WITH EVER increasing responsibilities for animal and dog related legislation landing on local councils, the National Dog Warden Association is asking local authorities to reconsider reducing resources or making their Dog Wardens’ dual-role as many appear to be doing.
‘The trend towards reducing funding of Dog Warden Services is a false economy’ says NDWA President Sue Bell, ‘councils should indeed look to providing the best level of service provision they can, but cheaper is not always the best option.’
Dog Wardens need to be given adequate resources to do their jobs properly and only that job.
The practice of making Dog Wardens work jointly as Community Wardens, Street Scheme Wardens and Pest Control Officers takes them away from their primary of promoting responsible dog ownership through a combination of education and enforcement.
The NDWA point out that dog control is a highly specialised skill that requires dedicated, properly trained, competent, knowledgeable officers who contribute towards public safety.
Sue Bell adds: ‘Multi-tasking can result in people being experienced in skills such as pest control for example who may be unfamiliar with handling dogs. There is anecdotal evidence of such multi-tasked teams only sending the original Dog Warden out to deal with any dogs, how un-multi-tasking is that? Another example is of Pest Control/Dog Warden teams not being able to collect dogs for a couple of days from a finder, because they do not have a van available; why?
‘Additionally what kind of message is given out when dog control is lumped together with pest control, perhaps dogs are seen as pests by the councillors and managers? The fact that pest control generates much more income than Dog Warden Services ever do may be the reason why Dog Wardens are the poor relations when it comes to the allocation of resources?’
The NDWA is also asking those councils who are considering contracting out their Dog Warden Service to private companies that they check that the contractor has competently trained staff and a level of service provision equal to or exceeding their current in-house service. Checking with other Local Authorities about their experiences with contractors offering dog control services can save a lot of trouble and expense in regard to those that offer poor service provision.
Some councils contract out their service only to bring it back in-house at the end of the contract or buy themselves out of the contract before it ends. They then have to recruit new Dog Wardens and start afresh, which, Say the NDWA, begs the obvious question: Why contract out in the first place?