Zero Tolerance for Biting - Rescinded 2015 by ANKC

The following is for informational purposes only as it was rescinded by the ANKC in 2015

Introduction of new Herding rules for Queensland effective 26th March 2012

The current rules allowing gripping are inappropriate with the ever-increasing public and media scrutiny for a practice which is a recreational activity. The CCCQ Constitution and Rules support animal welfare as described in the more recent animal protection legislation and do not condone this behaviour.

This particular matter has been brought to the attention of the RSPCA who have written to the ANKC. In Queensland the DPI and Biosecurity Queensland are also monitoring many of our practices. Council noted that not one of the state herding rules review proposals had addressed the issue.

The ANKC Code of Ethics states “A member shall not engage in any behaviour that is contrary to the standards accepted by the community.”

Animal welfare is an important issue within the Australian community. Herding is a sport which involves not only dogs, but other animals as well. These must be cared for appropriately, worked with minimal stress, similar to the concern for dog welfare in all Dogs Qld sports and activities.

Effective immediately, the following rules will take precedence over ANKC Herding Rules and Regulations which contradict or overlap these rules in any way (approved by Council on 26/3/2012).

All persons (exhibitors, judges, stock handlers, trial managers etc.) should accept and implement the intent of the rules.
In particular, all judges officiating at Dogs Qld Herding tests and trials must adhere strictly to these rules. Affiliates contracting judges from interstate and overseas are responsible for informing those judges of these rules and ensuring that they agree to judge by these Dogs Qld standards before finalising contracts.

Dogs Qld Herding Rules for the welfare of livestock:
New Rules

  1. The judge must immediately disqualify any dog that grips livestock in any manner whatsoever, including the pulling of sheep wool, hair or feathers on other livestock. The handler will call the dog and immediately leave the course. This is a mandatory rule in the interest of caring for the livestock and is not at the judge’s discretion. If a grip occurs because a dog has been actively attacked by a sheep or other animal, the judge may order a re-run with new stock, at her/his discretion.
  2. Dogs known to bite or grip livestock must not enter the herding test or trial arena, or any other area off lead with livestock, unless wearing a muzzle as is required of dogs in livestock working situations according to government requirements. Muzzles must be the type suitable for working dogs and allow the mouth to be open to facilitate panting. The muzzle should be fitted securely. Should the muzzle be dislodged or removed while in the test or trial arena the dog should be stopped immediately and the muzzle secured. If for the second time the muzzle is dislodged or removed while in the test or trial arena, the judge shall disqualify the dog and direct the dog to be removed from the arena.
  3. If a dog while wearing a muzzle displays aggression, attempts to grip or makes intentional direct contact with stock the judge will immediately disqualify the dog and direct it to be removed from the arena.

Enforcement of existing rules

  1. The judge must promptly remove from participation any dog which cannot be controlled (is uncontrolled), or which he/she considers is unfit to participate. This must include any dog chasing rather than working livestock and any dog that is unduly stressing livestock in other ways. Also a dog must be removed from participation if the stock are at risk of injury, where the situation is not brought under control in a short period of time with the dog demonstrating the ability to work in an appropriate manner towards the livestock throughout the rest of the trial or test. Judges must always give priority to the welfare of livestock and dogs above handlers being allowed to finish a course.
  1. Glossary definition - uncontrolled: means a dog is behaving in a way that is not conducive to
    productive work and is not taking commands from the handler to rectify the situation within a short period of time.
  1. All rules in ANKC Rules and Regulations relating to Removals, Excusals, Disqualifications and Re-evaluations must be strictly adhered to by judges and affiliates at all times. These events must be recorded on the Judges report and should also be included on the Trial Manager’s report.
  2. Judges and Affiliates shall complete and submit reports as required in the ANKC Rules and Regulations at the conclusion of each trial. Incidents of concern at trials must always be included in these reports, to assist in raising the standard of animal welfare in line with Dogs Qld and community expectations. These reports include:
    1. Event Manager’s Report A and B
    2. Trial Manager’s Report and Judges Report (1.13.5)
    3. The ANKC Herding Excusal/Re-evaluation Form (completed and submitted as specified in the relevant rules)
  3. Affiliates and Judges will ensure that the current rules regarding the care, rest and rotation of livestock are adhered to at all times.

These include but are not limited to:
1.13.4 “The safety and well being of the livestock and the dogs is of paramount importance and must be kept in mind at all times”.
2.3.1 “The Affiliate Member is responsible for providing the stock, fencing, facilities and equipment which meet the requirement of these regulations.”
2.3.3 “The Judge is responsible for ensuring compliance with these regulations throughout a Herding Test/Trial, and that the livestock are properly cared for and rotated as needed”.
4.7.1 “Stock shall be rotated so that a rested group is used for each run in all Courses.”

Explanatory notes relating each point above:

  1. The current rule – ‘Acceptable gripping must be appropriate to maintain control of difficult stock, may not be on the body, does not break the skin, and is done quickly without holding or shaking’ A policy of ‘no gripping’ with consequent disqualification achieves an appropriate standard of welfare for livestock. At present there is a rule in B Course where handlers must hold a rope at the gate when penning the sheep. If handlers voluntarily drop the rope they are disqualified. So disqualification for dogs gripping livestock is not harsh by comparison.) Disqualification for gripping is mandatory and is not left in any way to a judge’s discretion.

2 & 3 The current rules do not allow muzzles to be worn in herding trials and tests except the first test, the HIC. By allowing the wearing of muzzles will ensure the recreational dog rules comply with current government requirements and complies with the RSPCA recommendations. ANKC Herding sport is not only for dogs bred from working lines, but is also for dogs from many breeds bred for pet and show characteristics over generations. Disallowing all gripping and introducing a muzzling rule will mean the stock will be protected. Muzzles must be the type suitable for working dogs and be properly fitted and well secured.

  1. This is a clarification of existing rule – 1.11.3 The Judge must promptly remove from participation any dog which cannot be controlled, or which he or she considers unfit to participate.” Adherence to this mandatory rule avoids livestock becoming severely stressed or injured and should this occur is required to be reported.

It is important that all judges be fully informed about livestock stress. In keeping with the ANKC Code of Ethics, that “a member shall not engage in any behaviour that is contrary to the standards accepted by the community”, it is important that the practices implemented by Dogs Qld for herding are not inferior to those in similar activities conducted by other recreational groups. In sheepdog trials conducted in Australia by other associations, a judge wouldalways stop a run in these circumstances. Consequently judges rarely need to, because handlers make that decision themselves and retire. A dog is always learning from what is happening. So if the handler is not in control of the dog, the dog is learning wrong behaviours which will then need to be corrected by training. The dog will continue to exhibit wrong behaviours at future trials. It is preferable for the handler, the dog and the livestock if handlers use their own judgement to retire gracefully rather than be disqualified.
5. The current rules for ‘Removals, Excusals, Disqualifications and Re-evaluations’ have not been applied consistently. Protection and the welfare of stock are among the reasons for these penalties. Details of incidents that result in such penalties must be documented in the relevant reports. 1.13.4 “The safety and well being of the livestock and the dogs is of paramount importance and must be kept in mind at all times”.
6. Judges and affiliates have not consistently adhered to the reporting requirements for trials and tests as stipulated in the in the rules. Reporting need not be onerous to fulfil the obligation. The existing forms/reports will be amended to include more specific questions.

Failure to adopt, implement and enforce these rules will result in the commencement of a formal ‘breaches’ process as described in the CCCQ Constitution.