Our dog warden, Russ Akehurst, just couldn’t resist making a work phone call whilst away on holiday. It’s not to be encouraged, but there’s dedication for you… 😇
I can’t say that last week was a busy week for me. It was time to take some holiday and I was lucky enough to spend it close to the Peak District in Derbyshire. It’s not an area I’ve spent much time in previously and – as two of my dogs are elderly – before going I researched walks that were on the flat. I wasn’t sure how much choice there would be, but I needn’t have worried. The area has beautiful canal walks and, thanks to Dr Beeching, also its fair share of disused railway lines which make for lovely peaceful flat walks.
It was while walking one of these routes that I got a text which read “Hello, just a query, if you don’t mind answering please? Where do strays go to if picked up in either Worthing or Littlehampton areas, and does their 7 day period ever get extended? Are the pounds non-kill? Much appreciated and thank you.’
We often get these questions, usually in a Freedom of Information request (FOI) and to tell you the truth I get quite defensive and frustrated that people would even think that 1) our council would kill a dog after the 7 days and 2) that I would be a part of it.
So, as I was walking on a safe flat path a long way from the nearest road, I decided rather than wait until I was back at work, I would ring the person there and then.
It turned out that we had a mutual acquaintance and she had seen my name on a couple of vegan Facebook sites so knew that we were on the same page in relation to animal welfare. We had a lengthy conversation about what the law says about stray dogs and how different councils vary in their approach and care for the dogs they come into contact with and more importantly how well they care for the dogs if they’re not claimed.
Every council in England & Wales has a legal responsibility to care for stray dogs. Their duties and powers are set out in The Environmental Protection Act 1990 and allow local authorities to seize stray dogs and recover their costs before the dog is returned to the owner. It also allows the council to dispose of the dog after seven days if the dog is not claimed:
A) by selling it or giving it to a person who will, in his opinion, care properly for the dog;
(b) by selling it or giving it to an establishment for the reception of stray dogs; or
(c) by destroying it in a manner to cause as little pain as possible;
It is of course option C) that quite rightly worries people and why they sometimes submit FOI requests to us. It’s no secret that sadly some local authorities up and down the country see fit to kill dogs that they can’t rehome if they’re not claimed after 7 days. Only the councils involved know how hard they try to rehome each dog, and how much money plays a part in the decision.
But many of you will remember Stanley the white large Staffy type we had in our care over 2 years ago. He must have been with us for at least 5 months before we were able to find him a place in rescue (Sussex Pet Rescue) who had a foster home for him and eventually found him a lovely forever home.
There’s no denying that many councils would have killed Stanley because of the cost of keeping him in kennels, but to be clear, Adur & Worthing isn’t one of them. As I said to the lady who text me: “I care about animals, so stopped eating them over 30 years ago, so why would I be part of an organisation killing them now?”