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FRENCH STEP IN TO SAVE OUR WOOFIE; Hi-tech collar will stop her barking.

FRENCH vets may have a hi-tech device to save the life of Woofie.

The final fate of the cross collie, who was reprieved after being sentenced to die, will be decided by judges later this week.

But the vets have now sent him a special dog collar which they claim controls barking.

Woofie, from Peterhead, was ordered to be destroyed in September, when her owner, Terence Swankie, admitted a breach of the Dangerous Dogs Act, accepting his pet was "dangerously out of control in a public place".

Woofie had escaped through a window and had barked and chased passers- by, including postman Andrew Ainslie, before police were alerted.

The case, which has caught the imagination of the world, was appealed and it will be heard at the High Court on Friday. The French vets believe the collar could save Woofie.

Xavier Aubry, a senior executive with Dynavet, based in Clermont-Ferrand in the Auvergne, yesterday airmailed a sample of the company's invention, Aboistop, to Woofie, a three- year-old bitch.

The collar has a built-in electronically-commanded microphone, and costs pounds 80.

When it picks up the sound of the bark, it triggers off a spray - a harmless colourless liquid.

The spray surprises the dog, breaking its behaviour pattern and stops it from barking.

M. Aubry said tests had shown that within a few days dogs learn the reaction between bark and spray, and keep quiet.

Unlike the electric-type collar which, he says, can cause pain, distress, and even injury to dogs, Aboistop modifies behaviour in a painless, gentle way.

He explained: "When a dog barks at a postman, he or she sees the postman deliver the post, then go away.

"The dog concludes his barking drove away the postman - it is simple.

"Tests carried out in France by behaviour experts and dog trainers have proved this device prevents the animal from barking - and it could help Woofie.''

A huge campaign is already under way to save the dog. French film legend and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot has already lent her weight to the fight for a reprieve. American actress Whoopi Goldberg planned to attend a protest at the previous appeal hearing, but she was prevented by film commitments.

Last night, Anne Swankie, 52, said she was delighted about the collar.
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Author:Hunter, Alan
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 18, 1998
Words:379
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