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NDWA 25 - Seminar & Annual General Meeting ReportTue, 28 Oct 2008
The conference started after being opened by Susan Bell, President of NDWA who gave an opening address to the delegates present before NDWA chairman Neil Burton read out an email from DEFRA who were unable to attend the conference. The email basically pointed out that nobody from DEFRA was able to attend because due to the implementation of the Clean Neighbourhoods & Environment Act 2005 DEFRA had scaled down the office that dealt with CNEA2005. This was an early disappointment that the branch of government responsible for animal control and much important canine related legislation could not update the people charged with the task of implementing dog control.
Thankfully, this was the only glitch to a successful first day and the breach was filled by one of the NDWAs overseas guests, Debbie Dawson, Vice President of the National Animal Control Association from the USA. Debbie gave a fascinating presentation on cat rescuing in the state of Washington, the rescuing being climbing up 100 foot + high trees to literally grab them, put them in a bag and bring them down to the ground again.
We next enjoyed a genuinely fascinating presentation by Steve Elvidge who provided an exciting insight in to the wide and varied role of a Western Australia Ranger. From his experience reporting 22 feet long Great White Sharks swimming too near to the coast line to explaining how the rangers enjoy a (seemingly) much closer working relationship with other areas of law enforcement.
Although the Western Australia Rangers carry out several similar functions as ourselves such as dog control, animal control, litter enforcement (those of us who have to do it!), they also enforce fire regulations in their areas of responsibility and can order residents to keep their gardens tidy and free of rubbish to prevent fire spreading. As well as many of the Rangers having Fire Control Officer duties to deal with, some of them are actually in charge of rural bush fire brigade teams. The level of responsibility they have as local government officers is pretty high up the greasy pole and I would venture to say it was equivalent to a managerial role in the scheme of things due to the level of responsibility each Ranger has.
The next presentation was from Ryan OMeara, Editor-in-Chief of K9 Media Ltd that was entitled: recognising and dealing with aggression in dogs. The central theme of Ryans presentation was based upon the key elements that cause dogs to be aggressive towards people as well as highlighting the prime reasons why dog attacks occur, including failure to recognise canine signals, under stimulation for many pet dogs and a basic gap between what we think we know about dogs and what we actually know about dogs.
Following Ryans entertaining and thought provoking presentation next was an overview of Section 68 of the Clean Neighbourhoods Act 2005 by long time NDWA member Dave Griffiths, Environmental Protection Officer from East Hampshire District Council. Dave competently explained the challenges faced by the modern dog warden since the adoption of Section 68 of the Act. It was plain to see from his talk that all dog wardens seem to be faced with similar sets of problems and much of the concerns are:
1) Lack of funding
2) Too many dogs being produced and irresponsibly supplied
3) Lack of awareness amongst the public about what to do with lost and stray dogs since the Police relinquished their responsibility for dealing with them.
Daves talk was followed by a short presentation from Ian MacFarlaine, Neutering Manager of Cats Protection. Ian was a former Dog Warden and Animal Welfare Officer with Trafford Borough Council and is familiar with the fact that although were called Dog Wardens and similar titles, we are usually the people contacted regarding cat problems in our jurisdictions. Ian explained about neutering assistance available to councils to help with spaying schemes especially for feral cats in our areas and advised that should we have any cat issues in our areas that we contact Cats Protection who may be able to assist with neutering.
Mark Kumpf, President National Animal Control Association (USA) spent an entire afternoon highlighting the good practice deployed by his own unit at Montgomery County, Ohio where Mark is the Director of the Animal Shelter and Animal Control Officer teams.
Mark explained just how essential the dog registration scheme is as deployed by Montgomery County. His presentation detailed how 100% of the revenues generated by the scheme enabled him and his team of Animal Control Officers to put in place an A1 level of service and how the system enabled them to circumvent many of the problems highlighted by Dave Griffiths which appear to be hindering us as dog wardens with our efforts here in the UK.
Mark also gave a fascinating talk on the problems of dealing with dogs in a rabies-present country as well as a profile on the excellent website Pet-Abuse.com that keeps tabs on animal abusers across the globe. There is also an area where dog wardens and similar can input information on convicted animal abusers in their areas.
At the close of the first day, the AGM was called and it was with much sadness that it was announced that Mark Berrill from Mansfield Borough Council would not be standing as Secretary. I was asked to replace him by the committee and agreed to do so. The committee chose current Liaison Officer Zoë Martin to become their new secretary.
Liaison Officer Natalie McClellan from Allerdale Borough Council also stepped down from the committee and President Sue Bell praised both Mark and Natalie for their contributions to NDWA over the years.
Alison Waine, Animal Welfare Officer at Swindon Borough Council was asked to join the committee as a Liaison Officer to which she duly agreed to. Nobody volunteered or was prepared to become the NDWA Training Officer, so the position will be covered by the committee in a similar way as the position of Editor of Dog Warden News continues to be covered.
A robust discussion regarding NDWA not attending Crufts 2009 took place with dog breeders who are also members of NDWA on both sides of the fence contributing to the debate. It was pointed out that members and colleagues were perfectly entitled to attend Crufts either to show their dogs or if they were attending in some official capacity. The decision to attend or not to attend was entirely up to the individual concerned. NDWA was not attending as a corporate decision and to show solidarity with those other organisations who have decided to not attend to make a point that something needs to be done. The debate continued until a time dangerously close to the start of the NDWA25 Awards 2008 dinner, so NDWA Chairman Neil Burton had to adjourn the AGM until the following day.
For further details of the NDWA25 awards please see the pdf on the front of the NDWA website and for further details of the AGM, see the minutes of the AGM2008, which will be published shortly.
The first speaker of the day was NACA Vice President Debbie Dawson who is also an Animal Control Officer from Washington State in North West America. Debbies presentation on animal hoarding was first rate and very thought provoking, and she provided a number of solutions on how to deal with such cases that are as much a way of life in the UK as they are in the US.
The next speakers were Mel Page from Deed Not Breed and Mel Rushmore from the Bull Breed Advisory Council who gave an update into the current state of play regarding BSL and discussed a number of cases that they had been involved with.
Following the two Mels was Inspector Neil Davies, Head of the Dog Section at Merseyside Police who gave an update regarding how Merseyside Police deal with section 1 and section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act. Inspector Davies explained that the police had learnt a great deal when dealing with the Merseyside Dog Amnesty following the tragic death of Ellie Lawrenson and many of the lessons learned had been incorporated into a standardised procedure for Merseyside Police.
Following lunch the next speaker was Peter Tallack the former Metropolitan Police Dog Handler who following retirement after 34 years service has been appointed as Advisor on Dogs to the Association of Chief Police Officers. Peter discussed for the first time the forthcoming ACPO Guidance for Enforcers document that will lay out who deals with what regarding dog related incidents. There was an obvious interest to local authorities as there was mention of minor dog related matters being dealt with by councils under the Dogs Act 1871, the interest being that many councils do not deal with anything in regard to the prosecution of dogs out of control.
The document when it is finalised will be dispatched to all 43 police forces and it is hoped that it will finally show who deals with what rather than the current hit and miss policy that some police forces and councils use regarding dog related incidents.
The final speaker of the day was Mark Kumpf who gave a fascinating and at times emotional presentation on the Michael Vick dog fighting case. Mark had been involved in the case and acted as an expert witness during the prosecution of Mr Vick who was sentenced to five years detention in the Federal Penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth. The description of the way the dogs had been abused and killed by Mr Vick and his associates was truly harrowing and with no exaggeration there were several delegates who wiped away a tear or two.
The conference ended with the reconvening of the AGM from the previous day and a vote was taken on the proposal from the floor to send an open letter to the Kennel Club that acknowledged their commitment to the promotion of responsible dog ownership and it was also pointed out that many members of NDWA work in partnership with the Kennel Club. The members also wished the Kennel Club to know that NDWA would like to work with the Kennel Club on the promotion of responsible dog ownership. Those present voted for the letter to be sent to the Kennel Club and it has been duly sent out.
The range of speakers at this years conference offered something for everyone from dogs, to cats, dangerous dogs, BSL, Rabies, dealing with multiple animal seizures and also working on animal cruelty investigations.
The conference closed at approximately 4.30pm
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