2005 was another year when dogs were the subject of much portentous news – and affected by the laws and actions of human beings….
Tsunami Horror: The year began on a sombre note with mass news coverage of the devastating Tsunami that pounded South Asia on Boxing Day 2004 with the tragic loss of thousands of human lives. But the Tsunami also created a second tier of victims: animals.
Dogs were homeless in Thailand. Cows, water buffalo and goats died in their thousands in Sri Lanka. “Farm animals have been roaming destroyed grazing land and drinking polluted water since their owners have died,” said Sherry Grant, Asia director for Humane Society International.
“Humans and animals have a ‘dynamic connection’,” Grant said during a three-country tour of Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
"The animals and their well-being ... connect to the humans because they are the providers and can generate economic recovery,” she said. “Subsistence farmers need those cattle, they need those oxen to pull their ploughs, to work those fields."
In India, the Blue Cross told the Humane Society that thousands of dead animals lined beaches after the tsunami struck. It also said that all the animals at the Point Calimere wildlife sanctuary, including 1,800 black buck, were probably dead.
Dogs were roaming what appeared to be the remains of their hometowns in Thailand, some of which are devastated and lifeless after the tsunami killed thousands of people in the area. Wiek, director of the Wildlife Friends of Thailand Rescue Centre, said volunteers had supplied 800 kilograms of dog food in just a few days. "I think they all knew something was coming and they fled to higher ground."
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), the international UN-recognised charity representing nearly 500 member organisations worldwide, warned that the humanitarian tsunami tragedy was likely to be mirrored in the plight of affected animals in the crisis-hit region of South East Asia. Although wildlife is likely to have escaped largely unscathed, WSPA is concerned at the fate of domesticated animals unable to flee the force of the tsunami and those surviving animals whose fate is so closely linked with that of the people in the region.
With decades of experience in dealing with animals caught up in disasters, WSPA mobilised and coordinated resources from animal welfare organisations around the world in an international relief effort to help the animal victims of the disaster. The exact nature of this response was informed by a series of assessments, currently underway by WSPA's network of member societies in the region.
Here in the UK, the Luton Canine Association raised the staggering sum of £1,100 in donations to the Tsunami Disaster Appeal on the third day of their 3-day show. Secretary Ben Reynolds-Frost told OUR DOGS: "The Committee discussed doing something to help the victims of the disaster, so it was agreed that we would hold a raffle on the final day of the show. I kept on the PA all day making no apologies for telling people we wanted their money and we received lots of large, generous donations. Some people didn’t even want raffle tickets, they were happy just to give us the money. In this way we raised £1,000 – and then gained an extra £100 thanks to the generosity of the raffle winner."
The first prize in the raffle was a pair of tickets to see BIS Judging at Crufts, and Peter Jolley, who was one of the judges at Luton, won these. As Mr Jolley runs the Junior Handling event at Crufts and would be there anyway, he had no need of the tickets, so he asked that these be auctioned to raise further funds for the appeal. They duly were and a further £100 was raised by this impromptu auction which brought the full total raised to a spectacular £1,100.
Sadly, the Tsunami was just one of many natural disasters to strike during the course of the year, all of which involved great hardship to animals. Throughout the year, animal welfare organisations rallied to help victims of the Asian Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the Asian earthquake.
Copycat Clone: News of the birth of another cloned cat was announced - but this time the cat was an ‘ordinary’ pet, rather than a mascot for the cloning company as the first four cloned cats had been. The cat is owned by a Dallas woman, who, heart-broken at her cat’s death, has taken delivery of the world’s first cloned pet.
Julie, an airline worker who has withheld her last name because she feared harassment from anti-cloning activists, paid $50,000 (£26,000) to a California company to clone her beloved Nicky who died last year aged 17. ‘Little Nicky’ was born in October 2004 and presented to Julie at a party at a San Francisco restaurant in the New Year.
"I see absolutely no differences," she said. "When Little Nicky yawned I even saw two spots inside his mouth, just like Nicky had. Little Nicky loves water, like Nicky did, and he’s already jumped into the bathtub like Nicky used to do."
Ethics experts denounced the first commercial cloning of a pet, although several pet owners expressed great interest in having their own pets cloned.
Harry Griffin, the assistant director at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh that cloned Dolly the sheep, said that pet cloning was an "illusion".
"Cloning will not recreate a loved pet," he said. "A clone might be 99.95 per cent genetically identical to the original but it will grow up with a personality and behaviour all of its own."
Little Nicky was produced by Genetic Savings and Clone Inc, a California company co-founded by John Sperling, the Arizona billionaire, who wanted to clone his dog Missy. Three years previously, the company produced the world’s first cloned cat, named CC, an abbreviation of carbon copy. Before Little Nicky, the company had produced Peaches, a clone of a cat called Mango, and Tabouli and Baba Ganoush, clones of a Bengal cat named Tahini.
The company promised to produce a cloned dog by 2006 from Missy’s DNA remains, stored in the company’s gene bank, although as subsequent events were to show, they were to be thwarted in the goal to create the first canine clone...
‘Fix’ For Foxhunting: Foxhunting looked to carry on in England and Wales beyond this year’s General Election under a secret legal deal negotiated with Downing Street.
Several national newspapers revealed that they had learned that Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, had agreed that he would not oppose any application from the Countryside Alliance for an injunction postponing implementation of the hunting ban before the courts have ruled on its legality.
The bitterly contested law, finally forced through Parliament by use of the Parliament Act in November 2004, was due to come into force on February 18. Hunting groups threatened a campaign of mass civil disobedience and potentially violent protests, blighting the Government’s preparations for a General Election that was widely expected and ultimately was held on May 5. An injunction would allow hunting to continue for several months or possibly even a year — well after the election.
Prime Minister Tony Blair was understood strongly to support the advice of government law officers on the injunction which, senior Whitehall sources said, could help to draw the political sting from the issue. However, pro-hunters have warned that they were not likely to forget the issue simply because the hunting ban may be deferred and would still raise the issue strongly during the General Election campaign.
In the Event: Dog shows, county shows and agricultural events secured reassurance from Licensing Minister Richard Caborn that, in normal circumstances, they will not be subject to fees for large outdoor events proposed during a Government review of the licensing system.
It had been feared that the proposals, masterminded by Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, would affect hundreds of outdoor pop and jazz concerts at stately homes and country estates, along with Championship and Open Dog shows, garden shows, and point-to-point meetings.
Fundraising events for charities or for local schools and hospitals were also likely to be liable for the new charges. The minimum tax is £5,000, and this would rise on a sliding scale depending on the attendance figure. The money raised through the levy would be payable to the local council to cover the costs of health and safety checks by officials at the event.
However, during a meeting between the CLA and officials at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in early January, it was explained that only large events that fall under the revised Licensing Act would need to pay the additional fee. Activities affected include live music, dancing, the performance of a play and the sale of alcohol. While bars and public entertainment at agricultural shows will require a license, it would seem unlikely that this would trigger the extra fee for the main event.
"Indications that agricultural shows, such as traditional county shows and the Country Land and Business Association’s Game Fair, will not be subject to the charges is a great reassurance for the rural economy," said Bruce Wilson-North, Director General of the CLA.
Licensing Minister, Richard Caborn stated: "Alcohol, music and dancing are some of the activities which fall under the Licensing Act and will be subject to the fees - most outdoor sports, flower shows and most of what goes on at an agricultural show should not.
"We value agricultural events, music festivals and rural shows - they are an integral part of our culture and we want them to thrive."
Greyhound Killer Caged: A cruel thug who shot a greyhound and cut off its ears was jailed for six months and banned from keeping animals for life. Greyhound track groundsman Andrew Gough was sentenced by magistrates in Caerphilly, South Wales after he was convicted of cruelty to a Greyhound that raced under the name of Last Hope.
The dog was put down after an offense magistrates said was "totally unacceptable in a civilised society".
Gough, 28, from Tir-y-berth, Rhymney Valley, plans to appeal. Rod Smith, defending, said Gough was adamant he was not responsible for the dog's death.
As reported the previous year by OUR DOGS, the black male greyhound (later found to have been called Rusty or sometimes Charlie) was discovered on April 30th 2004 by a dog walker who heard him whimpering in agony in a rubbish tip on Fochriw Mountain in the Rhymney Valley, South Wales.
Rusty had been injured in several ways, including being shot in the head with a retractable bolt gun and his ears had been hacked off (presumably, because they contained tattoos that could identify him). Despite this appaling torture, Rusty was still alive and wagging his tail - but his injuries were so extensive that he was later put to sleep by a vet.
In his last week of life, Rusty had been raced at all three greyhound tracks in South Wales and it is no coincidence that he was mutilated and dumped just a few miles away from two of those tracks.
A police investigation took place, with the involvement of several Greyhound rescue groups. Rusty’s owner was traced and, as the court heard, a truly horrific story of human cruelty and greed unfolded.
In their evidence to the court, both Rusty's owner, John Hurley, and trainer, Mark Emmett, admitted they called Gough in to kill him after he performed badly at the Warwick track on April 25th, due to a toe injury, which ended his racing career. The following Saturday, the trio went to race dogs at Hinckley, where Hurley paid Gough £10 for the killing while they were drinking in the bar.
After being shown photographs of Rusty's body by police, Hurley and Emmett admitted they had asked Gough to kill Rusty and that the dog in the photographs was him. It emerged from the evidence that Gough had mutilated Rusty on Friday, April 30th and he had lain, suffering on the mountain, until being discovered two days later, on the Sunday.
Amazingly, despite their despicable behaviour in handing over Rusty to be killed, Hurley and Emmett could not be prosecuted, as it is not actually illegal for a person to have their own dog shot.
Rescue group Greyhound Action had received information that Gough was one of several greyhound ‘executioners’ in South Wales, who kill dogs for other owners and trainers in order that they can avoid the cost of having them euthanaised by a vet.
Gough failed to turn up for his trial at Blackwood Magistrates Court, South Wales, in November and the case went ahead in his absence, with the magistrates issuing a warrant for his arrest after finding him guilty. Magistrates refused a submission to reopen the case to hear more evidence and Gough was arrested and brought to court for sentencing on Wednesday, December 22nd. In a show of arrogance and disregard, Gough blew kisses at protesters on his arrival in court.
Victor Watkins, chairman of the bench, said: "This was deliberate and odious attack on a vulnerable dog, to end its life, and to render its identity unrecognisable.
"Charlie clearly endured lengthy suffering in the failed attempt to take his life. This was carried out to such a shocking degree that it's totally unacceptable in a civilised society."
Gough showed no emotion as he was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment – the maximum term allowed under current legislation for cruelty to animals.
DTA Make Their Mark: "Dogs don't just disappear - they are out there somewhere." These were the words that heralded the launch of a political lobby group in an attempt to get the Government to take the growing problem of dog theft seriously, rather than merely leaving it to individual police forces to deal with as they see fit, and rather than instigate a national policy relating to dog theft.
The group grew out of the high-profile missing dog Internet group DogLost and was called Dog Theft Action or DTA. No one, least of all the group’s co-ordinators, could have foreseen the meteoric rise to prominence of DTA throughout the coming months. [See feature ‘Three Of The Best’]
In January, DTA was the process of lobbying as many organisations as possible to draw attention to dog theft in its many forms. DTA was set up in the new year by Denise Boardman, Margaret Nawrockyi, Brian Milligan and Jayne Hayes, all members of DogLost UK to try to bring together the many agencies - the police, dog wardens, RSPCA, local authorities, rescue centres and sanctuaries who are involved in the process of reuniting dogs and owners. DTA aimed to involve as many of these agencies as possible and encourage them to collate and share information about missing and found dogs nationwide.
Co-ordinator Margaret Nawrockyi told OUR DOGS: "DTA are in favour of microchipping and would like to be in a position to reassure dog owners that scanning does take place properly all over the country. We would like vets to scan all new dogs routinely prior to treatment so that the presence of a chip can be identified and cross-referenced with PetLog. There is evidence that some vets are already performing this service.
"Above all, DTA would like to change police attitudes to dog theft! The police station is often the first point of contact when a dog has been stolen or found. Missing and stolen dogs are logged as stolen property in most police forces. This means that we can only estimate the true figures attached to this distressing crime. We believe that a crime number should be issued and a distinction made between dogs and property.
"We also believe that all stations should have scanners along with the information to register all 'found' dogs immediately. This is vital, as stolen dogs are frequently found miles away from home. People may live in close proximity to several Local Authorities. Their dog may be found, kennelled, rehomed or destroyed before its owners have had the opportunity to search all potential establishments."
High Court Hobbles Hunt: The Countryside Alliance failed in its bid to overturn the ban on hunting with dogs in England and Wales when the High Court upheld the validity of the new law.
The group had challenged the validity of the 1949 Parliament Act, which MPs used in the House of Commons to force through the Hunting Act against opposition from the House of Lords the previous year.
Delivering the Law Lords verdict in late January, Lord Justice Kay, sitting with Mr Justice Collins, said: "It is common knowledge this legislation causes great controversy, not only in Parliament but in the country."
But Lord Justice Kay dismissed all the arguments and ruled that it was clear that the 1949 Act was valid and the proposed hunting ban lawful.
The centuries-old sport was set to be outlawed when the Hunting Act took effect on February 18, unless the Court of Appeal, to which the Countryside Alliance had been granted leave to appeal, found the legislation legally flawed.
John Rolls, the RSPCA's director of animal welfare promotion, said: "This challenge was always doomed to failure. Both the Hunting Act 2004 and the Parliament Act 1949 are pieces of primary legislation, validly passed by Parliament - the highest authority in the land - over which the court has no jurisdiction to interfere.
"So despite this latest diversion from the Countryside Alliance, we look forward to the ban on their barbaric 'sport' coming into force, as expected, on February 18."
Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Simon Hart commented, "We have always expected that this case would eventually be heard in the House of Lords. It is a hugely significant constitutional case and consequently a difficult decision for the divisional courts to make. We remain confident in the merits of our case."
Select Committee Hearings "A Sham": Proposed breed specific legislation for the province of Ontario, Canada was put under the microscope by a Parliamentary Select Committee, but the hearings were denounced as "a sham" by leading anti-BSL campaigners after Attorney General Michael Bryant clearly stated his intention to enact BSL.
As reported extensively by OUR DOGS, the planned legislation was drawn up by the Attorney General who whipped up media frenzy with his pronouncements about ‘pit bull’ dogs attacking people and how BSL had been proven to work effectively in other countries, including the UK and Canada.
The Committee, made up of MPs from all parties, but with an in-built Liberal majority favouring the Government, heard from many different experts, including a number of Britons, over the course of two weeks during February in separate sessions. Andy Foxcroft and Mike Butcher of the RSPCA appeared by telephone link-up, speaking out against BSL and, in Foxcroft’s case, completely refuting Bryant’s assertion that he had consulted with the RSPCA who were in favour of BSL. Also giving evidence was Nick Mays, OUR DOGS’ Chief Reporter who has reported extensively on BSL over the years and has spoken at seminars on the subject.
A large proportion of the evidence given by several of the experts related to the definition of ‘pit bull’, which in Bryant’s legislation referred to dogs of a particular type and build, which included Staffordshire Bull Terriers. In fact, SBTs have never been implicated in any serious dog attacks or biting incidents in Canada. The Committee soon found themselves on a steep learning curve about the definition of a dog’s ‘type’ and how BSL was fatally flawed, because banning a particular breed did nothing to prevent irresponsible dog ownership, which is where the laws should be directed, as enshrined in the slogan ‘Punish the Deed, Not the Breed’.
Incredibly though, the four days of public hearings left Attorney General Michael Bryant more convinced than ever that the breed is "inherently dangerous and should be eliminated", despite 99% of the expert testimony clearly stating that BSL would not work. To add insult to injury, Bryant even made his pronouncement to the media whilst Day 3 of the hearings was in progress – a sure sign of his arrogance and predetermination to enact his infamous Bill 132.
"Testimony from victims was rivetting and inspiring,'" Bryant said, after testifying before a legislative committee. "I don't want to have in Ontario one more victim at the hands and teeth of a pit bull." Observers might be forgiven for thinking that the Attorney General had been listening to a completely different set of testimonies.
Bryant used his appearance before the committee to dismiss arguments put forward by opponents of the proposed legislation, which would ban pit bulls but allow current owners to keep their dogs as long as they are spayed or neutered and muzzled in public.
He dismissed claims by the experts that the legislation banning only pit bulls would be ineffective in stopping dog attacks on people and other animals, saying nothing could be more effective than removing the breed.
"Less pit bull attacks means less people victimised by pit bulls. That is effective," Bryant said. "You over time eliminate the dog that is causing the blight, and over time you will eliminate the blight."
Record Entry: It was another record entry for Crufts in 2005, when the world’s greatest dog show attracted 21,432 dogs (equalling a staggering 23,717 entries) - compared to 21,622 dogs in 2004. Revealing the figures for the 2005 show, KC General Secretary Caroline Kisko said: "Despite the NEC traffic problems at last year's show, we are delighted that entries have held up this year - the total still being an increase on Crufts 2003."
Hare Coursing Faces Its Waterloo: Mounted police waged a desperate struggle to separate protesters and supporters on a windswept field in Lancashire as the 158th - and most likely the last - Waterloo Cup, the UK’s major annual hare coursing event got off to an even more ill-tempered start than usual this month.
The organisers had brought the three-day festival forward by one week in order to escape the ban on hunting with hounds that came into force on February 18th.
The decision infuriated animal rights campaigners who turned out in their hundreds, chanting, sounding air horns and waving banners, to register their disgust. The demonstrators jeered at coursing supporters, yelling "Last time! Last time!" In return they came under a hail of missiles thrown by supporters, including rocks, clumps of earth, bottles, and even a number of dismembered dead hares. Several people were arrested as a firework was hurled into the crowds although no one was injured.
The organisers appeared determined to make the most of what would doubtless be the last time the greyhounds are unleashed for the knockout tournament in Lancashire, unless legal challenges produce a stay on a ban on hunting. They remained resolute that the contest will continue in some form, hinting at a possible move away from the British mainland, possibly to France.
Simon Hart, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said todays event would not be the last: "I am absolutely, 100 per cent certain that the Waterloo Cup will take place in some form in 2006.
"It may not be here, it may not even be in this country, and it may be in a different form, but the Waterloo Cup will live on. We will return. The mood of the spectators today is one of quiet determination."
Some concerns had been raised that coursing would be forced underground when it was banned. Dr Charles Goodson-Wickes, a former chairman of the Countryside Alliance, said: "There will be illegal events. There is a large activity in illegal coursing that goes on in this country, largely unknown to the general public.
"People go on to land, usually without the landowner’s permission, and they will course hares with dogs ranging from lurchers to whippets, whereas this is a properly regulated, superb sporting event." His views were echoed among the spectators.
Hunt Ban Upheld: The continuing attempt by pro-hunting campaigners to overturn Parliament’s ban on hunting with dogs failed in the Court of Appeal mid-month. Although the appeal’s failure was expected, many campaigners had hoped that further grounds of appeal would be allowed. In the event, this looked unlikely.
Three senior judges headed by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, rejected the legal argument put forward by the Countryside Alliance’s lawyers that the 1949 Parliament Act, which MPs used to force through the Hunting Act in the face of opposition from the House of Lords late last year, was invalid. They refused the Alliance permission to appeal to the House of Lords, although the Alliance’s lawyer said that an application for appeal to the Lords would be made separately.
The judges also refused to grant an injunction which would have delayed the Act from being implemented. The Prime Minister had indicated - via the Attorney General - that the Government supported the injunction, which it was hoped would spare the Government the embarrassment of violent pro-hunting protests in the prelude to the general election.
But Lord Woolf said of the Attorney General: "We don't think it is right he should seek to hide behind the courts in this matter."
Sir Sydney Kentridge, QC for three hunt supporters funded by the Alliance, argued at a hearing on February 8 that Parliament had never correctly voted for the 1949 Act that was therefore unlawful. Any legislation introduced by invoking the Act was therefore equally unlawful, Sir Sydney told Lord Woolf.
The judges however dismissed the Alliance’s appeal against the earlier High Court ruling on January 28 in which Lord Justice Maurice Kay and Mr Justice Collins said it was clear that the 1949 Act was valid and the proposed hunting ban lawful.
The appeal judges ruled that MPs did have the power to amend the 1911 Act, so the 1949 Act was therefore valid and dismissed the appeal. They also refused the Alliance permission to appeal to the House of Lords.
The judges were fully aware that it would suit ministers if the courts decided that the hunting ban could not be enforced in the run-up to an expected general election. However, they were clearly irritated that ministers were apparently asking the courts to save the Government from having to take a politically sensitive decision.
The judges also refused the Attorney General’s request that the Alliance should pay the Government's legal costs in defending the appeal. And in an unexpected blow to the Government, the judges added their view on a wider constitutional issue by saying it would not be lawful for Parliament to abolish the House of Lords without the consent of the Lords themselves.
Meanwhile, the Countryside Alliance was planning another challenge to the Hunting Act via the
European Court of Human Rights, arguing that the ban deprived people of their livelihoods.
So Much For The Hunt Ban!:"So much for the hunting ban!" was the message from the 250 hunts that rode out on a wintry Saturday in late February and killed no fewer than 91 foxes – possibly even more. In fact, it looked very much like hunting business as usual, apart from some huntsmen dragging effigies of Tony Blair for their hounds to pursue.
Clare Rowson, West Midlands spokeswoman for the Countryside Alliance, said there was little discernible difference between hunting on Saturday 19th and on Thursday 17th, the day before the new law took hold. The Alliance said that most of the foxes were shot, although hounds "accidentally" killed three.
"It looks the same, it smells the same. As a hunting person I couldn’t really tell much difference," she said. "The main difference is the sense of commitment to overturn the temporary ban and get back people’s freedom and livelihood that have been taken away from them."
Among those who threw down the gauntlet to the government was Otis Ferry, huntsman son of the rock singer Bryan Ferry, whose hunt, the South Shropshire, also shot a fox after it was dug from a hole.
Ferry, the 22 year-old joint master who was one of those accused of disorderly conduct after an invasion of the House of Commons last year, then stood just feet away as the dead fox was thrown to the hounds to devour.
None of the hunts, of course, was deliberately hunting foxes with packs of hounds. They insisted they were simply exercising their hounds – and thanks to the loopholes in the badly drafted Hunting Act, they were perfectly within their rights to do so and hunting continued as before.
Members of the South Durham hunt legally killed a fox by shooting it three times in the heart of Blair’s Sedgefield constituency before gathering with horses and hounds. Police in three vans using CCTV equipment monitored what was happening, but there were no arrests or even warnings. Elsewhere the police were simply bogged down in confusion.
Alastair McWhirter, Suffolk’s chief constable and rural affairs spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers, emphasised that the new Act gave police powers to arrest an entire hunt, although it was more likely that "symbolic leaders" would be held.
In other forces, police complained that they had been given no specific instructions on what to do and said that the overriding priority was to maintain public order by defusing confrontations between hunt supporters and anti-hunting demonstrators.
Mike Hobday of the League Against Cruel Sports, said "extremely suspicious activities" were taking place at the hunts. LACS fielded 100 ‘monitors’ to report suspected breaches of the law and said it was expecting "a small number of prosecutions" to follow. It said there were allegations of illegal activity at fox and hare hunts in the southeast, southwest, West Midlands and the northwest. Thus far though, no police action has followed, leading to great frustrations for LACS.
There was further defiance from Kate Hoey, the Labour MP for Vauxhall, who described her party colleagues as "bigoted and prejudiced" when she addressed the Duke of Beaufort's hunt in Gloucestershire to which the Prince of Wales belongs.
"The law is unenforcable. It cannot last long. We will prevail and this law will have to be overturned," she declared to resounding cheers from supporters. "I feel a deep sadness that my Government has allowed this ban to go through, but I have confidence in my country and the people of my country that an unjust law cannot last very long. Today is the beginning of the end of a ban on hunting."
Anti-hunt campaigners were confident that there would be prosecutions for the unlawful killing of some of these trophy foxes. But Michael Foster, Labour MP for Worcester, who first tried to introduce a ban in 1997, denounced the parade of dead foxes as a PR stunt by the Countryside Alliance and felt his campaign to ban the use of dogs to kill foxes had been vindicated – even though his own anti-hunting Bill was disowned by the Government and allowed to run out of parliamentary time in 1998.
Mr Foster told The Times newspaper: "What we saw on Saturday is that hunts can still have the pomp, the pageantry and the social side of the event without dogs killing foxes."
But he attacked the "clever but cynical ploy" by hunt supporters. "It was just a PR stunt. We have never said foxes should not be controlled, we just wanted them killed in the most humane way."
Mr Foster showed his distinct lack of humour by attacking the tactic of the philosopher Roger Scruton, who organised a mouse hunt at his West Country home.
"People cannot seriously believe there is going to be a switch to mouse hunting instead of foxhunting," he said. "That is a nonsense and no one should take these stunts seriously."
Ontario BSL Bill Published: The month ended on a sour note when, as widely expected, the Ontario Legislative Assembly passed the controversial breed specific Bill HB132 put forward by Attorney General Michael Bryant to ban ‘pit bull type’ dogs from the Province.
The Bill received its third reading in the Assembly, where it was passed by a comfortable Liberal majority of 61 votes in favour and only 25 against. Every Liberal MP that had previously expressed reservations about the Bill to campaigners, which included their constituents, voted in favour of the Bill.
One of the worst clauses in the Bill was Clause 19, whereby apparent sanction is given to an individual, fraudulently claiming to be a vet, being allowed to give evidence in identifying a dog as a ‘pit bull’. The clause states:
Identification of pit bull, 19.
(1) A document purporting to be signed by a member of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario stating that a dog is a pit bull within the meaning of this Act is receivable in evidence in a prosecution for an offense under this Act as proof, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that the dog is a pit bull for the purposes of this Act, without proof of the signature and without proof that the signatory is a member of the College.
(2) No action or other proceeding may be instituted against a member of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario for providing, in good faith, a document described in subsection (1).
The Bill was clearly flawed, but this was of no apparent consequence to the Attorney General and the Liberal Government. They had chosen to go for the usual ‘quick fix’ of enacting BSL. Undoubtedly the Bill would not work, as indeed BSL has not worked anywhere else in the world, except to ensnare innocent dogs merely on the basis of their resemblance to a perceived ‘type’ and criminalizing their owners.
Coco – A Winner Through and Through: All eyes were on the NEC for Crufts this month and competition had never been more intense. So when Best In Show Judge Miss Jean Lanning walked purposefully across the Crufts main ring on the Sunday evening and pointed to Norfolk Terrier Champion Cracknor Cause Celebre, the roar from the crowd was deafening. This game little six and a half year old bitch, pet name ‘Coco’ may have been small, but she was every inch a champion – something she has been used to most of her life and on both sides of the Atlantic.
Coco was bred by well-known Norfolk Terrier breeder Elisabeth Mattell from Ashford, Kent and co-owned with US-based Pamela Beale and Stephanie Ingram and was handled by the affable American handler Peter Green. In fact, Peter and Coco had such a clear rapport that this endeared them to the hearts of the Sunday night audience both at the NEC and in millions of homes throughout the country, whatever their usual preference in breeds.
Swedish-born Elisabeth Mattell who was not only tremendously happy when I spoke to her, but more than happy to speak about Coco’s meteoric show career.
"Coco was born in my bedroom, here in Ashford," said Elisabeth. "I’d like to say then that I knew she’d be a good show dog, but you never can tell. Her first big win was gaining her first CC at the Norfolk Terrier Club’s Championship Show in autumn 1999. Her second CC was at Crufts in 2000 and her third CC was at Three Counties in the same year. After that, she went on to get Group 3 at South Wales and Group 3 WKC also in 2000….I think it was then that I had an inkling she was a pretty good dog!"
Coco hails from a line of very special dogs. Her older sister Ch Cracknor Call My Bluff (Betty to her friends) was – and still is - the Norfolk breed record holder. Coco won Reserve CC to Betty at the Norfolk Terrier Club’s Millennium Show in 2000, at which there was a record entry, judged by Anne Rogers-Clarke.
After her British successes, Elisabeth mated Coco and raised a litter from her, then, no doubt to the surprise of many within the breed, she gave Coco to her good friend Pam Beale to show in the USA and to be handled, whenever possible, by her other good friend Peter Green.
Coco’s career Stateside was equally meteoric. She was judged the Top Winning Dog All-Breeds in 2003, being the first Norfolk to do so and setting a record that will be hard to beat.
Coco’s greatest achievement came at the famous Montgomery Weekend, where all the Terrier breeds in the USA come together for a series of three all-breed shows, culminating in the great Montgomery Terrier Show on the final day, Sunday.
"Well, Coco won all three all-breed shows and then went onto win the Montgomery Show," said Elisabeth proudly. "No dog has ever done that before, she was certainly flying high then!"
Coco’s next great success was winning the Group at Westminster in 2004 (again being the first Norfolk to do so) and then following this up by winning Group again at the 2005 show. In between the shows, Coco took time out from showing to have a litter of three – nicknamed Tom, Dick and Harry, one of which was promised to Elisabeth.
Due to her British winning credentials, Coco automatically qualified for Crufts, although her American successes would also have counted towards a place at the world’s most prestigious show. Elisabeth and her friends had decided to take advantage of the new PETS Travel Scheme to allow Coco to show in the UK one last time and then to retire her after Crufts 2005.
"Of course it’s a dream to win the Group at Crufts," said Elisabeth. "I’d never dreamed of Best In Show, you simply don’t. It’s a wonderful dream to see a Norfolk, the little red dog, in the spotlight in the main ring. It’s heaven. And of course, I’ve always admired Peter as a handler, I call him ‘God’, so to have ‘God’ handle one of my dogs at Crufts was more than I could have ever dreamed of."
So how did it feel when Coco was picked out as Best In Show? "I was stunned. Not for long, but I was stunned." Smiles Elisabeth. "You expect the wave of euphoria to break and wash over you, but it didn’t at first. I’d like to say that I was cool and sat there and said ‘That’s good’. But I didn’t. None of us did. We all screamed and jumped about and made a thorough spectacle of ourselves. So nothing unusual really. Everybody does that!"
Animal Rights Protest Foiled: An animal rights protester tried unsuccessfully to breach NEC security at Crufts and stage a protest on live TV just after the judging of Best In Show in the main ring.
Joanne Sim from Edinburgh, a member of the animal rights pressure group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) made her protest as part of PETA’s ongoing campaign against the pet food manufacturer Iams. Sim unfurled a banner reading ‘Iams: Puppy Killers’, and scaled a wall and jumped into the ring.
The protester was grabbed and then bundled out of the ring in a matter of seconds by the additional guards that were on duty during the live TV performance. Apart from some of the audience in the vicinity, nobody was aware of Sim’s protest and it was not picked up by the TV cameras. It is understood that Sim did not act alone, but was supported by another protestor who was also apprehended and evicted from the premises.
A spokesman for the Kennel Club paid tribute to the NEC’s security, commenting: "Security was stepped up around the Main Ring this year, after PETA tried to unsuccessfully appear on the live TV broadcast last year. They tried the same stunt this year, and a couple of their representatives were apprehended by security personnel outside the Ring.
"Unfortunately, one of them made it into the Main Ring, but was quickly and competently evicted and they did not appear on the TV."
Security staff also successfully prevented two representatives from the men’s magazine ’Loaded’ from breaching the Main Ring with a 'bikini clad' model and a man in a dog suit, looking for a front cover shot.
Cancer Charity Rejects Bird Shoot Donation: A leading cancer charity rejected a £30,000 donation from the organiser of sponsored bird shoots because it did not approve of the way the money was raised.
The Institute of Cancer Research was also concerned that its staff might be targeted by animal rights extremists if it publicly accepted the gift. Critics slammed the charity's decision, saying that it "was "utterly ridiculous".
The money was raised by Barry Atkinson, an artist and designer, who told sponsors that their money would be divided between two charities: the National Gamekeepers' Organisation's Charitable Trust (NGOCT) and the Institute of Cancer Research. To raise it, he carried out a record 148 days of beating at 148 different grouse, partridge and pheasant shoots in 66 counties. At a shoot, the beater flushes out the birds for the guns to shoot at.
Mr Atkinson named his charity fund Spider's Appeal, in honour of his 12-year-old English Springer spaniel, Spider, which was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour the previous year, although was making a good recovery in early 2005.
The NGOCT, which raises money to educate gamekeepers and inform the public about their work, gratefully accepted its cheque for £30,000 at a presentation at its annual meeting in Stafford. However, officials from the cancer charity refused to attend the presentation, so Mr Atkinson sent the bulk of his donation to its London headquarters. He said that he had already sent an initial cheque for £1,218 in November 2004. He was later told that the money would be returned.
Philip Black, the director of fund raising for the Institute of Cancer Research, declined to discuss his charity's decision, but issued a statement admitting that the donation would not be accepted.
"The institute recognises the necessity of minimising pain and suffering in animals," the statement said. "Consequently we advised Mr Atkinson of our position before he started fund-raising. We have subsequently discovered that we accepted a donation which will be returned; the further donation will not be accepted."
Mr Atkinson, 61, who lives near Newark, Nottinghamshire, was furious that his cheques are to be returned. "The whole situation beggars belief," he said. "I am bitterly disappointed and very angry. It reveals a deep-rooted attitude against field sports in general and shooting in particular, which is based on misunderstanding and misinformation."
Mr Atkinson said he had discussed the project with an official from the cancer charity last year. The official had expressed concern that publicity might attract unwanted attention from animal rights activists, but hoped the cheque would be accepted if given discreetly.
The rejected donation was later offered to another cancer charity.
DTA Makes Its Mark At Crufts: Dog Theft Action, the lobby group formed to compel the authorities to take dog theft seriously more than made its mark at Crufts, at which its official launch took place.
DTA Co-ordinator Margaret Nawrockyi told OUR DOGS: "We took up our post outside the main entrance to the NEC bright and early each morning for the four day period of Crufts. We offered information to everyone and anyone who would listen about the escalating figures of dog theft in the UK. Our advice was to log on to the DTA website and participate in the initiatives suggested there. The message we received over and over again was ‘Thank God someone is doing something about this!’"
As the DTA team handed out their postcards and fliers, some 25,000 in total, a pattern began to emerge from the feedback they received. Many visitors had a personal story to tell about dog theft, sharing their grief, anger and frustration with the DTA officials.
Margaret added: "Time and again we were assured by staff and visitors alike that they supported and applauded our efforts. Many acknowledged that they had read about us in Our Dogs.
"The response from the dog world was both encouraging and supportive. We would like to thank the Kennel Club press office for their hospitality and support throughout the four-day period. They have backed us from DTA’s inception and we look forward to working with them again in the near future."
Meanwhile, the DTA website continued to plot the progress of Early Day Motion 775 in the House of Commons, tabled by Andrew Rosindell, MP for Romford. The figure stood at 65 signatures in March.
Fox Kills GSD: A village was said to be living in fear after a ‘rogue’ fox eviscerated and killed a fit, adult German Shepherd Dog.
Frightened pet owners were keeping their animals locked inside and dog walkers were not allowing their pets off their leads until the fox was destroyed. Some mothers were even worried for the safety of their children, fearing that the fox might be rabid.
Wildlife experts and farmers claimed that the incident was the first of its kind in this country in living memory. The Wildlife Trust said that, while foxes would take anything up to the size of lambs, they would not normally attack cats, let alone take on a dog.
The attack happened in the Cambridgeshire village of Hilton. In a a cul-de-sac of modern, detached homes, Rob Bowes, 38, was cleaning his car at about 5pm one Saturday afternoon while Beth, a docile, friendly, three-year-old GSD was lying peacefully on the front lawn nearby.
"She was a very fit but very gentle dog," said Mr Bowes, the owner of a carpet company.
"Suddenly this fox appeared and Beth went chasing after it. When they got to the corner, the fox stopped and the next thing I knew, Beth was on the ground. Her insides had literally been ripped out by the fox."
Despite horrendous injuries, Beth survived long enough to be taken to the vet, but died under anaesthetic.
A marksman was drafted into the village to try to shoot the fox. Although the animal appeared to be healthy, any foxes that are killed were to be sent away for analysis to ensure they were free of rabies and any other diseases.
End Of An Era: It was the end of an era at OUR DOGS when Bill Moores retired as Editor after 38 years in total at OUR DOGS. Bill was, and still is, greatly missed by colleagues and readers alike, but remained active as Consultant Editor and sometime photographer at dog shows.
Bill was succeeded by former Assistant Editor Anne Williams, who was looking forward to her new challenge as the first female Editor on the paper, In fact, Anne was set to be only the sixth Editor in the paper’s 110 year lifetime!
Anne was aided and abetted by Alison Smith, who became Assistant Editor after several years as Breed Notes Editor.
BIS at Crufts 2005 was the Norfolk Terrier Beale, Ingram & Mattell’s Ch/Am Ch Cracknor Cause Celebre handled by Peter Green
The Surrey Union Hunt leaves the first draw with a police escort. No foxes were seen on the day
Springer Spaniel Buster, winner of KC Hero Dog of the Year at Crufts 2005
The DTA team at the Wag & Bone Show, August 2005, from left to right - Jayne Hayes, Nick Mays, Candy King, Dee Ford, Laura Lucas, Margaret Nawrockyi, Dianne Cousins