Dreams of speed gone to the dogs

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<i>Illustration: michaelmucci.com</i>
Illustration: michaelmucci.com

In August 2008, central coast greyhound trainer Andrew Schofield purchased some semen that he dearly hoped would breed a litter of champions.

He was to inseminate his bitch Supreme Instinct with semen extracted from a Victorian pure-bred greyhound called Bombastic Shiraz. In late October, Supreme Instinct whelped four puppies: one stillborn, one male and two bitches.

As the mother recovered from the Caesarean, Schofield reared the pups with love and care and, two years later, he left them with a colleague Ken Staines to be broken in.

One of the half-dalmation dogs at the centre of the case.

In was then, on the very day that the greyhounds were registered to race, that Staines ruefully informed the trainer that his dogs were “some 30 lengths off the pace”. They were slow, that is, around the track.

DNA tests were soon taken and, as it turned out, the dogs were not pure-bred greyhounds. They were half Dalmatian.

While Dalmatians are possessed of long legs and muscular buttocks, they are better known for their endurance than their pace or their avid pursuit of the mechanical hare. The matter is now before the courts.

Fairfax Media has obtained the statement of claim in the matter of Schofield v Frozen Puppies Dot Com Pty Ltd. It is a good thing the pleadings have been filed in NSW as the Victorian courts – with their penchant for suppression orders – would almost certainly have gagged the press from reporting the details of such a sensitive case.

With the trial of Oscar Pistorius now concluded, the attention of the world’s media will inevitably turn to Schofield v Frozen Puppies Dot Com and the mystery of the Bombastic Shiraz semen.

Did someone pick up the wrong test tube? Did Frozen Puppies knowingly breach the Insemination Agreement of August 29, 2008? How could anybody knowingly name their company Frozen Puppies anyway?

Besides claims of negligence, breach of contract, trespass to goods, breach of bailment, misleading and deceptive conduct and negligent misrepresentation, damages are also sought.

Damages might not have been so high had the semen derived from another breed of canine – say a corgi or a St Bernard – as the genetic provenance of the litter would have been detected earlier.

There is some suggestion that the insemination may have arisen, not from human error, but as a result of a chance encounter the bitch might have with a third party, a canine interloper. To quote from the particulars of negligence: “E. failing to prevent Supreme Instinct from being served by another dog prior to insemination”.

And “F. Res Ipsa Loquitur”.

The pleadings don’t make much of this – it would be grossly negligent to have Dalmatians cruising around the holding pens in search of companionship at an insemination lab – but the lawyers don’t rule it out.

All should be revealed during cross-examination of Frozen Puppies when the matter proceeds to trial. Efforts were made by Fairfax Media to contact Frozen Puppies prior to publication of this story.

Frozen Puppies is no longer a stand-alone corporate entity however. It was acquired by a company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, Genetic Technologies Limited.

Genetic Technologies – formerly Concord Mining, Consolidated Victorian Gold Mines NL, Consolidated Victorian Mines NL, Duketon Goldfields NL and Duketon Goldfields Ltd – bought Frozen Puppies in July 2008.

That was just one month before the Bombastic Shiraz agreement was struck and Supreme Instinct was allegedly falsely and misleadingly inseminated.

Besides animal testing, it does some crime lab work and offers paternity testing services, too.