter.

Mr P later received a brief reply from Mr Y, who stated that he was unable to answer [Mr P’s] questions, but that "every case was determined on its merits", and reiterated that he expected Mr P to apply for planning permission for ‘change of use’ of his home.

The local authority’s claim for the ‘re-designation’ of Mr P’s home is based on a case that dates back to 1989 and 1990 from an entirely different local authority, which apparently serves as a guideline for all similar cases. Wales and Montgomeryshire District Council had successfully argued in court that whereas the council’s officer accepted the owner’s assertion that the keeping of dogs was a hobby, the ‘intensity of the use [of the owner’s home] had so changed the character of the property that it could not be regarded as incidental’. Even though the judge in the case rejected the Inspector’s figure of six dogs as ‘arbitrary’, he let it stand and ruled in favour of the council.

Mr P had not heard from the council for several months, until he received a letter early in January in which the planning authority said that they were not now intending to pursue Mr P’s case, nor to insist on him applying for planning permission.

Mr P told OUR DOGS: "My gut feeling is that in reality they have assessed the implications in terms of time and cost (to the Council Tax payer) of pursuing this particular case, where they were aware that we would fight it all the way. I still cannot see what they hope to achieve by pursuing ordinary individuals in this way, when they are causing no harm or hindrance to anyone.

The random application of such a ‘guideline’ for its’ own sake seems like bureaucracy gone mad, and a fundamental invasion of individual privacy, and surely was never meant to be implemented in this way. The unfortunate truth however is that these issues can only be challenged in a rational and reasoned way, usually through the Courts. This would now include testing it against the Human Rights Act 1998, which an individual Authority would perhaps prefer not to do, given the cost and risk, which would in any case have exposed them to a lot of bad and unwanted publicity."


Exhibitors at Richmond show last year may recall the film crew and TV presenter Peter Purves in the main ring and the Heelwork to Music Display. Next week the fruits of their labour can be seen on the Channel 4 programme ‘Faking it’ which is being screened on Tuesday evening February 17th. Here are the stars of the show, l to r, Julie Collingwood and Buddy, Rob Archer and Bobby, Karen Sykes with Fly and David Moxon and Mouse.

SHOCKING news ended the month with the withdrawal of the Crufts 2004 Best In Show Judge Mrs Joyce Mann from her appointment at the KC’s premier show and also from all her other judging engagements. Her husband Peter Mann resigned as Kennel Club Trustee and from all KC Committees, including his position as Chairman of the Crufts Show Committee.

The two moves, announced by the KC press office came following the circulation of an anonymous letter to the canine press and mainstream media damning Mrs Mann’s breeding activities in Yorkshire Terriers in the 1960s and 70s, along with the Kennel Club Breed Records Supplement for the year 1971 in which Mrs Mann’s Craigsbank kennel registered 126 puppies from 23 litters.

Mrs and Mrs Mann both issued statements expressing their regret at resigning, but stressed that they were doing so to protect the good name of the KC and dogdom. Many prominent figures in the world of dogs rallied to their defence, including KC Chairman Ronnie Irving. In subsequent issues of OUR DOGS several readers’ letters were printed deploring the anonymous correspondent and clearly demonstrating support for Mr and Mrs Mann.

FEBRUARY

ENTRIES for Crufts were announced at the beginning of this month, with a grand total of 21,622 dogs entered for the 2004 show – 583 up on 2003 – working out at a total of 23,176 entries, the third highest entry since Crufts began in 1891. This was followed by a report that this year’s show had attracted a record-breaking number of overseas entries, with 644 dogs attending from 22 different countries.

KC registrations were also up in the past year, showing an increase of 8.6%. There were 245,894 registrations in 2003, the highest total since 1998.

THE ROYAL College of Veterinary Surgeons said it would oppose any plans by the Government to introduce free prescription charges for veterinary medicines, if the recommendations of the Competition Commission regarding veterinary charges were put into effect.

As reported previously in OUR DOGS, the Director General of Fair Trading asked the Competition Commission to study the Supply of Veterinary Medicines because a ‘scale monopoly’ existed. This Report was published in late 2003. One of the key recommendations – Clause 6 – called for an interim arrangement for prescriptions to be free of charge, covering the period required for further consultation and the drafting of legislation.

Ms Randall-Crowther pointed out: "A realistic look at the Parliament timetable shows the earliest date that we might expect the amended provisions to become law is the late spring of 2006. It is not clear to me who gave the Government’s Commission the impression that such a voluntary interim arrangement as Clause 6 would be accepted by Vets, as in August 2002 the BSAVA President, Julian Wells called the Inquiry ‘a waste of money’. …The (former) President of the RCVS has said that a reasonable charge for a prescription (a legal document) should be no more than £2.50.

"The current position is that the Royal College of Vet Surgeons are strongly resisting the implementation of Clause 6 (free prescriptions for 3 years) until the law is changed, albeit the law is unlikely to be changed for three years.

"Of course, a General Election might return a Government of a different hue and the RCVS might welcome the abolition of the Competition Commission."

Clause 6 of the report’s summary states (in full):

(VI) A requirement, for a period of three years, for veterinary surgeons providing prescriptions to do so at no additional charge to the client beyond that of the consultation. The Director General of Fair Trading (DGFT), with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), to monitor the prescriptions written, and the charges made for them, over the 12 months following the end of that period. The DGFT to set charges for prescriptions if, in his judgement, veterinary surgeons are charging for prescriptions so as to deter animal owners from asking for prescriptions or to influence the terms of competition with pharmacies to their own advantage.

A spokesman for the RCVS told OUR DOGS: "The RCVS has neither power nor wish to implement the recommendation that prescriptions should be provided free of charge. This would be a matter solely for legislation if introduced."

The final assessment of the matter of prescription charges for veterinary medicines would be that any legislation bringing about the introduction of such charges would be dependant on (a) whether the Labour Government was returned at the next General Election (due in either 2005 or 2006) and (b), if it was returned, whether it would press ahead with legislation to implement the sweeping recommendations made by the Commission.

MARCH

CRUFTS again and this year’s show was one of the biggest yet. The proud winner was Mrs Lynne Yacoby-Wright’s four year-old Whippet bitch, Ch Cobyco Call The Tune – a.k.a. ‘Dee Dee’. This proud, pert little dog could trace her pedigree back to the 1991 BIS winner, Miss Morag Boulton’s Ch Pencloe Dutch Gold.

Sadly, Crufts 2004 was marred by horrendous traffic problems on the approach to the NEC and exacerbated by the centre’s insistence on staging a huge DIY exhibition over the same weekend as Crufts.

The show was first plunged into chaos on the Thursday night as thousands of drivers were locked in queues trying to get home.

The gridlock was sparked by a broken-down coach of school children about 15 miles away on the M6 and accidents on the M40 and M42. To make matters worse, faulty traffic lights on Junction 6 of the M42 allowed drivers only 12 seconds to get over a junction onto the motorway. And as if that were not enough, drivers trying to get out of the NEC were hampered by thousands of pop fans arriving for a concert by the band Busted.

Visitors to the four-day show said the tailbacks were made worse because too few stewards were on duty in the car park.

John Lamb, from Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said if visitors' experiences were ruined then Birmingham's reputation could be damaged and it could affect investment.

Then on Saturday morning, the faulty traffic lights that had not been fixed by the Highways Agency continued to cause massive congestion, particularly where the M6 and M42 converged, ahead of the stricken Junction 6. Many drivers reported an average hold-up time of two and half hours on the motorway, which was not made any better by the approach roads to the NEC car parks also being gridlocked due to the car parks reaching capacity.

NEC Chief Executive Barry Cleverdon apologised to everyone for the horrendous traffic problems, but said that Thursday’s problems were beyond the NEC’s control.

"The accidents on the motorways, combined with the traffic signalling problems at Junction 6 caused a total standstill," said Mr Cleverdon. "I am told by the Highways Agency that Junction 6 has a system built in to it to deal with traffic gridlock by overriding the traffic lights an thus relieve the traffic flow, but this was not functioning properly.

"As far as the NEC were concerned, the traffic had ground to a halt, although we did all we could to get relieve the pressure. We used the west side of the site to try to move traffic, but this gave no relief either."

Mr Cleverdon said that he had been in discussions with the police and the Highways Agency on the Friday and was told that Junction 6 was being managed by police to override the problems caused by the automatic system controlling the traffic lights, which had "helped to a large degree." However, he added that the problems on Saturday had been caused by lots of delays.

"The geography of the area has to be taken into account and be held responsible for many of the problems caused," he added. "There are many problems caused by Junction 6. What wee are looking for is an efficient exit tonight, so let’s hope there is no accident on the M42."

Asked by sceptical dog press reporters if the problems had all arisen because of the traffic lights on Junction 6, Mr Cleverdon said "To a large extent, yes. The phasing on Junction 6 is clearly not working efficiently."

OUR DOGS Chief Reporter Nick Mays put the point that it surely didn’t help staging such a major exhibition alongside Crufts.

"For many years, Crufts has not been the only show on site," replied Mr Cleverdon. "There was no reason to believe that this would not work over these days. NEC management were working very closely with the organisers of both shows to estimate the volume of visitors.

"The problem isn’t parking, but getting people onto the site, and re-direction of traffic has, I admit, caused a few problems."

It is understood that Crufts management had engaged in ‘vigorous lobbying’ and seeking an assurance from NEC officials that the Homebuilding and Renovation Show would not be staged over the same weekend as Crufts in future years. On Monday of the week following the show, the NEC press office confirmed to OUR DOGS that the Homebuilding and Renovation Show was booked to be staged between 10 and 13 March 2005 – the exact same weekend at Crufts.

However, the NEC capitulated to pressure and announced that the homebuilding show had been moved to the weekend of April 14-17 2005. Perhaps it was due to the lobbying by the Crufts management… a clear case of do it yourself….


Best in show at Crufts 2004 championship show was Mrs Lynne Yacoby-Wright’s whippet bitch Ch Cobyco Call The tune seen here with BIS judge Mrs Margaret Everton. ‘Dee Dee’ won from a strong hound group under specialist Mr George Johnston earlier the same evening. This homebred four year old is by Ch C Cavalier out of C Caught Misbehaven the pedigree of which can be traced back three generations to the 1992 best in show winner Miss Morag Bolton’s Ch Pencloe Dutch Gold



STILL with Crufts, the KC’s ‘Accredited Breeders Scheme’ to breeders was launched with great fanfare last week at Crufts. Over a series of twice daily presentations, the KC’s Genetics Co-ordinator Jeff Sampson and Diana Brookes-Ward explained the aims of the scheme, which is the latest initiative in the KC’s drive to bring about best breeding and sale practices among breeders, and is a natural progression of the genetic testing programme started seven years ago
Mr Sampson explained that the scheme sets out a list of requirements that breeders must follow in order to be recognised. These include: that breeders adhere to Kennel Club policy regarding the maximum age of breeding bitches and number of litters bred from them. That they make use of health screening schemes, relevant to their breed for all breeding stock. They permanently identify breeding stock by DNA profiling, microchip or tattoo. They socialise the puppies, as well as providing written advice on socialisation, exercise, training and feeding and offer a ‘post-sales’ telephone advice service.

"The scheme will provide a framework which will evolve over time by harnessing the experience of breeders, breed clubs and breed councils," said Mr Sampson. "We are keen to enter into a dialogue with breeders on how best to achieve that. We recognise, of course, that many people already exceed these standards laid out in the ABS."

He added that the ABS aimed to complement the existing schemes run by Breed Clubs, and added that the KC will continue to direct potential buyers to reed clubs for advice on finding responsible breeders. The scheme would, he said, "ensure healthy, happy, well-adjusted puppies."

A BLIND woman whose booking was refused by three guesthouses because of her guide dog took out a case for discrimination and won.

Nicola Cockburn, 26 wanted to visit Somerset and stay near the Cheddar Gorge or Glastonbury, but was horrified when a guesthouse owner refused to accept her booking because of her guide dog, Vale.

Lionel Whitefield, owner of the Acorn Lodge in Taunton infuriated Miss Cockburn when he point blank refused to accept Vale as they had a strict ‘no dogs rule’. "I explained to him that I was blind, but he said that no dogs meant no dogs," Nicola told OUR DOGS. "I was so cross I just slammed the phone down. Vale and I are a package- we go everywhere together.

"People know all about sexual and racial discrimination, but they are less aware of disability discrimination, which was what I was being subjected to."

Student Nicola approached the Disability Rights Commission for help. The commission tried to arrange a ‘reconciliation meeting’ between Nicola and Mr Whitefield, but this did not take place, so Nicola sued him under the Disability Discrimination Act, which says that any service provider is legally obliged to accept guide dogs.

Incredibly, when the case was heard at Taunton County Court, Mr Whitefield claimed that Nicola had phoned a different guesthouse. However, she produced an itemised phone bill that clearly showed his number and the date of her call.

Feisty Nicola represented herself in court, having reached an out-of-court agreement with the owner of the first guesthouse after threatening legal action and decided not to pursue action against the second out of sympathy for the owner’s asthmatic wife.

The judge ruled against Mr Whitefield, stating that he had been guilty of discrimination against Nicola because of her disability and awarded her £1,000 damages.

Nicola was missing Vale at Crufts, attending with family friend Heather who was helping her around. She was delighted, however, when Neil Ewart of Guide Dogs for the Blind Association partnered her with Golden Retriever ‘Grant’, a guide dog in training who was on display to meet the public on the GDBA stand.

"It’s very nice to have my Golden ‘fix’," smiled Nicola. "But I’ll be so glad to see Vale when I get home."


Neil Ewart with a copy of his new book The Guide Dogs Book of Amazing Dog Tales, together with Nicola Cockburn and Guide Dog in training ‘Grant’ on the GDBA stand at Crufts



TALKING of guide dogs, Neil Ewart was publicising his new book at Crufts, entitled ‘The Guide Dogs Book of Amazing Tales’.

"It‘s essentially a collection of anecdotes from a wide range of ‘ordinary’ dog owners, of there is such a thing," Neil told OUR DOGS. "I hear such wonderful stories from friends and friends of friends who have dogs and I decided to record them for posterity. It was great fun to write and I hope that readers will find it amusing and also see their own dogs in some of those whose antics are described in the book."

Royalties from the sale of the book were donated to Guide Dogs for the Blind.

BREED SPECIFIC Legislation in Germany is fair – or at least, up to a point. This was the ruling of the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe – the highest court in the country - on 18 March, when it delivered its long-awaited ruling on the two key facets of BSL in Germany, namely the Import Ban and the Breeding Ban on four so-called ‘dangerous breeds’ of dog. But worse, following a separate ruling, the Federal Government has called upon all German States to enact a law whereby listed ‘dangerous’ breeds should be sterilised by mandatory statute.

The initial ruling was that the Federal Government’s Import Ban on the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Stafford, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and English Bull Terrier is CORRECT. According to the court, these breeds are considered dangerous and the safety of the (German) people comes first.

However, the second key part of the ruling, relating to the ban on breeding these and other so-called ‘dangerous ‘ breeds was somewhat more complex. The court ruled that it is up to each individual State Government in Germany to decide whether breeding is allowed or not.

Germany-based anti-BSL campaigner Cathie Detmar, who is herself fighting BSL laws in her home state analysed the court ruling for OUR DOGS:

"The Import ban is legal because the protection of human life has priority over the rights of people to own certain breeds of dogs.

"The judges said: ‘it is enough' when the government only suspects that the four named breeds are dangerous to humans, because the protection of human life is more important than anything else. ‘Absolute proof ‘is not needed."

However, the judges also ruled that the Government has a duty to keep an eye on this situation in case new evidence surfaces, whether in favour of the dogs or against, then re-write this law in accordance to what has come to light. What this means in practice is the door is still open to allow the Government to ban further breeds such as the GSD or Rottweiler, for example, if it appears these breeds are also a ‘danger’ to humans, but also allows to amend the list if evidence appears to exonerate one or more of the already listed breeds. Whether they would act in the latter instance is, of course, a matter for speculation.

Detmar added: "The breeding ban was thrown out because it was attached to the animal protection law, which has nothing to do with the safety of people. The court told each State they must decide whether to invoke a breeding ban or not. This of course hangs on whether a state has a breed list. This being so, the task will be an easy one. Such states as Lower Saxony and Thuringen do not have a breed list anymore so the people in these states have the right to breed formerly ‘listed’ dogs again. The two states of Bavaria and Sachsen-Anhalt have Category 1 and 2 lists...and those dogs listed in Category 2 can also become a breeding animal, once certain temperament tests are passed. The other 12 German states have laws in place with breed lists and in each of these states these dog owners must once again go through the court system to fight them.

"What is positive for our state-based case is that we are in a different court system, the administration court. This is the same court, with the same judges, that threw out the laws in Lower Saxony (agreeing it is nothing to do with a breed). And when the appeal for that case went to Berlin (the high court) those justices also repeated it has nothing to do with a breed and that many factors are involved in determining what makes a dog aggressive.

"This court was also concerned only with the scientific proof presented and did not give any weight to 'hearsay'. These judges will be the same ones to hear our case to remove the Bull Terrier from the federal list, what has been our course of action since 2001, using over 11 scientific studies to support our claim. Now that the federal import ban trial is behind us, we are hoping the administration court will finally set a date for our case."

Sterilised By Law: On the same day, the Constitutional Court decided on another matter concerning dogs – and their ruling was, if anything, far more worrying with worse long-term implications than their ruling on the Import and Breeding bans.

A pit bull owner from the State of Rheinland-Pfalz was ordered to sterilise their dog since he is on their breed list of ‘dangerous’ breeds. The owner took this matter to the High Court and the decision was upheld.

The judges ruled that because the life of humans takes precedence of the rights of a dog owner, it is correct when the State Government of Rheinland-Pfalz decides that ‘dangerous’ dogs must be sterilised. This means that every American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, English Bull Terrier and American Pit Bull Terrier in this German state must be sterilised.



...Review of the Year 2004 continued in next week’s issue