CDB AGM REPORT,

22 NOVEMBER 1998

The main objective of the CDB as set out in our Constitution is to ensure that the docking option remains available to those breeders who wish to dock. The intention of this report is to update you with our actions over the past twelve months, in order to achieve our objective.

Our strategy each year has to adjust to the changing approach of those who oppose docking. Despite a limited number of public relations activities undertaken by our opponents, the CDB has effectively maintained the initiative for most of the past twelve months, at least in the UK . Overseas, in Germany and   Austria , docking has suffered severely from legislative action.

November 1997 saw a resurgence of RSPCA 'door stepping' incidents which the CDB was quick to expose in the dog press. This was followed swiftly by two major victories - one in Llanelli magistrates court, where Deborah Jones was cleared on cruelty charges arising from docking, and the other at the RCVS Council meeting where the veterinary authorities admitted that they could not discipline docking vets. The CDB went on a major PR offensive at the news, which was headlined throughout the canine and sporting press. Since this event, the RSPCA has become somewhat quieter than previously experienced.

In Parliament a Ten Minute Rule Bill on the Docking of Pigs was closely followed, and contact maintained with the NFU until the Bill's eventual collapse. Likewise the Breeding and Sale of Dogs Bill was followed, and when it became clear that action was needed, David Maclean was briefed via contacts in the Countryside Alliance. Mr Maclean quickly disposed of the Bill. This action underscores the value of good relations with the Alliance, which has itself had to fight a major battle against Michael Foster's anti-hunting Bill. It is our wish to maintain and increase relations with other organisations campaigning on behalf of canines and their owners, in the future.

Crufts saw a Beverley Cuddy-inspired article in the Express which was quickly responded to, as was Ms Cuddy's own piece in the Mail on Sunday. Regrettably the Mail on Sunday did not carry the CDB's response. The only other PR emanating from our opponents was an item on docking in BBC Radio 4's 'You and Yours', which was broadly negative in tone. Donna MacDougall and Brian Leonard were interviewed and were the only plausible speakers on the subject. The item did, however, pay the CDB a backhanded compliment by describing us as a "professional and highly active organisation."

The CDB meanwhile kept up a flow of articles in the canine, sporting and pet dog press and helped journalists to present a favourable picture of docking, whilst also responding where necessary, such as to David Morton's letter in the Daily Telegraph. Articles were prepared for journals and features produced on behalf of Boxer, Doberman, Weimaraner and King Charles Spaniel breed clubs. Contact was maintained with the principal canine and sporting press editors, and the CDB column was extended to both canine weeklies.

During the course of the year the Action Pack was revised, including The Case for Docking, Introductory Letter, Guidance to Members and the RSPCA Visit Report form. A new range of recruitment semi-display advertisements was produced, incorporating a docked dog design. The regular advertising programme was extended to cover Our Dogs, Dog World, Shooting Times, Sporting Gun, and Shooting Gazette. Additional advertising was placed in Country Illustrated.

Press releases were issued on the Deborah Jones victory in close liaison with Knights, on the RCVS admission, and on German and Austrian legislation. Articles were prepared on adult amputation, on the European threat and on the CDB's campaigning credentials for publication in Dog World, Our Dogs and Shooting Times, while support was given to journalists writing pro-docking articles in Country Illustrated, Countryman's Weekly and Your Dog.

The CDB media monitoring service was maintained throughout the year to ensure that we are kept up to date with any items appearing in the press concerning traditionally docked breeds.

In July, the CDB became very involved in lending assistance to our friends and colleagues in Continental Europe where a spate of anti-docking legislation arose. In Germany , new laws banning docking were introduced while in Austria , a new animal protection act was announced that would come into force by the end of 1999, which would ban docking and give sweeping new regulatory powers to local authorities.

The imposition of these new laws caught dog owners and breeders by surprise. No breeder/dog owner organisation represented their interests. The fact is that they were unaware of the implications for their breeds and local traditions and they have lost out as a result.

We in Britain must take this as a dreadful warning not to allow legislation to creep up on us by stealth.  If anyone still doubts the potential impact which British endorsement of the Council of Europe’s Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals would have on our docked breeds, then let them talk to our German and Austrian friends.

The CDB sought advice from Counsel regarding the impending German ban on importation of docked dogs which we believe contravenes the EC Treaty provisions on the free movement of goods. Article 30 of the Treaty provides that restrictions on imports between member states are unlawful. The ban clearly falls within the provisions as it will restrict the import of dogs (which for the purpose of EC law are deemed to be goods) between member states. Counsel advised that a challenge to the legislation could be made, but that such a challenge would have to take place in Germany and that the German authorities would be forced to demonstrate that the ban was necessary on animal health grounds, which would be a shaky defence.

The CDB has continued to be represented at the six monthly FACE UK meetings and a full briefing was made on the new animal welfare legislation in Germany and Austria . The potential threats which this legislation contains for the UK was not lost on delegates, and it was agreed that the matter of oppressive animal welfare legislation would be raised with the main FACE board in Europe and be taken up with the German and Austrian associations.

We have continued to help both New Zealand and Australia where breeders are faced with similar problems. Two Animal Welfare Bills have been introduced in New Zealand , one a Private members Bill, the other a Government Bill, which would ban docking and restrict breeding programmes. We have helped the formation of a New Zealand Council of Docked Breeds and under the Chairmanship of Barry Uren, they are carrying out a sterling campaign to oppose parts of the proposed legislation.

Much of our help to international breeders is made possible by our Internet web site. There is so much information now available there, that any country wishing to set up its own version of the CDB can do so by following our own fully documented progress and even adopt a form of our own Constitution. Visitors to the site are in excess of 34,000 and the numbers accelerate as each week passes.

Only this week, we were contacted by a lady in Austria , seeking advice on how Austrian breeders could best mount a campaign to reverse the new Austrian legislation. We have naturally offered our help.

We need to remain vigilant. It was the CDB who first publicised the problems facing Germany and who commissioned full translations of both the German and Austrian legislation. Whilst we are not ourselves an International organisation, we do believe that legislation world-wide needs to be closely monitored and help given to our international friends where possible. The more countries that adopt anti-docking legislation, increases the pressure on our own Government to follow suit.

Back in the UK , our helpline continues to be as busy as ever, there appears to be no let up in the number of new breeders who have not organised a docking vet, or were not aware of the problems they might face, in advance of whelping. We can foresee no reduction in the need for this service to continue over the next twelve months.

Allied to the helpline is our continued search for docking vets, the number of which continues to grow. Regular correspondence is despatched to prospective vets and the response in the past year has again been encouraging.

In the wake of its decision not to proceed with disciplinary hearings against two docking vets, the RCVS has again called upon the Government to take legislative action. At present, the Governments stated position is that it would prefer to see the matter settled on a voluntary basis by the veterinary profession and that it has no intention of revisiting the European Convention for Pet Animals until the end of the century, next year! However, that situation could rapidly change. We have on several occasions tried to arrange an exploratory meeting with Elliot Morley, but our letters to date have not elicited a positive response. We have also entered into correspondence with Tam Dalyell and hope that his support might eventually open the door.

The CDB Parliamentary monitoring service was maintained throughout the year to ensure that we are kept up to date with any discussions being raised in Parliament concerning docking and general canine matters.

We recently met with Brian Leonard of the Kennel Club and his successor Caroline Kisko. Caroline as you may know is the proud owner of nearly twenty Siberian Huskies which she regularly works in East Anglia . The Kennel Clubs attitude towards the CDB is now much warmer than in the past and I am sure that Caroline will prove to be a valuable asset to the Kennel Club. Perhaps the most significant change appears to be in their approach to Government. Whilst the influence of the RSPCA might be waning in the corridors of power, the KC has taken great strides over the past five years to increase its influence. We believe their interest in our campaign will prove to be of great importance should new Animal Welfare legislation ever be proposed which included further restrictions on docking.

In the run up to the last General Election, the CDB organised a major campaign to encourage members to contact all the prospective Parliamentary candidates in their constituency, to make them aware of our campaign and of our concerns. Next year marks the election of new MEP’s and we hope to be able to do the same again. Our ability to do this will rely on a database of prospective MEP’s being available in time to organise such a campaign, which as the constituencies have yet to be agreed in the Lords, does make this look as though the time available might be too limited. If we are able to despatch similar action packs as last time, we hope we have your full support in bringing the dangers of the European Convention to the attention of your own prospective MEP’s.

The year has been a busy one on the show circuit. New display boards have been purchased for both caravans, while the photographic exhibitions have been upgraded and new signs and banners purchased.

A range of new merchandise has been obtained, and this has been on sale during the summer, while a sales leaflet is in preparation. The CDB southern caravan was taken to the Shooting Times Gundog Working Test at Woburn, to the CLA Game Fair and to the Midland Game Fair.

The show programme was time consuming and physically exhausting for those able to man the road shows, but there is no doubt that they were a major PR success, especially the three days spent on a prime site at the CLA Game Fair at Stratfield Saye.

Attention needs to be given to the provision of more CDB personnel for stand manning, as the lack of staff was a recurrent problem throughout the year and resulted in long hours for those who were prepared to help.

We recently advertised in the canine press, for additional help. We would like to set up a number of representatives around the country who are able to help man the Road Show, to enable us to increase the number of events we attend and who could also spend some time visiting their local breed clubs to help recruitment of members and to offer advice where necessary.

We are also faced with a few vacancies for Delegates on the Board as several of our current delegates need some time away from the heavy workload experienced over the past seven years. These positions need to be filled by members who are prepared to dedicate a fair amount of time, effort and inspiration to the campaign, they are not positions for the light-hearted. The Board has been the driving force behind our success to date, so it is important that any potential Delegates have good contacts within the canine world and can add a positive contribution to our future success.

I would like summarise the past year as another

·         where the CDB has again continued to help breeders get virtually every puppy docked, 

·         where the CDB has again increased the number of known docking vets,

·         where the CDB has again helped vets approached by the RCVS for docking whelps,

·         where the CDB has again helped breeders approached by the RSPCA for no good reason

·         where the CDB has again handsomely controlled income and expenditure,

·         where the CDB has again managed to remain one step ahead of our opponents,

That concludes an outline of our efforts over the past year, we have no reason to believe that we shall become less busy as we enter the next twelve months.

We hope you can confirm your support for the fashion in which we continue to manage this campaign.

Peter Squires

22 November 1998