National Dog Warden Association (NDWA)
1984 - 2019

Dog Warden's Angry At Dog's Trust Comments On Stray Dog's

Wed, 27 Feb 2008
We're really concerned that this removal of the police from the equation completely is going to end up with a lot of stray dogs running around

Chris Lawrence (sic), the Dogs Trust

The above quote is taken from a BBC article that somewhat misleadingly screams in its title ‘Councils ‘not ready’ for strays’ this refers to the transfer of responsibility for dealing with stray dogs around the United Kingdom from the Police, solely to Local Authority control.

For the benefit of the BBC and Mr Chris Laurence of the Dog’s Trust, Local Authorities have had a statutory duty to deal with stray dogs since the implementation of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Police involvement with stray dogs and therefore their involvement ‘out of hours’ was due to the Dogs Act 1906, with this parallel legislation in place, there were two organizations that had a statutory responsibility to deal with stray dogs.

Angry Dog Wardens have contacted the National Dog Warden Association to express anger and disbelief at the comments made on behalf of the Dog’s Trust as it is well known that the Dog’s Trust commented along with other dog related organizations on the transfer of responsibility in accordance with Section 68 of the Clean Neighbourhoods & Environment Act 2005.

Mr Laurence further states:

‘Our worry is that it’s going to be pretty much a disaster for the first few months.’

‘We’re really concerned that this removal of the police from the equation completely is going to end up with a lot of stray dogs running around, nobody to pick them up, nobody to care for them.’

Dog Wardens via local authorities do pick up and care for stray dogs during the day and some also do so during the evenings. It needs to be made clear that contrary to what the BBC reports, there are already a number of councils who have an out of hours capacity for dealing with stray dogs and have done so for a number of years?

Mr Laurence has put spin on a situation that from the very inception was opposed by NDWA unless there was adequate funding and provision for dealing with stray dogs out of hours.

The reason that this situation is fast approaching is due to the poorly thought out legislative implementation of Section 68. The Department for Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) advice infers that councils need to have an ‘acceptance point’ if at all practical and further states that there is no need for a dog capture or collection service out of hours! The DEFRA guidance on dealing with stray dogs out of hours caused dismay amongst Dog Warden’s and some councils when it first came out.

Mr Laurence is on a number of panels and bodies that advise government on diverse matters canine, so was he unable to convince these agencies that a badly funded, non statutory out of hours ‘acceptance’ of stray dogs ‘where practical’ was most certainly not the way forward when dealing with trying to replicate a system that has been in existence since at least 1906 when the Dogs Act 1906 was first implemented?

I know that there are members of NDWA who are absolutely furious at this attempt by the Dogs Trust at spinning on a subject that they have been involved with themselves?

There is documentary evidence in the form of news items on the NDWA website as well as documents and discussion papers that NDWA has put forward, but sadly without the ‘clout’ that some wealthy animal welfare charities have, their efforts have been ignored.

NDWA is and remains opposed to ‘acceptance points’ due to the issue of liability, what happens when the finder of a dog is told by the ‘council’ to take it to their local ‘acceptance point’ and it attacks them or causes damage to the finders vehicle? I am no lawyer but as the council told the person to take the dog to a certain location, will the council not be liable?

What dynamic risk assessment has been carried out, what can ‘the council’ possibly know about the dog or the ability of the finder to handle it safely and transport it safely?

As the ACPO spokesperson correctly points out:

‘stray dogs are essentially an environmental and public health issue which in modern times should not remain as a function of the police.’

However, when stray dogs are chasing livestock that is a police matter, when stray dogs are attacking people in the street that is also a police matter, when stray dogs are wandering on to roads and causing traffic hold ups or even accidents that is still a police matter.

The police were eager to be rid of dealing with stray dogs and many forces quickly got rid of their kennels at their police stations, but in doing so they seemed to have forgotten about what do they do when they arrest somebody with a dog or dogs? It is nothing to do with the local council, the police still need kennels for prisoner dogs and what about any other scenario where the police may need to put a dog for a couple of hours whilst they sort out a situation?

DEFRA and their advisors had plenty of opportunity to introduce a system for dealing with stray dogs that was fit for purpose for the 21st century, unfortunately if the ‘spin’ is to believed, it will be more likely, fit for the 12th century.

Whatever you do, do not blame the councils or their Dog Wardens, blame the government , their civil servants and their advisors for this impending situation as adequate funding and guidance from the government would have prevented this situation.

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