Many of you may be aware of an incident that took place at the AWDF Championship involving an off-lead dog. At that event, Marina Shukh had her dog off-lead at the championship site and Simba made contact with an on-lead shepherd, resulting in injury to Simba. Due to his injury, Simba was pulled from the competition. Marina was subsequently given a warning by the AWDF about having her dog off-lead. In a later separate incident, Simba was again off-lead in the hotel hallway and growled at a member of the Saint Louis Schutzhund Club who was staying in the hotel. These events led to a hearing of the AWDF Championship Competition Board with the purpose of determining if punitive measures should be taken, and if so, the nature of those measures. The committee determined that Marina would be prohibited from participating in the 2008 AWDF Championship regardless of the date when it was held, and that she would be suspended from all other AWDF and AWDF member club activities for one year commencing on March 31, 2007 and ending March 31, 2008. The suspension would revert to probation upon receipt of a letter of apology acceptable by the board of the AWMA and the AWDF. A letter describing this was sent to Marina and received by her approximately ten days ago. Marina has provided us with her written apology, and I have every confidence that it will be approved by the AWMA executive board. As required by the AWDF, her letter has also been forwarded to their board.
The AWMA executive board had a quorum present at the Championship, and we met to discuss the findings of the Championship Committee and also to determine if the AWMA should impose any additional sanctions. The decision was that the punishment imposed by the Championship Committee was sufficient.
This unfortunate incident puts into focus the need to act responsibly with our dogs at all times. Protection sports are under scrutiny, and we should not provide the public with ammunition for viewing our dogs as aggressive or our handlers as irresponsible. Our breed is not immune from the potential for breed specific legislation, and we should not be so cavalier as to think it can’t happen to us. We should all recognize that every time we are in public with our dogs, our actions reflect upon our breed and on our sport.