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Dog fight in court: The spitz hits the fan at the Kennel Club

Shiroi Yuki "Jenny" and her puppy Toshiko Sato are at the centre of a pedigree breeding battle. Both are purebred Japanese spitz.

An argument about breeding and family fortunes that has echoed down the generations has been laid in front of a judge to sort out.

And it got her a little hot under the collar.

"This needs to get sorted out now, for God's sake," Justice Rebecca Ellis told parties at the High Court in Wellington on Thursday.

Japanese spitz at the Crufts Dog Show in England in 2015. (File photo)

Despite the judge's repeated urgings, the three sides involved could not be brought to heel.

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What was at stake was the pedigree registration of two Japanese spitz dogs.


Louise Smith, of Christchurch, has two dogs that are purebred spitz, but are not registered as such for breeding and showing.

Smith is suing the Kennel Club over the issue, but the judge thought the club was the meat in the sandwich in an argument that was really between Smith and Sue Howard, an Auckland spitz breeder.

Howard was not named as a party, but the judge wanted to give her a chance to be heard, as a matter of fairness. It was Howard who the Kennel Club ultimately accepted had the right to say which register the pup sold to Smith should appear on.

Without pedigree registration, Smith was unable to enter the dog, and later its pup, in pedigree dog shows, or register and sell their offspring as pedigrees.

And Smith's lawyer, Graeme Minchin, said because of that there was also a very substantial loss to Smith, estimated at $200,000.

Howard was making money out of her dogs and, if there were more dogs on the market, Howard's would be worth less, Minchin said.

The problems began in 2011 and reached levels of hysteria, according to Howard's lawyer, Rob Collis.

The bitch had originally been Howard's and it was given to another woman on condition that it be returned to Howard for breeding.

When Smith's dog was born, Howard and the other woman disagreed about conditions for the transaction, with Howard wanting a signed agreement before the bitch and three pups were returned.

From Disputes Tribunal proceedings police were involved, search warrants executed and finally there was a handover of dogs for signed agreement at the Newmarket police station.

One of the lawyers for the Kennel Club, Andru Isac​, said the fundamental problem with the case was that it sought to unravel the Disputes Tribunal outcome.

He understood why Smith was disappointed with the result, but the Kennel Club had done all that could be expected of it, given the background issues and the level of dispute  between the parties.

Justice Ellis reserved her decision.