Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

deed not breedPolice have made another appalling canine welfare blunder as it has been revealed that the Devon and Cornwall section ordered a bull breed bitch detained under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 to be left in a 3ft x 9ft kennel for two years without exercise. Kennel assistants were told not to enter the kennel of or handle any dogs held under the Act in blatant contradiction of DEFRA’s welfare guidelines which state “The welfare of any dog seized is also a factor the police need to consider and they should note their duty to ensure the welfare of animals under their control (s9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006)”.

The dog’s owner has made 11 court appearances in an attempt to reprieve his dog but a court has now ordered that she be destroyed. Her owner stated that she had not shown any signs of aggression before being seized because of her breed. Video evidence of her behaviour was shown in court but this was of behaviour exhibited following her long confinement. She was kept in private facilities and no explanation was given as to why she could not have had free access to a secure run without the need for staff to place themselves in danger.

The BBC obtained data via a Freedom of Information request revealing that over a five year period, police seized 7,000 dogs and spent £650 on average per dog. Each police authority is recommended to employ a Dog Legislation Officer. The Metropolitan Police have 25 DLOs, mostly employed as dog handers rather than to handle dangerous dogs.
Their spending on seized dogs has risen from £405,000 in 2006 to £2.72M in 2011.

We must review the knee-jerk legislation such as that which has resulted in the Dangerous Dogs Act and make it a statutory obligation for local authorities to emply a 24 hour, 7 day a week dog warden service. We should continue to press for the compulsory education of all dog owners and take action against anyone who breaches animal welfare legislation, including the police.

Stop Press: There has been an update to the case of Stella the “pit bull”. Her owner has launched a late appeal against the destruction order and she will remain in kennels until the outcome of the appeal is known. A charity in Connecticut, USA has offered to pay all costs of relocation if she cannot be returned to her owner.

There is a now ray of hope for this dog after two years of suffering but how many more will have to suffer similar and worse fates until we control breeding, insist on compulsory education for dog owners and punish the deed not the breed.

Canine Road Fatalities in Wales


UPDATE: The deliberate execution of the foxhound was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) “because of the level of public concern” over the decision. The IPCC determined that North Wales Police should continue with its own investigation and advised on the makeup of the review panel which it recommended should include a vet, a representative of the RSPCA and a senior officer from the Metropolitan Police Dog Support Unit. Sadly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, the review exonerated the officer who sanctioned the action as well as those involved. It has also recommended that patrol vehicles should carry slip leads and nets and that officers should obtain expert advice from dog handlers and vets in a similar situation. Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard said: “It is regrettable that the dog died in this way and I fully understand the level of public concern.”

CReDO and DogsNet would also like to express regret: the decision to end a dog’s life in this way was in no way acceptable. It was not guaranteed to end in a quick and painless death for the dog and could have resulted in the police involved in the execution being injured physically as well as emotionally. Even if the dog could not have been caught, it could have been herded well away from the road where it was more likely to be captured safely, if not by the police, by hunt staff.

A loose dog was run over on the A4232 southbound in south Wales during this morning’s rush hour, resulting in minor injuries to one driver and lengthy traffic jams. A second loose dog was caught by police. No details have as yet been released as to the circumstances that led to the dogs being on the road.

Meanwhile, the police continue to ignore owners who walk their dogs off lead on roads and many appear to not even know that this violates the Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 27. This law does of course not apply to working dogs.

Today’s incident follows the horrific and deliberate execution of a foxhound by north Wales police on the A55 in Conwy, north Wales at the beginning of the week.

The foxhound was running toward oncoming traffic between the Llanfairfechan roundabout and the Conwy tunnel in the early hours of Monday. Chief Inspector Wareing later stated that “The only safe option was to run the dog over at sufficient speed to ensure that it was destroyed and would not suffer. Other methods of destruction were considered, but were ruled out on the grounds of public safety”.
It seems more likely that the police were not prepared to halt traffic whilst the dog was removed from the carriageway. This appalling action has been referred to the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales and the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Hunt staff and followers do of course take every precaution to keep their hounds away from roads.

Too Chicken To Feed Raw

chickens The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has just published news of the reduction in Campylobacter contamination in raw chicken tested between October and December 2015. 966 samples of fresh, whole chilled UK-produced chickens and packaging purchased from large retail outlets, smaller independent stores and butchers were tested.

11% of chickens tested positive for the highest level of contamination as opposed to 19% in the same period in 2014. Campylobacter was present in 59% of chicken samples, a reduction of 15% from 2014.

Whilst this is a step in the right direction, it still represents a high level of contamination. Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli live in the gastrointestinal tract of mammals including dogs. Contact with an infected person or animal can cause the bacteria to spread. The incubation period is usually between 2 and 5 days, but it can be as short as 1 day and up to 11 days.

Early symptoms in humans can include fever, headache and muscle pain which can be severe and last up to 24 hours. Bloody diarrhoea, cramps, abdominal pain and high fever typically follow and last for 2–10 days.

Many infected dogs are asymptomatic: 23 – 41% of healthy pet dogs have been identified as positive in tests (and will be shedding bacteria into the environment). Up to 88% of kennelled dogs were infected. Stress, the presence of other diseases or pregnancy may increase susceptibility to develop the disease. Dogs typically suffer watery, bile-stained, bloody diarrhoea including mucus for between 5 and 15 days. Occasionally diarrhoea can last for months and inflammation of the gall-bladder (cholecystitis) and bacterial infection of the bloodstream (bacteraemia) can result. Infected individuals may remain as carriers even after treatment with antibiotics and continue to present a risk to any other animals (including humans) with which they come into contact.

Make you want to barf or feed BARF?

Adding Insult to Injury

floods I was listening to an item on radio 4 last night about the aftermath of the devastating floods in York. The reporter was visiting roads that had been flooded and speaking to the remaining residents.

It must always be difficult finding alternative accommodation at short notice in such circumstances; many people had found rented premises. However, one man was remaining in unsuitable conditions after his house had been flooded up the skirting boards because he could not find a landlord that would accept his dogs.

This is a disgraceful situation. No doubt there would be an outcry if landlords en masse refused to accept children because they are noisy, may draw on the walls or play ball games and annoy the neighbours. More than a quarter of the popoulation of the UK own dogs: now we might not be the most houseproud of people but our dogs are by and large perfectly capable of living civilised lives alongside humans when trained well.

We must continue to campaign for fair access for dog owners to all appropriate areas of society, including housing. Owners must take responsiblity for their dog’s behaviour and take the consequences if their dog does cause damage. However, the default position should not be one of prejudice against dogs because of the behaviour of a minority.

Details of dog friendly housing and dog friendly letting, along with other campaigns, can be accessed via the DogsNet Campaigns for Access page.

Coming Up For Air

stenotic nares Following on from the furore in Sweden and worldwide when Swedish judge Åke Cronander awarded a pug an Excellent rating at a show in Sweden in spite of the fact that it was evidently in respiratory distress (see Swedish Vets and SKK Lead The Way), Swedish vets have continued to take a lead in preventing further suffering in brachycephalic dogs.

Two Swedish veterinary ophthalmologists have make a public statement asking for a ban on breeding severely brachycephalic breeds (see Pedigree Dogs Exposed Blog for full details). This will no doubt provoke a storm of protest from owners and breeders who seem blind to the suffering of these dogs but it is an urgent consideration that has to be made because of the appalling breeding practices that have led to this situation. Of course, brachycephalic dogs are not the only breeds that are severely affected by heritable diseases – Cavalier King Charles spaniels with MVD and syringomyelia spring to mind for instance.

Should we seriously consider that some of the breeds with which we have become familiar over the last hundred years or so should be allowed to become extinct? Is it possible to outcross to eliminate most of the problems or will that just prolong the suffering of the resulting dogs? More and more genetic tests are being developed but they are not always a solution to a problem and only a tiny percentage of the dogs bred will have been tested anyway.

More urgently, we need to work to eliminate the mind set in some humans that sees bulging eyes, miniaturisation, obesity and gasping for breath as “cute” and “normal”.

All eyes will be on Sweden to see how this develops.