THIS MONTH saw the ever popular Contest of Champions take place at the Thistle Hotel, Heathrow.
The three judges, Ronald Menaker (Chairman of the AKC), Sergio Vernmetta (Spain) and Edwin Deutscher (Austria) chose their overall winner in Liz Dunhill’s Shiba Inu, Ch Vormund I’m Marnie. Monies from this event (a fantastic £15,000) went to The Blue Cross Hospital in Grimsby, The Dobermann Club Land Fund, KC Charitable Trust, Rotherham Do Rescue, NW SBT Rescue and the Petsavers Research Project.
Hunting activists vow to unseat MPs: With the General Election announced this month, pro-hunting activists joined forces to try to unseat anti-hunt MPs in key marginal constituencies on the crucial election day of May 5th.
Activists delivered 250,000 leaflets, stuffed 86,500 envelopes and hand-addressed 75,000 envelopes in 30 constituencies. Around 26 of the country’s 250 hunts became involved and each hunt was providing an average of 122 volunteers.
The aim of the campaign was to get pro-hunting candidates into Parliament where the legislation outlawing hunting could then be reversed. Tory leader Michael Howard had already pledged a vote to repeal the hunting ban if the Conservatives should form the next Government, but the activists’ plans were seen as an added insurance.
The military-style operation, named ‘VoteOK’ was run by farmer Charles Mann, a former officer with The 14th/20th King’s Hussars, from the attic of a Gloucestershire cattle shed, he deployed hunt supporters to target prominent anti-hunt MPs. Inevitably in most cases this meant they were helping Tory candidates. However, tactical voting was the key to success, so the campaign was also supporting a number of pro-hunting Liberal Democrat and Plaid Cymru candidates.
Most of their efforts concentrated on Labour seats such as Falmouth & Camborne, which is held by Candy Atherton; The Wrekin, held by Peter Bradley, the parliamentary private secretary of Alun Michael, the Rural Affairs Minister; and Worcester, held by Michael Foster, whose private member’s Bill in 1997 first started the onslaught against hunting.
Cleaning up neighbourhoods: The Clean Neighbourhoods Act became law after receiving Royal Assent, despite Ministers’ fears that it would be one of several major pieces of legislation to be lost thanks to the dissolution of Parliament for the General Election.
The Act was fast-tracked with the compliance of Opposition Parties through the remaining stages of the Parliamentary process ahead of the formal dissolution of Parliament. The Bill went onto the statute books on Friday, April 8th and would formally become law in three months’ time.
DEFRA’s website proclaimed the Act to be a positive piece of legislation which contains a range of measures to improve the quality of the local environment by giving Local Authorities and the Environment Agency additional powers to deal with:
fly-posting and graffiti
abandoned and nuisance vehicles
noise, nuisance from artificial lighting and insects, and other issues affecting the local environment. It also puts the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) on a statutory basis.
However, the Act’s provisions relating to dogs were the most controversial. The new legislation replaced dog byelaws with a new, ‘simplified’ system which would enable local authorities and parish councils to deal with fouling by dogs, ban dogs from designated areas, require dogs to be kept on a lead and restrict the number of dogs that can be walked by one person. That in itself was controversial enough with plans by some authorities already to issue fixed penalty notices for dog fouling as high as £75, up from £50 as designated in the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996.
The most worrying clause however related to stray dogs and the police ceasing responsibility for stray dogs out of hours when the local dog warden services are not operating. So Local Authorities would have to take sole responsibility for stray dogs, thus having to provide a 24-hour service. By law the authority would have to accept any stray dog and try to reunite it with its owner.
DEFRA had drawn up the legislation without appearing to seek advice and input from the National Dog Warden Association. It was only relatively late in the day that a rider was added to the clause on stray dogs that appeared on DEFRA’s website saying that the change would come into force only when the transfer of resources had been agreed between all parties.
Steve O’Brien, Training Officer of the National Dog Warden Association told OUR DOGS: "Many Local Authorities have indicated that they will have to tender to private contractors to operate an out-of-hours stray dog collection service when the police formally relinquish responsibility. Certainly the dog warden service is not geared up or funded for 24 hour cover – and money is a key issue, whether you like it or not.
"I know of one police force that has acted in advance of the Act becoming law and has already relinquished its responsibility. From what we know they’ve done a deal with the Local Authority, and a private firm are now responsible for out-of-hours stray dog collection, but unless all police forces and Local Authorities deal this with sensibly, I can see all sorts of problems arising. There is a three-month period between Royal Assent and the enactment into law of the Act which would allow a consultation period to discuss the guidelines and iron out these issues – and this has been promised by DEFRA. However, what with the General Election eating into that time and a possible new administration being in place afterwards, that leaves even less time for effective discussions to take place."
MRSA in pets ‘taken seriously’: Vets were issued with new guidelines in an attempt to fight the spread of MRSA following a warning that incidents of animal infection are climbing.
This month the British Veterinary Association warned that the number of cases would continue to rise and urged its members to take precautions.
Freda Scott-Park, president-elect of the BVA, said the association wanted to ensure vets were aware that the bug can transfer between humans and farm herds or pets, particularly dogs. She said young, old and sick animals could be particularly vulnerable to the bug.
Dr Scott-Park said there were no proven recorded cases of MRSA jumping from animal to human.
"We are far more concerned that it passes from humans to animals. That is the more likely path," she said.
A set of guidelines issued to vets included a call to use sterile gloves, masks and scrub suits during all operations.
However, the BVA’s warning only came after the issue had been highlighted in the media by Jill Moss, a dog owner whose Samoyed, Bella, died of the MRSA infection contracted during a routine operation at a veterinary hospital.
Moss, 34, of Edgware, North London had launched a campaign to educate pet owners and vets about the risks to animals.
Jill Moss told OUR DOGS: "If I had known about MRSA in animals or understood the risks, Bella could have been saved not just from death, but from inhumane suffering.
"We have found this problem is widespread throughout the world, and we are determined to inform and warn pet owners and vets, and be a supportive, but persistent, voice calling for better infection prevention, to avoid it happening again.
"Post-operative infections are not simply bad luck, too often they reflect bad practice. Unless important changes take place in the way veterinary practices perform surgery and take better care of post-operative infections, the levels of MRSA in animals will rise. At present we really have no clear idea of how MRSA moves through the pet population, nor how it might affect humans."
The BVA had met with Moss, but had seemed unprepared to give the matter serious consideration until their surprise announcement in mid April. Although no credit was ascribed to Moss’s campaign by the BVA, it is clear it was her efforts that brought the issue to the fore.
Jill Moss launched the Bella Moss Foundation this month, which was soon to be a registered charity. Its main aims were to:
Provide information and sources of advice to veterinary practices to allow them to improve infection control;
Encourage Continuing Professional Development for the veterinary profession on infection control;
Support and publicise research into MRSA superbug and other serious infections affecting companion animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits and horses etc;
Provide support for pet owners whose pets have post-operative infections.
To work towards the establishment of a veterinary clinic for the care of pets suffering from MRSA and other serious infections.
Pets face quarantine for chip failure: Pets implanted with microchips as part of the Pet Passport Scheme faced "unnecessary" surgery or lengthy stays in quarantine when the microchips fail, as they sometimes do, vets warned this month.
The PETS Travel Scheme, which was introduced in the year 2000 and had seen some 200,000 cats and dogs enter the UK without the need for quarantine, relies on the animal being identified by the implanting of a microchip under an animal's skin; this is read with a scanner to ensure it matches the paperwork.
If the microchip cannot be read, pet owners were to decide between putting the pet under anaesthetic, X-raying it and surgically removing the chip to return to the manufacturers or applying for a new passport, which takes six months.
Some vets said they were unwilling to remove chips because they deem it to be "not in the animals' best interests". Conversely however, there were cases of dogs that have been stolen having their microchips removed by a simple small incision in the dog’s with a sharp blade, such as a razor blade, and the chip popped out.
If the pet is on its way home from a foreign holiday with its owners when the fault is discovered and the chip fails to scan, it must go into quarantine for up to six months while the problem is rectified.
The Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs, which operates the PETS scheme, recorded that 12,000 cats and dogs - six per cent of those with passports - have been refused entry to Britain, mostly leading to a stay in quarantine. Most of those had incomplete vaccinations, and DEFRA was unable to say how many were due to microchip failure, although the figure was "very small".
Lorna Tough, whose six-year-old cocker spaniel Millie had a pet passport for five years, discovered a fault with her microchip when she took Millie to a vet for a booster vaccination.
Miss Tough and her partner Peter Griffin have cancelled the holiday they were planning in June in France with Millie and her puppy Frankie. They took Millie to three vets, all of whom were unable to find the microchip, which had ‘migrated’ somewhere in the dog’s body, but were unhappy about carrying out surgery to remove it.
Miss Tough, 46, said: "I was very unhappy at the thought of unnecessary surgery being carried out on Millie, as we had no idea how far into her body the microchip had migrated. If I had not gone to the vet before we travelled, I would have had no idea that the microchip had failed, and Millie would have ended up in quarantine."
David Coffey, of Claygate Veterinary Centre in Surrey and one of the vets Miss Tough saw, said: "I had never seen a microchip fail before but then saw two in a week, which was extraordinary. I don't think it would be right to remove the chip if it involves putting the animal through anaesthetic.
"If you could feel it under the skin it would take a simple incision to remove it, but if you have to go deeper, it would be questionable ethically."
A spokesman for DEFRA said: "The reason the rules are so stringent is to keep serious diseases out of the country. We have to strike a balance. The scheme is in place to allow pet owners to take their animals on holiday, and many more people have benefited from it than have been inconvenienced. We do review it frequently with the veterinary profession.
"Like any piece of technology, the microchips can fail, but the numbers are small. Vets are professionals and some may not want to follow the procedure for removing the chips. If they don't want to remove the chip, they can put in a new chip and go through the procedure again."
Fox Attacks Second Dog: A second dog was attacked by a fox in the same village where a German Shepherd dog was fatally injured during April.
The attacks which took place in daylight hours alarmed the villagers of Hilton, Cambridgeshire and dumfounded wildlife experts who pointed out that foxes are normally loathe to confront any animal capable of putting up a fight.
In the latest incident, which occurred a few hundred yards from the scene of the first attack, the fox repeatedly went for a three-year-old, male Labrador playing in the garden of its home one afternoon. Fortunately, the snarling animal was unable to reach the dog through a strong wire mesh fence.
Villagers were taking comfort from the fact that the latest attack, assuming it involved the same fox, must mean that the animal was not rabid. The ’furious' stage of the disease lasts a maximum of four days and, between two and four days after that, the animal dies of respiratory paralysis.
Philip Burton, the owner of the Labrador, named Ben said: "It was extraordinary. The fox was really having a go, pushing at the fence trying to get in, while the dog was pushing the other way trying to stop it. I don't know whether it was sick and trying to get in for food but it was a really unpleasant experience."
Efforts to shoot the fox had failed, so a humane trap was baited with dog food in the hope of capturing the animal alive. If the fox was caught, it would be handed over to DEFRA vets to determine what was wrong with it.
Soon afterwards however, reports of the rogue fox petered out, suggesting that the animal had either died or moved to another, less populated area.
KC registrations on the up: Kennel Club registrations for the first quarter of 2005 remained buoyant, and the Breed Record Supplement indicated that there had been a continuation of an upward trend that began in 2004.
There was a 4.5% increase overall in registration figures for the first quarter of 2005 to the same period last year, and an overall rise of 4.7% on 2004 as a whole.
All groups except the Pastoral and Toys showed an increase in numbers of dogs registered. The Gundog group contained the biggest breed percentage swing, with Hungarian Viszlas up 110%! In second place, from the Working group, Leonburgers were 46% up.
Tsunami crisis benefits Thailand strays: Hundreds of dogs were saved by officials and animal rights activists while rescue workers were scouring the Andaman Sea coast for the victims of the Boxing Day 2004 Asian tsunami that left 230,000 people dead or missing along the Indian Ocean rim… and in a bizarre way the disaster led to a better life for many of Thailand’s stray dogs.
While human survivors in Thailand complained that red tape made it hard for them to resume normal life, the deadly waves brought better care to the dogs and cats that escaped.
"The tsunami crisis is an opportunity for abandoned animals to be taken care of," said Roger Lohanan, head of Thai Animal Guardians Association helping stray pets get treatment and new homes.
A U.S. C-130 military cargo plane even flew 120 cats and dogs to Bangkok to find new homes. They had been rescued from Phi Phi Island, where the backpacker movie ‘The Beach’ was filmed.
Another 64 starving ‘tsunami dogs’ were rounded up around a makeshift morgue at a Buddhist temple in nearby province of Phang Nga, where some had been nibbling corpses, officials said.
Some of the dogs had already found new owners and only 30 of them were still at a state shelter. In Phuket, the city's animal shelter, called ‘Mid-Road Dog's House’, Thai slang for strays, has more than 400 abandoned dogs.
Bangkok alone is estimated to have at least 120,000 strays on it streets, many of which were turfed out by owners who became bored with them.
In areas of Phuket where they pack together, animal activists said aggressive stray dogs had attacked people, bringing fears of rabies, especially during the very hot March-May period.
"Before the shelter existed in Phuket, strays were taken from the streets and either poisoned or slaughtered," said Phuket chief veterinarian Sunart Wongchavalit, who started the 1.6 acre dog shelter last year.
Dog dies on flight: A heartbroken couple were told that their pet dog had died on a long-haul flight to Australia but only later learned after a post mortem that the dog had apparantly died of thirst on the 32-hour flight.
Ed and Sheila Smith had decided to surprise their daughter Julie for her birthday, so they paid £3,000 to have Border Collie Joe flown out to her in Australia after she had said how much she was missing the family pet.
The Smiths, from Cornwall, paid extra special attention to Joe’s needs and even placed a letter on his flight crate listing his likes and dislikes and providing a telephone number to call in case of emergency. Joe was due to fly from Heathrow to Sydney and then spend four weeks in quarantine under Australia regulations. During this time, a family friend living in Sydney had promised to visit Joe in kennels every day.
Mr and Mrs Smith were then due to fly out to Sydney, collect Joe form quarantine and take him with them to the Queensland resort of Noosa, where recently-emigrated Julie, 26, lived with her husband Steve. Although Julie was expecting her parents for her birthday, she was not expecting Joe.
"We were going to tie a bow around Joe and send him into her with a birthday card," said Mr Smith. "When we checked him into his kennel at Heathrow airport, he was in perfect condition. I checked and double-checked that he had food and water. Then my wife took a call saying he was dead. She was beside herself and Julie burst into tears when I broke the news to her."
A veterinary post-mortem found that eight year-old Joe had suffered fatal dehydration during the flight from Heathrow to Sydney via Bangkok. It seemed likely that the dog’s water supply was not replenished during the stopover, but Mr Smith could not get a straight answer from British Airways over what happened, together with an apology and a refund of the £3,000 by way of compensation.
A BA spokesman offered Mr and Mrs Smith the company’s "Deepest sympathy", but denied that Joe’s water was not checked, saying: "We take our responsibility for caring for pets very seriously and acted in accordance with the regulations. The dog’s water levels were checked at Heathrow and in Bangkok. We are confident we followed procedure correctly."
Sniffer dogs for schools call: In a rather sad sign of the times, schools were urged to introduce sniffer dogs to stop pupils using drugs, following a successful pilot scheme that had the backing of most parents and children.
Researchers found the use of dogs at six Buckinghamshire secondary schools had been "very successful" at detecting and preventing drugs coming into the classroom.
Professor Allyson MacVean, Director of the John Grieve Centre for Policing and Community Safety, made the suggestion following a study of a pilot scheme using sniffer dogs in schools.
The experiment at six schools in Buckinghamshire won backing from police, parents and even pupils. Professor MacVean said that she hoped to see the initiative taken up in schools across the country.
A total of 5,500 pupils from schools in the county were exposed to the scheme. The initiative involved out-of-hours searches of the premises by sniffer dogs, and daytime visits to the schools by dogs which were able to approach individual pupils.
The experiment, carried out in the 2003 - 2004 academic year, involved dogs visiting each of the six schools four times: once out of hours, once to allow the pupils a chance to meet the dogs and hear about the scheme, and two further visits by the dogs and their handlers for searches.
Organisers chose Labradors, rather than potentially more frightening breeds, for any visits when dogs would approach pupils individually.
The dogs were trained in such a way that pupils would not necessarily know that something had been detected on their person, and staff were always on hand to provide extra support.
The results from Professor MacVean’s study found backing for the scheme from 82 per cent of pupils who returned questionnaires and 89 per cent of parents, with 92% of staff in favour.
Professor MacVean said: "I think I would like to see it implemented in all schools, I think it would be part of the education that they are doing now." She emphasised that the success of the scheme relied on the bond established between the dogs and the pupils. She said that any attempt to introduce dogs into primary schools would have to be treated with caution.
Anti-hunting MPs ousted: The General Election saw the Labour Government returned, pretty much as predicted by the opinion polls, but with a massively reduced majority, down to 67 from 161 at the 2001 election. The Opposition did well, with the Conservatives increasing their share of the vote to 197 seats, whilst the Liberal Democrats had their best showing ever at 62 – all at the expense of sitting Labour MPs.
However, it was largely thanks to massive and unprecedented local campaigning by hunt supporters that contributed to the ousting of 29 anti-hunting former MPs. Thanks to the Hunting Act, pro-hunt activists under the banner of the protest group Vote-OK waged a concerted campaign.
The opposition to the Hunting Act that became law in February had foolishly been dismissed as a serious election issue by many anti-hunting MPs prior to the election. Charles Mann, Vote-OK national campaign director, said, "29 anti hunting MPs out, and 21 left with tiny majorities to get next time - this has been a huge success for hunting and an important boost for the volunteers who have participated in the campaign.
"With only 6 weeks preparation and no previous experience thousands of hunt supporters have been organised to campaign on a substantial and hitherto unseen level in modern politics. As a result they have shown that when enough people get involved in politics with a purpose and in an organised and focussed way they can, and have, made a difference."
Mark Pritchard, the new Conservative MP for The Wrekin in Shropshire, was one of 130 candidates, most of them Tories, who received help from 20,000 countryside campaigners who poured into marginal seats all over Britain in an attempt to unseat anti-hunting Labour MPs.
Peter Bradley, whose 3,587 majority was overturned, found himself at the front line of their efforts after he wrote in The Telegraph newspaper that the struggle over the legislation to ban hunting with hounds "was not just about animal welfare and personal freedom, it was class war".
The former Parliamentary Private Secretary to Alun Michael, the Rural Affairs Minister, also advocated land reform, causing uproar in the constituency and leading one local Tory councillor to dub him "the Mugabe of the Midlands". Mr Pritchard took the seat on Thursday with a 5.4% swing.
Mr Pritchard commented: "The best recruiting sergeant for my campaign was Peter Bradley himself, for which I am very grateful. The pro-hunting campaigners certainly assisted me in terms of the number of foot soldiers I had on the ground.
"While Mr Bradley, a former public school boy, was obsessing about class and waging war on Shropshire's rural way of life, he failed to notice me, a comprehensive lad from Herefordshire, fighting on the issues that matter to people - such as saving local hospital services."
Other examples of seats where hunt campaigners made a significant difference included:
Hammersmith and Fulham - Vote-OK volunteers achieved a swing of 7.3% to secure the seat for Greg Hands.
Enfield Southgate - anti hunt campaigner and Labour Junior Education Minister Stephen Twigg, with a 13% majority, was ousted by a swing of 8.7% with great help from the hunts in the immediate outskirts of London who delivered 75,000 hand addressed envelopes. Richard Nash Vote-OK volunteer said, "I can't believe that we have made such a difference, at this rate we will have hunting back in 4 years!"
Peterborough - Helen Clark ousted with a swing of 6.9%. The new MP, Stewart Jackson, in his speech from the platform, said "Hunt supporters, co-ordinated by Vote-OK, have made an incredible contribution to this victory. I have never seen activism on this scale and with this success".
Newbury - anti hunt former MP David Rendell's 4.8% majority overturned with a 5.5% swing, helped by Vote-OK with over 200 people delivering leaflets and helping get out the vote on the day. Colin Tett, hunt follower said, "Hunting people can and have made a difference because we are organised and committed."
Charles Mann already had his sights set on the next election, whenever that would be – or potentially on any by-election, adding: "This has been the rehearsal. At the next election we will help ensure that this potent force is enabled to play an even greater role in securing an early repeal of the ban on hunting."
Dog noise crackdown: Dog owners whose pets bark too much could be fined up to £5,000 in the latest move by the Government to tackle ‘neighbours from hell’.
In extreme cases, if the barking problem was not rectified, owners could also be subject to Anti-social Behaviour Orders and council tenants could be evicted from their homes.
To help the owners of Britain's 6.8 million dogs avoid such draconian penalties, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) issued a leaflet giving advice on how to keep canines quiet.
It suggested owners should use a web cam or a video camera to find out what their dog is doing when they are away from home. Another suggestion was that owners could pretend to go out for the day and then wait outside the door to see what the dog does.
"If it starts barking and howling, go back in and tell it firmly to be quiet," the leaflet said. "Punishing your dog will only make things worse. Try to keep your dog calm. If it barks when it is excited, don't play with it at anti-social times, like very late at night."
Quite where DEFRA obtained its advice, whether it was from a dog trainer or cobbled together from dog training books or websites was unclear, but the penalties were quite clearly laid out if the ‘behavioural’ and ‘training’ methods do not work.
If dog owners do not take steps to stop barking, and complaints are made, a Noise Abatement Notice could be issued.
"If you break the terms of the notice, you could face legal action and a fine of up to £5,000," the leaflet went on to warn.
"Time to deliver on animal welfare": The Government was urged to keep to its word and update archaic legislation when Parliament reconvened after the Genreral Election in a joint appeal by the country’s leading animal welfare organisations.
A call for the urgent introduction of the Animal Welfare Bill to update piecemeal and confused legislation came from Battersea Dogs Home, The Blue Cross, British Veterinary Association, Cats Protection, Dogs Trust, the Kennel Club, PDSA, RSPCA and Wood Green Animal Shelters.
The co-authored letter stated: "In light of experience, practice, and developing scientific understanding, we believe there to be an urgent need for the introduction of legislation intended to promote appropriate standards of care for companion animals, and to safeguard them from the consequence of abuse, neglect and ignorance."
The first draft of the Government’s Animal Welfare Bill was published in June 2004, and since then had been scrutinised by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. However, the General Election halted the introduction of the Bill during the previous sitting of Parliament.
The AWB was not mentioned specifically in the Queen’s Speech during the State Opening of Parliament, although DEFRA indicated that the Bill will be "brought forward" at an "appropriate time".
The signatories to the joint letter said that any further delay will be detrimental to animal welfare.
Memorial service For Rusty: A memorial service was held for a greyhound found mutilated and abandoned on a Welsh mountain a year previously.
The black male greyhound, later found to have been called Rusty, was discovered by a dog walker who heard him whimpering in agony in a rubbish tip on Fochriw Mountain in the Rhymney Valley.
Rusty had been injured in several ways, including being shot in the head with a captive-bolt pistol, and his ears had been hacked off because they bore tattoos that could identify him.
A special ‘Remembering Rusty’ ceremony was held at the place on Fochriw Mountain where he was found. Close on 100 people, many of them accompanied by rescued greyhounds, lurchers and other dogs, attended the very moving event.
After gathering at the nearby Parc Cwm Darran, the participants travelled in a convoy of vehicles to Fochriw Mountain, where the ceremony was held.
Following the laying of flowers, wreaths and tributes at the spot where Rusty was found, Tony Peters, Greyhound Action's UK co-coordinator, explained the reasons for the ceremony and his wife Louise, the organisation's founder, gave a short speech in which she called for an end to dog racing, stating that what had happened to Rusty was "only part of a much bigger sickness called the greyhound racing industry."
A minutes silence was then observed, after which the Reverend James Thompson, founder of Christians Against All Animal Abuse, conducted a service of prayer and animal protection related hymns in memory of Rusty and of all dogs and other animals that have suffered and died at the hands of the human species.
Phillippine Dogs March Into The Record Books: Fillipino dog owners set a new Guinness world record for assembling the most number of dogs to walk for a cause.
Thousands of dogs and their owners unleashed a protest along Manila's bayside boulevard this month against cruelty to canines in the Philippines, where dogs are often slaughtered and cooked as a delicacy.
The Phillippine Canine Club Incorporated, (PCCI) which organized the ‘Dog Walk for a Cause,’ said the event was to allow dog lovers to protest "the senseless cruelty and indiscriminate slaughter of dogs."
More than 3,000 dogs and their owners protested in Manila, while another 4,000 showed up in at least 20 other provinces of the country, organisers said. They said the walk broke the world record set on June 20, 2004, in Tyneside England, when 5,017 dogs turned up forth Great North Dog Walk. The claim could not be independently verified.
The club claimed there was widespread cruelty to dogs in the Philippines, citing media reports of dogs kept in cramped cages and slaughtered to be sold as meat, of stray dogs being shot to death, and others being roasted alive.
PCCI president Byron San Pedro announced to the pet owners and dog lovers who gathered around the stage at Plaza Rajah Soliman in Malate that the march had exceeded expectations on every front.
"We passed the two margin requirements. Not only did we reach 7,469 dogs nationwide, but we also met the required distance of five kilometres," San Pedro told a leading Manila newspaper.
The pet dogs accompanied by their masters assembled at Plaza Rajah Soliman in front of the Malate Church and at 6:30 a.m. began their march toward the Cultural Centre of the Philippines. They then walked back toward the Luneta Grandstand and the Manila Hotel before heading to the finish line at Rajah Soliman.
It took them two hours to complete the walk, an they were greeted at the finish line by the PCCI with certificates of attendance.
An assortment of breeds went on promenade, ranging from Labradors and Golden Retrievers, including several Pit Bulls and Rottweilers, Belgian Malinois, Great Danes, Saint Bernard, Siberian Huskies, Dobermans, Boxers and Mastiffs to German Shepherds, Chow-chow, Schnauzers, Dalmatians, Basset Hound, Miniature Pincher, Beagles, Pugs, Chihuahuas, Poodles and several mongrels and crossbreeds.
AWB to be enacted… sometime: The Government’s much-vaunted Animal Welfare Bill was set to be officially published and "brought forward" to Parliament… at some point.
Obviously stung into action by the criticisms levelled by animal welfare groups earlier in the month, a statement was issued to assure people that the Bill would be brought forward.
Jackie Ballard, RSPCA Director-General, commented: "The main premise of the Animal Welfare Bill, a 'duty of care' for pet owners to their animals, is something the RSPCA is absolutely delighted with. Getting this Bill onto the statue books will represent the single most important piece of legislation affecting captive and domestic animals for almost a century. And since there has already been a substantial level of pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill, we urge the Government to ensure that it becomes law as soon as possible."
Greyhound protest at bookmaker’s AGM: A demonstration was staged against Greyhound racing by supporters of the anti-racing group Greyhound Action, holding banners and placards and accompanied by rescued greyhounds, on Thursday, May 19th outside the Annual General Meeting of bookmakers William Hill plc. The AGM took place at the Covent Garden Exhibition Centre in London, where campaigners leafleted shareholders going into the meeting as part of a campaign to persuade the company to cease its involvement in greyhound racing and concentrate on humane alternatives, such as virtual (computerised) racing, instead.
One demonstrator was dressed as the Grim Reaper to draw attention to the mass slaughter of dogs caused by the greyhound racing industry.
Elsewhere in the country, other campaigners leafleted punters going into William Hill betting shops, to educate them about the company's involvement in the suffering and death of thousands of greyhounds.
Greyhound Action's national coordinator, Tony Peters, said: "William Hill already owns two greyhound stadiums (at Sunderland and Newcastle-upon-Tyne) and is rumoured to be about to purchase a third. In addition, the company pours millions of pounds into greyhound racing every year, through its betting-shops, on-line betting and digital racing channel.
"All this means that William Hill bears a large responsibility for the tragic fate of many thousands of greyhounds that suffer and die at the hands of the dog racing industry every year…
"With William Hill shareholders being, almost certainly, unaware of the death and suffering caused by the dog racing industry, we wanted to educate them about this and persuade them that, morally and financially, it would be better for the company to disengage from greyhound racing…
"We are very pleased with how our picket went. A number of shareholders stopped to speak to us and were very sympathetic towards our point of view. Several appeared shocked when we told them about the fate of the dogs and William Hill's involvement in this and said they would try to do something to change the situation."
William Hill plc and the Greyhound Racing Association declined to comment.
Dogged defender steps down: One of the best-known opponents of Breed Specific Legislation in the form of the Dangerous Dogs Act decided to step down from the front-line battle after 11 years as being the best known ‘dog defender’ in court cases.
Trevor Cooper, the solicitor who became involved in a DDA case purely by chance and eventually made canine cases his primary line of work, was set to take up a new position as Primary Solicitor for the Environment Agency in North East England. Trevor would be required to prosecute anyone accused of polluting rivers, dumping industrial waste or chemicals etc. all over the country but would be based in Leeds.
"I applied for the position of Assistant Solicitor which I got," Trevor told OUR DOGS. "But no-one was more astonished than me when the Agency contacted me a few days after that and offered me the post of Principal Solicitor. Apparently, my work with animal cases played a large part in convincing them that I can see the bigger picture involved in the kind of cases the Agency faces. I have to say, I’m looking forward to the new challenge, as I am very concerned about the environment and it will be an interesting change to approach things as the prosecution rather than the defence. I am truly going to miss my work with dogs, but I’m looking forward to facing this new challenge."
Trevor’s first DDA case came about in 1994, when he was employed by the Canterbury-based firm of Sharratt’s solicitors when he defended GSD Saaba, who was accused of biting and had been placed under sentence of death under Section 3 of the DDA. Trevor handled Saaba’s appeal and successfully had her destruction order quashed – a rare event in those early days of the DDA. After this he became extremely sought after to defend other DDA cases. His workload became so large that he left Sharratts in 1997 and went ‘freelance’, setting up his own company and handling all animal-related cases, of which dog defence cases under the DDA formed the largest part.
Two of Trevor’s greatest successes were the saving of Pit Bull Terrier ‘Dempsey’ from destruction in 1995 after three years on death row, and in 2004 successfully appealing the case of ‘Dino’, another GSD sentenced to death for nipping another dog owner and also being under long-term sentence of death.
Speaking of his reasons for deciding on legal pastures new, Trevor told OUR DOGS:
"I have to ay that the Dino case had an impact, it was difficult to see what my next challenge was to be. Dino’s was a monumental case, we went through every appeal process possible to secure justice for him and ultimately we won.
"I have to be honest and say that my age also had something to do with my decision to strike out elsewhere, I’ve reached a certain age and feel that if I don’t try a new challenge now it will be too late. It’s a major move and being the prosecution as opposed to defence is a whole new area of law in itself." However, there was still hope for people facing problems due to the DDA, because Trevor readily admitted that it is not in his nature to leave his work for the good of dogs behind. "I’m not necessarily going to disappear," he added. "I’m looking into various possibilities to be able to continue to offer help and advice in the future, but just not be involved up front all the time. I’ll still be around, supporting various animal charities, such as Justice For Dogs, the Fury Defence Fund, the RSPCA, Dogs Trust, and, of course all the campaigners who’ve worked so hard for the good of dogs over the years. I can’t just walk away from it altogether; it’s become a part of me."
Numerous anti-BSL campaigners and dog owners paid tribute to Trevor in a special feature.
‘Westminster 8’ go free: Eight pro-hunting campaigners who stormed into the House of Commons during a debate on the Foxhunting Bill were convicted of public order offences this month – but walked free from court.
The so-called Westminster Eight - who included the pop star Bryan Ferry's son Otis - were found guilty of causing "harassment, alarm or distress"" by invading the Commons. They were convicted by District Judge Timothy Workman after a four-day trial at Bow Street magistrates' court in London. The men each received an 18-month conditional discharge and were ordered to pay £350 costs each.
Ferry, 22, the Master of the South Shropshire hunt was the main organiser, the court heard. In addition to Ferry and Tomlinson, the other defendants were Luke Tomlinson, 28 a polo player for the England team who had been excused court for one day to play in a match, David Redvers, 34, a horse breeder from Hartpury, Gloucestershire; Richard Wakeham, 36, a surveyor from York; Nicholas Wood, 41, a chef from Lacock, Wiltshire; John Holliday, 42, a huntsman from Ledbury, Herefordshire; Robert Thame, 36, a polo player from Maidenhead, Berkshire; and Andrew Elliott, 43, an auctioneer from Ledbury.
Outside Bow Street magistrates' court in London, the men said that they had no regrets.
Nicholas Wood commented: "I would do the same again, but not for 18 months". Fellow protestor, David Redvers, agreed with him.
Ferry, who had previously received a caution for putting pro-hunt stickers in Tony Blair's garden, said: "Maybe there was a slight amount of alarm [for MPs], but we went out of our way to behave as peacefully as we could."
Whilst thousands of pro-hunting campaigners demonstrated outside Westminster on September 15th 2004, the men donned builders' outfits, including fluorescent jackets and hard hats, and told police and security guards that they were there to carry out renovations. After being cleared to go through Parliament's St Stephen's entrance, they dumped their disguises in a committee room and went through a broken security door and down the Ladies’ Stairwell.
Doorkeepers stopped three of them getting into the chamber but four - including Ferry - emerged from behind the Speaker's chair. Tomlinson ran in from an entrance opposite the Speaker's chair. The men were all wearing white T-shirts that bore the slogan ‘FCUK the Bill’.
One of them said that he sat down on the Government front bench, next to the then Rural Affairs Minister, Alun Michael, and said: "Right ho, let's have a debate then."
Mr Michael told the court he had felt "shocked, angry and affronted" and the situation was "very worrying". Mr Michael, the primary object of the protest, told the trial he was afraid that someone was going to get hurt. However, Kate Hoey, one of the few pro-hunting Labour MPs, had told the court that it was immediately obvious that the men were involved in a peaceful protest.
Judge Workman said the protesters did not cause harassment or distress, but did cause alarm. Ordering each of the defendants to pay £350 towards prosecution costs, the judge told them: "Your actions caused disruption to the House of Commons and caused some of those people present alarm.
"To your credit, the incident was brief, there was no violence and those moments of alarm quickly passed. Within a minute or two you were co-operating with the authorities. Although it is unlikely, I want to deter you from offending again."
Several anti-hunt campaigners and MPs bemoaned the ‘leniency’ of the sentence handed down by Mr Workman.
Boots drop greyhound racing promotion: Boots, the UK’s leading high street chemist bowed to pressure from dog lovers around the UK and indeed, the world, and dropped a controversial promotion selling tickets to greyhound racing.
The promotion for Greyhound racing was listed as a special ‘gift’ which could be purchased at Boots chemist online. Customers get 100 extra Advantage points when a customer booked.
The Boots website promoted the offer in the following terms: "Special Offer! Greyhound Racing for Two! Enjoy the fun of greyhound racing…."
The promotion was being sold through Boots at the instigation of a marketing company called Gift Experience Supplier.
Although the company had been inundated with complaints from dog lovers across the UK and from around the world, all of whom opposed greyhound racing on welfare grounds, Boots remained steadfast in their resolve to continue the promotion, even though they were faced with the threat of demonstrations being taken to their stores.
The international greyhound protection organisation Greyhound Action had decided to stage protests outside Boots stores up and down the country, calling on the public to boycott the company until they cease promoting greyhound racing.
However, within a week of receiving the first complaint about the sale of greyhound racing tickets on their website, Boots had withdrawn the promotion and removed the item from their site.
In response, Greyhound Action that organised publicity against the store’s promotion has thanked Boots for their "wise and humane decision" and called off the Day of Action it had planned against the company for June 25th.
Initially, Boots’ response to complaints from Greyhound Action against the promotion had been non committal. However, in a new message to people complaining about the promotion, David Marmion of Boots Customer Care wrote: "We've reviewed sales of our Greyhound Experience product and looked at all the feedback we've received from our customers. The product is not a key line for us and sales suggest our customers are not hugely interested in it. After taking all this into account, we've decided to stop selling this product."
The company’s damage limitation actions clearly demonstrated the power of ordinary dog lovers with a united voice against questionable corporate business practices in which canine welfare may be compromised.
Animal house woman jailed: A depressed woman who collected hundreds of dogs to compensate for the death of a son through a drugs overdose was jailed this month for causing unnecessary suffering to animals.
Rosalind Gregson, 55, told the court that she loved her growing menagerie, felt powerless to fight her obsession until she had accumulated 246 dogs, 16 birds and seven cats, which were kept in such squalid conditions that nine had to be put down.
Mrs Gregson sobbed in the dock at Preston Magistrates’ Court as her counsel outlined details of a life lived on the edge of sanity. She rarely left the isolated cottage in Silverdale, near Carnforth, Lancashire, where she ended up spending 16 hours a day trying to care for her animals.
She began collecting the dogs after her son’s death 15 years ago. Her husband Alan, a builder, would buy her new dogs from time to time as a "temporary fix", although the couple rarely spoke to each other. Over time she became overwhelmed by the sheer numbers. So deep-seated was her obsession that she became estranged permanently from her surviving son because she told him she could not go to his wedding as she was too busy looking after her pets.
At her trial, Mrs Gregson initially pleaded not guilty to all the charges brought against her. Three days into her trial she dramatically pleaded guilty to nine charges, after her defence counsel reached a deal with the prosecution that the remaining charges would be dropped.
Before being jailed by District Judge Peter Ward, she stood up in the dock to say sorry and to make a plea to be given a "second chance" to be allowed to keep a small number of dogs. The plea was ignored by the judge who disqualified her from owning a pet for life.
Ann-Marie Gregory, for the defence, said that Mrs Gregson, who relied on her husband’s earnings, spent £82,000 buying the animals from pet shops over a number the years.
The judge jailed Mrs Gregson for three months. She was set to serve at least half the sentence in jail. The RSPCA, which racked up costs in the case of £141,129, asked for legal costs of £35,000. The judge ruled that they will be paid out of public funds.
Gregson was later released after serving one week of a three-month prison term following an appeal hearing at Preston Crown Court. She was given a three-year community rehabilitation order, but was told that the life ban on keeping animals would still stand.
Judge Andrew Gilbart QC said at the appeal hearing: "This is not a case involving torture, malice, or sadism, but there are aggravating features in this case.
"There is evidence of the disregard of the warnings of others, there's evidence of neglect and there is evidence of significant injury."
He said that the custodial threshold had been passed in principle, but that a community rehabilitation order was more suitable as it would include counselling to help her deal with her grief and mental health problems.
The RSPCA welcomed the outcome of the appeal. Spokeswoman Heather Holmes said: "I think it's a very satisfactory outcome in that the disqualification remains unchanged and for the RSPCA that is the most important element of the court case."
Dog stolen at gunpoint: A worrying new trend towards violence in dog theft was highlighted this month with the reporting of a case concerning a dog that was stolen from its owner in a busy London street after a thief threatened its owner with a gun. Thankfully no one was hurt and the dog was recovered later safe and well by police.
‘Bailey’, a three-month-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross was stolen at around 10.30pm on Tuesday, June 7, as his owner was walking along Kennedy Road, in Ealing, West London.
Dewayne Carrington, 23, a civilian police worker said that his three-month-old Bull Terrier cross was snatched by a man wielding a handgun as he and his 22 year-old girlfriend walked Bailey that evening.
A spokesman from Ealing police said: "He turned around and saw that the robber was holding a black handgun in his hand. The robber said, ‘drop the lead,' and the victim did as he was told."
The robber, described as black, aged around 20 years old, 6ft tall, and was wearing dark-coloured clothing with a hooded top. He was last seen with the puppy making his way along Kennedy Road towards nearby Greenford Avenue.
However, the story has a happy ending. Mr Carrington’s girlfriend was walking down a street in Ealing two weeks later and saw Bailey being walked by a family, to whom the dog had apparently been sold. She called the police who immediately attended – no doubt because of the gun crime originally involved, rather than a ‘simple’ dog theft - and arrested the men. Bailey was returned to Mr Carrington soon afterwards, unharmed and happy to be reunited with his owner.
Jayne Hayes, founder of DogLost UK that reunites owners with their dogs, said that ‘dognappings’ had "gone through the roof" since she set up the service, and Staffordshire bull terriers were the most common targets. She said: "We have heard of dogs being taken at knifepoint but this is the first gunpoint theft I am aware of."
Another challenge to overturn Hunting Act: Hunt supporters from across Europe linked up with UK campaigners in a fresh legal bid to overturn the ban on hunting with hounds in England and Wales.
The two groups, including the Countryside Alliance, aimed to catch the Government in a crossfire of EU law and domestic Human Rights challenges at the High Court in London.
Their application for judicial review began in early July and was expected to be heard over an anticipated six days before Lord Justice May, sitting with Mr Justice Moses. Horse dealers and breeders from Ireland who reported suffering heavy financial losses were in the European campaign against the ban including Francis Derwin who owns one of the largest horse dealerships in Ireland and deals in around 800 horses a year.
A Belgian aristocrat, together with hunt followers from France, Germany and Portugal were also among the nine applicants seeking to use "superior" EU law to knock out the 2004 Hunting Act.
Lawyers for the nine appellants, dubbed the "EU Nine", argued that the ban couldn’t stand because it is inconsistent with articles under the Treaty that established the European Community. Articles 28, 39 and 49 protect the free movement of goods and workers within the Community and the freedom "to provide and receive services".
The nine said their Community rights of free movement and to trade had been infringed in a way that was unjustified and disproportionate. The ban also means that EU workers are being denied jobs. Their lawyers planned to contend that the "supremacy of Community law" means the Hunting Act, which is in conflict with those free movement rights, must be quashed or declared void.
The linked human rights challenge was being fought by pro-hunt campaigners from across the UK, who want a declaration that the Hunting Act is "incompatible" with the European Convention on Human Rights.
The ‘domestic’ challenge to the Hunting Act was brought by the Countryside Alliance on behalf of ten individual British families whose livelihoods depend on hunting. The challenge focuses on the discrimination against a significant majority, and engages Articles 8 (the right to respect for private life), 11 (freedom of assembly and association), 14 (prohibition of discrimination) and Article 1, Protocol 1 (protection of property).
Alliance Chief Executive Simon Hart said, "A mature democracy such as ours should safeguard the rights of minorities. It is a sad state of affairs when the Government allows discrimination, prejudice and political expediency to come before principle, evidence and decency, as it has done in forcing through the Hunting Act. It is now down to the courts to protect the human rights of the hunting community and, by extension, those of other minorities.
"The Hunting Act infringes fundamental rights under the European Convention on Human Rights which the Government signed up to and is bound by. The Government chose to ignore the warning of Westminster’s own Joint Committee on Human Rights that the Hunting Act infringed the ECHR and now it must face the consequences in court."
Dogo exhibitors riot at World Show: A number of intense Dogo Argentino fans did not like the Best Of Breed selection made by the Judge at the World Show in Argentina, causing Latino tempers to flare and the judge to flee from a knife-wielding mob.
Trouble was already brewing on the Saturday at the show when the crowd’s favourite dog lost out on the BOB, so its owner went up to the Judge in the ring and punched him on the nose. When the Dogo result was announced, two men, standing at ringside threw two canisters of tear gas into the Dogo ring causing panic and many injuries. Many exhibitors, especially Americans, thought it was a terrorist attack.
To add insult to injury the police took the highly questionable decision to shut the main doors, locking in many people who, in panic and pain, crashed out of the plate glass windows to get air and be able to breathe. Many people were taken to hospital, whilst many dogs were taken to the emergency vets, some having bad eye injuries caused by the tear gas as well as lung damage. It is reported that a number of dogs died at the scene.
The FCI immediately banned the Dogo Argentino from being exhibited at shows for two years and cancelled all awards given during the World Show weekend. Many observers said that this was too little, too late. They claimed the FCI were aware of the danger before the show but did nothing about it. Since the dog is the country's favourite breed, they allowed Dogos to enter for $20.00 per entry instead of $120.00 like the rest of the dogs, thus attracting an entry of over 100 Dogos. Some fanciers were said to have a ‘soccer hooligan mentality’ and do not take losing lightly.
France to ban the Stafford: A controversial plan by the French Agriculture Minister to ban Staffordshire Bull Terriers under breed specific legislation was swiftly put under review, following an outcry from anti-BSL campaigners from around the world.
France’s new Agriculture Minister, Monsieur Sarkozy caused outrage by attempting to enforce France’s ill-conceived BSL regulations against Staffords. It is understood that in recent months the French Kennel Club had asked the French Government to amend their Dangerous Dog Act to remove the words "Staffordshire Terrier", since a ministerial predecessor of M. Sarkozy had confirmed in 2001 that this did NOT mean the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Despite his pronouncement, the name was still causing confusion.
M. Sarkozy appeared to have spoken to the Police service in France and learned that they were having difficulty distinguishing Staffords from controlled breeds such as American Pit Bull Terriers and AmStaffs. M. Sarkozy took the rather extreme view of choosing to ban Staffords simply to make life easier for the French police. There was no new evidence to suggest that Staffords were now a danger, merely an inconvenience.
Agriculture Ministry Civil Servant Madame Martine Balland was given the role of preparing a report on the matter for the Minister. Pierre-Louis Petit, Secretary of the French SBT Club and top SBT breeder Wolf Bergerhausen asked for support from all major animal British organisations such as the KC, BVA, Dogs Trust, RSPCA, Metropolitan Police and individual Stafford owners to lobby Mme Balland to save the Stafford and have the breeds’ name removed from the legislation.
Within days of the plea for help, Mme Balland e-mailed Mr Levy to ask him to ‘call the dogs off’, as she had been inundated with thousands of e-mails from Stafford owners and anti-BSL campaigners from the UK and around the world. She declared that she would be raising the matter with M Sarkozy as a matter of urgency and would advise Mr Levy of the outcome as soon as possible.
British tourist dies of rabies after dog bite: A tourist who contracted rabies when she was bitten by a dog in the Indian resort of Goa died in hospital in July.
Alison Dwerryhouse, 39, from Bury, Greater Manchester was a victim of the holiday destination’s notorious packs of stray dogs which roam the streets and beaches of the island. She was bitten during the trip in April but it was only after she returned home to with her husband Philip that she complained of feeling ill. The shop assistant was admitted to the town’s Fairfield General Hospital for treatment in early July. Once rabies was diagnosed, she was transferred to the Walton Centre in Liverpool, a specialist centre for neurology and neurosurgery.
Despite intensive treatment, Mrs Dwerryhouse died from the disease. A spokesman for the Health Protection Agency confirmed that the infection had been contracted abroad.
A spokesman said: "There is no record of rabies ever being passed from a patient to a healthcare worker, but to be absolutely safe, staff in both hospitals who had close personal contact with the patient have been offered the rabies vaccine.
"This really is a precautionary measure and we are able to reassure staff that if any risk to them existed at all, it would have been very low indeed. This is a sad time for the patient’s family and they have our deepest sympathy and condolences."
Goa is known as a pocket of rabies infection on the Indian subcontinent, where around 30,000 die from the disease each year.
The Goa Society for the Protection of Animals blamed Goans for discarding unwanted puppies and old or sick animals on the street. Attempts to have strays put down had fallen foul of the animal rights lobby. The society started a campaign encouraging people not to feed the dogs. They also set up regular anti-rabies vaccination camps to run alongside a sterilisation programme.
High court hunting appeal dismissed:
Pro-hunting campaigners lost their second High Court challenge to the ban on hunting with dogs in England and Wales, although a further appeal was swiftly lodged.
This month, two senior judges ruled against them in a case that raised questions of human rights and European law.
Dismissing the challenge, Lord Justice May and Mr Justice Moses concluded that "it was within the rational, proportionate and democratic competence of Parliament to make [the Hunting Act 2004] and that the court should not intervene".
Giving evidence at an earlier hearing, the Countryside Alliance’s lawyer said that the legislation was "a sectarian measure" which also breached the European Convention on Human Rights.
Alliance lawyers argued that the ban was ruining the livelihoods of thousands who earned their living from hunting and infringed EU trading and employment laws.
But the judges concluded that "there was sufficient material available to the House of Commons for them to conclude that hunting with dogs is cruel" and that there was "a reasonable basis" for concluding that, "taken as a whole, hunting foxes with dogs causes more suffering than shooting them".
It was, argued the Judges, rational for Parliament to conclude that the balance between the "legitimate legislative aim and the interference with rights and freedoms which it would engender fell on the side of enacting the Hunting Act".
The Judges added that it was, therefore, "reasonably open to the majority of the democratically elected House of Commons to conclude that this measure was necessary in the democratic society which had elected them".
The Act was "proportionate" under European Community law for the same reasons as it was proportionate under the Human Rights Act, the judges added.
The League Against Cruel Sports welcomed the court’s ruling saying: "Fox hunting in Britain is now dead. It is time its supporters accepted that."
But John Jackson, chairman of the Countryside Alliance, vowed that the battle would continue. "The judges have accepted that there is interference with some of the claimants rights, and that the Hunting Act will have a substantial general adverse effect on the lives of many in the rural community," said Mr Jackson.
"However, the Court, ignoring events in the Commons and the Lords, appears to have proceeded on the assumption that Parliament had a legitimate aim and has itself then speculated on what that may have been. Whether the Court is right to have proceeded in this way is plainly a controversial question."
The Judges granted the Alliance permission to take this case to the Court of Appeal, so the challenge was far from finished.
Dog theft summit planned for autumn: The leading canine theft lobby group Dog Theft Action received considerable support for its campaign against dog theft in recent months. The lobby group was invited to attend meetings with representatives from organisations involved in the canine world who were extremely concerned about the rapid escalation of dog theft. DTA remained convinced that the way forward was to ask those organisations to lead the way in finding a solution to this aspect of law and order that has gone unnoticed and unmonitored for so long.
DTA Co-ordinator Margaret Nawrockyi commented: "This support has encouraged us to plan a meeting of DTA co-ordinators and advisors together with invited representatives of the agencies who can have a major impact on this multi-faceted issue. The agenda for this meeting will focus on dog theft and explore ways and means to tackle this problem.
"DTA hopes to raise the profile of dog theft throughout the UK and encourage central and local government and the police to treat it with the seriousness it deserves. The meeting will be hosted by the Kennel Club at their headquarters in Clarges St., London on 15th November 2005 and will be chaired by Government Whip Ian Cawsey MP the former Chairman of the all party Animal Welfare Group who maintains a keen interest in animal welfare and dog theft."
Invitations were sent to the Kennel Club, Pet Log, Dogs Trust, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, British Veterinary Association, National Dog Wardens Association, Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Police Authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
DTA were also pleased to announce that their first symposium was set to take place on Saturday 1st October 2005. The setting for this prestigious event was to be Edmondscote Manor, Leamington Spa, by kind permission of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, hosted by GDBA breeder manager Neil Ewart.
Speakers included Nick Mays; Chief Reporter OUR DOGS Newspaper, Steve O’Brien; National Dog Wardens Association, Peter Purves; commentator, journalist and broadcaster, Robert Killick; columnist OUR DOGS and Dogs Today and Allen Parton and his much admired Canine Partner, Endal.
Jester’s law gains momentum: Dog theft lobby group Dog Theft Action attended a meeting in July at Doglost UK headquarters in Nottinghamshire, between Graham Littlechild of the Highways Agency, Ben Cook of AMScott, Nikki Powditch campaigner for "Jester’s Law" and Jayne Hayes of Doglost UK.
The meeting was intended to explore ways of making it easier for people to obtain information if their pet has gone missing. One of the most worrying concerns at this time is ‘has the dog been killed in a road traffic accident?’
The group learned that the Highways Agency was responsible for all works and maintenance on the motorways and trunk roads in the UK. Highways Agency Route Performance Manager, Graham Littlechild explained: "There are 14 ‘areas’ and the work is carried out by Managing Agent Contractors (MAC) who are responsible for the feasibility, design and construction of most of the works on the A1, from small road safety improvements to the major resurfacing schemes as well as the day to day activities such as grass cutting or drain clearing as well as removing casualties from the roads." AMScott is the MAC for area 7 which includes Colsterworth – the area where Nikki’s dog Jester was last seen, having blieved to be knocked down by a car and his body swiftly removed and cremated by AmScott workers.
DTA were keen to encourage both agencies to:
l obtain and use scanners on deceased pets as a matter of routine.
l retain collars with a description of identifying features wherever possible.
l store the remains for a given period of time before disposal, to allow owners time to discover their pets’ fate and to make alternative arrangements for disposal if they wish.
DTA found both representatives extremely concerned about the incident concerning the dog removed from the A1 on 24th May. They suggested that they return to their respective boards with our recommendations and agreed to contact us when they had something to report.
Nikki later received a letter from Ben Cook of AMScott offering the following assurance: "As discussed we are currently reviewing our procedure to identify dogs found on the area 7 road network. Our new steps will help to trace the owner by making it obligatory to scan the dog for a microchip. This will help to relieve any unnecessary distress and prevent recurrence of the recent unfortunate incident. We will also make sure that our new procedure is discussed at our best practice working group forum as promised."
This proved to be yet another example of how agencies – organisations, companies, businesses and groups can have a major impact on society by co-operating and co-ordinating with each other.
World’s first cloned dog is created: The long cherished dream that Man might one day reproduce his best friend became a reality when South Korean scientists announced that they had created the world's first cloned dog.
Dr Woo-Suk Hwang and his team of researchers at Seoul National University made world headlines earlier this year when they created human stem cells with a patient's specific genetic material, derived through cloned embryos, giving rise to the usual bout of hysterical headlines about ‘Frankenstein-style science’.
The South Koreans had secured their place as leaders in the cloning field by creating Snuppy, the first dog cloned from adult cells by somatic nuclear cell transfer. This is the same technique used to create Dolly the sheep, recognised as the world's first cloned mammal, and many other animals including pigs, cows, horses, rabbits, rats and mice.
Dr Hwang said the breakthrough in cloning dogs could advance work on combating diseases by therapeutic cloning with stem cells.
"Our research goal is to produce cloned dogs for (studying) the disease models, not only for humans, but also for animals," Hwang told a press conference.
Lee Beyong Chun, the first author of the dog cloning paper, published in ‘Nature’ magazine, says he and his colleagues began the process on Aug. 2, 2002, supported by a grant from the South Korean government. Working non-stop and using over 1,000 dog eggs, they finally ended up with an Afghan hound puppy that is a clone of an adult male Afghan.
Snuppy, an acronym for Seoul National University puppy, where Hwang's lab is located, is a male born by caesarean section weighing 530 grams (19 ounces) on April 24th after a normal, full-term pregnancy in a yellow Labrador surrogate mother.
The second puppy, identified as NT-2, weighed in at 550 grams (19.4 ounces) but died 22 days later from pneumonia. A post-mortem exam showed there were no anatomical problems with the dog that died.
Some observers cautioned there are many unresolved ethical questions about where the science may lead.
"Canine cloning runs contrary to the Kennel Club's objective 'To promote in every way the general improvement of dogs'," Phil Buckley, spokesman for the Kennel Club commented. "Cloning cannot be used to make improvements because the technique simply produces genetic replicas of existing dogs.
"Also, will these cloned dogs end up being used in the laboratory? That opens a whole new can of worms."
Dr Freda Scott-Park, President Elect of the British Veterinary Association, iwas concerned about the likely reaction of dog lovers.
"His report demonstrates just how fast the world of genetic manipulation is moving and no one should underestimate the far-reaching consequences of this work," she said.
"Sadly however, the media interest is likely to attract pet owners keen to re-create their much loved pets.
"No one can deny that techniques that advance our understanding of diseases and their therapy are to be encouraged. But cloning of animals raises many ethical and moral issues that have still to be properly debated within the profession."
The fact that the South Koreans won the cloning equivalent of the space race and thus became the first to clone a dog was a bitter blow to the leading American team of Genetic Savings & Clone, Their own ‘Missyplicity project’ was aimed at cloning Billionaire Sperling’s favourite canine, a crossbred named Missy.
Genetic Savings issued a short and rather terse press release on the Korean first, congratulating its rivals but attributing their win partly to the "greater availability" of dogs for research in South Korea, where animal-protection groups have little sway. "We expect to produce our own canine clones in the near future," it added.
Bella remembered: On Sunday, August 21st, the closest weekend date to the anniversary of Samoyed Bella’s death from MRSA, a ceremony was held at her owner Jill Moss’s home in Edgware, North London, where friends, fellow campaigners and dog owners whose dogs had also contracted MRSA in the past year watched as Jill and her friend Mark Dosher planted a tree in Bella’s memory.
Amongst the guests was well-known homeopathic vet, writer and broadcaster Richard Allport who used to treat Bella for minor ailments before she injured herself and had to undergo surgery at the north London veterinary hospital where she contracted MRSA.
Richard told OUR DOGS: "I admire and respect all he hard work that Jill has done to raise awareness of MRSA in pets. It is high time that the veterinary profession as a whole saw the proliferation of cases of MRSA as something to be concerned about. I’m pleased to say, it is now being taken seriously."
Jill Moss planted the tree – a white cherry blossom – and then spoke to the large number of guests who had attended, thanked them for their support and brought them up to date with how the campaign was going.
"I sat on the floor of the veterinary hospital as Bella slowly drowned in her own bodily fluids because they would not give her the treatment she needed," said Jill. "No dog owner should have to go through that, ever. Better hygiene is required, better treatment for MRSA is needed, but slowly, gradually, the message is getting through. And it is so good to see so many owners here with their dogs who have survived MRSA, and I thank you all for your tremendous support.
"Bella was a unique dog, my soulmate, my closest companion. But her death will not have been in vain if we can make sure that no other pet dies of MRSA, which is totally preventable."
Not-So-Glorious twelfth: Some parts of Britain were heading for the worst grouse-shooting season since 1950 as the hunting season got under way on Friday, August 12th.
The ‘Glorious Twelfth’ was supposed to mark the beginning of the traditional grouse- shooting season, with thousands of people taking to the moors.
But in Scotland, bad weather and tick infestations meant that shoots in many areas have been severely reduced or cancelled completely.
Experts also forecast that the shooting season in England will be the worst since 1950 because parasitic worms in the gut of the grouse reduced the number of chicks in the spring and led to the death of thousands of birds in the last three months.
Grouse stocks have plummeted by 50 to 90% from last year's record-breaking season, said the Moorland Association.
Rural communities that depend on sporting visitors could lose millions of pounds.
Ontario vigil opposes BSL: Hundreds of dog owners, many of them accompanied by dogs, held a peaceful, candlelight vigil in several cities across the province of Ontario, Canada on the evening of Sunday, August 28th in protest at the introduction of the Liberal Government’s breed specific dog control laws.
The protesters were joined by thousands of dog owners around the world who held their own public and private vigils, lighting candles in memory of all the dogs who have died under the cancerous implementation of Breed Specific Legislation.
The main vigil was held at Queen’s Park, Toronto, where over 300 owners gathered to denounce the draconian laws introduced by Attorney General Michael Bryant.
The law came into effect at 12.01am on August 29th and effectively bansned four so-called ‘dangerous’ breeds from Ontario, namely the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and English Bull Terrier, all lumped under the generic heading of ‘pit bull’.
The candlelight vigils which took place in Toronto and neighbouring cities of Halifax and Nova Scotia, amongst others, were well attended and drew a great deal of media attention. In the main, the Canadian press was supporting the Liberal Government’s stance, portraying the ‘pit bull owners’ as misguided at best and seriously deluded at worst. However, some publications managed to publish balanced articles about the perceived drawbacks of BSL, and the forthcoming legal challenge on behalf of Banned Aid against the laws.
Cathy Prothero, President of the American Staffordshire Terrier Club of Canada and Secretary of the Dog Legislation Council of Canada gave OUR DOGS her impression of the Toronto vigil: "This past week has been an emotional roller coaster for me, the vigil was charged with a mixture of electricity and gloom…"
Prothero continues: "I can't tell you what it was like for me to stand there, gathered with all those people showing support, I was filled with such pride and strength knowing that we were supported by public and private vigils around the world, I know it sounds strange but you could ‘feel’ it.
"As I looked around me, I watched as people stood in admiration of their dogs, and it was if we all took comfort from each other. I was in awe of the number of well-behaved dogs, literally from "Pit Bulls" to Poodles all interacting peacefully. As if they knew their very lives depended on it. It was their time to shine.
"I hardly knew anyone, but we acted like we were all long lost friends, I think this is how people feel on the front lines of battle…"
"The law violates our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 7, which protects a individuals personal legal rights from the actions of the government. It denies the fundamental right, of liberty. By imposing jail time as a penalty.
"Canadian dog owners have had enough of this drivel shoved down our throats, we are tired of being ostracized for our breed of choice, tired of being persecuted for our breed of choice. No government has the right to tell us what breed of dog we can have in our living rooms. We are angry and we are fighting this law. And we will win."
While the human tragedy in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina which lashed the Gulf coast of America at the end of August was widely reported in the media, the plight of the animals in the affected area was – at least initially - largely ignored. Heartbreaking stories began to emerge and soon a massive rescue operation to save the stricken pets was underway.
When residents of New Orleans and other cities in Katrina’s path were advised to evacuate, some pet owners were faced with a terrible choice – to stay with their animals or leave them behind.
Fidelma Rigby and her husband began their preparations to leave on the Friday before the hurricane was due to hit, planning to stay in Atlanta, where they had used a kennel for their two dogs during previous hurricanes. This time, when they called the kennel could not take the dogs; neither could the hotel where they planned to stay. The Rigbys were forced to make a heartbreaking choice.
"The choice was to evacuate with the dogs, and keep them in the car. We were so afraid that the heat would get them. So, we boarded up the house, and left them in the upstairs bathroom with a lot of food and water" said Mrs Rigby. "We expected to be back in two or three days. If I'd known, we'd have taken them and driven and driven and driven and they'd be safe. We just didn't know." The Rigbys were waiting to see if help would reach their dogs, Mark and Shawn, in time.
Sky News reported that many people chose to stay at home because of the difficulties of evacuating with their animals and it was suggested that the death toll might be higher as a result. Some people made their way to official shelters, taking their animals with them only to find the animals were refused entry.
Elsewhere, an emotional newscaster described dogs barking in the dark. "I hear the dogs yelping. All of them yelping...hoping someone will come."
The American Humane Society received news of an elderly man who had lost everything but whilst being evacuated from a hotel in Biloxi was forced to leave his dog behind. Another story, on the United Animal Nations disaster response web forum, was of a puppy called Snowball taken from the arms of a little boy because it was not allowed on the bus or in the shelter he was going to. No one knew what happened to the puppy but people were looking out for Snowball and hoping to reunite the distraught child with his beloved puppy.
Animal welfare organisations from across the United States began rushing teams to the area to rescue and re-locate as many animals as possible. Given the appalling conditions on the ground, transport of any kind was difficult and particularly with no fuel for vehicles, this was an enormous undertaking. The animal rescue teams were prevented from entering some areas due to civilian unrest. By the morning of 2nd September The American Humane Society had a list of 2,000 reports of animals left in houses and in urgent need of rescue. The animal shelters were overwhelmed and there are already reports of animals being euthanased.
In Slidell, a temporary shelter for companion animals was set up and Terri Crisp, founder of Noah’s Wish said: "There are many dogs running loose throughout the city. Many people left their animals behind when they evacuated and law enforcement has been cutting dogs loose as they find them." Approximately 200 stray animals were picked up by animal control and these animals were due to be moved to the temporary shelter.
The Dog Politics web site put out a worldwide SOS call for dog owners to give help for the hurricane victims, using one case to highlight the plight of many.
"My niece and her three lovely dogs are trapped on the roof top of the Chalmette High School in the New Orleans area. This is the fourth day she has been waiting for someone to rescue her and the three dogs.
About six hundred people were rescued but Debbie Gaudet, my niece, would not leave her dogs and are still on that roof. Somebody out there please help rescue Debbie and dogs."
The stories of lost pets were reported each week by OUR DOGS, along with the stories of heroism of individual rescue workers, such as Jane Garrison, a HSUS volunteer, who braved filthy, disease-ridden water, looters and danger from damaged buildings to rescue hundreds of animals, mainly dogs and cats, from peoples’ houses or neighbourhoods where they had sought refuge.
Thankfully, many animals were taken to safety and to rescue centers outside the State, some to new homes, others to be reunited with their tearful owners.
Legal challenge to Ontario’s BSL launched: Top Canadian lawyer Clayton Ruby launched a formal legal Ontario's new ban on pit bulls on Monday August 29th – the day the infamous Bill 132 came into effect – criticising the Ontario Liberal Government with a vengeance. Mr Ruby decried the legislation for being too broad and saying it will unduly punish owners of "friendly, happy dogs."
Mr. Ruby launched a constitutional challenge to the law alongside the young owner of a ‘pit bull’ cross dog in Toronto, saying the legislation requiring these dogs to be leashed and muzzle lists a number of breeds that are "substantially similar" to pit bulls. That will cause confusion among dog owners, he said.
"It will not improve the safety of the residents of Ontario, and it will not reduce the number of dog bite incidents in this province.
"It will, however, force the owners of friendly, happy dogs, who have never bitten anyone, to leash them and muzzle them without any reason whatsoever."
The law, which officially came into effect on August 29th, but also includes a 60-day grace period, places a ban on all pit bulls born after Nov. 27 2004 and those brought into the province. If such dogs are discovered, they can be confiscated and destroyed by municipal licensing officers.
The law also contained a ‘grandfather clause’ that will allow older dogs to live out their days, following restrictions including being leashed and muzzled and spayed or neutered by October 28 2005.
Mr. Ruby also said there was no evidence that ‘pit bulls’ are more vicious than other types of dogs.
"The government has chosen the cheap fix...let's just ban the pit bulls... forget the fact that no one can tell what's the pit bull that will cause problems."
The plaintiff in the case was anthropology graduate Catherine Cochrane, 22, who currently works as an ophthalmic technician who owns an 18-month old pit bull mix female dog named Chess. Mr Ruby is fighting the challenge ostensibly on behalf of the Banned Aid coalition of canine groups opposed to the laws, but using Ms Cochrane as a technical plaintiff, as she and her dog will be affected by the laws.
Ms. Cochrane said Chess is a well-behaved dog and shouldn't have to be muzzled because it won't let her learn to be a well-socialised dog around other animals.
Mr. Ruby said the second legal argument was that the legislation is "overbroad."
"Overbroad means that yes you capture what you're worried about but the definition is so broad it captures a large number of other things that are not part of the problem."
He added that it would be more expensive to follow what experts say needs to be done to stop dog bites, including setting up a dog and dog bite registry, providing dog bite prevention education, requiring owners to sterilize and train their dogs.
A spokesman for Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant said Monday that Mr. Bryant "is more than confident that the law will withstand any legal challenge."
Secretary of the Dog legislation Council of Canada Cathy Prothero responded: "That sounds like false bravado to me. Our challenge will succeed, because we have truth and genuine evidence on our side."
Outgoing Editor William Moores - now Consultant Editor - pictured with the new incumbent Anne Williams
Congratulations to John and Sylvia Wright who celebrated their Ruby Wedding anniversary on March 20th! The happy couple are pictured here on their wedding day in 1965 - and they haven’t changed a bit! All at OUR DOGS wish John and Sylvia many more happy years together
Jill Moss pictured with Bella
Guide Dogs’ Neil Ewart gave his support to Dog Theft Action
Jenny Frankland-Burton and Richard Mace getting married
Phillipino dogs ‘walk for a cause’ in Manila
‘Have a heart’ asks Rusty
Solicitor Trevor Cooper took up a new post after many sterling years in the service of dogs
The Grim Reaper joins the protest against Greyhound racing
Bailey, the SBT cross stolen from his owner at gunpoint
UK’s first litter of Korean Jindo pups born
Planting a tree in memory of Bella Moss
Top Canadian lawyer Clayton Ruby
Foraging for food in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina