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Action group and charity cement relations

Left to right: Margaret Nawrockyi, Jackie Ballard & Nikki Powditch

DOG THEFT Action, the leading anti-dog theft lobby group, gave a presentation to officers and staff at the RSPCA’s HQ in Horsham on Tuesday of this week. The invitation from the RSPCA’s Press Office was quite a coup for DTA, and was used as a chance to further cement relations between the two organisations, following the RSPCA’s attendance at the DTA Summit meeting hosted by the Kennel Club last November.

DTA Co-ordinators Margaret Nawrockyi and Nikki Powditch each gave a power point presentation to assembled officials, including RSPCA Chief Executive Jackie Ballard.

Nawrockyi outlined the reasons behind her forming DTA, following the theft of her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Astrid in 2003, and explained DTA’s aims and objectives, which are to lobby to ensure that dog theft as a crime is taken seriously by the authorities.

"DTA is not a registry for stolen dogs – there are several web-based organisations that do a good job advertising details when dogs go missing and we provide links to as many as possible on our website," explained Nawrockyi, adding: "It was apparent to us as victims ourselves, that there is a vacuum – a missing link to draw together all the efforts that are being made by so many different agencies, in order to expose dog theft as the UK’s fastest growing crime that more and more frequently involves the use of violence. Reports of incidents of dog theft where knives and guns are used to terrify powerless owners into submission and of awful cruelty to the dogs themselves are all too frequently reported in the canine and national press.

"Too often we have listened to the sobbing victims quote their local police officer – "it’s just a dog – get another with the insurance money!" To us it definitely is not ‘just’ a dog. It is a service dog supporting the police, the fire brigade, and the armed forces."

Various case histories of horrendous cases of dog theft were outlined, including the recently stabbing of Clumber Spaniel ‘Rosie’ by thieves, and the theft and mistreatment of Boxer puppy ‘Bentley’, where clear images of the young thieves were captured on CCTV footage, and comparisons between the reactions of the different police forces were made.

Nikki Powditch spoke next on her campaign ‘Jester’s Law’ which she started last year to ensure that any persons or authority collecting, finding, treating or removing pet animals from the roads, highways, streets and railways - dead, injured or alive - must scan the animal for a microchip and inform the owners before the animal is incinerated, re-homed or otherwise disposed of.

Powditch explained: "I started this campaign after becoming a victim of dog theft twice in the same day with the same dog.

"My 3 year old Rottweiler Jester was lured away from me on a walk - we always took in the woods. This was the first theft. 4 hours later & 2 miles away a dog’s body was seen dead on the A1. When I got to the place on the A1 - the body had gone. This was the second theft as dead or alive this body was my property. It took me several hours and many phone calls to trace the body of the dead dog. The dog had not been scanned and it was not wearing a collar when it had been removed from the A1 by the Highways Agencies Managing Contractors AMScott. Jester had a collar and a microchip.

"This dead dog had been picked up and taken to a knackers' yard where it was weighed in with the other road kill - 3 badgers - and then it was processed or as I was told: ‘it was processed down our factory line love’. Having to assume it was indeed Jester I asked for his ashes and was told: ‘you don’t understand he was processed in our factory there are no ashes’. I later looked up this factory and discovered to my horror that they produced bone meal for re-sale. A journalist later also discovered that they produce power station fuel."

Both presentations were well received by all present and the general feeling was that closer links had been established between the RSPCA and DTA, who were both united in their attempts to tackle the scourge of dog theft in the UK.