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!

New Fines Proposed For Dog Fouling

dog poo bin overflowing A bill is currently going through the House of Lords proposing to amend the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

The new proposals would add the following clause:

“In Chapter 1 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 (controls on dogs), insert—
“55 Dog fouling: offence
(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he or she allows a dog for which he or she is responsible to foul in any place to which this section applies and does not dispose of the dog waste.
(2) This section applies to any place in the area of a principal litter authority which is open to the air and accessible to the public.
(3) No offence is committed under subsection (1) where the dog fouling is—
(a)authorised by law; or
(b)done by or with the consent of the owner, occupier or other person having control of the place where the fouling occurs.

The maximum fine allowable will also be raised from £80 to £100.

It is also proposed that dog faeces be added to the cigarettes and chewing gum as item regarded as litter under Section 98(5A)(b) of the Environmental Protection Act.

If the Bill is passed, as looks likely, a duty will also be imposed on local authorities to provide a minimum number of waste bins, but alas only for cigarettes and chewing gum. Cuts to local authority budgets have already seen a decline in all types of waste bin as well as fewer collections. Beats me why councils haven’t used dog poo compost bins; they could then sell the results to gardeners.

Picking up and disposing of dog waste responsibly is vital to prevent the spread of disease from dog to dog as well to other animals, including humans. An increasing number of dogs are fed a raw diet or may be given raw bones, raising the chances that they will shed bacteria such as salmonella, giardia and campylobacter into the environment. Additionally, some diseases only spread when faeces are a few days old. Dog feces may contain parvovirus, whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, threadworms, campylobacteriosis, giardia and coccidia. If left unattended, parasites can contaminate water and soil and result in infection in dogs and humans. Neosporosis and sarcocystosis can spread from dog faces on grazing land and cause, respectively, abortions in cattle and neurological disease and death in sheep.



Should I Stay or Should I Go?

stay or go What should the British bulldog do and what will happen to the resources? Do we get to keep our own bones or do we have to hand them over to Europe?

Regardless of your opinion on the European Union referendum next week, the fact remains that leaving the European Union may have  major effect on the ease of travel using the Pet Passport and on dog welfare, with potential changes to import and export restrictions. According to government figures for 2015, just under 92,000 Britains left and returned to Britain with one or more dogs, the vast majority having been on holiday. Of course there are also unrecorded numbers of dogs entering illegally, mostly traded as puppies. A Dogs Trust report (The Puppy Scandal) states that between 2011 and 2013 the number of dogs entering the UK legally from Lithuania increased by 780% and from Hungary 663%.

Already vets in Eastern Europe (and possible elsewhere) have colluded with dog dealers and issued pet passports with falsified data, including puppies not seen, under age puppies, dogs banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act and dogs with false
vaccination stamps indicating that rabies vaccinations had been administered. As the Dogs Trust wonders, will a vet who is prepared to falsify rabies vaccinations bother with tapeworm treatment or measures to prevent other diseases? Echinococcus multilocularis is a cyclophyllid tapeworm that is endemic in some countries that are parts of the PETS travel scheme. It is zoonotic, often asymptomatic for several years and can be fatal if untreated. It is already increasing in urban areas, largely due to the spread of urban foxes. Dogs Trust and journalists including Sam Poling have provided evidence revealing ineffective controls at UK border ports enabling puppies to enter the UK illegally virtually unhindered. There are no Animal and Plant Health Agency staff or Trading Standards personnel on duty at the main ports of entry at the weekend and puppy transporters are rarely stopped even during the week. Not all ports have a continual presence of officers, including the major port of Dover which just has APHA staff on call to respond to reported welfare concerns. There is no penalty if they are caught travelling with incorrect paperwork and the likelihood of paperwork being questioned or their vehicle searched is low. They can declare up to five puppies and smuggle in any number of puppies hidden in their vehicle which will remain unchecked. There is little or no sharing of intelligence amongst key agencies.

The Dogs Trust filmed 15 dealers who sold underage puppies ranging from 7 -12 weeks and who stated how easy it is to bring banned pit bulls into the UK and four vets from Lithuania and two vets from Hungary who admitted falsifying pet passports. They purchased pet passports from a vet that recorded false birth dates and vaccinations, including rabies, for fictitious puppies. They purchased a puppy from an online advert that had been brought into the UK from Lithuania at just ten weeks old without a rabies vaccination and two puppies in Hungary from a breeder who provided passports with false dates
of birth and fake rabies vaccination details which they subsequently rehomed in Hungary.

The Dogs Trust has called for the European Union to manage the spread of canine diseases across member states including requiring inspections of all puppies and dogs at member states’ borders. They are also calling for EU-wide improvements in breeding standards and mandatory identification and registration across all EU Member States. There is a the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals, but Britain is not a signatory. Leaving the European Union may make it harder for dogs to be imported from unscrupulous people in member states but it will also be much harder to achieve the spread of effective welfare legislation. In the meantime, diseases have no respect for national boundaries, even on islands.

One would hope that no one would make such a vital decision based on the effects on dogs alone, but there is plenty of food for thought there nonetheless.

Summer Solstice Lychee and Dog Meat Festival

stop Yulin The China Kennel Union and its partners have been working on the design and implementation of various campaigns aiming to make Chinese legislation address animal welfare issues. There have been several initiatives aimed at dogs, including establishing winter housing facilities for strays and aiming to stamp out the practice of dog meat eating festivals, especially Yunin. Several charity events have been run between March and May, culminating in the establishment of the Anti-abuse to Animals Legislation Network Vote Platform prompting more than 150,000 people to cast their votes.

The Companion Animals Cultural Exhibition will be implemented nationwide from May to October, with an exhibition planned for June. The last ten days of June are scheduled as the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, an important focus of the activities.

Déjà Vu

deed not breed Some things recur as regularly as rain in an English summer: cyclists continue to ride up the blind side of lorries and get killed and people abuse dogs and get killed. The only difference is that, on the very rare occasions when dogs kill people, it is often not the original perpetrator of the abuse that dies. I nearly wrote “that is the victim”, but of course the initial victim is the dog.

In the last couple of days a Staffie has bitten several children and yesterday a man was killed by one of his dogs in Cumbria. The poor dog, reported to be a pitbull, was tasered before it was executed.

It doesn’t take much imagination to conjure up the life that the dog had led beforehand, nor the owner for that matter.

I am just finishing reading Simon Harding’s excellent book Unleashed: The Phenomena of Status Dogs and Weapon Dogs which looks at the social and political changes that have led to the rise in dog-on-human attacks. He also considers the changes to dogs caused by in-breeding and selective breeding for aggression. Far more research is needed in this area, but it is probable that some breeds of dog have been both bred and trained to maximise aggressive traits. Large numbers of dogs are abused by ignorance and poor handling even if owners do not intend that they should cause deliberate harm.

There also seems to be something of an arms race where, in areas where gangs are common, non-gang members (mostly young males) buy dogs that they think will appear to be aggressive and be a deterrent for anyone who might attack them. If they came from the local pool of back street-bred dogs, they may already be the products of selection for aggression. Although it is by no means a guarantee, the likelihood that these dogs are housed in poor conditions, largely untrained and fed a poor quality diet is high. They may be exercised on lead only or even chained up outdoors for long periods. As we reported earlier, 6% of owners surveyed by insurers More Th>n admitted to administering protein shakes so that their dog “would look more impressive in public”. Damaged trees in city parks all over the country attest to the owners who encourage their dogs to hang off branches to “toughen their jaws”.It is also possible to see ropes slung from tress with a stick tied to the bottom that dogs dangle from.

In turn, the people that own them see little future away from the depravation and “post code wars” that confine them to a few run-down streets. they too often expect life to be cut short prematurely. Even the gangs and violence don’t get them, poor health often will.

Until we address the social and political problems that give rise to the breeding and keeping of dogs that cause harm, the headlines will continue to appear with depressing regularity.

One Law For the Rich and Famous

get out of jail Last August, DogsNet reported the case of Amber Heard illegally importing two terriers into Australia. Ms Heard signed a form on board her lfight stating categorically that she was not bringing any animals into the country. She later made derogatory remarks about “jobsworths wanting their 15 minutes of fame” when she was charged and her partner, actor Johhny Depp told reporters that he has received “direct orders of some kind of, I don’t know, sweaty, big-gutted man from Australia”.

It is very disappointing therefore to see that a paltry $1,000 Australian Dollar fine has been levied on the couple and all charges have been dropped. They have made a public video in which Depp states bizzarly that Australians are “just as unique” as their wildlife. For good measure, Heard tried to blame the error on an assistant’s inability to fill in the correct paperwork.

No Ride and Prejudice

taxi I have heard many tales of humans leaving unspeakable mess in taxis. Humans get drunk, become abusive, don’t pay their fare and even assualt the driver. The worst ‘offence’ I’ve ever witnessed of a dog in a taxi is leaving a few hairs behind – something I’m more than capable of doing with or without my dog.

I was forced to abandon attempts at attending the Dogs Day Out show near Bletchley last weekend because I could not find a single taxi firm that was prepared to take my dog, bar one that wanted to charge me an additional two thirds of the original fare quoted for the ‘privilege’. I would have had no guarantee that I could have found a driver to take me back at the end of the day. There are no Sunday bus services in that part of the world and the roads are too dangerous to walk on. Not everyone can afford to run a car and many people are obliged to stop driving as their capacities decline. Are they then to be left to fester indoors if they have a dog?

The range of excuses that I encountered from taxi firms were astonishing. One even told me that it was illegal to carry dogs unless they were assistance dogs. Another said that it would only carry dogs registered with Guide Dogs for the Blind but would refuse any other type of assistance dog.

My “favourite” comment was uttered with all the contempt, rudeness and total disgregard for customer service that only the English can muster:

“I don’t see why we should take your dog in our vehicle just because you can’t be bothered to walk home from the park”.

Chips With Everything

April 6th The deadline for compulsory microchipping of dogs in England is nearly upon us. Various newspapers are today citing a figure of more than 1 million dogs that have yet to be microchipped (roughly one eighth of the UK dog population). The National Dog Warden Association claims that 40% of the dogs with which its members deal that are already chipped have missing or inaccurate information.

The new law will oblige keepers to keep details up to date on their chosen database. This ensures that anyone who is in charge of a dog will be required to comply even if not the owner. Puppies must be chipped by their second set of vaccinations at 8 weeks; it is not advisable to chip a dog before it is 6 weeks old. Small chips can be implanted in toy breeds. Breeders must chip the dog before it is transferred to a new owner and must register as the first keeper. They can advise as to how to change the registration details or register the new owners in addition to their own details.

If a dog is found subsequently to be without a chip, the keeper may be served with a notice requiring the dog to be microchipped and may face criminal prosecution and a £500 fine if they do not comply. If this notice is ignored then an additional fine of up to £500 can be issued or an enforcer can seize the dog and microchip it at the keeper’s expense. In addition, if the breeder or subsequent keepers of the dog do not update the dog’s details on a database that is compliant with the regulations, then a notice may be served requiring the keeper to microchip the dog within 21 days of the served notice. If the dog is sold or given away, the previous keeper is required to register the new keeper. It is also obligatory to update the database when a dog dies. Full details can be found here.

All well and good.

What remains to be seen is if any of this will be policed. It seems likely that there might be a few people may be made examples of but that the majority of irresponsible back street breeders, puppy farmers and of course owners will carry on as normal. Watch this space.