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Was it competitive politics when pro handler Stephen Cabral was found guilty of neglect when client Briard died of gastric torsion at a dog show? AKC Rep at show said...


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Stephen Cabral said it only took the committee five minutes to find him “guilty of neglect resulting in death” and explained “Rick and his wife Lea Plaut… There’s a long history of dislike between us.


Cabral continued “I filed a letter of complaint with the AKC in regards to it… there was an AKC rep at the site who advised them that they should stop because of the violation, but they did it anyways. AKC investigations department back in Raleigh NC looked at the paperwork and nullified the whole bench hearing. The kennel club at that point gets to decide to re-do it again or drop the whole thing. They decide to retry it again. This time the Show Chair would be a witness with her husband and they would only change one committee member.


Asked why the change, he explained “Well, because they were in violation of AKC’s rules. You can’t have family members as witnesses and also part of the bench committee, it’s a clear violation. When AKC nullified the bench hearing, the kennel club had every right to retry it from that point up to sixty days.”  Instead, Mt. Palomar Kennel Club re-tried the bench show 45 days later at the Long Park Dog Show. Asked why they didn’t retry when memories were still fresh, Cabral said “They needed to get things in order and line everything up. This became a very personal thing. I was prepared at any point in time because we did nothing wrong. I tried to save the dog.


So Stephen Cabral was “tried” again in August and he describes it this way. “During that hearing, Mr. Plaut and Lea Plaut both contradicted their first bench show testimony and that’s official on the record. Their witnesses contradicted their own testimony.” He explained that the AKC investigation department was on a conference call and listening to the whole bench show hearing to make sure that it followed proper procedure. Cabral said AKC notified them within twenty minutes that the charges were unfounded.


Stephen Cabral emphasized that the Mt. Palomar Kennel Club brought the charges, pursued the charges, but then after the bench hearing where AKC was “present” by phone, the kennel club dropped the charges. “That’s different from the AKC dropping it or dismissing it or a court of appeals. The kennel club itself found that there was no grounds for charges.” He paused and then repeated “The kennel club that brought the charges dismissed it because they found discrepancies in their own witnesses.


To recap, we asked Cabral “So as soon as you got back to your setup, you noted the Briard wasn’t responding normally. You rushed him out to your truck, the show vet listed in the catalog/premium list was out of business, the other show vet refused to dispose of the body without an owner’s signature and consequently, you had to take him to the Humane Society. The show chair and her husband, with whom you compete, immediately called a bench hearing and found you guilty of neglect. The AKC said the hearing was improperly conducted an nullified the charges. The kennel club decided to re-hear the case but they put it off for 45 days even though you were perfectly willing to have it go through again.  You went through another bench hearing but this time AKC was present by speakerphone and the charges were found invalid. The Bench Committee procedure is over and you have been totally exonerated."


Cabral’s thoughtful response, “Yes, you could say that.


Because the rumor involving the Briard had gained authenticity through including allegations that professional handler Stephen Cabral had lost another dog only two years ago, we asked him to respond to that.


Cabral said a Neapolitan Mastiff that he was transporting for a co-owner of the dog became heat stressed. “We rushed the dog to the emergency hospital that was in the premium list, contacted the owners, they treated the dog until the next day (when) the owner asked that the dog be put down.


But the story is that you left dogs unattended in your van while visiting your father?  Cabral’s response, “Not unless I had a medium because my dad’s been dead for almost ten years…


Cabral continued “We don’t even have a van. We have a 31 foot Sunmover motor home with air conditioning. It was a 45 minute ride from where we picked up the dog in the valley and that year happened to be one of the hottest days of the last ten years. We were carrying about 16 dogs, three of them being Neapolitan Mastiffs. We had two of our own dogs we were showing.


Cabral said when they arrived at the show grounds, parked, and got out to set up, an assistant noticed that the Neo was breathing real hard. He said they immediately threw everything aside, closed up the truck and headed to the emergency vet after calling to let them know they were on the way with a dog in heat distress and that they had packed the dog in ice.


The vets were unable to save the dog and Cabral said “The Santa Barbara Kennel Club did come out and do an investigation, inspected the vehicle and found that it was cool, conditions were fine. They found there were no grounds to even hold a bench committee. Basically, this was a freak accident on a Neapolitan Mastiff.


The other dogs, including Neos, were just fine in the same motor home?  Cabral explained that the owners said the dog should not have been traveling in an airline crate. He reasoned aloud “I should have been told that the dog needed to be in a wire crate to make it less susceptible. My other two Neos were fine, no problems whatsoever. And in fact the other dogs in there were all fine.


And the Show Committee members verified that?  “Yes, they did. They came out and inspected the vehicle … and in fact the other dogs inside were there all weekend and were in perfect condition, and temperatures were fine.”


Readers will draw their own conclusions. For the record, due to allegations that avoided covering the story, no one in our company knows or had ever previously talked with, to, or about Stephen or Linn Cabral.


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