Police will not even be looking after Seized Dogs either, if Surrey are anything to go by. Surrey Police have made arrangements with private sites for any seized dogs and have consulted all 11 local councils across Surrey, regarding the general change over.written by, NDWA Reporter
The National Dog Warden Association has detected a worrying trend amongst some local authorities who appear to have misinterpreted the DEFRA advice for councils in relation to taking over sole responsibility for stray dogs on the 6th April 2008.
A number of visitors to the NDWA stand at Crufts 2008 mentioned that their particular councils were ‘getting rid’ of their dog wardens.
Is this down to the ‘where practical’ wording in the advice from DEFRA which says that councils must have an acceptance point where dogs can be taken to?
A number of councils are using Pest Control Officers or Neighbourhood Wardens to deal with dogs, this is completely acceptable as long as the officers are correctly trained to handle the dogs and they have appropriate vehicles to transport strays. What is not acceptable however is the use of untrained people to handle dogs. There are safety issues for the workers, the public and the dogs themselves.
There is a rumour travelling around the dog warden world that alleges a dog was transported in a dual Pest Control/Dog Warden van and rat bait was spilling into the cage area, is that a safe and appropriate environment to transport dogs?
Councils have a statutory duty to appoint an officer to deal with stray dogs in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA90). Legally this is usually a senior council officer and the duty is then delegated downwards usually to a dog warden. The EPA90 currently covers the traditional daytime ‘office hours’ where dog wardens deal with strays, promoting responsible dog ownership and other dog related issues.
Now that councils will have to deal solely with strays from 6th April 2008 and government advice uses the words ‘where practical’ this seems to have been taken to mean ‘let’s not have a day time service, just somewhere that dogs can be taken to!’
That is great until you get difficult to handle dogs, who is going to handle them if the finder cannot get them in their car to take to the acceptance point?
Will the acceptance point be authorised to legally seize the dogs, or will the ‘officer appointed for the purpose’ have to visit the acceptance point?
There is still a need, be it during the day or during out of hours for competent dog handlers to protect public safety. Hiding behind DEFRA advice that relates to a completely different scenario will be no defence when accidents occur and finders are injured by dogs they are taking to the council collection point.
DEFRA’s advisors on this guidance need to ensure that the wording of any future advice does not allow councils to shirk their responsibility in relation to dog control.
Is this a good thing? Or a bad thing? Or no difference whatever? :-]