Russ Akehurst is one of Adur & Worthing Councils' dog wardens. After a career in the police, he took on the role more than nine years ago.
Russ loves animals and takes his responsibilities very seriously. This includes: dealing with stray dogs, investigating dog related complaints, enforcement of laws to dog fouling and regular patrolling of parks, streets and other open spaces within Adur and Worthing.
Outside of work he has four dogs of his own - a Labrador X Boxer, a Jack Russell Terrier, a Staffie X Springer Spaniel and a Staffie X Jack Russell Terrier
You can read Russ' current 2018 blog posts on this page below
Hello again after what has been another busy week, resulting in calls to five stray dogs and one fox cub.
Last Monday evening a lovely little Staffie was found wandering in the Salvington area. The finder kindly took her to a local vets. The dog wasn't wearing a name tag and her microchip details were out of date. So when she hadn't been claimed by the following morning it appeared that she had been dumped as I would suggest that, even if a dog owner didn't know that they can contact the council out of hours or check with the local 24 hour to see if their dog's been handed in, they would be on the phone to us first thing in the morning.
However it was the following day, some 40 hours after she was found, that I received a very unexpected call from her owner, explaining she had been on holiday, leaving her dog with a friend who for some unknown reason didn't report the dog lost to anyone and only told the owner of the disappearance on her return. The lady was so relieved her dog was safe, but what if she had been on holiday for longer? The charges would have been higher but much worse the dog could have been re-homed after seven days if not claimed and all because the microchip details weren't up to date.
Friday's stray dog owner was also on holiday. But because the microchip details were correct I was able to contact her straight away and immediately return her dog to the family that her looking after her!!
Saturday was my turn to be on call but the gods conspired against me to ensure I didn't get to watch a certain televised wedding ...
First a call to a Staffie cross in Findon Valley which was claimed the following day, followed by a call to Dogs Trust Shoreham where a Staffie found wandering in Goring had been handed in. No sooner had I left the centre and got the dog to our kennels then the owner phoned to claim him so back to Goring to reunite one happy dog with his owner.
Lastly yesterday (Monday 21st) yet another Staffie cross decided to go walkabout. But thanks to her microchip she was home again in no time.
Of these five dogs, two had jumped out of open windows in the house, one escaped through a cat flap, one was in the front garden one minute and gone the next and one details of escape unknown.
Oh yes, the fox cub, well that was the highlight of the week! Councillor Clive Roberts, who sits on Worthing Borough Council, contacted me early Thursday morning to report that a fox cub had fallen into the basement garden of a property in Liverpool Terrace and had no way out. I then contacted the one and only Billy Elliot, of animal rescue charity Wadars, who despite being on his day off agreed to help. So with my van, ladders and pole and his Spiderman athleticism the cub was back at ground level in no time and ran off without so much as a backward glance at his rescuers.
So all in all a successful week - five dogs back with their owners and one fox rescued, hopefully back with his mum.
Until next time ...
Photo: The little fox cub stuck in a basement garden area
Hopefully, I'm not going to tempt fate, but it's been really quiet on the stray dog front.
Just one stray last week, a really lovely Shih Tzu who was found by a member of the public wandering near her home. The finder did everything right - she took the dog in, put a note on her wall alerting the owner that she had found a dog, but being careful not give a description should a dishonest person claim the dog as theirs. Yes, I'm afraid this does happen, which is why I'm not a fan of people posting pictures of dogs they've found on Facebook without reporting it to us.
Sadly the dog had to spend a night in our kennels before being reunited with her owners and all because she wasn't wearing a collar with her owner's contact details on. She lived less than 100 yards from where she was found and could have been home within minutes. Even when I arrived, she could have gone straight home, but her microchip wasn't registered on any of the UK databases. I urge you all to check with your vets or microchip company to see if your contact details are up to date. It could save you money and anxiety but more importantly, your dog being distressed at being away from home and in a kennel overnight.
On Bank Holiday Monday, I attended my first dog show of the year which was organised by a great bunch of dedicated greyhound rescuers at the Brighton branch of the Greyhound Trust. What made this event different for me was that I wasn't there as a judge or a fundraiser, so I was able to look around the many stalls at leisure and enter some of my dogs in the dog show.
I'm normally asked to judge between three and four local fun dog shows each year, and I'm always conscious that everyone thinks their pet is the best. But of course, not everyone can win, and so some people are going to be disappointed. The thing to remember is that all the money raised goes to help the animals in need and it's a fun event, not to be taken too seriously.
With that in mind, the dog show had mixed fortunes for my dogs. Button, who everyone adores and describes as so cute with an amazing personality, wasn't placed in any of his classes. Yet Nell, my 11 and a half-year-old Staffie mix, won the best veteran class, which qualified her for entry into best in show where she was placed reserve best in show. To say I was a very proud daddy is an understatement!
If you would like to enter your dog at a local fun dog show or spectate, Dogs Trust Shoreham are holding their open day and dog show with lots of stalls, food and entertainment on Sunday 27th May at their Shoreham rehoming centre.
The staff work so hard to ensure It's always a great day out whether you're a dog owner or not as there's something for all the family. I hope to see you there.
Photo: Russ with Nell who won Best in Show
Firstly I'd like to thank those of you who made such nice comments on last week's blog.
Obviously I do what I do for the dogs - they can't help themselves and are totally reliant on humans, they can't choose who they live with or where, if/when they're walked, fed or any other basic needs that we take for granted.
So when I can help a dog or other living animal I will but of course it's always nice to get good feedback and compliments and they're very much appreciated.
There's also been a bit of change for myself and Mike, who is the warden over in Adur. There's been a restructure in the Environmental Services team which means that the Dog Warden service has been moved across to Public Health & Regulation Department based at Portland House in Worthing. This is where the service was when I started 10 years ago so in effect we've 'come home'.
Our new line manager and his manager are both dog owners which is really good news as they can relate to the strays in our care. This helps on the rare occasions when there are difficult decisions to make.
On that note I'd like to use this opportunity to thank our previous managers for their support with the stray dogs over the last three and a half years.
There were more than a handful of occasions when they could have said no to veterinary treatment so that it would have had to wait until the dog was accepted into Dogs Trust or another rescue.
But in the dogs' best interest the treatment and in some cases operations were carried out forthwith thus aiding the dogs recovery time making them more comfortable and pain free.
In at least one case agreeing to keep the dog a number of months when other councils would have put the dog to sleep on economic grounds.
Even though myself and Mike have been 'rehomed', we hope to continue this good work moving forward.
Photo: Stanley the dog
First things first, I guess I owe you all an apology, since last weeks post about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars, I don’t think the sun’s been out once!
Due to the length of the post, I didn’t get to mention the stray dogs. Over the last 2 weeks there’s been quite a bit to catch up on, with the usual mix of good, bad and frustrating news.
2 weeks ago a dog was found on the beach in Worthing. On my arrival I was met by a stunning red Labrador, chipped to a previous owner. The dog was taken to our kennels awaiting his owner to come forward.
Photo: The red Labrador found on Worthing beach which is now being looked after in a Dogs Trust foster home. They have named him Simba!
The following afternoon, whilst engrossed in Sky Sports Soccer Saturday, I received a call to Lancing where a dog had been found wandering around the streets. I picked up a sweet little Staffie and returned him home. Sadly his owners weren’t at home and so after leaving a note to let his owner know he was safe and well I took him to our kennels.
Sometimes neighbours offer to look after a dog until the owners return home or ask ”why don’t you put them back into the garden?” Well the answer is simple, if I release the dog into someone's care without the owner's permission or put them back into the garden, and the dog escapes again,( gets run over, bites someone, falls ill etc.) you can imagine the outcry. Ultimately the dog is my responsibility and I’m not going to leave them unattended.
The following day, the owner phoned to claim the Staffie. They described how they had sadly fallen ill and was unable to give the dog the exercise and time he deserved and so reluctantly signed him into my care. The decision wasn’t taken lightly and was by no means a spur of the moment decision. The owner had previously contacted dog rescue centres and was on the waiting list of one of them.
I’m pleased to report that both dogs are now in the care of Dogs Trust Shoreham and have been placed in foster homes where they have settled in well.
Last week we saw the return of 2 regulars who have featured in recent blogs. one was found straying (for the 4th time) on Thursday and claimed on Sunday. The 2nd (for a 6th time) was found on Friday and claimed the following day.
I’m running out of words to describe my frustration regarding these (and one other dog who I mentioned recently who we’ve cared for 8 times ). All 3 dogs are handsome young boisterous entire male Staffies in need of training and exercise. All 3 would be a target for thieves to use for stud, fighting or to sell, yet still they’re allowed to stray time and time again.
Having seen one stray killed on the railway track and another killed on the roads, I’m desperate that no harm to come to these dogs but I do fear for their safety if their owners don’t act responsibly in future.
I can’t believe that within a few weeks of talking about keeping dogs warm and protected from the extreme cold weather, I now need to remind dog owners that dogs die in hot cars. Every year the police, RSPCA, local Authority Animal Welfare Officers and Dog Wardens receive calls from the public who are concerned about dogs shut in hot cars. In under 20 minutes, a hot car can prove fatal to a dog. As the temperature inside the car rises, in just a matter of minutes, the dog’s suffering will become evident through:
- Excessive panting, whimpering or barking.
- Excessive drooling
- Becoming lethargic or uncoordinated
- Collapse or vomiting.
If the dog is not rescued from the car these symptoms will develop into a loss of muscle control, the kidneys will cease to function, the brain will become irreversibly damaged and the heart will stop.
The dangers are obvious, we only have to touch the dashboard or seats on a hot day to know that the temperature inside a car can reach the same as an oven. It's not just on warm days when dogs are at risk, vehicles can be death-traps even in cooler temperatures. Puppies and elderly dogs are not able to regulate their temperature as effectively as adult dogs and sighthounds, because they have very little body fat to protect their internal organs are more vulnerable
My advice to pet owners and concerned animal lovers is don’t leave your dog in a parked car, even for a few minutes.
Even if it seems cool outside it can become very hot very quickly. Parking in the shade and/or keeping the windows down does not make it safe, neither does leaving them with water.
Make sure you keep your dog as cool as possible when driving: avoid travelling during the heat of the day, use sun blinds on the windows and open a window a little to allow a cooling breeze to circulate in the car.
Make sure you have a supply of water and know where you can stop off en route for water breaks. Dogs aren’t able to cool down as effectively as humans so can suffer from heat stroke and dehydration very quickly.
If you are present at the rescue of a dog from a hot car that is clearly in distress, seek immediate veterinary advice. The very first priority is to prevent the dog from getting any hotter, attempt to provide shade from the sun and move to a cooler area.
Dampening the dog down with cool (not freezing) water will help start to bring the body temperature down.Wet towels can be used to cool a dog but these must be regularly changed or spraying them down with water and placing them in front of the air conditioning vent to enhance evaporation on the way to the emergency appointment.
If you witness a dog displaying any of these signs, please call 999 immediately.
More information and an excellent video showing the effects of dogs being left in hot cars can be found at the Dogs trust website.
Photo: A promotional poster for the Dogs Die In Hot Cars campaign
Hello again, it's been another busy week with three strays being found. All were reunited with their owners but with a certain amount of frustration. Why? Because of the three strays, one has now been in our care eight times, meaning despite all of our advice, the dog is still escaping from the house, putting himself and others in danger.
The second belongs to someone who over the years has owned many dogs, several if not all have at one time or another been in our care having been found straying and sadly at least two have been run over and killed. Yet despite this, the owner's dogs are still being put in danger.
The third dog shows us the benefits of social media, good community spirit and lessons to learn for the future. The story begins when Zuri a male Saluki ran off from his owner in fields near Ashington. His owner alerted a charity called Dog Lost who created a missing dog poster (right), hard copies of which were displayed in the area and posts online were shared over and over again far and wide.
I remember seeing the post and sharing it myself and wondering how far the dog will travel or will he go to ground nearby.
Over the next 3 days there were numerous sightings reported to his owner who responded to each and every one. Zuri's route was plotted and it's known that he visited Rackham, Parham House, Storrington and the Duke of Norfolk's Estate at Arundel and Amberley. Sadly by the time his owner arrived at every sighting he had moved, not helped by the fact Zuri was travelling cross country whereas his owner had to travel to each sighting by road.
Last Wednesday evening, some 3½ days after he went missing. A motorist spotted Zuri running up the middle of Titnore Lane towards the A27 and alerted WADARS who in turn rang me. The owner was contacted and made her way to the area, thankfully Zuri changed direction because the next sighting was that he was heading towards Fernhurst Drive, Goring. Then came a flurry of sightings leading his owner to the fields near to Goring Hall where she got her first glimpse of him for over 3 days.
However, 3 days in the wild had left him confused and scared and so he wouldn't come to her. Luckily she had her other Salukis with her who ran over to him. She then called them back and Kuri came back with them.
In the 3½ days Zuri was missing it's estimated he travelled over 40 miles and in the last 2½ hours of his ordeal he covered some 10 miles. The story shows a great example of the power of social media and the charity Dog Lost but of course none of that would have been any good without the community who read the posts and kept the phone number to hand and contacted the distraught owner when they saw Zuri.
It also tells us that when looking for a pet that's run away, they could have gone to ground nearby but on the other hand, they are capable of travelling long distances in a short space of time. I'm really pleased to report that Zuri has now recovered from his ordeal and for the time being at least is being walked on a lead.
Photo: Zuri the Saluki
10th April 2018: If I've learnt one thing over the past ten years, it's that dogs are 'inconsiderate' ...
I hope you all had an enjoyable Easter break, the downside for us is when you go back to work, the emails, complaints and reports of incidents have stacked up and still need to be dealt with.
To make matters worse Mike Barnard (the Adur dog warden) has been very naughty, he's taken 2 weeks leave directly after the Easter break and so I'm covering from the border of Brighton & Hove in the east to the Worthing Arun border at Ferring in the west.
What this means is, when I'm in Southwick there will be a stray dog in Durrington and when I'm in Goring there'll be a stray dog in Fishersgate.
If I've learnt one thing over the past ten years, it's that dogs are inconsiderate; not only do they go missing when you're in the wrong place, but also when you're eating or just about to finish duty - it's always the way!!
Easter weekend was a perfect example of this. As most of you know Adur & Worthing Councils provide an out of hours service at the weekends and bank holidays - very few councils throughout the country do this - and out of the three stray dogs that came into our care last week, two were picked up by Mike over the Easter weekend and Sunday's Pomeranian stray wasn't reunited until her owner came forward on Easter Monday.
Before the beautiful Pomeranian was claimed I visited Worthing's first ever Vegan fair which was held at the Assembly rooms. I happened to know that the organisers were worried if it would be well attended so I was really pleased to see so many people there when I arrived.
Photo: A Pomeranian dog - but not the one that went missing!
It was a good mix of stalls selling ethically sourced vegan beauty products (too late for me!) toiletries, clothes and of course food. My partner was in heaven when she found some garlic mayo to buy and I was in my element when I brought lunch from the Vegan Greek street food stall.
There were also some local charities and groups represented including Cat and Rabbit Rescue Chichester, Worthing Cats Protection, Animal aid and Campaign to close down Brighton & Hove Greyhound Stadium whose stall was run by a long time vegan who has dedicated her life to speak up against the exploitation of animals both at home and abroad.
It's lovely to spend time with like minded people and catch up with old friends. But as we all know, holidays and time off go too quickly and all too soon it's back to work!
Since my last blog I've spent time finishing off my inspections of licensed premises, what's the Dog warden service got to do with pubs I hear you say, well thankfully it's not pubs we inspect it's Animal Boarding Establishments which include Dog and Cat boarding kennels, Pet Shops, Dog day care and home boarding.
All of these premises and the people running them need to be licensed so that the customer can have peace of mind that when they hand over their companion animal, they can do so in the knowledge that the premises are safe and the pet will be looked after by caring professionals who know what they are doing. We also check to see that they have the necessary insurance should anything go wrong.
It amazes me that some people post on social media sites asking for someone to look after their dog, cat etc and have no idea of the person's background when they hand their pet over en route to the airport or whatever. Would we hand our children over to a stranger? Hopefully not.
Dog kennels and Catteries have been around for years but home boarding has become popular recently, this is where a person will look after a dog in their own home (not the dogs home). Our inspections of these premises include checking that the garden is secure, free from hazards, you will be surprised at how many people plant rusty old washing machines, fridges bike frames etc in their garden. Most take root but I've never seen one come into bloom yet!! Ponds are another hazard.
It's a known fact that some people offer this service and are not licensed. Well apart from being illegal,it's potentially dangerous for the pet owner. Not all dogs get on so it's important for the licence holder be restricted to a number of dogs compatible to their accommodation and the number of dogs they have of their own. For example some of my licence holders have two dogs of their own so if I wanted to board 1 of mine and you want to board yours at the same time, then mine and yours have to get on but her dogs have to get on with mine and yours. Many dogs get along on walks but in a confined area 24/7 with toys and food about, that's a totally different thing and a big ask for a lot of dogs.
Some people unfortunately put profit before safety and take on as many as they can but it's an accident waiting to happen. Whereas the license stipulates how many they can board and that all dogs that are going to be on the premises at the same time must be mixed prior to boarding without incident.
If you think this is unnecessary or scare mongering let me tell you that at least 2 dogs have been killed in the last 5 years in Worthing whilst in the care of professional businesses so my plea would be for you to ensure the people you entrust with your companion animal is licensed.
Photo: Three dogs in their bed
Last week I mentioned that of the three strays that had come into our care, one hadn't been claimed and was going to Dogs Trust, Shoreham. I'm pleased to say that she has settled in well at the centre and is a firm favourite with the staff and due to her good looks has created a lot of public interest. Once again we are indebted to Tracey Rae and her staff at Dogs Trust Shoreham for taking her into their care.
We've had three stray dogs this week, two of which escaped from the same house because the teenage son didn't double lock the front door when he went to school. The cunning, working dog jumped up at the door handle thereby opening the front door leading to freedom for him and his sister. A good Samaritan secured the dogs until my arrival and they were reunited with a member of their family.
Rather frustratingly the third stray this week was one of the dogs I mentioned in last weeks blog, meaning he's now been in our care three times. The dog is an entire male bull breed and I fear for his safety if he continues getting out. He could be run over or stolen for breeding or dog fighting and I really don't know what more I can say to make the owners stop him from straying. Sometimes when you try to give advice it's not gratefully received.
Sadly in one park earlier this week a man walking his dog, rather than accept my polite friendly words of advice and put his dog on a lead, felt the need to swear and threaten violence towards me. Some of the incident was witnessed by other dog walkers who reprimanded him on his language only to be told to mind their own business although of course, those weren't the exact words he used!
Thankfully this is a rare occurrence, probably the 4th time in ten years but it highlights why a number of colleagues in other parts of the country have been issued with body-worn cameras similar to those issued to Police. Most people however, are happy to receive advice and after last weeks blog I'm pleased to say this week has been a lot quieter. There have been no more reports of sheep worrying locally so hopefully the mix of education and patrols of the area have paid off, fingers crossed.
Photo: Lenny on left and Poppy who died 2nd Jan this year, relaxing in my garden in happier times
It's been a busy and disappointing week for the dog wardens.
It started last Tuesday when a stray dog was taken to a local vets having been found in the Offington area of Worthing.
The dog, possibly an Afghan mix (see photo below), was underweight, full of worms and still had milk, which meant she had only very recently stopped feeding her pups or had been taken from her pups. Her seven days are up and she has been offered a space at Dogs Trust rehoming centre in Shoreham, to whom we are very grateful.
During the week we've also had two stray dogs that were subsequently claimed. What is disappointing is that we've had both dogs before, meaning that, despite our best efforts to educate the owners (not to mention them having to pay the £55 release fee), both dogs were left in danger by being allowed to roam the streets unsupervised.
Luckily both dogs were found by good Samaritans before they could come to any harm and handed into our care. Both owners were contacted and reunited with their dogs after paying another £55 release fee. Hopefully, these dogs won't be put in danger again by being allowed to stray.
You may have heard that in the past few weeks a number of sheep have been attacked on the Downs near Cissbury. The first attack which happened on 20th January left 3 ewes seriously injured. The second attack on the 2nd February left one Ewe dead and two more injured having received bite marks to the neck. On March 10th yet another attack was reported - this time one ewe lost her life having received bite marks to her rear.
As a result, I worked last Saturday morning, moving between the Storrington Rise and Coombe rise car parks in Findon Valley, advising dog walkers that sheep were present in the area and to keep their dogs on a lead when in the proximity of them.
It's a good opportunity to remind people that it is a criminal offence not to keep our dogs under control around livestock. Any person in charge of a dog found worrying sheep could end up with a criminal record and a large fine not to mention compensation to the farmer. Remember, the farmer, in certain circumstances, also has the right to shoot a dog worrying his sheep.
Most dog walkers were appalled that owners had allowed their dogs to attack the sheep and were supportive of the advice given. I was a little taken aback when at least one person commented that the sheep would soon be dead anyway.
Whilst that is true and impossible to argue against, I pointed out that we (dog owners) can't prevent the sheep dying in the slaughterhouse, we could prevent them being killed by our dogs.
I personally wouldn't want the suffering of any animal on my conscience which is why I became a vegetarian over 30 years ago and now lead an almost vegan lifestyle. But that's another story.
This week I wanted to talk about what is probably every dog owners worst nightmare; Losing your pet.
A sudden death or following a long and agonising illness is hard enough to deal with, but for your dog to be stolen and not knowing what has happened to your loved one is in my mind far worse.
Thankfully dog theft is quite rare in Sussex but there is a cause for concern that it's on the increase.
There are several different motives for stealing dogs and different methods used by those involved in stealing them. This blog is not intended to alarm anyone, but it's better to be aware of what does happen and how to try to minimise the chance of it happening to you.
Reasons for stealing dogs include:
- Gain, either to keep, to sell to someone else or to breed from
- Revenge, ie to hurt someone for whatever reason
- To use in fighting, either as a fighting or as a bait dog
Perhaps what we perceive to be the most common is a dog being stolen whilst tied up outside a shop.
I've long lost count of the amount of times I've been called to a report of an abandoned dog tied up, often for over an hour. On speaking to the owners some are totally unaware of the dangers, some are apologetic and some are quite rude. Please don't tie your dogs up outside shops leaving them to the mercy of an opportunist thief.
Dogs have been stolen from gardens
If your garden can be seen from public view please make sure that not only is your garden secure but that any gates are fitted with bolts fitted on the bottom so that thieves can't just reach over and unbolt them, you should also consider a padlock as well. Many people plant hedges, bushes etc to screen the garden from public view and you could consider prickly ones to deter anyone climbing in!!
Dogs are often stolen during a burglary in the owners home. Sometimes whole litters of puppies have been stolen. Many of these homes are targeted through advertising the pups for sale.
Thieves or their accomplices have been known to phone and enquire about the pups and finding out when was a good time to view them, any time not convenient to the owner could mean nobody was going to be at home. Others actually visit in advance to carry out a reconnaissance of the address, security measures, where the pups are kept, etc.
Be wary of what information you share
When arranging pup viewings with people over the phone, ask for a name and landline number from them and call it to verify. You may be able to write down the registration number of those coming to view your dogs.
Dogs have been enticed away from their owners whilst out walking, often in isolated areas, and on occasions dog owners being approached in the street by people who have brazenly tried to snatch the dog. Train your dog to come back to you on command and don't let them out of your sight when they're off lead. On lead be wary of people engaging you in conversation about your dog.
Please ensure your microchip details are up to date and make sure you have your pets microchip number and contact details of the microchip database to alert them if your pet is lost or stolen and last but not least have lots of good quality photos of your dog, taken from all different angles, particularly concentrate on the dogs markings, two of my dogs have completely unique markings which would positively identify them.
Hello again. I hope that none of you were affected by last week's weather and were able to go about your daily routine without disruption. Looking at the news we certainly got off lightly compared to other parts of the UK and it was sad to hear that the weather claimed at least 11 lives.
What amazes me is the number of people wrapped up in goodness knows how many layers of clothing (not to mention hats, gloves and scarves) who are out walking dogs, often small, short haired breeds, that have no coat on.
People will argue that dogs have got fur and they're descended from the wild and are used to all weathers. But they were domesticated by us thousands of years ago and are now used to living indoors with central heating so it's hardly the same thing at all!
As for “they've got fur to keep them warm”, it's the same fur as they have in the summer. Yet the person walking the poor dog isn't wearing the same clothes as they would be in July!
I didn't walk my dogs for two days last week. It does them no harm at all - you can give them plenty of mental stimulation in the house by hiding their food and or treats, playing with them and doing some training with them.
My colleague and I were busy having received several calls relating to concern for dogs living outside in kennels. One address had a number of dogs who lived outside. The owner was adamant that because their dogs were born outside they were fine with their conditions and that if they put coats on their dogs it would make them wimps. Meanwhile we were all feeling the cold whilst wrapped up in several layers standing beside them ...
The legislation that protects animals in these circumstances is The Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Section 4 of the act makes it a criminal offence to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal, while Section 9 of the act makes it the duty of a person responsible for an animal to ensure that the welfare needs of the animal are met. These needs are often referred to as “the five freedoms” and includes the need for a suitable environment for the animal.
If you have any concerns for the welfare of an animal please do not hesitate to contact us or the RSPCA.
Photo: A dog enjoying a brief run out in the snow last week
Hello again. I’m just back from a week’s annual leave which I spent with my partner and three of our dogs in Norfolk, Sadly our old girl Flora couldn’t come with us as she wouldn’t be able to enjoy the lovely coastal walks available in the area. She stayed at home with family and was very spoilt indeed.
Driving up to Cromer we passed the kennels of Yarmouth Greyhound Homefinders and I made a mental note to visit the rescue during the week. I was already aware of another Norfolk-based greyhound rescue group called Kerry Greyhounds Norfolk and soon found out about a third called Norfolk Greyhound Rescue.
You may wonder why one sparsely-populated county has three rescue centres dedicated to rehoming unwanted greyhounds. Well the answer is of course greyhound racing.
With a human athlete they train to be the best they can, they either succeed to a particular standard whether it be county, national, european, world, olympic etc - or, they don’t. If they don’t make that standard, if they receive a career threatening injury and when they retire, their parents or loved ones don’t throw them out of home or wash their hands of them.
Sadly with greyhounds it’s a different matter. Many are never fast enough to race, many more receive career ending injuries, and thousands of greyhounds retire from the sport, usually before the age of four and they can easily live to twelve years of age or more.
Even with all of the dedicated greyhound rescue centres, it is still estimated that in excess of 10,000 greyhounds disappear each year. Many are sold to countries such as Spain and China where they are raced again and there is evidence to suggest that in China the dogs are sold to eat once their racing career is over.
I’ve fostered greyhounds and regularly look after my friend’s greyhound Luna when she goes away so I can recommend them as an ideal family pet.
Contrary to belief they don’t need loads of exercise, just two twenty minutes walks a day are fine, although they can do more if you prefer longer walks. They are often referred to as a couch potato so if they sound like a breed for you, pop along to a rescue home (Dogs Trust Shoreham always have greyhounds and have three at the moment).
You’ll be adopting a lovely dog and without doubt, in my opinion, the most exploited breed in this country.
Photo: Russ's greyhound Flora being spoilt at home
Up and down the country there are hundreds of rescue centres, some are nationwide and household names such as Dogs Trust, others such as the RSPCA rehome not only dogs but other companion animals too. You will also find independents, set up by a handful of dedicated animal lovers and some are just one man bands, but they all have something in common; they take in dogs and other pets that the owners for one reason or another can't care for anymore.
Whatever reason the animal's owner gives, the staff or volunteers don't judge, that's not in anyone's interest. If people feel they are being judged it may encourage them to rehome their pet privately or just abandon them instead of signing them over to a rescue centre. It is so much easier for a rescue centre to rehome a pet that has been signed over by the owner than a stray picked up off the street. This is because, much like a used car they come with a history. To be able to say to a prospective adopter:
“this dog is called Rosie, she's 6 years old and has no medical problems, she's lived with young children and cats”
makes it so much easier to rehome her than saying:
“We've called this dog Rosie, we think she's about 5 to 7 years old, she was found as a stray in Ireland”
In this age of social media, I often see adverts saying “dogs free to a good home!!” It's obvious that the person advertising is doing this because they want just that for their dog, however when someone knocks on their door answering the advert they're hardly going to say, “I want your dog for breeding, or as a bait dog for my fighting dog”, instead they're going to say something like “I work from home, we live near the downs / beach / park and we'll take her out twice a day and for holidays.” Another good reason to use a rescue centre when you need to rehome your pet.
I would urge anyone needing to rehome their pet to take them to a rehoming centre, and one that does home checks for potential adopters and also provides Rescue Back Up, (RBU). You've then got peace of mind that your pet's new owner and their home have been checked out, plus if something unforeseeable goes wrong in the future a rescue centre offering RBU will take the pet back rather than being moved from pillar to post.
Lenny, my Labrador cross (see photo right), was rehomed privately at least twice before he was taken to a local rescue centre.
Sadly, through unforeseen circumstances, his adopters couldn't keep him but the rescue centre was there to take him back until a new adopter could be found.
He's been with me for over four years now but the charity is there should Lenny need them.
Hi again. When I'm out and about talking to people, I often hear the words, “I'd love to have a dog but” - then follows a number of reasons why they haven't or can't have a dog. Two of the most common reasons are “I go on holidays a lot and I don't want my dogs to go into kennels” or “I can't afford the vets bills”. Well, there is a way to have a dog without the financial responsibility that goes with it, and which helps a dog and the charity who rescued it. The option is of course fostering.
Most local and national animal charities use foster carers and some rely heavily or totally on them. Sussex Pet Rescue for example only has fosterers because, as a small charity, kennel fees would be too expensive for them. Consequently, if they have five foster carers on their books they can help five dogs but if they had more, they could help even more dogs.
There are a number of Dogs Trust rehoming centres around the UK including of course the wonderful one here at Shoreham. Each centre has a dedicated home from home coordinator who recruits, trains and looks after their foster carers. Dogs Trust staff asses every dog that come into their care, either having been signed over by the previous owner or as a stray from anywhere in the UK or Ireland.
The staff immediately know which dogs won't do well in kennels. Often it's puppies, young dogs, pregnant dogs or older dogs, but also dogs that haven't been very well socialised with humans or other dogs. For these dogs, a foster home is vital as they would quickly suffer both mentally and physically in a kennel environment. The home from home coordinator then matches the dog with the most suitable foster carer available.
At a recent get together I met foster carers who had fostered strays that I'd picked up and it was great being able to thank them for caring for those dogs at the most vulnerable time of their lives. The confused and lonely dogs that had been dumped, often with medical issues to contend with. I also met one of those dogs again, but more about Snowy another time.
Over the years my partner Vicky and her mum have fostered over 40 Dogs Trust dogs, and I've just crept into double figures so I'm well placed to assure you it is a worthwhile and rewarding experience.
The dog is better off in a home environment and can be better assessed to see the best type of home suitable for them in the long term. Other benefits include the charity saves on kennel space or the cost of renting a kennel space.
So for those of you who have the time and love to give to a dog but for whatever reason you can't commit to one full time, fostering may be for you.
Photo: Fostering Scamp
Welcome back to my weekly blog. This is part two of my article on stray dogs.
As mentioned last week, in 2017 we collected a total of 161 dogs - this works out at nearly one every other day!
While we re-home nearly 90 per cent of those, not everyone of those we are able to reunite with their owners. In the last 12 months 22 were took to rescue centres including Dogs Trust Shoreham who took 18.
Let me explain why ...
The legislation that covers stray dogs in England and Wales is The Environmental Protection Act 1990 which states that if the dog isn't claimed after a time period of seven clear days, the officer appointed by the local authority may dispose of the dog:
- by selling it or giving it to a person who will, in his opinion, care properly for the dog
- by selling it or giving it to an establishment for the reception of stray dogs
- by destroying it in a manner to cause as little pain as possible
Thankfully nationwide the numbers of stray dogs and stray dogs being put to sleep has reduced year on year.
You may wonder why any stray dogs are put to sleep by local authorities when there are so many rescue centres up and down the country? The answer is space and money.
Sadly there are more dogs needing homes than there are people wanting them. Many people want a puppy, a pedigree or at least to know the dog's history and will pay well over a thousand pounds for a dog. A rescue dog will cost a fraction of that price and will come, in most cases neutered, vaccinated and vet checked.
Often rescue centres have pups and pedigree dogs too. Only last Friday I did a home check for a lovely family who are adopting a Dachshund puppy from Dogs Trust. By adopting they've rescued a dog and got a pedigree puppy all in one!!
So if a rescue centre can't re-home the dogs in their care, they can't take the ones sitting in council pounds up and down the country. Rescue centres do not receive government funding, so with rising vet bills, running costs, wages etc many, even if they have space, are limited to the numbers they can take in.
Money is also a factor for local authorities if they can't find a place in rescue for their strays or re-home them themselves. The cost of keeping them can soon become very expensive, particularly if ongoing veterinary treatment is required.
At this stage, because the law allows it, some councils will take the decision to put a dog in their care to sleep.
Thankfully at Adur & Worthing, this only happens on the advice of a veterinary surgeon who will only consider the welfare of the dog.
We've only had to do this once in the past year. A lovely Collie called Hamba (see photo right) was found dumped in fields, very poorly. After five days at our vets and undergoing several tests it was decided that she was too weak for surgery, so the decision was taken to let her go to sleep.
I promise you that space or money doesn't come into it before we take such a big decision.
Photo: Hamba the Collie
Hello again, this week I'd like to talk about stray dogs.
In 2017 we collected a total of 161 dogs - this works out at nearly one every other day!
We are normally alerted to stray dogs from members of the public reporting that they've found a dog wandering the streets or in a park or open space on its own with no owner in sight.
Often the caller has already caught the dog and so all we have to do is attend and scan the dog for a microchip. But sometimes the dog is running loose and we have to set about catching it. Contrary to popular belief it's not always easy, they've got twice as many legs as us for a start!
When we have the stray dog we scan for a microchip, which apart from very few exceptions, every dog over the age of 8 weeks should have by law. If the details held on the database are correct (which is also the law) then reuniting dog and owner is normally straightforward.
However, if there's no chip or the details recorded on the database are incorrect, the dog is taken to our kennels to be cared for until we can trace the owner and reunite them with their companion.
Because of this, of those 161 dogs, 138 were reunited with their owners. But it is not always this easy.
Next week I'll focus on those other animals that we are not able to immediately reunite with the owners. Hope you all check back in then.
Photo: Stray dog being returned home
Hello, my name's Russ Akehurst, I'm one of the two Dog Wardens working for Adur & Worthing Councils.
Over the next few weeks I'll give you an insight into the type of work we do and share with you some of the cases I've been involved in - some past and some present, some funny, some sad. I warn you now, some don't have a happy ending.
I've been a Dog Warden for over nine years now, having previously served as a Police Constable for over 30 years. After retiring in 2007 I went to work for Horsham District Council as a Community Warden for the village of Ashington.
But when I opened the Worthing Herald one Friday and saw the advert that Worthing Borough Council (as it was in those days before the merger) were looking for a Dog Warden, I knew I had to apply. After being shortlisted from a field of over 70, I attended an interview at Portland House on the day of my father's funeral and beat six other candidates for the job.
Outside of work, my partner and I have four dogs - a Labrador X Boxer, a Jack Russell Terrier, a Staffie X Springer Spaniel and a Staffie x Jack Russell Terrier. They range in age from seven to 14 years.
Sadly less than three weeks ago we had to say goodbye to Poppy, our 15 year old Patterdale Terrier, who I rescued over nine years ago, just a couple of months into the job. She had been dumped in woods at Storrington and taken to Old Clayton Kennels who, at that time, looked after the stray dogs for Worthing, Adur and Horsham councils.
I'd only lost my previous dog earlier that year. But when I saw her curled up in the corner of her kennel, scared lonely and bewildered having recently given birth and with scars on her face, I knew I had to adopt her.
Little did I know then, what the future had in store for us as she loyally accompanied me to work over the years. Little did I know too how many dogs we'd foster until it was time for her to go to sleep.
Photo: Russ Akehurst with his Dog Warden van
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