National Dog Warden Association (NDWA)
1984 - 2019

Misleading Press Releases Can Ruin The Good Work of Dog Warden Services

Sat, 01 Dec 2007

Neil Burton Dog Warden

By the very nature of the situation on the ground within our geographical locations and the more immediate areas that we are responsible for, no two Dog Warden Services are ever the same. There are a number of reasons why we operate differently, be it due to socio-economic reasons of the area, being resource poor as a service or the sheer number of dogs out on the streets.

For those Dog Wardens/Animal Wardens (hereafter known in this article as Dog Wardens for clarity!) who have been in post for several years, you will know just how hard we have had to work to change the negative stereotype image of being ‘dog catchers’.

As we know there is more to being a Dog Warden than just handling dogs, there is education, enforcement, licensing (for welfare officers etc) as well as advice giving. In a nutshell Dog Wardens are multi-skilled Local Government Officers.

The Dogs Trust press release that launched the 2005 Stray Dog Survey claims that 150 dogs are killed in the UK every week, ironically the Dogs Trust gleans its information from the very Dog Warden Services it accuses!

Last year’s Dogs Trust Survey caused my own Dog Warden Service untold trouble with finders of dogs refusing to hand them over because the ‘radio said that Dog Wardens kill dogs’, another incident took over thirty minutes to resolve, again down to the ‘radio’.

Since yesterdays 6th September 2005 launch of the 2005 Stray Dog Survey and resulting TV and radio coverage comments such as ‘they aren’t going to kill the dog are they?’ do not help us to do our jobs properly!

Local Authorities are hard pressed dealing with stray dogs as it is and the forthcoming new legislation such as the Cleaner Neighbourhoods & Environment Act 2005 which amongst other things removes Police responsibility for dealing with stray dogs does not help. Strangely the Dogs Trust was one of the stakeholders involved behind the scenes as a member of the Pet Advisory Committee.

Emotive sound bites such as ‘150 dogs killed’ may make great press coverage, but when it interferes with the statutory functions of Local Authorities perhaps they should reconsider the wording?

Also as an afterthought, the next time the local Dogs Trust shelter asks for a home visit, I might have to decline due to the number of ‘evil Dog Warden’ complaints I am fielding!

Then again perhaps we should all consider not filling in next years Dog Trust survey and instead complete the NDWA one?
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