The Few Mar It For The Many

dogs welcome As ever a few irresponsible people place all of us in danger of having dogs banned from public spaces as a recent incident displays. Our friends at Dog Friendly have alerted us to a nasty occurence at a dog friendly pub. Investigations are still underway and so they have not named the venue or location.

The pub had asked a dog owner to keep their dog under control but it attacked another (under control) dog and a staff member was badly bitten. This is now the subject of legal action but the irresponsible owners have been reported as not showing any remorse. Shortly afterwards, the owners of the pub asked another owner to keep two dogs on a lead inside the pub as the dogs had wandered into a different area of the pub without their owners. They were met with a barrage of foul language and abuse.

There seem to be a minority of people who feel that they have a “right” to do exactly as they want and, when even the most minor objection or polite request is broached, react aggressively and obnoxiously. It is hardly surprising then that their dogs are often also unsocialised and out of control. The number of dogs off lead on roads or out of control on extendable leads beggars belief. Owners allow them to rush up to other dogs even when asked to keep clear and strangers think nothing of sticking their hands in dogs faces or ruffling their coat the wrong way without so much as eye contact with the owner (or dog). Children are allowed to do the same and woe betide the owner who askes for a dog to be left alone.

There are more and more restrictions being placed on dogs and dog owners and the behaviour of people such as this only makes it more likely that this will get worse. It is probably necessary for dog-friendly venues to train their staff as to how to react if an incident occurs so as to remain safe and indeed, on how to approach a dog generally. In the meantime, let us wish the member of staff involved a speedy recovery and hope that it has not dented the proprietors’ enthusiam for welcoming dogs.

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.

Not Worth A Sniff

sniff The BBC and The Guardian have produced items today that implied that sniffer dogs at Manchester airport have not been sufficiently well trained to do their job: the BBC headline is “Airport sniffer dogs find ‘cheese and sausages’ but no Class A drugs”.

In fact, they are actually talking about dogs trained for different scents. Each section has been working but the drugs section has not had a find within six months and the viabity of the while unit has been brought into question.

Lawyers have made attempts in the US to discredit the efficacy of sniffer dogs in order to get convictions overturned. The authorities then tightened up their recording procedures and improved their training. Rewarding a “no find” significantly improves the dogs’ motivation to continue working but few trainers use it.
It may be that the methods of traning need to be improved but it would be interesting to have a comparison with a similar sized airport to see what their detection rates are.

Post Scriptum: Well done to the i newspaper for reorting this in a balanced way that did not imply that drugs dogs were being distracted by meat and cheese.

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.