Dogs in the News Fetching you all the latest canine headlines
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    November 28th, 2016Laura P (Editor)Articles

    The annual John Lewis Christmas advert, which this year features ‘Buster’ the Boxer, has sent searches for Boxer dog puppies to record highs in the run up to Christmas, leading the UK’s largest dog welfare organisation, the Kennel Club, to remind people about the importance of choosing a dog carefully to prevent dogs needlessly ending up in rescue.

    Figures released by the Kennel Club show that searches for Boxer puppies on its Find A Puppy website, rose by 160 per cent in the day following the release of the advert. 

    The interest continued in the following days, with searches up a total of 169 per cent in the five days since the advert’s release and by 151 percent on the same period in 2015. Searches for all breeds of dog were only up four percent and eight percent respectively, in the same time period.

    Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “We have seen unprecedented levels of interest in the Boxer dog breed since the John Lewis advert was aired, whereas interest in other breeds during the same time has stayed relatively static.  The Kennel Club’s Find a Puppy service is a tool for people to use when looking for a dog breeder with a litter of puppies, so people are already actively seeking Boxer pups as a result of the advert.  

    “When there is a sudden and enormous spike in people searching for puppies within a breed that is in the media spotlight, we all too often see the same breed overflowing from rescue centres a few months later. It is understandable that adverts, films and other media will feature and celebrate dogs given that we are a nation of dog lovers, but the Boxer breed could be in real trouble if people let impulsiveness take over and rush out to buy one without knowing much about the breed.

    “While the John Lewis advert perfectly depicts the Boxer’s playful and endearing nature, no advert can give a fully rounded picture of what any dog breed is like, so it is essential that people do their research if they are looking to get a dog.  We would strongly urge anyone who is serious about getting a Boxer to go to a responsible breeder, such as a Kennel Club Assured Breeder or consider a rescue dog.

    Read more: Is the Boxer the breed for you?

    Betty Hoad of the Southern Boxer Rescue Service, has voiced concern about seeing an influx of Boxers through their doors in the New Year. She said: “Boxers are absolutely wonderful characters but we fear being inundated next year, after the interest the John Lewis advert has generated in the breed. We saw lots of Boxers called George coming into us after the Colman’s Mustard ad featuring a Boxer, so we know it happens.

    “Boxers drool, they are messy eaters, and whilst they are fun and playful it means that they also need a lot of exercise and stimulation. They are bouncy, do not look where they are going and blunder about, so people need to be aware of this, particularly if they have children. Neither do they like being left alone, so if you are out working all day, it is not the dog for you.”

    To educate people on Boxers following their tremendous boost in popularity, the Kennel Club has launched a ‘Living with Buster’ page on its website, to show people more about the reality of living with the Boxer breed.

    The Kennel Club is also inviting people to come and meet Boxers at the Discover Dogs zone at Crufts on 8-11 March 2017, at the NEC in Birmingham, where people can find out more about the breed, and other breeds of dog, and whether they are right for their lifestyle.

    To find out more about Boxer dogs and whether it could potentially be the right breed for you visit

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    November 25th, 2016Laura P (Editor)Articles

    The Stoneleigh Parish Carol Service will be held at the Kennel Club Building in Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire on Sunday 18th December. The festive event will begin at 7pm and includes performances from the Stoneleigh Ladies’ Choir, Stoneleigh Male Voice Choir and Stoneleigh Handbells. Everyone is welcome to attend, including canine companions.

    During the service guests will be invited to donate money that will support the great work of The Salvation Army’s Way Ahead Project amongst the homeless community in Leamington Spa.

    The seemingly unconventional setting for the service is due to Stoneleigh Church currently undergoing essential building work, so the Kennel Club Educational Trust stepped in and offered the building in Stoneleigh free of charge.

    Gerald King, Kennel Club Educational Trust Chairman said: “Christmas is a time for goodwill and we hope that the carol service will help to raise funds for The Salvation Army’s work in the local area. The festive season is also a time for family and friends to get together and we are glad that this event will allow the four legged members of the family to join in the celebrations.”

    Following the service, guests will be offered mulled wine and mince pies to round off the festive evening.

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    November 25th, 2016Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is calling on the public to help keep the shelter’s rescue dogs warm as the cold weather descends on London.

    The world-renowned charity currently doesn’t have enough bedding for all their dogs this winter and is asking its supporters for urgent donations of new or second-hand blankets.

    The blankets donated to the Home will be gratefully received by Battersea’s dogs who will snuggle into them as Christmas approaches.

    The Home’s skinnier dogs, like one-year-old Jack Russell Terrier cross Choccie, will particularly benefit from these Christmas gifts.

    Battersea’s Centre Manager Robert Young said: “Our skinnier dogs, such as Choccie, and the thinner breeds like our Greyhounds and Lurchers, really feel the cold over winter. We do everything we can to keep our dogs warm as it gets colder, including dressing them in doggy jumpers, putting the heating up and giving particularly vulnerable dogs special, padded beds – but nothing helps to combat the winter chills quite like a warm, snuggly blanket. So please, donate a blanket to Battersea this Christmas – you’ll make a rescue dog very happy.”

    Blanket donations can be brought into Battersea’s London centre. The Home kindly asks the public not to donate sheets or towels, which are too thin to keep the dogs warm over winter, or duvets, which are too bulky to be washed in the charity’s laundry facilities. 

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    November 22nd, 2016Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Not sure what to buy the dog lover in your life this Christmas? Look no further: we’ve compiled a list of the best gifts for canine enthusiasts in 2016.

    Check out our Pinterest gallery for more images and inspiration! 

    For those who like woofs of art – Woof On The Wall

    Woof On The Wall, created by Music Technology graduate Ryan Harrison, allows you to convert your dog’s bark into a customisable piece of waveform artwork. This can then be issued as a print, on a canvas, or printed onto other items like mugs and cushions.

    With prices starting from £15, this is a truly unique gift for the dog lover in your life.  All you have to do is contact the company via their website to discuss what you want; they will take a recording of your dog’s bark over the phone and then do all the work converting it into an image. You will be consulted on preferences like colours, text, and framing options, and then, once approved, the final product will be delivered within 7-14 days.

    A pet portrait is always a thoughtful gift too; this can often be commissioned based on a photograph. Try Patou Pet Portraits or Thuline.

    For the groupies – National Purebred Dog Day merchandise

    National Purebred Dog Day (US) is held on 1 May every year. In order to raise funds for this awareness campaign, they recently unveiled a merchandise collection (including t-shirts and tote bags) featuring the following slogans, based on the AKC show groups:

    Terriers – No guts, no glory

    Hounds – Chase it, track it, got it

    Herding Dogs – Keeping everything together

    Sporting Dogs – Flush, set, point, retrieve

    Non-Sporting Dogs – They can and they will

    Working Dogs – Getting things done

    Toy Dogs – A lot of heart in a little package

    Each item then lists all the breeds in the group (AKC) underneath. Prices start from $15 (£12) + shipping.

    For those who always have their nose in a book

     2016 was a good year for dogs in literature. For the non-fiction lovers, there was: “Secret Service Dogs” by Maria Goodavage; “A Matter of Breeding” by Michael Brandow; “Peggy and Me” by Miranda Hart, “Labrador” by Ben Fogle, “Bilbo the lifeguard dog” by Steven Jamieson; “Arthur: The dog who crossed the jungle to find a home” by Mikael Lindnord; and “Friend for Life” by Kate Humble.

    For fiction fans, we had: “Fifteen Dogs” by Andre Alexis; “Claude’s Christmas Adventure” by Sophie Pembroke; “The Great Fire Dogs” by Megan Rix; and “Love is a Four Legged Word” by Michelle Gorman.

    There’s more. The trendy Ladybirds for Grown-Ups series includes a new edition on how dogs work; Country Life published the photobook “Posh Dogs”; there’s even adult colouring books featuring dogs.

    And, with “A Dog’s Purpose” by W Bruce Cameron being made into a film in 2017, this is the perfect opportunity to give the gift of reading the book before seeing the movie.

    For the wrrrrr-iters

    Dog-themed stationary will never be unwelcome. Why not get them a Douglas the Boy Wonder notepad or a set of Sweet William greeting cards?

    For the fashion fur-natics

    Everyone loves a Christmas jumper, and these doggie-themed knits are sure to be well received:

    • Joules has an Irish Terrier wearing reindeer antlers for £50
    • Redbubble has this “Dachshund through the snow” tee for £17
    • offers a Westie wearing plaid for £15
    • Matalan features a Gundog wearing a sequined ‘cracker hat’ for £16
    • House of Bath portrays a Dalmatian playing Rudolph for £30
    • River Island went for a Bulldog saying “Bah Humbug” for £25

    If a jumper is a bit beyond your budget, why not try these “Bah Hum-Pug” socks from New Look?

    For post-walk refreshment

    These sweet mugs from Humans 4 Animals will not only raise spirits on Christmas morning, but they’ll also raise money for a good cause – 50% of all profits go to Pupaid.

    For, well, the dog!

    If your favourite dog lover is lucky enough to have their own pooch, or seven, the odds are they’re probably pretty spoilt and will likely have their own presents to unwrap on the 25th. Earn brownie points with your dog lover by showing you’ve thought of their furry friend too.

    Schnoozing Schnauzers e-shop sells a variety of accessories for all breeds, including coats, collars, leads, beds and treats. Or, the official Crufts shop offers branded toys and personalised pet stockings.

    Did we miss anything? Leave your suggestions in the comments below. 

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    November 22nd, 2016Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Santa will be paying a visit to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in Old Windsor over the weekend of 3-4 December, to give dog owners a Christmas photo opportunity with a difference.

    Visitors can bring their canine companion to the shelter for the annual Santa Paws event- where they can visit Father Christmas’ grotto for an a-paw-able doggie photoshoot.

    Last year, Battersea Old Windsor had around 150 people come to Santa Paws when it was a one-day event and, due to its popularity, this year it will run for two days to give even more supporters a chance to experience the festive fun.

    Battersea Old Windsor Centre Manager Kaye Mughal says: “You don’t have to own a Battersea dog to come along to Santa Paws – all dog owners and their four-legged friends are welcome. Visitors can have their pooch photographed alone with Santa, or get the whole family involved for the ultimate Christmas card photoshoot. While guests wait for Father Christmas, they can try for a prize in the festive raffle, or stop for tea and cake amongst the tinsel.”

    “We currently have lots of dogs looking for new homes who are very happy to live with other dogs – so if you’re thinking of expanding your canine family, this is also a great chance to come and meet some of our lovely waggy-tailed residents.”

    Santa Paws event details

    Location: Battersea Old Windsor, Priest Hill, Englefield Green, Windsor, SL4 2JN

    Dates: Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 December 2016

    Time: 10:30am – 4:30pm

    Admission to Santa Paws, which includes one photograph, cost £4.50, with reduced prices for additional prints.

    Battersea Old Windsor’s Kennels and Cattery will be open as usual with normal admissions fees applying (£2 for adults and £1 for children).

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    November 16th, 2016Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Responding to the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRACom) report on ‘Animal welfare in England: domestic pets’, which makes a number of recommendations to improve the implementation of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 but also calls for RSPCA to ‘step back’ from bringing prosecutions under the Act, Gudrun Ravetz, President of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), the UK’s leading body for vets, said:

    “Calls to reduce the RSPCA’s prosecution powers received scant support from the organisations and individuals submitting evidence during the EFRACom inquiry so it is surprising that MPs are not only progressing, but shining a spotlight on this recommendation. The RSPCA is currently responsible for over 90% of prosecution activity on animal welfare issues and it is unclear who else would have the resources to take on this vital role. EFRACom’s focus on the RSPCA’s prosecution powers is a disappointing distraction from a report that, otherwise, makes many positive recommendations towards improving UK pet welfare.

    “The full EFRACom report outlines recommendations that BVA has long called for, such as scheduling secondary legislation to address specific animal welfare issues given that, 10 years on from its launch, the full effectiveness of the Act in improving the five welfare needs of all animals has not yet been realised.”

    BVA and the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) responded to the EFRACom’s inquiry calling for evidence earlier this year.

    In the joint consultation response, the two veterinary organisations recognised that the Animal Welfare Act 2006 has been effective in its aim of bringing the majority of animal welfare legislation under one umbrella, but expressed concern that too few pet owners are aware of their legal duty of care to their pet, as evidenced by the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report which shows that only one in three pet owners are familiar with their responsibilities.

    British Veterinary Association President Gudrun Ravetz continued:

    “Enforcement is essential to effective legislation, but prosecuting wrong-doers is not the only solution to ensuring the welfare of millions of pets.  We welcome the report’s recognition that education and other measures to tackle the root causes of poor animal welfare have a key role to play.

    “It is encouraging that the report includes not only pragmatic measures around online pet sales, such as making it mandatory for websites to adhere to the Pet Advertising Advisory Group’s minimum standards, but that it also proposes the Government seize opportunities around Brexit to review the Pet Travel Scheme to ensure this non-commercial transport route does not continue to be exploited for criminal puppy smuggling.”

    BVA and BSAVA calls that were met by EFRACom report recommendations include:

    • Updating dog breeding legislation to improve animal welfare
    • Ensuring that dog breeders whose dogs have three or more litters are licenced; with the EFRACom report going further, recommending that dogs with two or more litters are licensed
    • Ensuring dog owners whose dogs have one litter a year are registered with the local authority
    • Including the registration or licence number of the breeder in all online adverts
    • Establishing a centralised equine database

    The BVA/BSAVA consultation response was supported by oral evidence to EFRACom provided by veterinary surgeons Heather Bacon and John Chitty.

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    November 15th, 2016Laura P (Editor)Articles

    If you’re a dog lover, you probably will have seen the 2016 John Lewis Christmas advert – featuring Buster the bouncing Boxer – by now. It’s a charming spot, which has thus far managed to avoid the ‘canine Christmas advert curse’, but some commentators are worried that it could lead to a rise in demand for Boxer puppies for Christmas and into 2017.

    It’s a valid concern – the ‘Dulux dog’ effect is well documented, and most animal lovers acknowledge that trends in popularity are closely linked to film and TV appearances or celebrity association. The Kennel Club recently released a statement which confirmed that searches for Boxer puppies have risen since the advert aired. 

    Of course, we would urge everyone to do their research before adding a new family member of any breed, but a large, active breed like the Boxer requires that extra bit of consideration. So, before you rush to buy or rescue a Boxer, please ask yourself:

    Do I have the time and energy for a Boxer?

    14The Boxer is described as an energetic and fun breed, which retains an almost puppy-like attitude through much of its life. They love being at the center of whatever is going on. This rambunctiousness makes them excellent family pets in the right situation, but it also means that they don’t do well if left alone for long periods of time and are likely to become destructive if they are bored.

    This is a dog which likes to be active; they are from the Working group after all. Your Boxer will need regular long walks, regardless of the weather. They also like to be kept busy, so will need an activity to do, such as agility, and/or plenty of stimulating toys and play at home.

    Can I handle a large, excitable dog?

    Boxers can weigh up to 32kg, and they have a tendency to be headstrong. With their history as a hunting/guarding breed they can be very powerful, and even the most ardent Boxer lover will tell you that they need firm handling and effective early socialization in order to contain their over-excitable character traits.

    Also, Boxers are not quiet dogs. They’re not yappy, but they do vocalize with grumbles and grunts, and they snort, snuffle, and snore. The sounds are endearing to some people, bothersome to others.

    Do I mind a bit of mess?

    Boxers, like most breeds, drool, shed and even fart! Their long (undocked) tails can cause breakages, and they do have a bit of a reputation for being both clumsy and inquisitive (see above under ‘destructive if bored”). If you’re house-proud, this may not be the breed for you!

    Can I afford a Boxer over its lifetime?

    According to Kennel Club statistics, Boxers live for an average of 9 years, though they can live up to 15. You will need to budget for at least 10 years of vet bills, medicines, food, toys, treats, accessories, and insurance. Boxers, with their inquisitive and bouncy nature, can be prone to accidents, and their short noses may cause health problems. That’s not forgetting the initial outlay for a healthy puppy from a responsible breeder, or a rescue center’s adoption fee.

    Learn more about the Boxer at

    Would I be better off with one of these?

    If any of the above doesn’t appeal, you may be better off with this plush Buster the Boxer toy!

    15Don’t get us wrong, Boxers are wonderful dogs, and they’re already very popular, ranking in the top 20 most popular breeds in both the UK and the US. We don’t want to run them down, but we also don’t want to see an increase in the number of Boxers in rescue next year just because of a cute advert.  Don’t forget, a dog is for life, not just for Christmas.

    You can learn more about Biff, the canine actor who played Buster here.

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    November 14th, 2016Laura P (Editor)Articles

    Geoff Somers, one of the world’s most accomplished Polar travelers, will be visiting the Kennel Club on 22nd November to share tales of his adventures, including the 1990 International Trans Antarctica Expedition.

    In 1988, Geoff completed the longest unsupported Arctic journey by travelling 1,400 miles (2,000km) by dog sled from south to north across the Greenland ice sheet. Shortly after, he and an international team became the first and only people to traverse the entire Antarctic continent by its greatest axis. The journey spanned almost 4,000 miles (6,200km) and took seven months to complete. Throughout both of these journeys, Geoff was responsible for the logistics and drove the lead team of sled dogs.

    During this presentation, Geoff will describe his unprecedented journey across Antarctica which included him and his team of five men from different countries and cultures, plus their hardy and faithful animals, weathering temperatures as low as minus 50° Celsius.

    The talk complements the current exhibition in the Kennel Club Art Gallery, Canine Trailblazers: Dogs in Exploration, a display of artwork, photography and other items of interest which celebrates some of the dogs involved in famous explorations over the last three centuries. The exhibition begins with Captain James Cook’s pioneering voyage, walks through the adventures of American explorers Lewis and Clark and takes a detour to the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration before landing with the canine cosmonauts of the Soviet Space Race.

    The special one-off event will be held at the Kennel Club in London from 11.30am and refreshments will be served upon arrival. Tickets cost £15, and Kennel Club members and associates can receive a discount. Places are limited so tickets must be booked in advance. To buy a ticket, please contact the art gallery at or 020 7518 1064.

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    November 7th, 2016Laura P (Editor)Articles

    The UK prides itself on being a nation of animal lovers but only one in three pet owners (35%) are familiar with their pet’s legal welfare needs, reveals a coalition of veterinary organisations today ahead of the tenth anniversary of the landmark Animal Welfare Acts (8 November).

    Despite over half of UK households owning a pet, findings from the veterinary charity PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report, which is due to be released later this month, shows that year-on-year owners’ awareness of their pets’ welfare needs remains consistently low. This has prompted leading veterinary organisations including the British Veterinary Association (BVA), British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA), Blue Cross, British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), British Veterinary Zoological Society (BVZS), PDSA and RSPCA to launch a joint campaign to help pet owners better understand the complexities of their pet’s five welfare needs.

    unnamedPDSA research further shows that pet owners who feel more informed about each of the five welfare needs are significantly more likely to provide preventive healthcare to their pets, which might help mitigate the upset and potential need for emergency veterinary care.

    The 2006 Animal Welfare Acts of England and Wales, and Scotland, consolidated and replaced more than 20 pieces of outmoded legislation. They established a duty of care, enshrining in law five animal welfare needs, outlining housing, diet, behaviour, social interactions and health as the legal responsibilities that every owner should meet to ensure their pet is as happy and healthy as possible.

    Read more about the Acts:
    Animal Welfare Act (England and Wales)
    Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act
    Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland, 2011)

    James Yeates, vet and Chair of the Veterinary animal welfare coalition, said:

    The five welfare needs are a fantastic ‘umbrella’ guide to taking care of our pets, yet each and every species has such differing welfare needs – from cats who tend to be solitary animals and usually prefer to be the only pet to rabbits that should live in pairs or groups of other rabbits and dogs, who should not be left on their own for more than a few hours a day – it’s vital that pet owners can translate theory into practice. Our understanding of animal welfare science has come such a long way over the past 50 years so we’d really like pet owners to pop into their local veterinary practice, where they will be able to get tailored, up-to-date advice for their pets, whether that’s a horse or a hamster!

    According to a recent survey by the British Veterinary Association, vets’ top welfare concern is a pet’s diet, one of the five welfare needs, with vets reporting obesity, dental issues and other complex health problems as a result.

    To mark the tenth anniversary of the Animal Welfare Acts, the Veterinary Animal Welfare Coalition is launching a new icon to raise awareness of the five welfare needs and remind pet owners to think about how these apply to their own animals.

    To find out more about how the five welfare needs apply to your pet, please speak to your local veterinary practice team who are best placed to advise based on your pet’s species, size and age.

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    October 26th, 2016Laura P (Editor)Articles

    New report by UK’s largest dog welfare organisation, the Kennel Club, highlights that responsible owners could be penalised by increasingly tough restrictions on dogs

    • Dog owners and assistance dog users can be unfairly penalised or even criminalised by overly restrictive Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
    • Dogs are banned from over 2,200 public spaces in England and Wales and must be kept on leads at all times in 1,100 public spaces
    • Kennel Club calls for improved guidance from the Home Office to local authorities regarding PSPOs and for appropriate exemptions for assistance dog users

    Dog owners and assistance dog users are being unfairly penalised and in some cases, criminalised, by overly-zealous restrictions on where people can walk their dogs, a new report by the UK’s largest dog welfare organisation, the Kennel Club, has found.

    Public Space Protection Orders, introduced under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, give power to local authorities to ban dogs from public areas, such as parks and beaches, or to require dog owners to keep their dogs on leads at all times in these areas.

    With around 8.5 million dogs in the UK and an estimated one in four households owning a dog, the impact on responsible, law-abiding citizens could be huge if local authorities increase their use of Public Space Protection Orders to restrict dog walking.

    The Kennel Club estimates that dogs are currently banned from over 2,200 public spaces in England and Wales and must be kept on leads at all times in 1,100 public spaces.  There is likely to be a substantial increase in restrictions in the next year, as all local authorities in England and Wales must replace existing Dog Control Orders (introduced under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005) with PSPOs by 20th October 2017.

    The Kennel Club recognises there are scenarios where restrictions on dog walkers are required and justified; however it believes that many do not meet this criteria and are causing unreasonable hardship for responsible dog owners and assistance dog users, making it hard for them to provide appropriate exercise for their dogs, and in some cases are criminalising responsible law-abiding citizens.

    As well as having an impact on the quality of people’s daily lives by restricting where they can walk their pets, these types of restrictions can have a significant negative impact on the welfare of dogs.  Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 there is a legal requirement for those responsible for dogs to provide them with ‘suitable exercise’, which means regular opportunities to walk and run off lead.  The Kennel Club is concerned that responsible dog owners trying to give their pets the exercise they need may find it increasingly difficult to find places to do so.

    Those in society who rely on assistance dogs can often be the most severely impacted by restrictions on dog walkers and have faced significant difficulties as a result of Dog Control Orders and continue to do so under Public Space Protection Orders.

    Under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 the Government included clear requirements that a registered blind person; a deaf person using a hearing dog; and those with a disability who relied on an assistance dog, could not be subject to a dog exclusion order.  The Government also included a similar exemption for assistance dog users from dog fouling orders, if their disability affected their ability to pick up after their dog.

    These exemptions were common-sense measures to ensure that disabled people were not discriminated against from accessing public spaces.  While these were welcomed, a considerable issue was created when no specific provision was provided to exempt assistance dogs from restrictions requiring dogs to be kept on a lead.  This remains a problem with PSPOs.  In local authority areas with extensive on-lead restrictions in place, it can be very difficult for assistance dog users – especially those who are unable to drive or have mobility impairment – to provide their dogs with opportunities to get proper exercise and exhibit normal behaviour patterns as required under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

    When PSPOs replaced DCOs there was no specific provision within the legislation to exempt those who rely on assistance dogs from any of the restrictions within a PSPO.  Instead there was merely a recommendation in the guidance that states local authorities ‘may wish to consider exempting those with an assistance dog’.

    The Kennel Club is greatly concerned about the number of local authorities that appear to be creating additional hurdles for assistance dog users, either by not providing exemptions at all or by not providing appropriate exemptions, which could be a breach of the Equality Act 2010.

    Furthermore, due to the manner in which they are drafting PSPOs, a number of local authorities implementing exemptions for assistance dogs are failing to include deaf people who rely on hearing dogs within their exemptions.

    These councils are typically copying verbatim the prescribed Dog Control Orders assistance dog exemption as drafted for dog fouling offences, which exempt all assistance dogs apart from hearing dogs, whose owners are considered physically able to pick up after their dogs.  These councils are then using the same wording but for dog exclusion orders, which is resulting in all other assistance dog users being exempted from dog exclusion orders apart from those with hearing dogs. The Kennel Club hopes that common sense would be applied on the ground, however the current wording can result in hearing dog users being singled out and legally barred from accessing certain public spaces.

    Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “It is crucial that any restrictions on dogs and their owners are fair and proportionate, and we believe it is important for local authorities to be able to present evidence that there is a genuine problem that cannot be dealt with in other ways before they attempt to introduce restrictions.

    “Certain PSPOs, such as the one that makes it a legal requirement to pick up after your dog, are sensible and promote responsible ownership.  However some, such as blanket restrictions, do little to address underlying problems and instead simply displace them to other sites, which can cause further problems elsewhere.

    “Some local authorities seem to be waging a war on dogs and their owners and singling them out from the rest of the population with no real reason for doing so.  Those involved in proposing dog restrictions of course have to take into consideration all users of public spaces, not just those with dogs, but when they seem to be actively trying to criminalise dog owners simply for wanting to give their pets proper exercise it greatly concerns us which is why it is important to oppose unnecessary restrictions and encourage a more evidence based approach.

    “It is important to note that owners need to give their dogs proper exercise, which includes exercise off lead, to make sure they are complying with the Animal Welfare Act.  If they are being prevented from doing so by another piece of legislation then decision makers need to look at what can be done to avoid this happening, both to protect dog welfare and to ensure that law abiding citizens aren’t being unfairly singled out.

    “The UK has long been known as a nation of dog lovers and we would not want to see this undermined through unnecessary restrictions that cause dog owners to feel that going about their daily lives could result in a fine or unfair penalisation.  Dog walkers provide many benefits to society as they often act as the eyes and ears of communities and are a continuing presence in public places, which could deter genuine anti-social behaviours.”

    The Kennel Club is the only organisation which monitors and responds to individual PSPO proposals to restrict dog access, through its KC Dog group which alerts dog owners across the country to potential restrictions in their area and works with local authorities to find suitable, more effective, solutions to dog-related issues.

    Local authorities have significant targeted powers to address individual irresponsible owners, such as Acceptable Behaviour Contracts and Community Protection Notices.  These have the advantage of allowing authorities to require problem dog owners to attend training courses and deal directly with the underlying problem behaviour, but it is rare for authorities to use them and they tend to implement blanket restrictions instead, which penalises the responsible majority when it may be just one or two irresponsible owners who are not doing what they should.

    The Kennel Club wants to see improved guidance from the Home Office to local authorities regarding PSPOs; appropriate exemptions for assistance dog users from PSPOs; and better consultation with its KC Dog group from local authorities.

    Download the full report here.

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