Sunday, 29 April 2012

LemonAid turns very sour...

Did you watch Keith Lemon's LemonAid last night on ITV?
If so, I doubt you've calmed down yet. I haven't.
Keith had three cute kids under 10 who really, really wanted a puppy. Because, "They're so cute..." and, "In the night time you don't have to have a teddy, you can just cuddle a dog."
And why hadn't the parents already bought these kids dogs. 
"I just haven't been in a position to buy one." said Dave - dad of the eventual winner Kasey.
Keith, "What flavour dog would you like?" Honey answered, "A British Bulldog"
"What pet would you have if you couldn't have a dog?" Honey replied, "A monkey."

Oh please....the RSPCA duty officer would have probably needed to take sedation by now.

'A Right Dog's Dinner' was the name of the game that followed.

Here's how they advertised for these people...
"Are your kids constantly nagging you for a puppy? Would you like to give them the biggest surprise of their lives?"
Let Keith help you make their dreams come true!
The three kids and their parents had to dress up in dog suits and do an agility course with bones in their mouth added to by Peter Andre dressed as a large bone. 

Are you sure you want a puppy asked Keith. "Screams".

The one with the most bones wins the pup.

To the background music of Donny Osmond's Puppy Love a Pug pup was brought out by Peter Andre still in his bone suit. The Pug was delivered into the excited arms of Kasey.

Not a soft toy, a real one.

Kasey decided to call the pup Keith, which was just as well as they had the sparkly collar with that name all ready to wear.
I had imagined that it was illegal to give a puppy away as a prize, but after some digging and some quick tweeting with the RSPCA it seemed that it's only illegal to give a live pet away to a child without the parent's consent - apart from in Scotland where things are thankfully much stricter.

But the show was also simultaneously shown in Scotland, so we had a prime time entertainment programme depicting an illegal act without any editorial comment. 

Perhaps the researchers hadn't realised?

Not long after this, our electricity went off for the evening, just as a facebook protest page was setting up.

This morning I woke up to find the page was already on close to 1,000 likes.

Do join in..."Keith Lemon's LemonAid gave away a puppy as a prize!"

My feeling is that ITV has increasingly pushed the boundaries of unacceptable programming in pursuit of ratings and keeps making more and more extreme and irresponsible TV shows featuring pets.

Just before Christmas we had the dreadful Super Tiny Animals (click for my blog on that dreadful episode) show that further fuelled the lust for miniature pets, tiny monkeys and teacup dogs just as people were writing their Christmas lists - now we have a prime time TV entertainment show that gives a Pug puppy away as a game show prize to children.

Please complain to Ofcom
(Keith Lemon's LemonAid broadcast ITV Saturday 28th April at 18.15 on ITV - you'll need this for your Ofcom complaint.)
If you are resident in Scotland - please cite the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 - specifically 'A person commits an offence if the person offers or gives an animal to another person as a prize.'  and cc the RSPCA, the SSPCA in Scotland and Dogs Trust. And perhaps even your MP.

If you would like our laws to be as strong as Scotland please sign this petition:
From experience from complaining about ITV's Super Tiny Animals they didn't even bother to reply to the charities that complained, so it would seem they simply don't care what anyone thinks!

The purchase price of a Pug is a tiny amount compared to ongoing costs of ownership. If the parents of the winning child couldn't stretch to pay for the pup, how will they ever afford a soft palate resection or essential eye surgery - or even the insurance premiums? Olive the Pug has had £5k of operations so far to keep her alive.

A dog should be for life and not just a tacky game show prize for a quick laugh. 

And how well was the breeder researched? Apparently, the breeder is according Twitter @chloegrinnell who last night I am told  revealed this was an accidental mating. Again I am told there were no health tests and this breeder is only 17 years old. Twitter says she is selling the other pups at £1,200 a time and that Peter Andre has picked one up to go with his Battersea Rescue Dog. How much of this is true, I don't know. But it was and is the talk of Twitter.

Keith is a very funny guy, but whoever gave this item the go ahead on his team forgot that a huge number of those watching are genuine pet lovers and a high percentage of them would be about as offended by this item as they could possibly be. And also that this prime time display of pester power working seems to make the buying of a puppy about as significant as buying a barbeque - one of the other prizes on offer on the show.

This wasn't satire - it just revealed a total institutional ignorance of basic animal welfare issues at the heart of ITV. 

It showed a broadcaster totally out of touch with a significant group of their audience and the laws of the territory it was broadcasting to. 

Not funny.

Charity opinion received so far:

 "The RSPCA has received a number of complaints from members of the public after the programme aired on Saturday regarding the programme giving pets as presents. There was also concern over the use of a crocodile on the show.

"We can confirm that we are looking into the issues raised and are writing to the production company to voice our concerns.

"We would encourage anyone who has concerns over the use of animals in television shows to write to Ofcom."

"Dogs Trust was shocked and disappointed to see a puppy being given as a prize on Keith Lemon's show, Lemonaid. It is highly inappropriate to promote the frivolous gifting of dogs in this fashion and we are concerned that viewers may follow suit without giving any thought to the life-long commitment that dogs command. It was irresponsible to allow such a flippant competition to air on a prime time entertainment television slot. Sadly, animal welfare charities like Dogs Trust often deal with the fallout when dogs are bought on a whim and discarded when the novelty wears off. This poor attempt at entertainment was ill-judged and we urge ITV to issue a full and considered response on this matter."

For more information and advice about rehoming a dog please go to

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home was very disappointed to see a puppy being given as a prize in the recent episode of ITV2’s Keith Lemon’s LemonAid (broadcast Sunday 28 April 2012)
This is a family entertainment show and we feel it was highly irresponsible of ITV to  offer a dog as part of a game show gimmick. We fear many children and their parents will be influenced by what they saw on this show and will have little understanding of the full responsibilities of pet ownership. Whilst we appreciate that the nature of this show is very tongue in cheek, this does not condone such actions.
Our advice to any potential dog owners is always to properly research what is involved in owning a  new dog or puppy and contact a rescue centre or registered breeder if you feel you can offer the right home to a new dog.

The Kennel Club was appalled to see a puppy being given away as a prize on the ITV show Keith Lemon's Lemonaid and the following is our statement:

The Kennel Club is disappointed and shocked that a puppy was given as a prize on a prime-time ITV show and is writing to the television producers and to Ofcom to outline its concerns.

The Kennel Club’s Code of Ethics prohibits breeders from giving puppies as prizes, stating that breeders: ‘Will not sell any dog to commercial dog wholesalers, retail pet dealers or directly or indirectly allow dogs to be given as a prize or donation in a competition of any kind.’

Selling puppies as prizes is also illegal in Scotland. The Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2000 states that a person commits an offence if ‘the person offers or gives an animal to another person as a prize.’

The Kennel Club advised television researchers last week that a puppy should never be given away as a prize. 

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “We are extremely disappointed to see ITV giving a puppy away as a prize. This is strictly against the Kennel Club Code of Ethics and sends out completely the wrong message about puppy ownership to both breeders and puppy buyers.

“The golden rule for buying a puppy, which the Kennel Club highlights during its Puppy Awareness Week in September and throughout the year, is that people should always see the puppy with its mother and in its home environment, before they buy.

“Puppies are not commodities but are a lifelong commitment, and the Kennel Club campaigns to ensure that people buy puppies responsibly and that breeders advertise and sell responsibly. Anyone involved in dog breeding should understand that proper informed research by a potential puppy owner is essential before taking on the responsibility of dog ownership, and that a breeder should be directly involved in some form of vetting to ensure the suitability of the puppy buyer.”
Comment in from the SSPCA:
 Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said, "We are aware that Keith Lemon's LemonAid apparently gave a puppy as a prize, though it is not clear whether this was in pretence or not.
"Giving animals as prizes is illegal in Scotland though as this programme was filmed in England it would be for the relevant bodies south of the border to investigate whether an offence has been committed.
"At the very least, giving away or pretending to give away any animal as a prize sends the wrong message.
"We encourage responsible pet ownership which includes due care and thought being taken before taking on a pet and ensuring owners have the time, knowledge and financial resources required."

Thursday, 26 April 2012

What's in June's issue of Dogs Today?

A hell of a lot is the short answer!
If you are a fan of Kevin Brockbank's artwork it's one to keep. Several new pieces of his doggie take on famous paintings...
I've written loads this month for reason! Latest outrages from Halifax and Lloyds, poor dog been diagnosed with Lymphoma just as news of cancellation of cover for life insurance delivered to owner who knew nothing of their exit from insurance until then. If they'd written ASAP he could have switched provider.
The Amazing Endal award winners, really fantastic stories - so deserving. We're giving the medals out on May 12th at the London Pet Show Earl's Court - 3pm the Animal Action Ring.
I interview new RSPCA boss Gavin Grant about what he has planned and it's going to be interesting with him at the helm!
I tell the story of Robin and Jen Hollington whose son Richard was the 300th soldier killed in Afghanistan. Hound For Heroes recruit Yomper is named in his memory. Robin has thrown himself into fund raising and is launching the Dogs Dinner in this issue in aid of H4Hs.
Karen Cornish tells us all about the attempts to rebrand the Staffie to make rehoming one of these dogs seem more attractive. And a fair few of the 53 dogs looking for homes in this issue are Staffies. We tell the stories of four dogs featured that have now found their happy endings.
Jemima Harrison has a good close look at the newly launched Puppy Information Pack and gives her views.
Karen Cornish is back again with a piece on food allergies and intolerances.
Claire Horton-Bussey considers going vegetarian. And as part of the foodie theme we look at finding dog food with all the nasty bits left out and tracking down treats with no wheat.
Lovely alternative vet Richard Allport tells you what to do if your dog is bitten by a snake - including a real life saving hint.
Our celeb interviewer Natalya has double bubble this month talking to the owner of Uggie and atomic kitten Jennie Frost.
Sarah Whitehead wants us to fill in a relationship survey - makes me feel like we're a proper mag like Cosmo!
Peter Neville deals with a German Short-haired Pointer that loves the new kitten a bit too much as does the existing moggie!
Kirsty Peake tackles a dog that that has been damaged by his previous owners. Unbelievable - parents decided to teach their six year old child by giving the family dog up to a shelter. Shelter decided not to give the dog back the next week when the parents brought the kid back in...
Chirag Patel helps owners make up their mind on neutering
Our Jodie Nash writes up her experiences hiring a dog-friendly VW Campervan.
Allen Parton looks back at Crufts and all the amazing things that happened for Hounds for Heroes there.
Karen Wild Has written a great introduction to Grisha Stewart's fantastic Behaviour Adjustment Training and Jordan Shelley helps out my trying out the techniques on his dog Jaffa.
I don't know how it took so long for us to get around to it, but we profile Lurchers in the Fido Facts section and we put the adorable Isabella on the cover.
In 'I want One' you can win a pair of Brasher boots, a Canine Cooler bed, a pot of Hay Max, Some natural healing from Sol Healing products, a personalised collar and lead from Collar me Quick and an amazing Safestix from Kong.
And lovely Victoria Stilwell launches Dog TV.
and then there's Think Tank and all the other regulars and competitions...
Pat on the back is Natalie Ellis who braved Dragon's Den with the Road Refresher Bowl - a brilliant invention!
And somewhere I mention the Government's chipping announcement which all kicked off just as we were going to press... what a month!
Magazine is out May 10th but before that for subscribers (

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

40% of chipped dogs records incomplete!


Mon, 23 Apr 2012
Whilst NDWA welcomes the government announcement on proposed ways to deal with irresponsible dog ownership in its many forms, it is extremely disappointed that yet again the end result is another consultation process by DEFRA rather than decisive action.
NDWA has stated elsewhere that the government was wrong to intermingle dangerous dogs and stray dogs as a single issue, confusion on what a dangerous dog is has clouded public perception and has helped to create a misleading image that microchipping will help reduce the number of dog attacks.
Further confusion has arisen in the belief that a microchip will identify a dog to an owner, ask a Local Authority Dog Warden if there are any left at your local council how many stray dogs that are microchipped have up to date details or perhaps the microchip has not been registered, a figure of around a 40 percent failure rate is not uncommon.  There would need to be legislation that placed responsibility for a dog with the person or organisation that bred it, sold it or re-homed it, much in the same way that the DVLA places responsibility on the previous owner of a car if the log book has not been signed over to the new owner.
Microchipping as an aid to animal welfare and the swift reunification of dogs with owners is welcomed by NDWA but there are far too many unanswered questions that require addressing, a major one being, if it becomes mandatory that a dog is implanted with a microchip, who is responsible for enforcing non-compliance?   Many Local Authorities have reduced the traditional Dog Warden Service that offered dog control through a combination of education and enforcement.  If the dog control aspect of the person responsible for dealing with dogs at a council is a secondary one, when will there be time to carry out enforcement of a law that requires dogs to be implanted?
NDWA worked with partners from the RSPCA, ACPO, CIEH and LGA to produce simplified legislation that would enable the primary enforcement agencies, prohibited breed's and dogs dangerously out of control The Police, stray dogs and minor dog related issues Local Authorities the tools to protect public safety and promote responsible dog ownership.
The amount of money set aside by the government for Local Authorities, charities and local groups to promote responsible dog ownership £50,000 is frankly risible, if there are 326 Local Authorities in England that have a statutory duty to deal with stray dogs, this amounts to approximately £1,533 per council, how much printing will this buy?  Would this money actually be 'ring-fenced' or would it go straight in to the general council fund?
NDWA President Susan Bell said:
Any consultation process needs to address the issue of inadequately funded Dog Warden Services, the whole ethos of the NDWA is the promotion of responsible dog ownership through a combination of education and enforcement.  Without competent Dog Warden Services  there will be no positive promotion of responsible dog ownership in England.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Guide Dogs think the Gov could do better

Guide Dogs backs compulsory microchipping but wants proposals to go further

Guide Dogs ( has welcomed the Government’s proposals for the compulsory microchipping of dogs in England but is calling for them to go further.

Commenting on the announcement, Richard Leaman, Chief Executive of Guide Dogs said: “The Government’s preferred option is to make breeders responsible for microchipping newly-born dogs before they are sold.  Although we support this idea in principle, it would take many years before all dogs are microchipped, so we would also like to see the introduction of mandatory microchipping of all dogs, regardless of their age, within two years of legislation being introduced.”

With concern increasing about the number of attacks by other dogs on guide dogs, the charity is also calling on the Government to give police the power to treat an attack on an assistance dog as seriously as an attack on a person.

Richard Leaman added: “There were 147 attacks on guide dogs between June 2010 and December 2011. We believe that an attack on an assistance dog should be considered an attack on the person, to reflect the fact that a guide dog is a vital mobility aid and that such attacks are very distressing for people who are already vulnerable.”

Kirsten Barrett’s guide dog, Norman, was attacked in south Wales by two dogs while she was walking her seven-year-old daughter to school. Norman, a yellow Labrador, had to retire following the attack. Commenting on the experience, mum-of-two Kirsten, 41, said: “The attack was terrifying. I told my daughter to carry on walking away, so she didn't get hurt, while I tried to get in between the dogs. But they were too strong, and I got bitten on the hand and leg as well. Eventually, I managed to get Norman into a neighbour's house, but even then this dog was flying at the glass, trying to get at him.

“I'm still angry and frightened and my daughter's still too terrified to talk about the attack. Norman has been my loyal guide dog for six years and I’m devastated that he’s had to be retired early, it’s a huge blow.”

A public consultation on compulsory microchipping was announced by Lord Taylor today.

Guide Dogs' latest figures show that on average, there are more than seven attacks on guide dogs by other dogs every month. They also show that an average of four guide dogs a year have to be withdrawn from service following an attack, costing the charity around £200,000. Guide Dogs relies on public donations and receives no government funding.

Wood Green also disappointed in Gov announcement

After waiting a number of years for Government to take action to tackle irresponsible pet ownership, animal welfare organisations today received the long awaited announcement.

While there are some positive outcomes from the response, Wood Green, The Animals Charity is particularly disappointed that the opportunity to make the changes that are so urgently needed to improve the welfare of dogs and to protect the general public and reduce anti-social behaviour has been missed.

Wood Green, has been working with other well respected animal welfare organisations to improve existing dangerous dog legislation to better protect the public while also maintaining high levels of welfare for dogs. The Charity welcomes the move to extend legislation to private places thereby providing a degree of protection to workers, like postmen, who need to access private property to carry out their work, but still feel this ‘piecemeal’ approach to legislation is not tackling the wider issues associated with dangerous dogs and responsible pet ownership.

The Charity has also been lobbying the Government on the separate issue of microchipping for some time. We are pleased to hear that we are a step closer to compulsory microchipping, but today’s response does not indicate how and when compulsory microchipping will be introduced. In the last month alone we have taken in 38 stray dogs, only 13 of these were reclaimed (11 of which were reunited with their owner because they were microchipped). Last year we microchipped in the region of 6000 animals. Sadly, thousands of unidentifiable dogs remain in kennels or worse are put to sleep when, if they were microchipped they could be reunited with loving owners.

Dennis Baker OBE says “At Wood Green we are actively working in our local communities to promote responsible pet ownership. In the last year alone we microchipped 1000 dogs through our Outreach projects and gave training and behaviour advice and support to reduce antisocial behaviour associated with dogs. The clear message coming back from owners is that legislation associated with dogs is at best unclear and this latest announcement has done little to clear-up this confusion.”

We would like to urge members of the public to respond to the consultation. Defra would like to hear from anyone with an interest in responsible dog ownership, including: enforcement agencies; people working with dogs; animal welfare organisations; dog keeping organisations; and the general public.

To read the full statement click here - <>

You can complete the survey on-line at: <>

Alternatively, you can e-mail your response to: <>

You may also send your comments, or any requests for copies of the documents, by post to:
Dangerous Dogs Team
Animal Welfare
Area 8B, 9 Millbank
c/o 17 Smith Square
Any comments on the proposals in this consultation document should be sent by 15 June 2012.

RSPCA and BVA comment on Chipgate



Veterinary associations have described the Government’s package on dangerous dogs as a missed opportunity to prevent future dog attacks.

The package (for England) includes an extension of dangerous dogs law to cover private property, the removal of the requirement for all dogs to be held in police ‘custody’ and a range of options to introduce the compulsory microchipping of all dogs.

The announcement follows the 2010 Defra consultation on a wide range of dangerous dog and dog control issues.

Although the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) broadly welcome the individual measures announced, the proposals do not include any of the preventive measures that the BVA, BSAVA and many other organisations and individuals have called for since the introduction of the failed Dangerous Dogs Act in 1991.

Commenting, Harvey Locke, Past President of the BVA, said:

“In the 2010 consultation the Government received the message loud and clear that the Dangerous Dogs Act has failed to protect both the public and dog welfare. Unfortunately, today’s announcement has missed this once in a generation opportunity to overhaul the legislation.

“Dog welfare charities, veterinary organisations, trade unions, and enforcement bodies have been united in the call for a complete overhaul of the legislation and a new, consolidated Bill to focus on prevention. There will be a huge amount of frustration and disappointment with today’s announcement.”

Mark Johnston, President of BSAVA, said:

“Although we welcome the individual proposals they only tinker with the inadequate existing laws. The move to cover incidents on private property is a positive step but it will do little or nothing to actually prevent attacks happening in the first place.

“We are pleased that the Government has recognised the problems associated with breed-specific legislation and has proposed steps to ensure the welfare of dogs that have become the subject of court proceedings. This type of ‘bail’ for dogs is a welcome move to improve welfare, but we hope we can make the case for it to go further.”

On compulsory microchipping, Mr Locke added:

“The BVA strongly supports the introduction of compulsory microchipping and will be making the case for all dogs to be microchipped from a certain date, rather than a phased-in approach that would be very difficult to enforce.

“However, microchipping is primarily a welfare measure. It is not the answer to the serious problem of dangerous dogs and shouldn’t be promoted as such.”

The Government has wasted the best opportunity to tackle irresponsible dog ownership in more than 20 years, claimed the RSPCA today.

The country’s biggest animal welfare charity has accused Defra of ignoring the advice of the country’s dog law enforcement agencies, and instead launching yet another unnecessary consultation.

The RSPCA’s believes the coalition has broken its promise, set out in its ‘programme for government’, to “promote responsible pet ownership” and that it “will ensure that enforcement agencies target irresponsible owners of dangerous dogs.”1

An extension of the law to cover private property, as well as public land, is a step in the right direction. However, along with compulsory microchipping of puppies, it is a purely reactionary measure that fails to prevent dog bites and attacks from happening in the first place.

The RSPCA also fear suggestions of an increase in the fee to have dogs put on the exempted register from £24 to more than £70 could lead to more people choosing instead to have their dog put to sleep rather than pay costs of up to an estimated £850 for it to be exempted.2

RSPCA chief executive Gavin Grant said: “Britain’s dogs deserve better. Too many are abandoned and abused, demonised and dumped. All owners need to be accountable to their dogs, the irresponsible deterred and the abusive prosecuted. That is the approach we need to take. These proposals need to go a lot further to achieve that.

“It has been 21 years since the disastrous Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced. After years of watching the problem of irresponsible dog ownership spiral, this was the perfect chance for the current Government to make huge strides forward for dog welfare. Instead they have taken only the smallest steps and merely tinkered with a piece legislation that many people widely acknowledge is one of the biggest failures of modern politics.

“These measures not only lack bite, they raise major questions about how exactly they expect to effectively tackle the danger of irresponsible ownership to both people and animals.

“Animal rescue centres are filled to breaking point with unwanted, neglected and cruelly treated dogs. Irresponsible owners are continuing to make money from breeding dogs with little care for their health or welfare. Meanwhile, people continue to be put at risk of being attacked or injured by out of control dogs and their irresponsible owners.

“The proposals set out by the Government in Westminster today do not appear to fundamentally address these growing problems of irresponsible dog ownership.

“Instead, Defra has only papered over the cracks of much more serious matters than this response gives credit to. The RSPCA believe enough is enough.”

The launch of a new consultation puts England once again on the back foot in tackling irresponsible ownership, compared to other home nations.

Northern Ireland remains the last part of the UK to retain a dog licensing scheme, while the Welsh Government is currently working on proposals for the control of dogs and Scotland has just updated its dog control legislation providing for earlier intervention. This leaves England trailing in last place again.

Defra’s announcement today also ignores the 78% of respondents to the previous Government’s consultation on dangerous dogs who said they believe current legislation should be consolidated and updated into one law.3

Mr Grant added: “They do not appear to understand what the people want and what the dogs need.

“It has not listened to those who deal with this problem on the frontline – the police, the local authorities and the RSPCA and other animal charities and vets.

“There has been more than two years since the last consultation to ensure the Government got this right. The RSPCA, along with the other law enforcement agencies, have stated on numerous occasions the measures we believe are vital to solve what is a huge social, public safety and animal welfare issue.

“Yet here we are again, and the Government has once more ignored the advice of those who deal with irresponsible dog owners every day.”


Dogs Trust reaction to the Government statement

First up with a comment Dogs Trust:

Dogs Trust’s response to Defra’s announcement on Dangerous Dogs and Microchipping

Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, has expressed disappointment and frustration that a Written Ministerial Statement on tackling irresponsible dog ownership announced today has failed to effectively address two elements that the charity believes are vital to successful policy in this area – compulsory microchipping of all dogs to connect owners with their dogs and preventative measures to reduce the number of dog attacks.

The announcement today, which Dogs Trust believes will provide an outline for the government’s future proposals on dangerous dog law, has been long awaited and the charity had hoped that it would signal some significant and effective changes to dangerous dog legislation. It has taken over twenty years of campaigning to get the government to attempt to redress the mistakes that were made by rushing the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 through Parliament.

Dogs Trust believes that compulsory microchipping of all dogs should form a central part of any future policy on tackling irresponsible dog ownership. Microchipping will not prevent attacks but the charity believes that it is the most effective way to link a dog to its owner and to make irresponsible owners accountable for the actions of their dog. Microchipping all puppies is a step in the right direction but will mean that the effectiveness of any policy will be delayed by upwards of 10 years. Dogs Trust research shows that 83% of the UK population believe all dogs should be microchipped - it is hard to understand why government is so reluctant to take this step.

The charity is also concerned that this consultation makes little provision for the prevention of dog attacks. We would like to see the government identify ways to deal with irresponsible owners before an attack takes place, which could take the form of Dog Control Notices to keep dogs on a lead or muzzled in public places where necessary.

Dogs Trust does, however, welcome an extension of the law to private property as this would send a strong signal to owners who fail to keep their dogs under control that they could now face the full force of the law. The charity believes that the most severe attacks should be considered a criminal matter, while minor incidents should continue to be dealt with as a civil matter by the courts under the Dogs Act 1871, but with a power of compensation for the victims of dog attacks.

And finally, in the absence of a repeal of breed specific legislation, Dogs Trust would like new provisions to be introduced that would better improve welfare for dogs that could be deemed to be of ‘type’ by allowing responsible owners to make applications to Court for their dog to be registered and for Magistrates to be given a new power to allow a dog to be returned home on ‘bail’ pending a case being concluded.

Clarissa Baldwin, CEO of Dogs Trust, says:

“The Government has spent a great deal of time examining this legislation since it came to power and whilst we accept DEFRA has done their best to look at this issue, unfortunately, their best is no where near good enough.  Not good enough to better protect the public or good enough to improve animal welfare.

“Government must tackle this problem head on with completely new legislation rather than just tinkering around the edges.  We’re extremely disillusioned that there is nothing in the consultation on measures that will actually help to prevent dog attacks, which is surely what the aim of these proposals should be.  We seem to be waltzing along on this issue rather than the quick step we need to meaningful reform.

We consider that the introduction of compulsory microchipping of all dogs, not just those born after a certain date, is the only way that we will see immediate welfare benefits and a reduction in the number of stray dogs in the UK

“Microchipping will not prevent dog attacks but it will allow the owner of a dangerous dog or a dog that was dangerously out of control to be identified by enforcement agencies. The act of microchipping is also a key intervention, providing an opportunity to advise owners about responsible dog ownership and the law.”

Chipping statement in full




Date:  23 April 2012 ____________________________________________________________

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Taylor of Holbeach)     My Right Hon Friend the Minister for Food and Farming has today made the following statement.

I am pleased to announce a package of measures to tackle irresponsible dog ownership.  I apologise to the House that this announcement is four weeks later than intended.

In the past few years there has been a sharp rise in the problems associated with irresponsible dog ownership.  The number of adults sentenced for offences relating to dangerous dogs has increased by 39 per cent from 855 in 2009 to 1,192 in 2010.  The number of dog-related admissions to hospital has also risen significantly, from 2,915 in 1997 to 6,118 in 2010.  In 2009 alone, dog attacks cost the NHS £3.3 million in treating the most serious cases where victims had to be admitted for treatment.  Every year there are numerous reported attacks on Royal Mail, Parcelforce and British Telecom staff.  Most of these attacks take place on private property.  Between 2007 and 2010, five people were killed following a dog attack in the home; four of the victims were children under the age of four years.  Concerns have also been raised with Defra about dog attacks on health visitors and social workers during home visits.

Irresponsible dog ownership is a complex problem and there is no single solution. The primary responsibility for ensuring that dogs are kept under proper control must rest with individual owners who should only acquire a dog if they are prepared to look after it properly and make sure that it does not become a nuisance or a danger to others.

Given growing concern about the number of dog attacks, the previous Government consulted the public in 2010 to find out whether the law needed to be changed and, if so, what changes might help.  The consultation found that most people thought that powers contained in the existing dangerous dogs legislation were inadequate.  The police and the dog welfare charities said that the criminal law in relation to dogs being dangerously out of control should be extended to cover private property (the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 only applies on public land or private land where the dog is trespassing) and there was also widespread support for compulsory microchipping. 

The responses showed that there was no support for adding other breeds or types to the list of prohibited dogs.  However the police specifically made the point that removing the ban on the four specific prohibited types, Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro, would significantly increase the risk of dog attacks because these four prohibited types were originally specifically bred for fighting, are renowned for their aggressive behaviour and are known to be disproportionately dangerous when in the hands of an irresponsible individual or when dangerously out of control. 

Having considered the replies to the consultation and further consulted the police, local authorities and other organisations who are in the frontline in dealing with irresponsible dog ownership, Government has decided that it would be appropriate to extend existing dangerous dogs law in England to cover all private property. Extending the current law would make it enforceable in homes, private gardens and private land where people and dogs are entitled to be, better protecting the thousands of service workers such as medical staff and postmen whose jobs take them onto private property.  However, the proposed extension to the criminal law will not extend to protect trespassers who have entered the private property with unlawful intentions.

In addition, to ensure the welfare of dogs that have become the subject of court proceedings and to ease the costs to the police service, Government has also decided that it should no longer be necessary for the police to seize and kennel dogs pending the outcome of court proceedings where the police do not consider the dog presents a risk to the public. The requirement to seize the dog will not be waived unless the police are satisfied that it is in the care of a responsible owner.  In addition interim conditions can be placed on the owner e.g. requiring the dog to be muzzled and on lead when in public (this would apply in England). 

We consider that allowing dogs to be exempted from seizure in these circumstances strikes the right balance between protecting the public from dangerous dogs and ensuring that safe and properly looked after dogs are not unnecessarily removed from their homes.  We propose to raise the fee of £24 (first set in 1991) payable by the owner for placing prohibited dogs on the Index of Exempted Dogs to better reflect the costs involved in administering these dogs for their lifetime and thereby reduce the burden on the taxpayer (this would apply throughout Great Britain).  Further funding is also being given to the Association of Chief Police Officers to support the training that they provide for Dog Legislation Officers in order to ensure that there is a hub of dog law expertise in every police force.

It is also our intention to introduce regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 on microchipping to promote animal welfare by making it easier for local authorities and rescue centres to quickly re-unite stray dogs with their owners.  It would also help the police and local authorities to enforce dog and animal welfare legislation.  Our preferred approach is to make breeders responsible for microchipping the puppy before sale.

Therefore a further consultation is being held to give the public an opportunity to give their views on these proposed legislative changes.  In relation to microchipping the options are: (i) requiring all dogs to be microchipped on transfer of ownership, (ii) requiring all dogs to be microchipped from a certain date, (iii) implementing a phased-in process, such as starting with compulsory microchipping on transfer of ownership and after five years moving to mandatory microchipping of all dogs, or (iv) making breeders responsible for microchipping newly-born dogs before (first) sale.  This is the responsibility of the breeder or seller and not the purchaser.  The preferred option is the fourth one.

We consider that education also has a significant role to play in reducing the problems associated with irresponsible dog ownership.  Government is providing funding of £50,000 to be shared between the RSPCA, Battersea Cats and Dogs Home and the Dogs Trust to foster innovative local community projects to encourage responsible dog ownership in areas where there are high instances of dog-related problems.  The funding is being provided on the basis that the interventions will be carefully evaluated and the learning disseminated to help others engaged in working with local communities.

In drawing up these measures, Defra has worked with the Home Office to ensure the new anti-social behaviour measures they are preparing reflect the needs of enforcement agencies and enhance their ability to prevent irresponsible dog owners presenting a risk to the general public.

Local authorities already have powers to designate areas of public space as ‘dog free zones’ whilst Social Landlords are able to lay down rules for their tenants regarding the keeping of dogs or other animals. Many local initiatives build on these powers and today’s announcement compliments them to address the small minority of dog owners who cause such distress to these whom they attack or intimidate.

Chips with everything... it's the law!

The government announced today that new born pups must be microchipped and the reason - wanting to do something about dangerous dogs.
To be honest if they were talking about potato chips becoming compulsory it would probably have just as much impact on dog bite stats.
When was the last time we had a high profile case of a dog biting someone where we didn't know who owned the dog? Isn't it usually a relative of the child savaged who is illegally breeding Pit Bulls without adhering to the already existing - but not applied - Dangerous Dogs Act? 
The act that was supposed to mean these dogs should have been chipped and neutered - in fact the act that should have seen the Pit Bull disappear as it would stop being bred way back in 1991? 
Finding who owns the dog that has bitten has never really been a problem.
Still I guess it makes the Government feel like they're doing 'something'. 
Don't get me wrong I agree with the 58% of dog owners who choose to chip their dogs, they are a good way of getting your dog back if someone bothers to scan the dog when they find it - but if it is wearing a collar and a tag that's what most people will read first to phone you up. 
But it's belt and braces should the collar fall off. 
But if someone has your dog and doesn't want to give it back the chip means pretty much nothing. I would love the microchip to magically stop people breeding Staffie crosses no one wants or for it to grant intelligence and good judgement to those people who knowingly breed Pit Bulls and brag about their fighting prowess and then leave them with their old mum to look after along with her grandkids when something else comes up. 
I wonder what other measures they'll announce next. 
Perhaps for us all to hop on one leg if there's an r in the month to stimulate the economy. 
I wonder if David Cameron thinks if we all avoided walking on the cracks in the pavement we could decrease unemployment and avoid further hosepipe bans, too. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Up a Gumtree with a load of Staffies

Jordan Shelley asked me to give the "Get Gumtree Animal Free" campaign a push and he is right, it definitely needs it.
One of the horrors of foreign travel used to be finding a market that sells pets next to the fruit and fish as if they are just as insignificant a purchase.
But in the UK on Gumtree today you can find 27,773 pets for sale. That's the biggest pet market I've ever seen. Every few minutes you hit the refresh button and there are a screen full of Staffie pups being sold and other dogs being given away free... it is really disturbing.
I have heard stories of dogs being harvested as bait dogs, and I have to say it all looks very unregulated to me. There are some rules, but 4 week old kittens have been spotted for sale. No one seems to police the site, but with 27,000 plus to check, no surprise really. It's enormous and it's all very ugly. Lovely dogs being put on a site designed to sell things that don't have feelings - that can't get messed up.
Look at this beautiful six year old in Belfast, being given away due to "shrinking homespace and growing family"
Or this young dog, described as "Rottweiler puppy bitch 4 months old, excellent temperament very lively puppy loves being outside very active dog, the puppy has full vaccination full pedigree papers & his electronic chipped, this dog is worth its money £500."
I'm sure the dog "LOVES" being outside....ugh.
And the worrying, "I will collect any pets but must be free please contact me on 0787918871" well actually it said before I interpreted... "I will collect any pets bat most be free please contact me..."
But I don't think they want pet bats... that's definitely illegal. But then again...
The site is peppered with people who don't even know the names of the pets they are selling or giving away.... kittins, shepards, pedegrees, minitures and even one dog that is "flead and wormed".
How about this one...

"American Bulldog X Staff Bitch £150 o.n.o
one female american bulldog x staff pup
shes 6 months old
mainly white with a few black spots starting to come through
shes almost house trained and trained to sit
lovey dog selling due to no time.
email for more details and pics"

Almost housetrained at only six months old!
It is heartbreaking to watch pets being passed on like it's the 70s and again and we're in a very un PC version of Noel Edmond's Multicolour swap shop.
It's just so wrong. Pets ricocheting from one disaster to another.
If you think that pets deserve better than this, do join the facebook campaign group

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Our 'Adopt Me' feature rolls on for a sixth month

It is completely FREE to have dogs looking for a home featured in Dogs Today. It really couldn't be more simple (see below), plus we really want to hear from people who have rehomed a dog we have featured as the readers love hearing what happens to these lovely dogs.

Would you alike some magazines containing your featured hard to rehome dogs for FREE? Why noteave some copies in your vets, doctor's surgery, dentist never know where you might find Mr or Mrs Right for one of your dogs! 

We just need £10 to cover the courier and you can have a stack of that issue while stocks last! (UK mainland only - other destinations on application) phone 01276 858880 during office hours or email to arrange. 
And do tell Jodie about any dogs that have found a perfect home so we can feature them.

Do you have any dogs you'd like to feature in the next Adopt Me?

There are three very simple steps

1. We need a good photograph (about a 1MB when attached, in focus ideally!)

2. The answers to these really simple questions.   

3. A 100 word statement from the dog that makes people look twice. (See below if you need inspiration!)

Here are the questions:
Name of dog:
Type of dog and size if not obvious:
Approx age: (in years)
With other dogs?
With cats?
Good with children?
Location (County):
Contact details:
Foster or forever home?

Email all three of these elements to a new email address (retype this as copy and paste for some reason often will not work!) 

and put 'Adopt me' in the subject. 

Here's what a typical page of the the Adopt me feature looks like.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

May is here - so soon!

Here's what's in the May issue, freshly delivered to the Dogs Today office today!

Isn't our cover star elegant, this was just how Alfie decided to sit... Italian Greyhounds, real dogs or works of art? Have to say they are both from having the chance of meeting quite a few at our photoshoot.

Inside on the remarkable 132 pages... (how do we do it in just a month!)
Karen Parker's fantastic photos from Crufts.
Jemima Harrison's take on the health tests at the show. 
Anna Osborne from Iron Mountain talks from the sharp end of rescue puts us straight that being a rescue dog isn't actually an excuse for general bad behaviour...
53 gorgeous dogs looking for homes and three that already have.
Claire Horton-Bussey on how Aids patients are helped to stay well by the love of a pet.
Karen Cornish on what bugs you'll find overseas and why and how to avoid them...
Win a holiday to the Isle of Wight
Karen Wild Wildpaw on overcoming car trouble
Victoria Stilwell on stopping pulling
Sarah Whitehead gives a sex masterclass!
Claire Horton-Bussey on how young offenders are helping retrain rescue dogs. A win win situation!
Peter Neville and a Basset that eats allsorts!
Children's chef Amanda Karmel and TV presenter Michaela Strachan are our doggie celebs
Win a digital portrait of your dog and loads of other prizes
And meet the gorgeous new recruits at Hounds for Heroes and catch up with the first six and see how they are growing up!
Italian Greyhounds as pets
The London Pet Show revealed...
News from our pet insurance crusade
There's just so much more in it! Do subscribe and save some money!
If you phone up now 01276 858880 we will send you a copy today during office hours...
In the shops next Thursday but in your hand before that if you can't wait!! Also available on ipad and online