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(Updated 6/5/01)

Special Sheepdog Rescue service for farmers

A special sheepdog rescue service has been established for farmers with flocks slaughtered as a result of foot and mouth disease.

The charity Border Collie Rescue, based at Richmond, North Yorkshire, has set up a registration system for sheepdogs which face being destroyed following the loss of flocks. Although it is not Government policy to destroy dogs, some farmers concerned about the possible spread of the disease have chosen to have the animals put down.

Mike Cooke of Border Collie Rescue said: ‘Liaising with the MAFF veterinary officer in charge of each case, we will arrange for the disinfection of these dogs, removal from farms and placing in quarantine for three weeks before they are assessed and offered for rehousing. Most will go to another working environment, either on a farm or to police, search and rescue or another public service.

‘The scheme has full Government support, with information provided through web links between MAFF and the charity. The scheme works like this:- A register has been set up for farmers and stockmen affected by Foot and Mouth to provide details of any surplus or displaced dogs they have for re-homing.

‘The information required is the full name and address of the owner and business/farm name where the dog is currently kept. Home/Business/Fax numbers if available. e-mail address if available. If the farm has been infected - the date of the infection and the MAFF case number. If the farm has been culled as a dangerous contact or under the voluntary culling scheme, the date of the cull. We also need the name and contact telephone number of the MAFF veterinary officer in charge of the case.

‘The dogs will remain in the charge of the owners and on the premises until BCR removes them.

‘Dogs from infected or affected farms are removed by Border Collie Rescue after liaison and approval by the MAFF vet in charge of the case or area. The dog is disinfected on the farm before we remove it and is then taken to a ‘halfway house’ where its veterinary needs are attended.

‘Inoculations, worming, microchipping and intract respiratory vaccinations are given and upon completion of this process and when the dog is declared fit by our vets’, the dog is disinfected for a second time and sent to a quarantine unit where it will remain for 21 days.

‘After this 21 day quarantine process the dog is given a third shampoo and moved into a foster home where we start assessment.

‘The assessment process will indicate to us the direction the dog needs to take for re-homing. Working dogs will be re-homed onto working farms and non stock workers as pets or another to working environment like the Police, Prison Service or Mountain Rescue (SARDA) as ‘sniffer’ dogs.

‘Applicants offering homes to these dogs can be assured that at least six weeks minimum will have elapsed since the dogs have been in contact with the Virus and they will have been bathed and disinfected three times during this process. We are assured that there is no possibility that the dog could be carrying the virus after this process and time.

‘Applications for these dogs are being taken and kept on file. We will not be hasty in re-homing these dogs to any sort of home and the applicant will be required to proceed through our normal methods of adoption and home checking.

‘Successful applicants will be offered dogs suitable for their needs as indicated in their application. Working dogs will be offered on a trial period to ensure good bonding between the handler and dog.

‘To register to adopt a dog, we will need the applicants full name, address, postcode and home telephone number.
‘These will be placed on file. As dogs become available, the applicant will be contacted by phone and a form sent through the post. The form will be our standard adoption application and we will need this filled in, signed and returned before we could proceed further.

‘Upon the return of this form, the applicant will be visited by representatives of Border Collie Rescue. This home visit is the final stage of the adoption process and is usually carried out when we have a dog in mind.

‘After successful completion of the home visit, the applicant will be invited to meet the dog or dogs we are sure would be right for their needs and circumstances. If they are happy with our choice, they can adopt the dog. If not we will seek another suitable dog for them.

‘During any part of this process, should an applicant find a dog elsewhere or change their mind, we ask them to let us know and we will close their file.

‘This process has been set up to enable applicants to adopt a dog from us with confidence that there is no danger of further infection from these animals. Dogs can not contract Foot and Mouth disease.

‘MAFF has approved this scheme and it has full Government support. MAFF have also assured us of their co-operation and advice in the removal of dogs from the farms and the disinfections process.’