THE CAMPAIGNING group Docked and Denied has reignited its crusade to persuade two more championship shows to drop their admission charges.
Doing so would allow legally docked dogs to be shown, as the law states that doing so is outlawed at events for which the public pays for entry.
And there may be light at the end of the tunnel for the campaigners, as both Leeds and East of England told DOG WORLD they may review the situation next year.
The CH shows which formerly charged admittance – Richmond, Paignton, Bournemouth, Blackpool, Darlington, Bath, Three Counties and Windsor – no longer do, and the only shows left are Leeds, East of England, Ladies Kennel Association and Crufts.
As the latter two are held at the National Exhibition Centre, Docked and Denied’s members feel their hands are somewhat tied, but the group is continuing to put pressure on the other two, both of which say it is not viable economically to drop admittance fees.
In a recent email to their secretaries Wendy Oxman, who has German Wirehaired Pointers, wrote: “Surely as a society you are aware of the dwindling numbers of entries for the breeds involved, which will continue to reduce until eventually they will have no entries at all. Does (your) committee oppose legally-docked dogs? Is that why you continue to obstruct our entries?
“Windsor, Bath, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Richmond and Southern Counties have dropped their charges, showing their solidarity, a decision which was received with great appreciation, which I am sure will be reflected in their increased entries for the respective breeds and European entries. It is not too late for your coming show to change policy.”
Docked and Denied wants societies to charge car parking fees or more for catalogues bought on the day. “Entry fees can’t be put up – we pay enough already at £25 per dog,” Mrs Oxman said. “I feel there must be some way round it. It’s not only affecting entries from English dogs but from foreign ones too.
“Entries are falling as a result. At Crufts there were only 25 GWPs – I know it’s not a numerically high breed but in 2004 there were 90. The figures speak for themselves. People are still choosing to dock because in my breed you can’t stop the dogs doing what they were bred for – work. You can’t switch a dog off. Owners are still having to have their dogs’ tails amputated because of the damage to them. People have their dogs’ interests at heart.
“I think dog people should show more solidarity; at the moment the public are being considered more important than the dogs. We’re not going to give up.”
Mrs Stannard told DW that a new arrangement between Harewood House, Leeds’ venue, and the ch show society this year could lead to admittance charges being dropped. She explained that all the arrangements for the show were to be made by the show society this year instead of Harewood House and as this will be a financial drain in return the society would be allowed to keep revenue from the caravan park.
“Management of the show has been passed to us, which will mean that everything from grass cutting upwards will have to be organised and paid for by the society,” said secretary Liz Stannard. “To offset this financially Harewood House is allowing the society to keep fees from those staying in the caravan park. If this works financially, next year we might be able to do something about dropping the gate fee.”
Mrs Stannard said she had been an exhibitor for 40 years and appreciated how difficult it was for owners of docked dogs.
“But it’s not our rule and it’s not the Kennel Club’s rule,” she said. “We don’t oppose legally docked dogs being shown and we’re not obstructing those people entering. We hold our show in a field in the middle of a stately home and they have a policy of not charging for car parking anywhere on their grounds. Docked and Denied don’t seem to understand that.
“I worked out what entry fees we were losing from not having docked dogs at the show and the sum would not come to what we take on the gate. If we didn’t have the income from the gate entry fees would go up drastically – and I mean drastically.
“These are circumstances beyond my control. We hold a dog show in a field for which we pay a very high rent before we do anything. I’m between a rock and a hard place – but I am trying. If I can do anything next year we will; by then we will have had time for a more serious look at it anyway. Hopefully there could be some leeway… if we can offset the astronomical charges we have to pay that could be something that could help towards car parking.”
Another glimmer of hope for those with docked dogs came from East of England Agricultural Society’s agricultural manager Kerry Buttriss who said that although there would be an admission charge this year things could change.
“We will be working towards a solution to this problem in 2015 and onwards,” she told DW.
However, East of England’s secretary Jill Broadberry said the show was sticking to its usual policy of charging for entry which precluded docked dogs being shown.
“At the end of the day it will be the show committee’s decision to change things, not mine,” she said.
DOG WORLD was unable to make contact with LKA secretary Jane Valentine.