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Handbook   chapter 5 Handbook chapter 5 Document Transcript

  • CHAPTER 5 CAMPAIGNS AND EDUCATION An annual survey undertaken by NOP (latterly MORI) for Dogs Trust has consistently shown that over 100,000 dogs a year stray. The number of strays euthanased has reduced from 40,000 in 1992 to less than 8,000 in 2006, partly as a result of public education campaigns and as a result of pro-active neutering by animal welfare charities and some local authorities. This is a reflection of owner attitudes and therefore education of owners is a crucial technique in reducing the number of strays. Many local authorities find themselves with a growing population of kennelled dogs with no hope of finding their owner, or new homes for them. Even when the owner is known, the prospect of paying a fine, lack of transport, and other reasons may lead to the dog remaining unclaimed. As a result a significant proportion of stray dogs impounded by local authorities are destroyed. In recent years many local authorities have seen the benefits of expanding services beyond the legal minimum remit required by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996. Innovative campaign schemes have been introduced, often in partnership with animal welfare charities or the private sector, to tackle the root causes of poor dog ownership as a ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach. Two initiatives, which tackle many of the issues above effectively, are microchipping and neutering. Reducing the number of strays Microchipping There are various ways that local authorities can facilitate microchipping schemes within their area. They can provide venues for voluntary organisations to visit and hold clinics. Many have started their own microchipping service, training their staff to implant the microchips, and these have been variously provided at reduced cost, cost price, and free of charge. Authorities can provide local knowledge of their area, highlighting areas where stray dogs are more prevalent and assist with the publicity of events planned. Effective animal welfare officers know their target audience. Experience has shown that microchipping schemes reduce the stray dog population, and because stray dogs cannot pick up their own mess, complaints about fouling reduce accordingly. One local authority reported that, one year after the introduction of a microchipping scheme, there was a 20 per cent reduction in the number of stray dogs handled, and an 18 per cent reduction in the number of complaints about dog fouling. Thus a clear relationship between microchipping, stray dogs, and dog fouling was identified. Microchipping provides an instant benefit, as many of the target animals stray every day, and therefore the stray dog population has the potential to reduce immediately. 5-1
  • ● Each dog microchipped is one less potential unclaimed stray to kennel and dispose of ● Each time a dog is microchipped, it provides an opportunity for educating the owner about responsible dog ownership ● The chance of identifying a dog that fouls are improved ● Each dog microchipped has the potential to save the local authority money. The practical issues for officers enforcing this legislation are that there is often little or no contact between the owner and veterinary surgeons, so vaccination, worming, flea treatment, microchipping and neutering never arise as an issue until the owner has either lost his dog, or an unwanted litter is produced. These duties can provide officers with an excellent opportunity to offer advice to owners in relation to their responsibilities and how best to care for their dog. Neutering schemes Neutering is a generic term to cover castration in dogs and spaying in bitches, both surgical procedures to prevent mating resulting in a litter. Neutering schemes are aimed principally at preventing the unwanted litters that are associated with stray dogs but there are also medical benefits for the individual dog as well. Neutering therefore benefits dogs and bitches, their owners and local authorities. Neutering has a number of beneficial effects on the dog: ● Preventing unwanted litters, many of which could be dumped or rehomed inappropriately ● Helping to control aggression and hyperactivity ● Preventing bitches coming into season, eliminating mess in the house, and preventing the attention of stray male dogs ● Preventing or reducing the risk of uterine infections in bitches and testicular cancer in dogs ● Reducing the urge to stray ● Reducing the risk of dogs forming packs ● Controlling inappropriate sexual behaviour, particularly in male dogs. Neutering schemes can run within local authorities in partnership with charities and welfare organisations. Neutering schemes can target key hot spot areas of straying and fouling.The impact of neutering schemes is less immediate than microchipping, simply 5-2
  • because reaching reproductive age and actual reproduction takes time. It is never possible to say exactly how many dogs have been prevented as a result of neutering one animal. However most bitches, given the freedom to breed, will have one or two litters a year and may have up to 10 puppies in each until relatively late in life. Each bitch puppy may start breeding at six months of age and so contribute themselves to the population. Tackling dog fouling Local authorities generally have three levels of intervention with dog fouling: Picking dog mess up off the streets This is the lowest level of intervention, but deals with the immediate problem of street cleanliness. It does nothing to catch the perpetrators or change behaviour. Simply picking up waste could be seen as condoning and even encouraging dog fouling to occur. Furthermore the costs to local authorities are significant, with one estimate being £22 million in England alone. Faeces disposal bins The provision of disposal bins is an essential public service to assist keepers of dogs in their public duty to pick up faeces after their dogs. The number of bins has increased significantly over the past decade and local authorities are encouraged to provide them, especially in public areas where dogs frequently exercise. Enforcing the dog fouling legislation Although enforcement may be difficult and expensive (it is difficult to witness and requires lots of resources) it is an essential element of any control programme. A temporary increase in officer resources can assist in public education about legislation and encourage support for the authority in controlling fouling among dog owners as well as the general public. Education campaigns A successful education campaign is the most effective form of intervention because it secures a permanent change in behaviour. Poop scoop campaigns Giving away poop scoops is one of the most cost-effective methods in changing behaviour. Because much of the dog fouling occurs outside of regular office hours, the cost of one evening patrol at overtime can buy approximately 10,000 poop scoops to give away! If only half of these are used it still means much cleaner streets and smaller cleaning-up costs. No other method can bring about such a benefit with so little effort. Grab it Bag it Bin it 5-3
  • Poop scoops Poop scoops can also be used to advertise council services and get across key messages. They can be given away during microchipping and neutering events and by park rangers, street wardens, and ward councillors. Some authorities give awards when they see responsible owners picking up. Media campaigns The power of the media can never be underestimated. Press releases are free and local media are usually looking for stories and will support campaigns which can help to: ● Promote positive messages about using poop scoops ● Advertise neutering and microchipping work ● Promote enforcement work. Experience has shown that the prospect of being caught is the deterrent that stops offences ● Publicise prosecutions and name and shame offenders ● Encourage witnesses to come forward There may be campaigns to join, such as National Pet Month, which can be used to supports all these objectives. In the longer term a concerted media campaign can change behaviour amongst irresponsible dog owners in a way that one to one contact never can, because dog fouling becomes socially unacceptable throughout the community. Working with schools Children are the dog owners of tomorrow and their education can change attitudes in the long term. Many animal welfare charities provide free education materials to schools which are designed to fit within the national curriculum. Animal welfare officers can talk to groups or a Photo: Clive Tagg school assembly in accordance with the agreed Education officer with children format for school talks. There are a number of recommendations for working with children. Most of these are for the animal welfare officer’s own protection. ● The local authority must be in possession of a full Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check for the animal welfare officer, which should include the section ‘Access to children’. 5-4
  • ● The officer should be accompanied by a member of the school staff at all times and never be left alone with children ● The officer should not touch or come into physical contact with children. ● Children should not be frightened by the presentation which should be given in a language and tone of voice appropriate to the age of the children ● It is the responsibility of the accompanying member of school staff to chastise misbehaving children. ● Written permission must be obtained from the head/organising teacher to take photographs for publicity. It is advisable to seek further advice on this matter from the legal department. ● Taking a dog into a school can be both an attraction and a distraction. It is important to obtain the permission of the school. Authority must be obtained before taking a dog into school and public liability insurance checked. Some children may be frightened by the dog and it should be removed if this is the case. ● A dog should be of known suitable temperament and confident in the presence of children. It should be kept on a lead, closely controlled, well groomed and have been wormed within the past three months. ● The welfare of the dog must be a primary consideration and it should be removed if any signs of stress are shown. Obviously if the dog defecates on the school premises faeces should be removed immediately and the area washed with disinfectant if appropriate. Dog training classes Dog training classes are usually run by enthusiastic and experienced individuals. However they may have no formal qualification and quality can vary. Animal welfare officers should be aware of classes available in their area and their quality. Anyone who recommends a dog training facility, be they vet or animal welfare officer, should understand what is good and what is not. All training should be achieved by kindness and reward and methods causing pain are not recommended. Working with the Kennel Club The Kennel Club licenses over 7000 canine events every year but the management of these events lie in the hands of approximately 2000 dog clubs in the UK, catering for every breed and every interest in the dog world. These dog clubs have all been set up by enthusiasts and some have been in existence as long as the Kennel Club itself. There are several categories of clubs all catering for people with different interests. Animal welfare 5-5
  • officers may be invited to various club functions throughout the year, plus it may prove beneficial to build relationships with the various organisations. Good Citizen Dog Scheme Many dog owners start dog training via the Kennel Club’s Good Citizen Dog Scheme (GCDS). The scheme is the largest programme in the UK with over 110,000 dogs and owners passing through the Scheme since its inception in 1992. It teaches responsible dog ownership as well as training for everyday situations. The scheme is open to all dogs, large and small, regardless of age or breed and its primary aim is to promote responsible dog ownership and, in turn, help make the community aware of the benefits associated with a well behaved dog. Through the Scheme, dog training courses, lasting eight to 10 weeks, are organised by over 1000 dog training clubs, adult education centres and councils throughout the country. The Scheme is deliberately non-competitive and is made fun for both dog and owner alike. There are three levels - bronze, silver and gold - and areas covered include cleanliness and identification, sit, stay, rejoining the handler on command and walking on the lead under control. At the end of each course a testing session is held by a Kennel Club approved organisation and the examiner will be either an animal welfare officer, recognised Kennel Club judge, member of the British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers, or a police/service dog handler. Animal welfare officers can qualify as examiners and, as great emphasis is placed on educating dog owners about their responsibility to their local community, for example ensuring that owners are aware of local byelaws, clean up after their dogs and keep their dogs under control at all times, GCDS Clubs will certainly be of benefit to the animal welfare officer’s role. Safe and Sound The Kennel Club Safe and Sound Award Scheme was launched in November 2003 as an educational website. Its purpose is to promote the safety of interaction between children and dogs. The constant development and updating of the scheme ensures that parents, teachers, children or other enthusiasts can continually learn the ‘safe and sound’ principles. For more details contact the Kennel Club. Their details are in the useful contacts section. Breed clubs There are over 200 breeds of dog recognised by the Kennel Club and nearly all breeds have at least one breed club. More unusual breeds have only one club, but really popular breeds, like the cocker spaniel, boast over 20 clubs. The people who set up and belong to these clubs are breed enthusiasts who may have been involved with a particular breed all their lives, or be keen newcomers. Dog owners who are serious about showing their dog usually become a member of their breed club as they offer more expert advice on the chosen breed. As these clubs are for breed enthusiasts, they will be involved with all sorts of activities that promote the well being and understanding of their particular breed. As well as societies dedicated to specific breeds there are hundreds of clubs catering for dog lovers on a regional basis. 5-6
  • General canine societies Many clubs are geared towards more general interests and to scheduling shows and some also run classes. There are hundreds of clubs set up specifically to cater for the sports of obedience, agility and flyball, working trials, and field Trials and gundog working tests and many of these clubs cater for more than one discipline. For further information contact the Kennel Club (see contacts list). Other animal clubs Animal welfare officers may encounter a number of different clubs devoted to all animals including birds, horses and exotics. National organisations to which such clubs may be affiliated are listed in the useful contacts section at the back of the Handbook. 5-7