KC comments on the hunting bill
At a recent meeting of the General Committee of The Kennel Club, the implications of the Hunting Bill were discussed.
It was noted that the Bill in its current form, could have a severe effect not only on hunting hounds and terriers, but on all dogs and dog owners. Furthermore it could signal the end of Field Trials.
A letter highlighting particular concerns relating to potential problems for owners of pet dogs was sent to all Members of the Hunting Bill in early February. First among these concerns was the possibility that pet owners could be guilty of an offence if their dog chased a rabbit or deer.
Secondly, the lack of provision for bail following seizure of a dog and pending proceedings, was highlighted. This same lack of provision under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act caused a great deal of unnecessary stress and suffering for both dogs and owners alike.
Finally any dog belonging to the defendant at the time of arrest might be seized whether or not the dog had actually been involved in an alleged hunting incident - this might once again affect pet dogs.
We have received a number of responses from the Members, including that of Alan Beith MP who has tabled and supported amendments to the Bill to protect gamekeepers, farmers, pest control contractors and members of the public exercising their dogs.
The Kennel Club has no direct involvement with hunting with hounds but as the Licensor of Field Trials, The Kennel Club is concerned at the possibility that the Bill in its current form would affect the sport. Spaniel Trials and Hunt, Point, Retrieve Trials would be the first affected since they consist directly of hunting a wild mammal with a dog. Retriever Trials rely heavily on Spaniels hunting in the line to provide game and even Pointer and Setter Trials, where no game is shot, would be affected since it would be an offence if the dogs flushed and hunted a hare, fox or rabbit.
It is important that these concerns are highlighted in order to preserve Field Trials. The K.C. General Committee was in favour of attending the Countryside Alliance march and providing placards to be used in the march expressing the support of the Kennel Club ‘Against the Bill in the interests of Dog Ownership’. (It is noted, however, that the march has since been postponed as a result of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease).
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