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One of the most inspiring areas for resistance to the Foot and Mouth cull was the Forest of Dean. Here the Forest of Dean Action Group provided support, and in some cases, successfully held off MAFF onslaughts against a variety of animal owners.
In this article
Anne Price tells Astrid Goddard how she won the day, but her husband Mike Price suffered two heart attacks under the relentless pressure of numerous threatening visits from MAFF.

Anne Price and her husband Mike live in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. They run Foxglove Kennels, a boarding kennel for dogs, and have rescued various animals for the past 40 years. During the foot and mouth crisis last year they had 3 sheep which were expecting lambs, and two Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs.

They refused to give them up, and they still have them, and two lambs also!

At the end of last February 2001 their business began to suffer when hikers and caravanners stopped coming and when slaughtering began in the area at the beginning of April.

They were put on an A notice because their animals were considered contiguous to an infected area.

They were told that their children could visit, as could the postman. Of course, the postman could have been anywhere, and that was a concern for them!

Customers, however, could only go as far as the office.

I asked Anne to tell her story....

"When we heard our animals were going to be slaughtered because we were contiguous, we faxed an appeal to DEFRA. Two animal health inspectors came, in waterproofs, and one held my Appeal in his hand. He waved it at Mike and said 'Mr Price, about this Appeal.'

"I stepped forward and said, 'If you want to speak about it, please address it to the person who sent it.'

"He then looked again at the Appeal and saw that the livestock is in my name. Then he said, 'Mrs Price, would you rescind this Appeal? Do you know what rescind means?'

"Of course this made me very angry. He told me that they could get the police to come and prevent us from stopping the cull. I replied, 'The police have no jurisdiction.'

"I remember telling them, 'Sling your hook, and get back down the track and leave my sheep alone!'"

A woman Animal Health inspector threatened to shoot Anne's Rotweiller. She was told that if it set one foot off the property it would be shot. She also said she would have the kennels closed down. Next day, one of the children came to visit and found a MAFF notice across the Foxglove Kennels sign stating 'KENNELS CLOSED'.

Anne told me : "They also said we'd get nothing in the way of compensation because they were worthless pets. Tony York, an international pot-bellied pig judge, was incensed at this.

"They also said that they could come and get them day or night. After this we took it in turns to stay outside on the veranda all day and all night for a fortnight. We could not have seen their approach from the house.

"We had a couple of people come round connected with MAFF, to see what we had.

"Then there was a visit from an extremely nice Welsh vet. He only made it worse however, by telling us that it is extremely difficult to kill a pot-bellied pig. They have 2-inch thick bone from the top of the head to the snout. So if you use a slaughterer's gun they would not be killed outright. After some hours they would get up and walk away, suffering great pain.

"Half an hour after this, Mike went white and had a heart attack.

"The doctor came out and said Mike must be taken straight to hospital. He was taken immediately. He came home from hospital about a week later and the crisis was still continuing.

"We had help from the Forest of Dean Action Group. This was the only thing that made it better. We knew they were at the end of the phone.

"Loads of MAFF people came and went all the time. One day, we saw a car pull up at the bottom and a man and woman got out. They put white suits on. I walked up, level with the sheep and asked the man who he was. He said he was a qualified vet from MAFF, come to inspect the sheep, so I asked him for his ID. I had a mobile phone, an ordinary phone and a notepad in my hands.

"The Action Group had given me advice. He said that he did not have his ID on him, but his associate, had her details, which I wrote down. Then he said, 'Can we see the sheep?' and I said no; I thought I'd ask about their wellington boots, as they didn't have any on. So I said 'What will you do with your clothes after you inspect the animals?'

"They said they would burn them, so I asked if they intended to burn their shoes. 'No', they said, they would put wellingtons on. I asked if they were going to dip their wellies. They said, yes, and so I asked where the wellies and bucket of dip were.

"They said 'In the truck', so I told them to go and get them. Up the lane they went, and back down with the wellingtons and bucket. Then he said, 'Now is it OK to go in?' and I said, 'No, I want your ID'.

"He then said, 'It's all the way back down the track.'

"I said go and get it. So they had to walk all the way back down the track and back again. It's quite a distance!

"He told me that it wasn't in the car and must be back in the office in Gloucester, nine miles away. I then said, 'See you in about an hour then, when you get back with your ID.'

"The vet presumably went back to the office. Then I had a phone call from another vet, saying his colleague couldn't find his ID at all, and he offered to come out instead. He did so, and he was a very nice vet. He didn't want to see the animals, only to inspect the perimeter fence, in relation to what could get near, I suppose.

"We think it was the relief of the vet saying that he didn't want to see the animals. However, we went back into the house and Mike had another massive heart attack.

"This time he was taken to the John Ratcliffe Hospital at Oxford. They operated on his heart. Unless you lived through it... It was horrendous. I was in such a state.

"We lost all our customers, and never had any compensation. We were offered a loan, which we would have had to repay by July, and I pointed out that we did not have any income and couldn't pay it back, so there was no point.

"We assumed we would have some sort of compensation for loss of earnings, but we never did. Local hotels and guest house businesses have had massive compensation.

"The good thing is that we knew the Forest of Dean Action Group were there for us if we needed them, at the end of the phone.

"After Mike's heart attacks, we would not have got through it without their help. Mike's now recovering. Although while he was in hospital, I was ill also. I am a chronic asthmatic, and the doctor said the condition had worsened by my being outside. It was so bad I could not speak on the phone.

"Two of the people from the Action Group came by daily. At one point the action group came down to support us. One half of the group had gone to help an elderly man at Harrow House nearby, and the other group came to us to see if we needed help. Lots of them, all really nice genuine people."

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