Proposed Ban on Puppy Sales

DEFRA are calling for responses to a consultation on banning third party sales of puppies. Click on the link to have your say.

If enacted, it could be possible that the commercial sale of puppies and possibly kittens and other animals would no longer be legal from pet shops. Currently, pet shops can apply to their local authority for a licence to sell puppies and are subject (in theory at least), to regular inspection.

However, even if pet shops are capable of providing suitable conditions from which to house and sell puppies which is extremely doubtful, they can only guarantee a regular supply of puppies from mass breeding. As the BBC TV documentary The Dog Factory proved, some of these outlets are a boon for puppy farmers, including those masquerading and even functioning as regular breeders.

This sounds like an excellent proposition, but the only way to prevent it from being just another statute amongst the 50+ laws that deal with dogs in the UK is for considerable resources to be put into enforcing and policing it. That seems highly unlikely in the current climate of severe local authority cuts.

Read the full response from CReDO here…

Scotland Sees Sense – Now Come On England

After an outcry when Scotland effectively considered creating a “qualification” in administering electric shocks to dogs in the name of training, MSPs have backtracked and Scotland has issued draft guidance with the aim of advising against the use of shock collars.

Whilst an outright ban would have been preferable, this is still good news for the approximately 820,000 dogs in Scotland and the approximately 590,000 dogs in Wales that are already protected by a ban. The approximately 7.5 million dogs in England and the six counties of Northern Ireland are still waiting.

Of course, even a UK ban would on be the tip of the iceberg in preventing punishment being meted out to dogs on a daily basis by ignorant owners and “trainers”. It would be a great start though.

Sentience and Sensibility

It is probably fair to say that those who voted to leave Europe had absolutely no idea of the implications of their actions and, let’s face it, those who voted to remain probably didn’t in any detail either. Well, the pigeons are coming home to roost thick and fast now.

As far as the EU Withdrawal Bill is concerned, those pigeons are designated as not being sentient. An amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill to transfer the EU protocol on animal sentience into UK law was defeated by 313 votes to 295 in a Parliamentary vote and MPs have argued that both farm and domestic animals are covered by existing legislation, some of which goes beyond EU protocols. There has been widespread outcry from various quarters to this decision, but it easy to have a knee-jerk reaction as we well know, otherwise we would not be in this position in the first place.

The existence and degree of sentience across the animal kingdom is a long way from being fully understood, let alone agreed upon, but few would dispute its existence in the major species that could be affected by the UK’s decision to drop the designation from its legislation. Michael Gove has hinted that specific UK legislation may be tigtened, including a promise to crack down on puppy farming.

At the end of the day, all the legislation in the world cannot protect animals from harm unless it is policed and prosecuted where breaches occur. Many of the more than 50 statutes that supposedly protect dogs alone are routinely breached and that includes statutes that could prevent puppy farming. Let’s face it, the Kennel Club did nothing when one of its members, a prominent breeder and show competitor was exposed as a puppy farmer and it continues to register puppy farmned dogs. If the organisation that purports to care about the welfare of all dogs does nothing, there is little hope in a climate of austerity and maximising profits for the few that much will be done. Whatever government is in office in the near future will have its hands full coping wityh the effects of leaving the EU; puppy farming will only become a priority if it is seen as being politically expedient or as a smokescreen for “burying bad news”.

Out of Office – Not Out of Order

The Guardian reported today that a university admininstrator in La Sapienza University, Rome has set a legal precedent in Italy by successfuly obtaining paid leave to look after a dog that was due to undergo surgery. She was initially refused permission by her HR department in spite of explaining that she lived on her own and could not delegate the care of her dog. The Italian Anti-vivisection League took up her case and discovered that there is legal precedent that could have made the owner criminally liable for lack of care of her dog had she been unable to facilitate the surgery and post-operative recovery. Her employer finally accepted proof from the owner’s veterinary surgeon and granted the paid leave.

The Italian Anti-vivisection League has hailed it as a victory for recognition that companion animals “are in all respects family components” and hope that it might result in an amendement to the Civil Code.

In the UK, enlightened employers and medical staff are recognising the value of companion animals and, given that 25% of the population own at least one dog and 26% at least one cat, similar recognition could affect a sizeable proportion of the population. Parents have an enormous amount of legislation supporting paid leave, numerous other benefits and financial incentives, yet just 18.9% of the population is under 15 years old. It could also be argued that the same principles apply here and that the AWA 2006 would be breached were an employee unable to care for a companion animal sufficiently.

Italy has a long way to go in respect of other aspects of canine welfare, not least their no-kill shelter policy that condemns many dogs to a life of misery and facilitates the dumping of unwanted animals. However, in terms of human rights, today’s news should be hailed as a victory.

Royal Mail Dog Awareness Week 2017

Royal Mail workers make deliveries to more than 29 million addresses across the UK. Not all of them come away unscathed.

An average of seven postal workers are attacked by dogs each day. Attacks increase during the school holidays and in the summer months especially when dogs are left unsupervised in gardens, allowed to roam or taken out off lead. Owners who do not keep their dogs under control could be in breach of the Road Traffic Act, The Control of Dogs Order and/or the Dangerous Dogs Act to name but three pieces of legislation. Since 2013, the DDA has covered attacks by dogs that occur on private property. The majority of the dogs reported as stolen have been left unsupervised in gardens, so, it is not just postal workers who are at risk.

2,471 postmen and women were attacked by dogs between April 2016 and April 2017. Some were left with permanent, disabling injuries. 71% of attacks happened in gardens or on the doorstep. No one should work in fear of their safety and no one should be traumatised or injured through preventable causes.

All dogs have the potential to be a danger to postal staff, regardless of their size. What you might perceive as being boisterous and friendly may seem frightening to your postman and even the tiniest of dogs can inflict nasty injuries. Even if your dog’s intentions are benign, your postman should not have to endure being jumped on, scratched or barked at every day. (Neither should anyone else for that matter). Every time that your dog barks at someone delivering letters and they go away, his confidence increases because he has defended his territory from an intruder. (A territorial dog is not protecting you, he is asserting his possession). The next time that you have to open the door to sign for something or receive a parcel, your dog may escalate his defensive aggression and bite.

  • Keep your dog away from the front door every time that visitors call – use a child gate or shut the door
  • Do not allow children to open the door and make sure that they do not allow the dog out if confined
  • Train your dog to lie quietly on a mat when visitors call and reward him for staying there
  • Control your dog’s greeting behaviour and do not allow jumping up, scratching or over-excited barking
  • Control territorial barking – get professional help if necessary
  • Do not leave a dog unattended in a garden and secure the garden so that your dog cannot get out
  • Always put your dog on a lead before you leave the house even if you are putting your dog in the car
  • Fit a secure mail box on the property boundary or a wire receptacle behind the door to contain the mail so that postman cannot get bitten when using the letterbox and to prevent your dog from damaging the mail.

Postal workers’ safety is YOUR responsiblity.

Cows Can Kill

A farmer based near Bradford on Avon has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after two elderly brothers were attacked and injured while walking their dogs on lead on a public foot path. The man who survived suffered multiple rib fractures, a punctured lung and contusions. The incident was the fourth in five years involving injuries to members of the public caused by this farmer’s cattle; he was given a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for 2 years, and ordered to pay costs of £30,000.

18 members of the public were killed by cattle between April 2000 and March 2015. Most of the incidents involved cows with calves and people with dogs. Cattle can attack the walkers because they perceive a risk to their calves from the dogs. Farmers and landowners have a legal duty to assess the risks from livestock to people using any rights of way on their land and they must take all reasonable precautions to prevent injury.

Wherever possible, farmers are advised to avoid keeping cows with calves in fields with public footpaths or to erect temporary fencing to keep cattle, walkers and dogs apart.

Dog owners also have a responsibility to act safely around livestock. Even if there is a right of way, it is much safer to avoid walking past cattle and calves. Backtracking and suggesting to the farmer that the situation is unsafe is a much better option than adding to the statistics of fatalities, human or dog. Dogs should always be on lead near livestock, however reliable they may seem. If you are charged by cattle DROP THE LEAD and seek safety. Your dog will look after himself and you are unlikely to be able to protect him or avoid injury to yourself when faced by an angry cow. It does not matter if you are in area that is designated as being on-lead only by a PSPO; your safety and even your life may be at stake.

Please also remember to worm your dog with a comprehensive, prescription-only (VPOM) wormer. Speak to your vet about the best option. Unwormed dogs can risk spreading diseases such as neosporosis which can cause cattle to abort calves and sarcocystosis which has a similar effect in sheep. Dogs can pick up both infections by eating raw meat (including from carcasses) and placental or foetal material from infected stock. Not all infected animals show signs of illness so it is another reason not to feed a raw diet as it is not possible to be certain that uncooked meat fed to dogs will not be contaminated.

All dog waste should be removed from grazing land and disposed of responsibly so that cross-infection cannot occur between dogs, sheep and cattle.

Walking through farm land is a privilege, and both landowners, farmers and dog walkers have a responsibility to ensure that it is a safe activity for all concerned.

A Thousand Little Insults

tight-lead I was walking alongside a local common this weekend, as it happens, without my dog. I noticed, coming towards me from the opposite direction, a woman walking a Cavalier King Charles spaniel on an extendable lead. The dog was several feet ahead of the woman and, as she got nearer, she let it veer across to the other side of the path to carry on sniffing. This meant that about 10 feet of lead was stretched across the path about a foot from the ground.

When she got to within a foot or two of me, the woman suddenly jerked the dog by the neck and, without reeling in the lead, hauled it across the path, simpering at me to show how considerate she had been.

The dog was extremely startled and, needless to say, the woman oblivious to its feelings.

I wondered how many times that this woman inflicts this treatment on her dog. Then I wondered how many owners are meting out exactly the same treatment to their dogs, day after day.

This week most right-thinking people would have been outraged by the thug who throttled his Staffy, booted his head and then swung him against the side of a train carriage. There is a petition to ask the prime minister to intervene and increase his sentence from a meagre 21 weeks. Punishment alone is unlikely to change his behaviour but this does seem a pretty feeble reaction from the judiciary who no doubt would have imposed a much tougher sentence had it been a child. The poor dog died three days later.

It is easy to feel outraged by blatent cruelty such as this, but most people are oblivious to the daily cruelty that they inflict on their dogs, choking them, shouting at them or just being mostly cross. Not training a dog to walk properly on the lead (or to cope with the environment in which they are forced to live) and lazily using gadgets such as flexi-leads, halters and headcollars in lieu of their own lack of input inflicts constant, continuous insults on dogs and damages their trust in the very people that no doubt, declaim their “love” for their pet.

Which is worse: a sudden, voilent assault or constant daily battery? Not much of a choice is it.

Four Days Two Deaths

dog licence Just four days apart and two more fatalities caused by dogs – or rather caused by owners – hit the headlines.

The details of the particular circumstances hardly matter as they will have the same root causes:

  • It is too easy to breed, buy and sell dogs
  • There is no compulsion to attend any form of educational or training course before owning a dog
  • Reams of legislation are continually being passed but none is routinely enforced
  • There are far too few resources to instil and police responsible ownership.

The end result – people get injured and die. Dogs get injured and die.

Labour MP Barry Sheerman in whose constituency of Huddersfield a fatal dog attack occurred on Monday has called for the dog licence to be revived. Why on earth does he think that a piece of paper will begin to address the serious problems we have with dog ownership and society? A dog licence would record little more than the, now compulsory, microchip database. It needs no surveys to be certain that neither 100% of dog owners comply with this law nor that it is not being monitored or policed effectively.

If insufficient resources exist for the police to even be educated about the problems of dog ownership, let alone do anything about it; if insufficient resources exist for owners to be compelled to learn about their dogs before and during ownership, why will they be provided to administer a dog licence? Local authorities are far more concerned about bringing in additional revenue by fining owners for leaving a trace of faces behind when picking up than they are addressing serious concerns such as poor welfare, ignorance of owners and systematic abuse of dogs.

Doggy Daycare or Doggy Nightmare?

dog walking Following yet another incident with dogs stolen from a careless dog walker, the time has surely come for much stricter controls to be brought against so-called professional dog care and walking organisations.

STOP PRESS: After writing this yesterday, another dog has disappeared whilst being walked off lead by a ‘professional’ dog waker, this time in west London.

The list of incidents is long:

Four dogs have gone missing after their walkers van was stolen…

Teddy was stolen when he was taken out by his dog walker…

“Because we are walking groups of dogs and there’s been loads of thefts going on, we are always worried about being a victim…”

White fiat transit van full of dogs has just been stolen…

Dog walker killed six dogs after locking them in hot truck for 45 minutes… then lied and said they had been stolen…

A heartless thief stole six dogs out of a parked vehicle Tuesday while the dog walker went to use the washroom….

…cockapoo went missing while out with a dog walker … what is believed to be the remains of the two-year-old cocker spaniel-poodle cross had been found severely decomposed off a public footpath…

… dog walking company has running tab at local vet…

…a specialist was injured while out walking his own dog when two dog walkers appeared with eight dogs … he suddenly found himself thrown into the air and onto the floor. When he asked the professional dog walker if he was covered by insurance he said he was not, but gave him the owners’ number. The owners said “You tripped/placed yourself down on the ground, over your own dog.”

Thieves stole a van and 11 dogs when a professional walker stopped to pick up a dog and left the keys in the ignition…

… dog killed on road after dog sitter left front door open to chase another dog that was allowed to escape…

Every morning when walking my dog I see a fleet of vans from one company and another van from a second company doing the rounds and picking up dogs.

How long do they spend in the van? How hyped up/stressed do they get? How many incidents of bites and other injuries are there?

This is a lucrative industry with no regulation whatsoever. Even if the dog walker is negligent, the owners may be found responsible in the event of an incident. How many owners check the insurance policy of the walker, their experience, qualifications, knowledge of specific breeds?

dog walkerEveryone needs a little help sometimes but dumping your dog on a walker all week because you are at work is not acceptable. The chances are, most of these dogs are untrained, allowed to run riot when with the walker and, frankly, there is no guarantee that they will be safe.

Vets Call For Ban On Homeopathy

ban homeopathy A group of veterinary surgeaons has written an open letter to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to ask them to blacklist homeopathy from the treatments veterinary surgeons are allowed to offer animals and their owners. They believe that the current position of allowing veterinary surgeons to prescribe homeopathic treatments, which have been proven not to work, is both an animal welfare issue and fails to meet the standard required for scientific veterinary practice. This is a disservice to the animals and their owners. They state:

“We believe the RCVS should not allow members to prescribe homeopathy because:

  • It is an animal welfare issue
  • It undermines public confidence in mainstream medicine
  • It would further differentiate veterinary surgeons from unlicensed healers
  • It devalues conventional treatments
  • It devalues conventional qualifications
  • It would allow the veterinary profession to take the lead, forging the way for our human medical counterparts to do the same.

There is also an online petition that you can sign.

CReDO and DogsNet fully endorse this stance. Disagree? Post a comment!