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Onwards and upwards toward the Summit

Preparations are well underway for the Dog Theft Action ‘Summit’ – the only meeting to focus exclusively on dog theft in the UK, which will be held at the Kennel Club in Clarges Street next month.

The meeting will be attended by DTA co-ordinators Jayne Hayes, Laura Lucas, Nikki Powditch, Candy King and Margaret Nawrockyi. They are hopeful that the meeting will suggest ways of continuing the campaign, which was launched in January 2005 to best effect.

DTA has met with a great deal of support since the campaign was launched and interest in the ‘summit’ has been very gratifying to the DTA co-ordinators.

The KC was among the first to show support for such a gathering and generously offered to host the ‘summit’ at the Clarges ST headquarters. The meeting will be attended by KC Chief Executive Rosemary Smart, Marketing and Business Development Executive Helen Fox, External Affairs Manager Phil Buckley and Celia Walsom from the Kennel Club’s Reunification PetLog Service.

Phil Buckley of the KC said: “We are absolutely delighted to be hosting the Summit in November as we fully support DTA’s objectives and see the issue of dog theft as a serious matter that needs to be addressed. DTA are to be commended on co-ordinating this summit and we feel sure that some positive action points will be taken forward as a result of this meeting.”

Dog Theft Action appreciates this gesture very much and warmly welcomes members of the KC to participate in the search for a solution to the dog theft issue.

Dogs Trust is another organisation that is concerned with dog theft and has been interested in DTA’s campaign to focus attention on the issues that surround the problem. DT’s Chief Executive Clarissa Baldwin and Veterinary Director Chris Laurence met DTA co-ordinators earlier this year at the KC. They will both attend the ‘Summit’ next month and are particularly keen to promote responsible dog ownership.

Clarissa Baldwin says, “Losing a pet is one of the most heartrending incidents that can happen to a dog owner. Often the owner is unaware if the dog has strayed, been killed or stolen! Dogs Trust is pleased to support the efforts of Dog Theft Action which highlights the need for continuous supervision of a pet and all the elements that make up the package of responsible dog ownership. Crucially they urge owners to make sure that their dog is wearing a visible means of identity as well as a microchip in case of an unforeseen incident.”

The ‘Summit will also be attended by RSPCA Veterinary Director Tim Miles and press officer Katy Geary, Lizzie Locket from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, Rachel Newton from the British Veterinary Association, Sarah Fry from Pet ID Sue Bell from the National Dog Wardens Association, Gill Christian from the National Dog Tattoo Register and Ken McKie from the Waterside Action Group.

Invitations were issued to the Association of Chief Police Officers [ACPO] and to the Association of Police Authorities for England Wales and Northern Ireland. Unfortunately no response was received from the Association of Police Authorities at all and ACPO declined their invitation by return of post. Is this lack of enthusiasm indicative in any degree of the police’s attitude to dog theft? We have assurances that the police will continue to be responsible for investigating dog theft from DEFRA Minister Ben Bradshaw, regardless of the outcomes of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act. So it’s difficult to imagine why they would decline or apparently ignore the chance to meet others working in different aspects of this far-reaching environment. DTA is so concerned by the lack of response from either of these organisations that a letter has been sent to Hazel Blears MP the Minister for Police in the hope that she can persuade ACPO and/or the Association of Police Authorities E W &NI to at the very least attend the meeting and hear the contributions made by those present.

As previously mentioned, Sarah Fry from PetID who will be attending the meeting said:

“Pet-ID supports the efforts that Dog Theft Action are making to raise awareness of dog theft issues. It is our feeling that the more the industry can do to make owners aware of their legal responsibilities regarding dog ownership and identification the better. In addition to the legal requirement of Collar and Tag with owners name address and telephone number; Pet-ID would advocate the use of microchips, as permanent identification for dogs and their registration on Petlog and The National Microchip Reunification Database.”

DTA is very appreciative of Sarah’s efforts in terms of the information she has provided and her contribution at our recent symposium. Unfortunately and disappointingly this was not echoed by two other leading microchip companies. AvidPettrac declined their invitation, whilst Animal Care rebuffed all attempts to persuade them to attend.

Of course it is their choice whether or not they attend – but I am a victim of dog theft – my dog has an Identichip microchip – I would have liked Animal Care to represent me as one of their paying customers by participating in a scheme that might help to reduce the incidence of this devastating crime. It is clear that whilst PetID are prepared to look beyond mere commercial concerns in order to benefit dog owners - their customers - other companies may not.

However, the door is always open for organisations, companies, groups and individuals to pool their efforts and resources in order to bring about the changes dog owners so desperately need. I have always believed that minds are like parachutes – they work best when they are open!

There is so much to consider when attempting to bring about change in a situation that is as complex as this one. DTA has never claimed to have the answers. It has always wanted to act a catalyst, bringing together those who have the skill, the knowledge and the power to influence the way the nation values dogs and their owners. The ‘Summit’ is perceived by DTA as the perfect forum to move forward with their campaign. It is not a means for apportioning blame! By absorbing the information offered by those present and looking inward to see what we can each offer to improve the situation, DTA is confident that we can take significant steps towards achieving our aims and objectives.

DTA Advisors to attend the Summit

We are delighted that so many DTA Advisors will be able to attend.

The meeting will be chaired by Ian Cawsey MP for Brigg and Goole who is also a government whip. He will be joined by fellow DTA advisors: Neil Ewart, from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association; Nick Mays, Chief Reporter for Our Dogs Newspaper; Allen Parton and Labrador Endal, ambassadors for Canine Partners; Ryan O’Meara, editor of K9 Magazine; Melanie Myhill, website designer; Nick Nawrockyi, website administrator; Brian Milligan, dog warden for Tunbridge and Malling Borough Council; Chrissy Smith, News Editor for Dog World Newspaper; Vivien Phillips, breeder, show judge, author and speaker on Grand and Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen; Martin Steiner, who advises on marketing and contact data; Elaine Pendlebury, a vet from the PDSA; Duncan Askew, a police officer with Hertfordshire Police Force; Jo Coulson, breeder, show judge, writer and speaker on Labrador Retrievers; Carolyn Menteith, TV presenter, commentator and journalist; Andy Watts, operational manager for HM Prison Service National Dog and Technical Support Group and his firearms and explosives search dog Mason.

Unfortunately advisor Peter Purves is unable to attend the meeting but sent this message of support. “It is only when the personal trauma felt by the victims of dog theft is realised as being of prime importance, that we will be able to persuade the powers that be (the police in particular) that dog theft must be taken seriously. It is abduction, not theft! We aren't talking about breeders with lots of dogs, who will suffer financially, but the poor dog owner with their one pride and joy, which they may never see again. Just the thought of losing one of my dogs in this way fills me with horror. I regret that I shall not be able to attend the meeting but send my best wishes and support for a successful ‘Summit’!”

Our Dogs columnist Robert Killick is also unable to attend commented: “I must say that I am very sorry not to be able to attend this Summit which I regard as one of the most significant steps towards the elimination of the curse of dog theft which has been with us for about 150 years ever since dogs gained an emotional value as well as a commercial value. Until now there has never been a concerted effort to gather and collate information about a crime which can have a profound negative effect on the victims.

"I think that one of the main tasks before DTA is to persuade the police not only to view each case seriously but to do their duty and investigate each crime thoroughly and attempt to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion with an arrest of the perpetrators.

"I wish to congratulate the organisers of the Summit for their initiative and wish them good luck. I also thank the delegates for attending and assure them of the importance of their input.”