Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dog licences

You can view the complete RSPCA report on dog registration on the central website.

Playing devil's advocate for a moment; is there any reason why an austerity government shouldn't abolish dog wardens, and the requirement to hold stray dogs for at least 7 days, as a cost-cutting measure if we don't have some system of generating revenue that's specifically linked to dogs?

When the old dog licence system was in force the explanation popularly given for the different treatment of dogs compared with any other stray animal was that only dogs had a licence.

Given that (with a few exceptions) politicians fundamentally don't care about animals why should they spend taxpayers' money on keeping strays alive for 7 days? Several commentators on the Dogs Today blog have asked why, as responsible dog owners, they should pay to sort out problems caused by the irresponsible ones; unfortunately that argument applies even more forcefully to anyone who doesn't have a dog but pays tax under the current system.

There is already some pressure to give local authorities "fast-track culling powers for the Police in relation to the animals" in the case of dogs who have been seized under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

I certainly don't have any expectation that a dog license is a magic wand, but wouldn't £21 be worth paying if it meant:
  • There would be somewhere safe where you could take a stray dog you found wandering on the road at 3 am on a Sunday without having to wait until 9am on Monday.
  • If your own dog was frightened by something, ran off and was found straying it would be guaranteed that she could be taken somewhere safe and scanned for a chip.
  • There were enough dog waste bins, emptied frequently enough not to be unpleasant to use.
  • There were enough trained wardens to visit owners whose dogs were causing problems (e.g. constant barking) and give advice.
(Yes, I do realise that many people would say: "Those are your jobs; you should be doing all of those things for free already." In which case, please send us the £21 and we can open 24/7 animal homes and employ more Animal Welfare Officers.)

A few commentators seem to find something very sinister in the report's discussion of disease control in relation to dog registration. The most likely new disease involving dogs is Echinococcus multilocularis. This is actually a tapeworm, whose larval phase forms cysts which can be difficult and dangerous to remove. The phase which affects dogs is the adult worm, which can easily and safely be removed by effective worm treatments. If the disease became endemic in this country it would clearly be of benefit if regular worming could be enforced, but there would be absolutely no reason (and no benefit) from any kind of "cull" of infected dogs.

What about owners who don't get their dogs licensed?

In the US concerns have been expressed that introduction of policies intended to reduce the number of unwanted animals killed by shelters in fact have the opposite effect from what is desired because the sanction for non-compliance is seizure of the animal, which may then be put down if not adopted. 

This isn't what the report suggests should happen (The penalties envisaged seem to be rather on the lines of: "If you don't register your dog, we'll tell you to register your dog.") In Ulster, which does currently have a dog licence system, the cost of a licence is £5 and the penalty for failing to register is a £25 fine. With concessions for unwaged and for service dogs, there's no reason why a £21 registration fee would cause mass relinquishment of animals, particularly if the initial registration entitled the owner to free microchipping or some other benefit.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Missing Cat

Missing from Sweetpea way (off Woodhead Drive) in Cambridge. 20 year old black cat with white socks. She's a spayed female and looks thin because of her thyroid condition (for which she needs medication). She isn't normally allowed outside, but slipped out while the back door was open.

If you see a cat matching this description in the general area of Woodhead Drive, please email and I'll pass details on to her carers who are very worried.

July statistics

I'm very behind with these. August should be ready soon.

In July, our clinic treated 290 dogs, 109 cats, 6 rabbits and 3 miscellaneous "small furries".
The clinic neutered 15 dogs, 3 cats and one rabbit.

We rehomed five dogs, nine cats and three rabbits. One cat in branch care had to be put to sleep on veterinary advice because she was not responding to treatment.
Animals in branch care to end July 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A cruelty case in Oklahoma

The Bad Rap group have an extended piece (warning some very disturbing photos) about a recently-concluded cruelty case (BAD RAP Blog: Oklahoma style justice - the Newkirk dogs). From a British perspective there are several very interesting points:
  • In the States the available penalties for cruelty are considerably heavier than they are here: it's possible to impose additional terms of imprisonment for each animal, and theoretically someone convicted of severe cruelty to multiple animals could serve several years in jail. In the UK the maximum penalty under the Animal Welfare Act is 51 weeks. 
  • The actual penalties imposed may be a lot less.
  • There was serious doubt about whether this case would be prosecuted at all—and animal welfare groups were impressed that the District Attorney involved took it seriously. If she hadn't happened to be an animal lover there would have been nothing they could do to force a prosecution.
  • There was virtually no system in place to look after this number of dogs (or apparently any dogs) taken by the police in the course of a cruelty investigation. Nearly all of the 100+ dogs had to be put down on the scene and a handful were taken on by various rescue groups on an ad hoc basis. 
  • Those dogs who were rescued were all successfully rehomed in spite of being bull-breeds and probably bred for dog-fighting (over here we'd probably classify at least some of them as Staffordshire bull terriers, but it's still impressive that they could be placed in normal pet homes.)

Monday, August 30, 2010

More squirrel weirdness

Did you know it is actually illegal to fail to report it to the authorities if you see a grey squirrel in your garden? (Um... guilty as charged yr honour).

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Merlin's vet check-up

Merlin looking rather woebegone as he waits to see the vet
Merlin had his 9-day wound check yesterday and all looks good so far. You can just see the external fixator on his right-front leg in the photo. The green lumps are vetwrap self-adhesive bandage wrapped round the screws that join the splint to the pins which actually go below the skin and are attached to the leg bones, holding them in place so they can heal in the correct position.

There's a photo and diagram showing how external fixators work on the veterinary central website. Considering that the pins are essentially going into the leg through small open wounds which won't be able to close until the fixator is removed, animals are surprisingly unworried by them. The main risk is  the potential for infection, which is why the wounds need a periodic check.