NDWA RESPONSE TO `DANGEROUS DOGS` - ITV THURSDAY 20TH MARCH 2014Fri, 21 Mar 2014
As a programme about dogs, there was going to be a positive side as well as a negative side to 'Dangerous Dogs' part one on ITV and it certainly achieved it's aim as a discussion tool. Twitter, Facebook, e-mails and telephone calls have all been awash with comments about irresponsible dog owners and also about Dog Wardens who appeared to lack knowledge and skills.
A fire storm of complaints to NDWA about Dog Wardens needing adequate training as well as qualifications to carry out the role have arrived at NDWA Central overnight and we are working through them as quickly as we can.
Although we are an association of Dog Wardens in all their manifest job titles, we do not actually employ any Dog Wardens as they are employed by Local Authorities or by contractors working on behalf of the said Local Authorities. One major area where NDWA stands out and there is archival evidence of this is our call for all staff employed to handle dogs to be adequately trained and equipped to carry out their work, safely, competently and professionally. Unfortunately this call has to some extent been ignored by employers be it for personal protective equipment right through to dog control equipment and even unfit for purpose dog carrying vehicles being used to carry dogs.
NDWA worked for years with various organisations to produce a recognised qualification for those working in dog control and came close on several occasions to having a recognised qualification introduced but there always seemed to be an obstacle to implementation and nothing came from such avenues.
Now however after collaboration between NDWA and The Kennel Club there is now an accredited City and Guilds Level 4 qualification available for Dog Wardens in the shape of the Kennel Club Accredited Instructor Scheme. There is now a module specifically for those working in dog control. As Local Authorities are the main employers of Dog Wardens and they set the requirements of the Job Deion for dog control based roles perhaps they should now be asking for those wanting to work with dogs to have an appropriate recognised qualification.
The true role of Dog Warden is a very responsible one but unfortunately over the years it has been watered down due to financial reasons and the multi tasking of the role sometimes to the detriment of the ability of the Dog Warden Service to do little but act as a dog collection service whilst doing other non dog related tasks as the primary role.
The lack of promotion of responsible dog ownership was blatantly clear in the programme, once this was a major part of the local Dog Wardens role, but lack of staff, a lack of will on the part of a council to allocate funding for educational activities or to provide a full service all contribute to low level responsible dog ownership around the country.
The government of the day are content to do nothing and this trickles down to local government who in turn will simply say they do not have funding to do anything and there is also no compulsion by the government to make local councils do something.
Another area of concern was the poor use of restraint equipment in the programme, what the viewer in the street might be unaware of is the fact that some restraint equipment may never have been used by a Dog Warden or they have not received correct training on how to use it. That is a health and safety issue that the employers have to face especially when they are faced with an injured Dog Warden who may only have been shown where the kennels are and what the extent of the council area is and then been left to get on with it.
Another aspect of the programme was to show irresponsible dog ownership and this it did in buckets. One neglect case resulted in a written warning being issued to an irresponsible dog owner, why was the owner not prosecuted as the dog certainly looked extremely neglected? Was this due to council finances or due to the council being overwhelmed by such cases? If the council will not prosecute why then was the case not passed to the RSPCA or was it?
The programme indeed depicted some of the issues faced by Dog Wardens in the UK namely a lack of resources and appropriate qualifications until the advent of the KCAI Dog Warden Module
NDWA called for a National Task Force to deal with dangerous dog owners back in December 2013 as the latest call on the government to do something about the increase in fatal and non-fatal dog attacks on children and adults but NDWA does not hold out much hope of anything coming from such a call.
The government currently has the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2014 to inflict upon the country as another piece of legislation created to confuse and to confound the people who are expected to enforce it. Even those responsible for overseeing this new tranche of dog related legislation are now at the Home Office instead of at DEFRA, will they have any better idea of how to deal with irresponsible dog ownership?
The way forward regarding improving responsible dog ownership is the political backing of local authorities with support and funding to bring back full Dog Warden Services that are based upon competently trained and qualified Dog Wardens.
There used to be Assistant and Senior Dog Warden positions which enabled progression of a structured career, it is surely time to reintroduce such positions to enable continuity of service delivery and skills and knowledge.
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