The DTA team outside the KC HQ after the meeting. L to R: Phil Buckley,
External Affairs Manager KC, Margaret Nawrockyi, Secretary DTA, Neil Ewart,
Chairman Elect DTA, Nick Mays Chairman DTA and Chief Reporter OUR DOGS,
(foreground) Allen Parton, Vice Chairman DTA with assistance dog Endal.
DOG THEFT Action, the well-known anti-dog theft lobby group attended a meeting at the Kennel Club last Wednesday.
The aim of the meeting was to progress points suggested at the DTA summit which was hosted by the KC in November 2005 and invited interested parties to focus on the impact of dog theft in the UK.
The DTA was represented by: Chairman Nick Mays, Vice Chairman Allen Parton, Chairman elect Neil Ewart and Secretary Margaret Nawrockyi. The Kennel Club was represented by Rosemary Smart Chief Executive Officer, Caroline Kisko, Secretary Kennel Club, Phil Buckley External Affairs Manager, Celia Walsom PetLog Manager and Daniella Tranquada Kennel Gazette Editor.
One of the key points to be raised at the summit in 2005 was the need for a national database of missing and found dogs. At the recent meeting Celia Walsom, manager of the PetLog Reunification Service, described how this might be implemented. The database would offer a central reference point for all agencies involved in the missing/stray dog arena e.g. local authority dog wardens, the police, vets, welfare, rescue and re-homing organisations and internet-based organisations. This would ensure that details of missing dogs were forwarded to as many addresses as possible and the whereabouts of found dogs would be made available to owners searching for their pet.
A national database would also produce statistics on stolen dogs. It was agreed that there are currently no definitive statistics available to show how many dogs are stolen and how many stray from their homes. By co-operating and co-ordinating with those organisations that produce their own statistics e.g. insurance companies, the database will show where thefts are taking place and the circumstances involved. This will then reduce the need for estimates and avoid speculation.
One of DTA’s concerns is that the police in general have not shown much interest in the campaign to date – although several individual officers have been more than helpful.
Various ideas were suggested to try to secure police interest in this campaign. This is crucial if the national database is to operate fully as the public will always report thefts of dogs to the police regardless of the change in responsibility for stray dogs, when the terms of the Animal Welfare Act are implemented.
Another aspect of the campaign causing concern was the lack of empathetic response from some solicitors when called upon to act on behalf of those victims of dog theft whose dogs have been discovered via their microchip. DTA have been made aware that some owners are unable to engage the services of a solicitor in order to start the reunification process. This can also be instigated by the police but if neither is willing to act, the victim can be left with an horrendous dilemma – that of knowing their dog has been found but discovering they are powerless to reach it. DTA undertook to write to the Law Society to ask for further advice on this matter.
Phil Buckley KC External Affairs Manager advised that since the Summit 2005, a comprehensive set of guidelines has been issued for the benefit of veterinary practices, rescue and rehoming centres, pet owners and members of the public. These guidelines explain what to do in the case of every possible eventuality if a dog strays, is thought to have been stolen, is found or is donated for rehoming. He also reported that relevant advice has been included in the Puppy Owner’s Handbooks which are distributed to all new puppy owners, totalling approximately _ million people annually.
DTA were able to report that they have been invited to give a presentation about dog theft to the Associate Party Group on Animal Welfare as a result of discussions arising at the Summit. It is hoped that this will take place in the autumn.
DTA expressed their thanks and appreciation to the Kennel Club and PetLog for the way in which they have embraced the campaign. The initiatives discussed at the meeting give a clear indication of the KC’s commitment to finding a solution to this heartbreaking crime.
DTA Vice Chairman Allen Parton said, "This was an extremely positive meeting that showed the KC, PetLog and DTA sharing common ground. We focussed on communication – getting information to the dog owning public about how to avoid dog theft in the first place and what to do if it should happen. I feel very reassured that so much research and effort has gone into this issue."
KC External Affairs Manager Phil Buckley said, "We were once again very happy to meet with DTA to discuss this important welfare issue. it is apparent that no reliant data exists with regard to dog theft therefore it is our intention to seek the facts and then use this information when talking to politicians, police, dog wardens and other professional bodies. Various action points came out of the meeting and the Kennel Club will be taking these forward with DTA and in conjunction with other parties."