DOG THEFT lobby group Dog Theft Action were pleased to attend a meeting last month at Doglost UK headquarters in Nottinghamshire, between Graham Littlechild of the Highways Agency, Ben Cook of AMScott, Nikki Powditch campaigner for "Jester’s Law" and Jayne Hayes of Doglost UK.
The meeting was intended to explore ways of making it easier for people to obtain information if their pet has gone missing. One of the most worrying concerns at this time is ‘has the dog been killed in a road traffic accident?’ (Reported in OUR DOGS – ‘Microchips in the Gutter’ by Heather Harley 1st July).
We learned that the Highways Agency is responsible for all works and maintenance on the motorways and trunk roads in the UK. Highways Agency Route Performance Manager, Graham Littlechild explains: "There are 14 ‘areas’ and the work is carried out by Managing Agent Contractors (MAC) who are responsible for the feasibility, design and construction of most of the works on the A1, from small road safety improvements to the major resurfacing schemes as well as the day to day activities such as grass cutting or drain clearing as well as removing casualties from the roads." AMScott is the MAC for area 7 which includes Colsterworth – the area where Jester was last seen.
We were able to describe the scenario faced by many victims of dog theft who are desperate for information about their pet. The panic and desperation owners feel as they try to contact all agencies with responsibility in the target areas.
We were keen to encourage both agencies to:
obtain and use scanners on deceased pets as a matter of routine.
retain collars with a description of identifying features wherever possible.
store the remains for a given period of time before disposal, to allow owners time to discover their pets’ fate and to make alternative arrangements for disposal if they wish.
We found both representatives extremely concerned about the incident concerning the dog removed from the A1 on 24th May. They suggested that they return to their respective boards with our recommendations and agreed to contact us when they had something to report.
Nikki recently received a letter from Ben Cook of AMScott offering the following assurance: "As discussed we are currently reviewing our procedure to identify dogs found on the area 7 road network. Our new steps will help to trace the owner by making it obligatory to scan the dog for a microchip. This will help to relieve any unnecessary distress and prevent recurrence of the recent unfortunate incident. We will also make sure that our new procedure is discussed at our best practice working group forum as promised."
DTA appreciates AMScott’s prompt decision to make it obligatory to scan dogs killed in road traffic accidents. We are grateful that they intend to remain focussed on this issue by discussing it at their best practice working group forum and we look forward to hearing of further progress.
This is yet another example of how agencies – organisations, companies, businesses and groups can have a major impact on society by co-operating and co-ordinating with each other.
DTA is grateful to the Highways Agency and to AMScott for their sensitivity and speed in dealing with this very emotive subject and hope that companies with similar responsibilities for roads and highways throughout the UK will follow their example.
In a recent meeting with DEFRA Minister Elliot Morley, Nikki Powditch and a DTA co-ordinator were able to highlight this issue. They asked for advice and direction to enable the Jester’s Law campaign to be discussed at a national level. Mr Morley was very sympathetic to Nikki’s situation and was able to advise us regarding which ministers to contact and how to avoid our correspondence failing to reach its destination. He also offered to speak to fellow Minister Ben Bradshaw of DEFRA about our meeting. DTA will be writing to Mr Bradshaw and the Transport Minister and will keep OUR DOGS readers informed of any progress.
Co-ordinator, Dog Theft Action