We’ve kept our gold in the RSPCA’s Community Animal Welfare Footprints awards for the sixth consecutive year, in recognition of our outstanding care for stray dogs locally.
Gold standard is the highest achievement, and rewards public sector organisations going above and beyond basic and statutory animal welfare standards.
"We catch or collect the stray dog, look for its ID tag, scan for a microchip, look to see if it has any distinguishing marks, and return it to its owner if possible," said Mandy Dorman, Borough Animal Warden.
"If we cannot find its details, or get hold of the owner, we take it to kennels. These have underfloor heating and are staffed by trained professionals and manned 24/7.
"All newbies are assessed by the vet, whether sick or not. We keep the dog for up to seven days to give an owner a chance to claim it.
"If the dog isn’t claimed we find a space in a rescue centre. We only use rescues that vaccinate, microchip, neuter and home check."
Last year (April 2014 to March 2015) there were 172 stray dogs in the Borough, and the year before 220. ID tags on dogs are a legal requirement, and microchipping is due to become law next April.
The original owner is liable to pay vets and kennel fees and our costs caring for their stray.
"Our aim is to reunite the dog with its owner and get it home, or find it a new one as quickly as possible,” said Mandy. “More than half our strays are reclaimed by their owners – usually the same day.
"My favourite moments are when we reunite a stolen dog with its owner. I love that look on its face when it recognises them. My worst are aggressive people. I don’t mind aggressive dogs. It’s not their fault."
Abandoned dogs tend to be a seasonal problem – Christmas puppies tend to be left when they hinder the first summer holidays away.
"Always research the breeds if you want a dog, to find the one that suits the amount of exercise you can give it, and the size of your home.
"And always consider a rescue dog first, if you can."
'Dog and Bone' text scheme
Our ‘Dog and Bone’ text scheme alerts dog walkers when a hound goes missing. To register email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (0118) 974 6000.