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Dog Controls: Right of Reply

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Flint Street

An unfortunate incident involving the death of a cat has been a catalyst for the new dog control orders proposed by Haddenham Parish Council, and the event has received a significant amount of publicity in recent weeks. The owner of the dogs involved in that incident has been very distressed by the experience and by the media coverage. Haddenham.net is pleased to be able to provide a platform for her to respond publicly.

I am writing in response to comments made by a member of the community about an incident which took place last autumn in Flint Street when my dogs killed Brian Birch's cat.

I would like to correct some inaccuracies made in the person's commentary that are very upsetting to me as they are a slur on my character. Despite the fact the person hasn't named me in his comments, I am well known in the village, partly due to my unusual dogs, and people have come up to me this week and mentioned that the article was on this website. I am not one to gossip but as this was about me and about something that was extremely upsetting for me and for some months afterwards, I decided to read what was said about me and the event that occurred.

I take full responsibility for what happened that day to Brian Birch's cat. I am a responsible dog owner and on that day I failed in my role. However, I was not on the phone as I came into Flint Street. By that time I had realised that one of my dogs had seen something to chase — I didn't know it was a cat at that point — and the other two followed (my friend in Scotland was still listening at the other end of the phone line thinking something terrible had happened to me and feeling utterly helpless as he could hear my distress) and I was attempting to get the dogs and was shouting for anyone to come to my aid.

Knowing how quick hounds are able to kill their quarry, my efforts to save the cat were in vain. I was pounding a car in utter despair and tears — not as the writer from Duck Bottom suggests because I "did absolutely nothing". And yes, it is true that my dogs have never done anything like that before, or since, as they have never been off lead on a public road before or since.

Two of my dogs are very old: one is 11.5 years, the other at least 13 years old. The third one at the time was approximately 9 months old and therefore a puppy despite his size. I have a Kennel Club "Good Citizen" Award as a dog handler and have done a good deal of dog training with all my hounds.

I think the words used in the letter are unnecessarily emotive. My dogs are very tall and wouldn't be "dragging" a cat anywhere by the very fact of their sheer size and height compared to the tiny object of a cat. What the writer also failed to say in his letter was that he accused me and my dogs of potentially harming a child the next time such an event happened. I can only imagine that in the intense distress of the event he would have said such a thing to me, otherwise he is a very cruel and thoughtless man indeed to say such a thing at a time when I was clearly traumatised by what was happening. At such a time what a traumatised person needs is compassion not hostility.

I gave my name and contact details to the man from Duck Bottom to give to Brian Birch so that if Brian wanted to contact me he could do so. I also went round to see Brian with a card the following day. Sadly at the time he was inconsolable and I met his brother and spoke with him. I asked him to pass the card on to Brian. In the card I expressed my deepest regret for what had happened and offered to pay cremation fees if he wanted these. I also explained I had cats myself and that I could imagine what he might be feeling.

Following the incident I had numerous people in the village stop and ask me if I was the person whose dogs had killed Brian's cat, not in a concerned way but as if I was some sort of pariah, as if I had done it intentionally. I was subsequently contacted by the Police as someone made a formal complaint against me claiming I was an irresponsible dog owner. I became so distressed that I considered putting my house on the market and leaving the village. Eventually, a Police Sergeant from Aylesbury Police station was very helpful and let me know that I was possibly being harassed and he would arrange to speak to the original complainant and that would hopefully put a stop to further gossip.

Now please leave me in peace to get on with my life as I wish no person or other sentient being harm.

Vivienne Harte

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