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DTA and KC: Forging links to a nore effective way forward!

Dog Theft Action and Doglost UK were invited to a meeting with the Kennel Club and the PetLog Reunification Service at the PetLog Headquarters in Aylesbury, Bucks on Thursday 18th August.

DTA was represented by Margaret Nawrockyi, Doglost UK by founder Jayne Hayes, the KC by Phil Buckley and Diane Farrell and Celia Walsom. The meeting, a precursor to the DTA Summit which will be held in November, was organised to explore new working partnerships to provide a more effective reunification service for dog owners.

All organisations present called for more detailed guidelines to be produced for those working in the stray/stolen dog arena, to avoid confusion and misunderstanding. After recent high profile cases it was acknowledged that microchipping was set up originally to reunite missing dogs with their owners and for pet passports. Jayne Hayes from Doglost UK reported that microchipping is helping to identify and reunite stolen dogs with their rightful owners. However it was suggested that those scanning dogs e.g. vets, welfare and rescue staff were not clear about when it is appropriate to breach the Data Protection Act – if ever.

Kennel Club External Affairs Manager Phil Buckley referred to the joint press release from the KC and the RCVS which was issued after the first meeting between the above organisations, and which addressed the issue of the Data Protection Act with regard to microchips. It was suggested that the issue should be placed on the agenda for the DTA Summit in November as it was thought that the recommendations of the KC & RCVS press release had not filtered down to the appropriate agencies. The outcome of this discussion was that DTA, Doglost UK and PetLog are committed to working together to produce a set of guidelines that will be forwarded to vets, rescue and welfare staff.

The discussion moved on to chips and scanners and it was agreed that they should be brought into the guidelines mentioned earlier. Ms Hayes said at this point,
"Some dog wardens have expressed their concern that scanners are not picking up all chips – this may be due to incompatibility, incorrect use or even low batteries. Doglost UK cannot comment on the concerns raised by dog wardens until further information has been collected and evaluated but urges all dog owners to ask their vet to check regularly, that their dog’s microchip is in place and functioning correctly."

Ms Hayes was able to confirm that Doglost UK is now the premier lost, stolen and found dog website, receiving approximately 3,000,000 hits a month. The website has an impressive 7000 helpers and co-ordinators – an army of unsung heroes who maintain a vigil for stolen dogs in their areas, posting details, offering support and turning out to search for dogs. Ms Hayes told the meeting,

"The more helpers we have the more dogs are reunited with their rightful owners."
The Kennel Club was able to offer DTA the chance to attend Discover Dogs at Earl’s Court 2 on 12th November. Together with PetLog, DTA will man a stand focussing on dog theft, microchipping and the reunification process. This will have a major impact on the DTA campaign. Several organisations have offered to display Dog Theft Action publicity material at Discover Dogs but the lobby group has always maintained that they prefer to speak directly to the public for maximum effect. Dog Theft Action is extremely grateful to the KC for this opportunity. To continue the theme of co-operation and co-ordination, reciprocal links will be added to both the KC website and the DTA website.

Dog Theft Action urges anyone – organisations or individuals with profound views on any of the issues covered here to attend their Symposium on 1st October, at the Guide Dogs for the Blind Centre at Edmondscote Manor, Leamington Spa. The Symposium will help us to form the agenda for the DTA Summit which is scheduled for November. Organisations such as the KC, PetLog, Dogs Trust, RSPCA, RCVS, BVA and PDSA will join the DTA co-ordinators and advisors to try to find an effective solution to the escalating crime of dog theft.

However the only organisation to decline their invitation so far is the Association of Chief Police Officers. This is disappointing as the police have a major role to play where stolen dogs are concerned. The issue of a crime reference number to the owners of stolen dogs is of paramount importance. The police station will continue to be the public’s first port of call on finding a stray dog even after the implementation of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act. Therefore the advice issued by the police is vital for owners to locate their ‘missing’ - potentially stolen pet.

On so many occasions the police themselves seem unaware of the law where it relates to dogs – better training would ensure a uniform response.

The DTA Summit is the perfect forum for all organisations with responsibility or concern for dogs, to work together to produce an effective code of practice that will end the misery of so many dogs and dog owners in this country who have been left in turmoil and despair. Co-operation and co-ordination – it can – it will work!

Margaret Nawrockyi – Co-ordinator Dog Theft Action: Telephone: 01652 688089
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