Tuesday, 27 October 2009

DDAWatch speak at National Dog Warden Seminar 2009

DDAWatch were fortunate to be asked to give a presentation to the National Dog Wardens Association's Annual General Meeting on the subject of Breed Specific Legislation in 2009. We were very grateful for the opportunity to speak about some of the effects of BSL in 2009. The talk, which was given to delegates including Dog wardens, Rescue workers, RSPCA officials and police officers, lead to a lively debate that highlighted some of the difficulties with BSL in 2009. To read our presentation in full please click Here

Friday, 16 October 2009

Fireworks and Dogs

Thanks to our friends at EDDR for the following helpful info re dogs and fireworks.

Fireworks & Dogs :

Safety Tips I Identification I Dogs & Fireworks Survival I Fireworks & the Law

Every year many dogs (and other animals) will be affected as a direct result of fireworks, new fireworks legislation came into force in 2004 but for many the fireworks mayhem seems to start earlier and earlier each year, depending on where you live, with Nov. 5th as the 'main event' there are also other celebrations involving fireworks such as Diwali, Chinese New Year and increased popularity in some areas around Christmas and New Year.

For many of us, there isn’t just one one evening of Fireworks, sounding like World War III, to cope with, but a whole run up of weeks leading to it which doesn’t end with the loudest blitz on Bonfire Night.
Here we have collated some information regarding the safety of your dog, coping suggestions and current legislation.

Safety tips for your and your dog(s):

Around this time there will be a steep increase in the number of stray dogs picked up and handed in, dogs which have become scared and bolted when out and off leash or having escaped from the home, here follows a few tips to help you and your dog:
Please make sure your dog is wearing a secure collar with an ID disc firmly attached, a disc which has your current details on it, look at the tag now – can you actually read what it says?

If your dog is ID Chipped – are your contact recorded details up to date?
If your dog isn’t ID chipped – please just get it done, it doesn’t take 5 minutes and is relatively cheap-it will make all the difference should the worst happen and you lose your dog.

Keep your dog inside the house with you during the worst times, check your garden fencing – is it secure? Does the gate(s) lock? A dog under stress can sometimes panic, so double check how safe the inside of your home is, e.g., ornaments, glass doors, open fires.

Don’t leave your dog out in the garden unattended.

Dogs who are known to have a problem with fireworks and are affected are best not left alone at home, as dogs are pack animals, stay with your pet and keep inside when the fireworks are being let off.

Don’t leave your dog tied up outside the shop or alone anywhere, e.g., in a vehicle, yobs throw fireworks at animals and find it amusing to wind them up, keep your dog safe.

Never take your dog or any animal to a Firework display, it may be fun for you to watch but keep your dog away and safe.

Keep your dog leashed when out. If you use a flexi leash be extra careful, as your dog suddenly running full throttle to the end of it will cause a jolt which can pull the lead right out of your grasp-you end up with a dog running in a panic with the equipment bouncing along behind, the sudden bang of a rocket etc can cause the most laid back of dogs to bolt; before they know it they are lost.

Please check the following today:

Collar & ID Tag: Your dog needs to be wearing an ID tag or a collar with Identification clearly enscribed on it (this is a legal requirement) -check it can be read, that the information on it is up to date and is securely attached to your dogs collar.

Make sure your dogs collar is in good condition and fits properly.

Microchip: Is you dog microchipped?

If not now would be a good time to get that done. It’s a simple painless procedure that your vet can do.

If your dog is already chipped make sure you have the number to call should the worst happen Also make sure your contact details are up to date.

Bonfire night is coming and for many dogs it’s terrifying. You may think your dog is bombproof but maybe, this time something will surprise him and he may bolt. If the details on his tag are wrong, or if in the panic he loses his collar, your chances of being reunited with your pet are greatly reduced.

Getting through it – some survival tips:
• Exercise your dog earlier; try to have him tired out ready for the evenings.
• Is the house secure-windows closed, cat flap locked (keep the cat safely inside as well), doors secured etc and both escape proof and safe should your dog panic?

• Draw the curtains/blinds to keep out visual reminders-flashing lights etc.
• Have some familiar calming music on or turn up the TV (not too loud) to help block out some of the noise

• Make sure your dog has access to an area where he feels safe - a 'den' which is away from windows with his bedding and toys, put some of your clothing in here so there is a familiar comforting scent, don’t move his bed suddenly, if you are going to set up a safe area in a specific part of the house, do it a few weeks in advance to give him time to adjust and familiarise himself.

• Let your dog out to relieve himself in the garden, under your supervision, so that he will be more comfortable and not desperate for a pee when the noise intensifies during the evenings.

• Offer a stuffed Kong, toys and/or favourite chew toy to distract; giving him something to do can help relive stress.

• Make sure there is plenty of fresh drinking water available and feed your pet a couple of hours before the fireworks in the evening to help relax him.
• You could also try using a DAP Diffuser-leave it plugged in all day a couple of weeks in advance.

• Natural Remedies can also be useful for behavioural problems in dogs, try Dr Bach Rescue Remedy, for more info go to www.bachcentre.com/centre/remedies.htm. Another homeopathic remedy which can also help is called 'Anxiety' it is designed to promote a sense of calm. Scullcap and Valerian tablets are a herbal combination which some dog owners use to bring relief to their dogs when anxious and nervous. Further details at www.healthypetsupplies.co.uk
• If your dog is affected by the noise – do NOT ever punish him. If you go out and find your dog has been destructive whilst you were gone – don’t punish him, stay calm, tidy up any mess and have a cup of tea! It is a completely pointless to punish him, damaging & extremely unkind to your dog, the bond between you both is affected and likely to make him even more stressed out

• Our first reaction to a nervous anxious dog is often to stoke, cuddle and soothe, but hold back as your dog will interpret this as praise – a reward. You and your family members need to remain confident, relaxed and cheery try distracting him and when calmed give a cuddle then so you are not reinforcing any unwanted behaviour.
• Try to yourself remain relaxed and upbeat – conveying the message that there is nothing to worry about

• If you are worried at all – get help and further advice now, the more in advance of the fireworks season the better. Think ahead and visit your veterinary clinic for advice and seek out the assistance of a behavioural councillor who will be able to help your dog, we can put you in touch with someone.

The Fireworks Act:
The Fireworks Act was introduced in August 2004, it makes it an offence to:
• To be under the age of 18 and in possession of Fireworks in a public place.
• To let off Fireworks louder than 120 decibels.
• To let off Fireworks between 11pm and 7am.
The 11pm to 7am curfew is extended on the 5th of November, New year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali.
It is against the law to throw or set off fireworks in the street.
Fireworks must not be sold to anyone who is under 18 years of age.
For a full copy of the legislation (The Fireworks Act 2003) visit - http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2003/20030022.htm
Animal Welfare Act: Under section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 it is an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animals. The penalty on conviction is either imprisonment up to 51 weeks or a fine of up to £20,000 or both. Enforcement of this section of the Act rests with Trading Standards, the Police or the RSPCA as appropriate.

Written by Amanda Dunckley

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Saving Majlo - the fight continues.

Thanks to Nicole for this update on Majlo.

Majlo is a sweet and gentle dog who has never harmed anyone. Still he is confiscated and ordered killed by the police of Norway where he has been held in a secret location since February 2009. His family haven't seen him since he was taken away. They are charged  500 dollars to see their own dog, in addition to the 250 dollars they pay each week for his imprisonment. Their crime: Not knowing that the breed was banned in Norway when they came over from Sweden, where the breed is legal.

Although the law offers banned breeds to leave the country with their owners, the police insist on Majlo being killed instead. A behaviour test on Majlo proves that his temper is very good, but it has become a question of prestige to the police to take his life. Now it is up to the court to decide Majlo's fate.

 The police has, yet again, refused to follow the court's order to allow Majlo to return to Sweden with his family (where there is no breed ban). The police are still insisting that he be killed.

A NEW petition has been started, please sign:

Save Majlo

Please act now! Majlo needs your help!
Please also write to:
The Police Department: politidirektoratet@politiet.no Att.: Christian Budsberg Pettersen

The Minister of Justice: knut.storberget@jd.dep.no

Tell them it is time the police listened to the courts and allowed this innocent dog to return to Sweden with his family. The law allows for banned breeds to leave the country, so why are the police not following their own law???

Please take a few minutes to do this ... his life depends on all of us taking action. Thanks!
Please CROSSPOST far and wide. Bruce in Northern Ireland got over 15,000 signatures, Majlo needs the same.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

More help available for those affected by the Dangerous Dogs Act

DDAWatch, a voluntary organisation offering free help and advice to those affected by or concerned with canine legislation, have expanded their services due to a massive increase in demand.

In the last 18 months the group have been inundated with requests for help via their telephone helplines. Along with the launch of their new website DDAWatch are are pleased to announce that with imediate effect two more helplines are open for concerned members of the public.

Alison Green of DDAWatch said

" Its a pleasure to welcome on board Maria and Julia who will help run the two new lines however it is sad that in this day and age we are having to increase help offered to people who are affected by nothing short of discrimination. Those who contact us may have had their dogs seized or simply wish to know more about canine legislation. While we are not legal experts we have a sound knowledge on most canine legislation, a great team and contacts with solicitors should anyone need legal representation. Just as importantly we offer an ear and support for owners who often need someone to talk to through what is often a heartbreaking time."

All helplines cost the same as a local call and are avaliable 365 days of the year between 9.30 and 9.30. A mobile number is also avalaible for calls outside of those hours.

For more information on DDAWatch or for help and advice please contact Mail@dangerousdogsact.co.uk or call:

0844 844 0802

0844 844 2990
0844 844 2900
or Mobile 07899 724 800
Alternativly DDAWatch website has useful help and information online http://www.ddawatch.co.uk/

Friday, 9 October 2009

Dangerous Dogs Act Disaster - My name Is Sam

My name is Sam. I was killed by mistake while in the "care" of the Metropolitan Police. I died on 26th August 2009 leaving my family devastated. Please watch my tragic story and help us to ensure no more dogs die because of human error. My name was Sam. I wanted to live. For more information please email mail@dangerousdogsact.co.uk or see http://www.ddawatch.co.uk/

This IS Breed Specific Legislation

This blog contains strong wording and upsetting images. Please do not allow children to view unless you have viewed first and are happy for these images to be seen.

When you hear  the words "Breed specific legislation" what picture springs to mind? A pit bull type? A police officer? A judge? BSL is a disease. It spreads fear and panic among dog owners and a false sense of safety to the general public. Its spreads and it kills those caught up in its wake. This is BSL.

These are pictures of just one load of dogs that Denver has rounded up and killed as part of their breed ban. "Well," you might say, "dogs are killed every day in shelters across the land." Yes, they are and it is all awful. But these were dogs who had homes. These were owned dogs that got picked up and killed for what they look like, not for anything they did. Underneath this pile of dead dogs, but not shown, were something like twelve puppies that were not even weaned yet. The photographer wanted to show them, but didn't have the heart to move the bodies of the adults around to show the puppies. Either way, this is how a breed ban manifests itself--in the rounding up and killing family dogs.

These dogs are Denvers lost souls but the same is happening around the world. Most who read this will be in the U.K. Well newsflash people, these pictures may as well be here.Shocking isnt it? Its time to stop BSL now. Help us to fight back before your dog gets its five minutes of fame as the the pup at the top of a stack of dead bodies.

BSL Kills. It you dont stand for something you will fall for everything and the mindless killing of pups like this one will continue. See http://www.ddawatch.co.uk/ for more information on how you can help in the UK.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Metropolitan Police Mistake Kills Family Pet

Metropolitan Police Mistake Kills Family Pet

A west London family have been left inconsolable and are demanding answers following the tragic news that the Metropolitan police have destroyed their family pet dog Sam, in error.

Sam, a four year old Staffordshire Bull Terrier was seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 legislation on 5th May 2009, six months after an incident in which he nipped a travelling salesman once in the leg when he called at the home of owner Melanie Hawes. Sam had never shown any signs of aggression to anyone either prior to the incident or in the six months following the incident.

In July of this year, Miss Hawes, a woman of previous good character, appeared before Ealing Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to an offence under s3 (1) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Advice was sought from Dr Mugford, a leading animal behaviourist who carried out a behavioural assessment on Sam. Dr Mugford found him to be friendly and compliant and concluded he should not be destroyed but should instead be made subject to a Contingent Destruction Order with conditions that he be either on a lead or muzzled when in a public place. He also recommended further training for the dog.

On 31st July 2009 Miss Hawes was sentenced by Ealing Magistrates Court; she was ordered to pay £500 in compensation and a Destruction Order was made against Sam. A notice of Appeal was immediately lodged at court and the appeal hearing was scheduled for the 29th September at Isleworth Crown Court.

Appearing before the Crown Court, a hopeful owner, expert witness Dr Mugford and prosecuting and defence counsel were gathered and ready to commence proceedings when it was suddenly revealed that Sam had been euthanised on the 26th August 2009. Apparently the police were unaware that an appeal had been lodged and Sam was already dead. On being told this information in court His Honour Judge Lowen stated that this was in clear contravention of the Act which states that the order shall not take effect until the Appeal is heard. He went on to say that this action was in conflict with those provisions and it was for another court to deal with the consequences. Owner Melanie Hawes was left in court shocked to the core that the dog that she hoped would be coming home had in fact been dead for the past five weeks.

Overcome with grief and chocking back the tears Sam’s owner Melanie told DDA Watch: “I can’t believe what has happened, that our dog had died due to some kind of paperwork mistake and I have to break the news now to my 11 year old daughter when she comes home from school, she loves Sam so much and has been waiting for him to come home.”

As is usual in Dangerous Dogs Act cases, the owner wasn’t informed when her dog was to be euthanized nor offered the opportunity to receive the body back for burial or cremation.

Solicitor Tina Hay of Wheldon Law, who is acting for Miss Hawes, is already in talks with the head of the Metropolitan Police Status Dogs Unit to try and discover how such an appalling error could have occurred.

Last year a much loved and previously healthy family pet seized under the Act by the Met. Police died suddenly in kennels 17 days after seizure. Following communications with the police and post mortem examination, the distressed family were waiting on the return of their cherished pets body when on the day of arrival they were informed that their dog had been sent to the crematorium by mistake due to being placed in the wrongly coloured disposal bag, leaving another family overwhelmed with the loss of their dog.

The Metropolitan Police have a specialist dog unit, the SDU that is meant to ensure a professional handling of canine related cases and questions are being asked yet again.