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DTA ‘stand’ to attention!

Photo by W Moores
Dog Trainer and brodcaster Carolyn Menteith, the newest DTA Advisor meets the team on the DTA stahnd at Crufts. L to R: DTA Co-ordinator Margaret Nawrockyi, DTA Co-ordinator and Stand Manager Nikky Powditch, Carolyn Menteirh and fellow DTA Advisors Allen Parton and Endal.

Dog Theft Action proudly attended their stand in Hall 2 of the NEC, Birmingham for Crufts - the greatest dog show in the world – in March 2006. The possibility of a stand at this most prestigious dog show was mentioned to us after the success of our stand at Discover Dogs last year. When it was confirmed by Kennel Club (KC) External Affairs Manager, Phil Buckley that the KC would donate a stand to DTA we were quite simply over the moon.

One year ago, in 2005 we stood outside the NEC and distributed postcards to the many visitors who flocked to the show. It was cold and wet - but we didn’t mind. We had set out to achieve our goals and I believe we did achieve them. It was hard though – not so much the climactic conditions but the frenzy that exists as exhibitors, judges and staff hurry to their various destinations. The last thing they need is someone asking them to consider the implications of dog theft at 8 am on the morning of the show that they have striven - often for years - to attend.

However I’m not knocking what we did. We introduced a subject most dog lovers hadn’t really considered and set things in motion to blow the subject wide open.

At Crufts 2006 our stand was perfect! It was strategically placed, close to the PetLog Reunification Service stand and also the National Dog Tattoo Register stand. We were able to back up our enthusiasm for more than one method of permanent identification for all dogs, by directing enquiries to both stands.

The DTA stand was visited by friends old and new. Our advisors and associates made a concerted effort to wave the flag and support us in our task. Visits from Our Dogs’ Chief Reporter Nick Mays and Columnist Robert Killick, Guide Dogs’ Neil Ewart, K9 Magazine editor Ryan O’Meara, Dog World News Editor Chrissy Smith and Gulf war Veteran Allen Parton and his adorable canine partner Endal were much appreciated. There were photocalls too. One of these, with KC Chief Executive, Rosemary Smart was great fun allowing time to catch up on some of the related issues brought up at the Summit that the KC hosted in November 2005. A second photocall with dog trainer and broadcaster Carolyn Menteith brought a film crew to our stand, whilst a third witnessed the generosity of artist Paul Doyle who donated a unique and stunning print of a swimming Springer Spaniel as a raffle prize to generate much needed funds for DTA.

Support on the stand was offered from Andy Watts [HM Prison Service; Firearms and Explosives] and his faithful Labrador Mason, Jo Coulsen; Labrador Retriever expert who was accompanied by husband Derek, Duncan Askew and Michael Holden; from Hertfordshire Constabulary and Neighbourhood Watch Association respectively, Rutland dog warden Barry Briggs, freelance canine journalists Polly King and Heather Harley, Kent dog warden Brian Milligan and his son Cory, Assistant Our Dogs reporter Sheena Stratton and Kathryn Nawrockyi, who added some much needed artistic touches to the stand. The attending DTA co-ordinators Nikki and Margaret would like to express their grateful thanks to everyone who gave their time and resources to make our involvement with Crufts 2006 so successful. We also hope that our colleague Laura Lucas’s dog Libby makes a speedy recovery from her recent surgery.

As usual, we were accompanied by the DTA dogs – a range of cuddly canine toys. Their names are a closely guarded secret and visitors are always invited to guess their names. Three dogs were won over the four days of Crufts. The first was won by Rebecca Atkinson from Nuneaton who correctly guessed that the name of the dog was ‘Chip’ picking up on the association of the DTA stand with microchipping.

Rebecca said: "Dognapping is absolutely diabolical and the more that can be done to stop dogs being stolen the better for all concerned."

The name of the second dog was ‘Pincher’ and it was correctly guessed by 9 year-old Jessica Darnell from Swansea, South Wales who was working with her parents on the Oscar Pet Food stand. The third dog was won by Avis Boreham from Hertfordshire after she correctly guessed that the dog’s name was ‘Prowler’.

We heard some moving descriptions of dog thefts experienced by visitors to Crufts. Undeterred by the queues they patiently waited to sign our Jester’s Law petition through which we hope to secure an agreement by Local Authorities to scan all road casualties for microchips and check for tattoos before disposal. After the success this campaign has had with the Highways Agency in 2005, DTA co-ordinator Nikki Powditch will not rest until LA cleansing departments and Network Rail agree to adopt this service as part of their best practice procedures.

Nikki says: "I was delighted and very moved by the support shown for DTA and Jester’s Law (JL) at Crufts. Over 2000 people signed the petition over the four days and I listened to many accounts of dog thefts. Many people were eager to help with JL by writing to their district councils to enquire about policies regarding deceased, injured or stray dogs then sending the relevant information for inclusion into my database. So far the list makes for grim reading which adds to my determination to encourage Local Government Agencies and Network Rail to follow the Highways Agency’s example and fully implement Jester’s Law into their working procedures."

Dog Theft Action – co-ordinators, advisors and associates would like to thank the Kennel Club for their generous donation of the stand and for all their help, advice and encouragement prior to the show. Their involvement in our stance against the perpetrators of this terrible crime has been unstinting and we look forward to continuing co-operation and co-ordination with the KC throughout 2006.