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DTA concerned at ‘Leave your dog outside’ advice

A DTA supporter kindly forwarded a story to me recently that has caused a great deal of concern to DTA co-ordinators writes Margaret Nawrockyi, Dog Theft Action Co-ordinator.

The story refers to Sheila Bowen-Colthurst who was shopping in a PDSA shop accompanied by her German Shepherd, Tara. Mrs Bowen-Colthurst was admiring the Christmas Card selection when she was asked by a shop assistant to remove Tara from the shop. The assistant went on to suggest that she could tie Tara to a lamppost while she continued her shopping.

Mrs Bowen-Colthurst was quite rightly horrified at the very idea of leaving any dog unattended outside a shop, as she is well aware of the risk of dog theft. However she was advised by the assistant that it is the policy of the PDSA to refuse entry to dogs as they "become traumatised" when taken into shops.

PDSA media co-ordinator Shobby Patel commented: "The policy of not allowing dogs other than assistance dogs into shops was introduced in 2001.Dogs should not be taken into busy, often cramped, shop environments, unless specifically meeting the needs of humans; a role for which assistance dogs have been rigorously trained".

We need to ask ourselves: "When is it OK to take our dogs shopping and when is it better to leave them at home?" DTA’s advice is, unless you are absolutely sure your dog can accompany you into the shop then don’t risk it.

This summer a well-known supermarket chain assured their customers that it was safer to tie their dogs up outside the store where bowls of water would be on hand to cool down any panting pet during the summer months. This came in support of the RSPCA’s necessary advice about not leaving dogs in cars during hot weather. However, not enough thought seems to have been given to the poor dogs lined up on display for any would be thief to take his/her pick.

Without wishing to appear critical of the PDSA, DTA is extremely concerned that an organisation such as the PDSA should give inappropriate advice to dog owners, such as was given to Sheila Bowen-Colthurst. We appreciate that most shopkeepers and managers do not want dogs to enter their premises but we are very worried about the alternative offered in this instance.

The PDSA appear in effect to be telling dog owners to disregard all the advice that has been given after numerous reports of incidents of theft from situations just like this. Hundreds of dogs have been stolen from outside shops and from cars in supermarket car parks.

Jennie Dhanjal from Doglost UK said: "No organisation concerned with the welfare of dogs should suggest that they are left unattended while their owner continues shopping. If your dog is not welcome in the shops you patronise then it’s a better idea to leave it at home. Perhaps the PDSA will display their policy statement clearly for the benefit of dog owning customers."

DTA has invited the PDSA to send a representative to its forthcoming summit meeting which will be held at the Kennel Club next month. Dog safety is obviously high on the agenda for this meeting and we hope to cover the issue of dogs being left outside shops in greater detail.Website: www.dogtheftaction.co.uk