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Q & A
Posted on 02/08/2013 in Full Circle.

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Bark Collars on Dog in Truck Box
Q: I know the rule on the use of training collars during a hunt. My question is, would this prevent the use of a Bark Eliminator collar on a dog that has scratched from the hunt and the handler chooses to stay with the cast? Some dogs, like mine, will not stay quiet in the truck box. Just need to know whether or not I can put a bark collar on him, in the truck box, while I continue on with the cast to finish the hunt.

A: A bark collar is indeed considered an electronic device used to control a dog. The rules do allow their use so long as all other dogs still in the cast are recovered for recasting prior to using the handheld. Once scratched, a dog is no longer considered to be a part of the cast. And a bark collar may in fact be used on that dog while the handler stays with the cast to finish the hunt. Matter of fact, in the case of a barking dog at the trucks, I’d encourage you to put your bark collar to good use. And I bet most handlers will thank you for it as well.

Determining the Aggressor
Q: Here’s our scenario. We had just released the three dogs in our cast when all of a sudden an obvious dog fight broke out. There was no question as to which dogs were involved because we could all see the female off to our right. Just couldn’t see the two males to see which one started it. We hustled in to them right away and broke them up. The judge’s dog was on top of my dog and had ate him up pretty good. The other dog was not marked up with any fang marks. He had a little blood on him but that obviously came from my dog who was bleeding pretty good. In any event, the judge ruled both dogs would be scratched for fighting. Meanwhile his dog continues to growl on the leash and is all hackled up. I questioned my dog deserving a scratch based on what we saw when we got to them and how he was bleeding from the fight.
In my opinion the judge’s dog was obviously the aggressor. The other handler voted with the judge so I asked that we unleash them again and stand back and watch them to prove that the judge’s dog is the aggressor and should be the only one to get scratched. The judge said that was not an option and headed to the truck with his dog. Is there anything I could have done to avoid this undeserved scratch on my dog?

A: Unfortunately, situations where dogs get into a fight tend to ruin a hunt in a hurry. Although it’s not as common with Beagles, it does happen occasionally.
Let’s start with the interpretation of Rule 6 (b). It obviously takes two to tangle. Where do you draw a line as to what is considered fighting? We’ve made it pretty simple. When you have a dog aggressively grabbing another dog in their cast, it must be considered fighting. The rule states to scratch the aggressor only, if the aggressor is known. Who is considered the aggressor? We’ve made that very simple as well. It’s the dog that started the fight.

In some scenarios it’s very easy to determine the aggressor (the one that started the fight), but sometimes it is not. In cases where the aggressor is never easily determined is in those scenarios such as described. You didn’t actually see who started it. “See” being the key word. Fang marks and blood on a dog does not automatically determine an aggressor. Instead, it merely suggests which dog got the worst end of the altercation.

While on the subject of “determining who started it”, let’s put ourselves in front of the big screen on Sunday afternoon for just a minute. The Daytona 500 is coming down to the last five laps of the race. After having just sunk back into your easy chair, after a quick run to the fridge after your beverage of choice, you see your favorite driver has passed Gordon. Woo-hoo! One lap later Gordon is back on his bumper again. Gordon makes a move to the outside and, when he gets to your driver’s rear quarter panel, he makes a viscous left turn into your driver, sending him sailing to the fence! Worse yet; wonder boy carries on un-scathed! What you missed, while you were reloading at the fridge, was your driver get into the side of Gordon a lap earlier and got him all squirrely and losing several spots on the track. Who started this mess? Okay, maybe this isn’t a good example.

The point is, the one who won the war is not always the one who started the fight. You can’t automatically determine the “aggressor” based on who’s on top and who’s on bottom, or who got scratched up and who didn’t. What’s most important is that the dog that deserves the write-up is sure to get it, even when the innocent party is left with taking one for the team.

Using the scenario as described, the judge is required to enforce Rule 6(b) based on what he obviously heard as being a dog fight. He was not in position to see who started it (the aggressor), therefore the correct ruling is to scratch and report both dogs involved for fighting. The only exception to this would be if any handler questions the call and a majority vote overturns the ruling. The only way any such vote should hold water is if the majority of the cast did in fact “see” one dog aggressively grabbing the other or starting the fight.

In response to the second part of the question, never put two dogs together after a fight to decide who the aggressor was. In doing so you’ll not determine who started the original fight, but rather who might be interested in starting fight number two. We don’t care about fight number two. We need to make a ruling on fight number one.

Again, sometimes an undeserving dog will take a scratch because of a fight as described; however, it’s always better to take your lumps and go on then it is to let a fighting dog (the true aggressor) get away with it. Doing nothing or letting it slide is not an option when you hear an obvious dog fight. We all understand the frustration of an owner or handler when their dog gets in situations such as this. Nobody likes to see it, and most judges don’t want to make anyone mad, but the fact is sometimes they have no choice in the matter and in remaining consistent with Rule 6(b) and those involved are taken out.

Casting Dogs Where Guide Doesn’t Have Permission
Q: Recently I drew out in a hunt and, unbeknownst to us cast members at the time, we turned our dogs loose where our guide did not have permission to hunt. The dogs were all struck when suddenly a four-wheeler could be heard speeding across the field toward us. Obviously upset, this guy started yelling at us that we do not have permission to be there. He advised us that he called the law and demanded we stayed put until they showed up. Our guide apologized for bringing our cast to this spot and admitted he didn’t have permission.

After a few choice words to the guide, the landowner seemed to have calmed down some. In the meantime, the dogs had been trailing a rabbit and the landowner allowed us to go in and get them. By the time we got back out to the trucks, the game warden was there waiting on us. Thank goodness, the landowner was gracious enough to let us slide after discussing the situation, and no one was cited for anything. However, this whole ordeal took a long time, and because of it, we could not get our hunt time in before the scheduled deadline to return to the clubhouse. I feel this is an issue that should be addressed and for the most part could be avoided if clubs were a little more concerned who they assign as guides.

A: For most of us who hunt dogs, at one time or another we have been in a situation where they, unfortunately, sometimes trail or end up where we don’t have permission to hunt. However, casting dogs in a woods or area where dogs will very likely trail onto a property where the guide doesn’t have permission is unacceptable. It’s certainly an issue that club officers should be concerned about when assigning guides at their events.

As a handler, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not the guide has permission where he is taking you or, worse yet, casting your dog into a possibly dangerous situation. The last thing anyone wants is getting lectured by an angry landowner and disrupting the hunt. UKC maintains it is the club’s responsibility to assign guides who have permission to hunt where they are taking their casts. Guides who are known to take casts in places where they don’t have permission should not be used or even considered. Club or event officials should be notified of any such situations and need to be concerned of any such complaints.

It is the responsibility of a guide to be considerate for the safety of the handlers and the dogs in their cast. Asking handlers to cast their dogs where you don’t have permission is unacceptable, and you shouldn’t be disappointed when your guiding services are no longer needed.

UKC asks all club officers to be concerned of this issue, and please address it at your club meetings, and also make sure the guides you assign have permission where they are taking your casts. Understand that placing your event participants in a situation where the guide does not have permission to be can be very frustrating, and possibly dangerous, when you don’t know how a landowner might react when he catches them on his property. During a Field Trial is not the time to find out that the guide does not have permission to be there!