Welcome to the SafePets Blog

Welcome old and new customers, friends and colleagues.  In this blog, Debbie  Connolly, our founder, will chat, pass on comments and  stories and the rest of us staff and helpers will tell you all about our work and what we can do to help you.

Please visit our website for full information CLICK HERE

From August 2014 we have a new base on the Lincolnshire/Leicestershire border.   Home visits, office consultations and residential breaks will all be done from this new site.  A central location offers us the chance to extend help to many more people as well as expanding our Bravo Working Dog Rescue rehab.

 follow us on Twitter or on Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/safepetsuk

You can now chat to us on Skype too safepetsuk or

South East number 0208 1445799

East Midlands number 0115 8883334

You can email us on training@safepets.co.uk

My status

Kyle Files, TV Responsibility for Dog Bites

Kylefiles-cropLast night on ITV the latest episode of “The Kyle Files” was broadcast, on the subject of dangerous dogs. I had an interest in this as I am an expert witness,  assessing dogs in bite cases for court.  I also had numerous calls from the production team for 2 months trying to find something they wanted to film.  They assured me this would not be just another show about pit bulls.  Sadly I think it was. Continue reading

Rescue Rules, good practice

3gsdLast year I spoke with Vicky, the great Aunt of Lexi Branson, sadly killed by an unassessed dog rehomed with no advice or homecheck.  The coroner identified some areas of concern regarding this type of rehoming. Two years on her family were horrified to discover from our conversation that nothing had been, or would be done to protect people in the future.  I had already written to George Eustice MP about the need for a live behaviour assessment on dogs who kill or seriously hurt people.  Mr Eustice’s response is here:

2015-09-scan-reply-george-eustice-dangerous-dogs

The sad thing about this reply is that he quotes the Lexi Branson coroner report as some sort of solution and says we don’t need assessments on dogs because the coroner identified the factors.

Rescues are setting up all the time.  No insurance, no expertise, often by people who had been volunteering for a better rescue who decide they can do it themselves. I have sent a copy of this information to Vicky last year.  Soon this information is going to the press.

What should a rescue do in order to protect dogs and people? I run a small scale rescue and I am a behaviourist and Expert Witness for Dangerous Dog Cases.  I carry Public Liability, Care, Custody and Control of dogs and Professional Indemnity Insurance.

This is not the final list, but is a starting point, created from my own practises and those of other good rescues. A press release is out soon.

Registration

  • Any person or organisation claiming to rescue should be on a register. This should identify the person in charge, the insurance held (3rd party liability minimum), the name of any associated behaviourist, vet and who else is an official.
  • A questionnaire completed by the person collecting/assessing the dog before being accepted into rescue. This should include the environment, behaviour with family or kennel staff, behaviour during transport and record of the dog’s history and previous routine.
  • A standard control document should be held for each dog. This should record; the date the dog was transferred to rescue ownership, microchip number (which should be transferred to rescue name) the date of any vaccinations, neutering, illness/veterinary treatment, the fosterer name or kennel location, behaviour assessment and by whom, food used, wormer and flea treatment, date of adoption.
  • A separate record of any observations and behaviour testing done and by whom.
  • All dogs should be neutered, vaccinated and chipped before adoption.
  • A record of the home check done on the new home (this must include meeting ALL family members and other pets). All new homes must be home checked.
  • An adoption/fostering contract must be signed before a dog is placed with any new person.
  • A help sheet should be given to adopters outlining how to deal with a new dog and good practice for the first few weeks.
  • A second home check should be done no later than 1 month from adoption/fostering.
  • All of the above should be available for the registration body to check at any time.

 

Good Practice

  • Dogs entering rescue should be assessed over a minimum 3 week period and not offered for adoption or rehoming prior to that.
  • Dogs should be tested by the rescue for at least basic behaviour reactions: resource guarding, reactions to other dogs in public, reactions to visitors and strangers at home and in public, acceptance of being handled/groomed, play manners, noise sensitivity and reaction to children. All this should be recorded by the person observing/testing. Any adverse reactions should be dealt with by the rescue and a behaviourist should be consulted to remedy the problem and all recorded.
  • The person in charge of the rescue or one of the named officials should visit each dog in kennels or foster at least once before adoption and this recorded on the control sheet.
  • The new adopter and family should visit the dog in the kennels or foster at least once before adopting.
  • If the new adopter has another dog, there must be a meeting arranged away from the home, ideally at the foster or rescue home, with a rescue official and/or the behaviourist attending to give advice.
  • The ability for the new home to separate the new dog must be assessed. Either a baby gate(s) or crate should be already in situ.
  • If a dog is going on foster, the contract must be signed and the home checked before placing a dog. The contract should clearly state that the rescue has 3rd party liability insurance, emergency contact numbers, who is paying for food/veterinary treatment/training, agreement to keep the records required by the rescue, acceptance that a rescue official can ask to see the dog at any time and that the return of the dog can be demanded by the rescue at any time and good practice in caring for the dog (not off lead, separation from dogs/cats/kids etc).
  • Written policies should be created by the rescue: responsibilities, minimum time scales for assessment, the removal of dogs from adopters/fosterers, the emergency contacts (and that should cover a 24 hour period), specific issues that would cause adoption to be refused (ages of children, working homes, other unneutered dogs etc)

I’d like to thank all who have helped with this, in particular Vicky for her ongoing push to stop the same awful thing happening again to another family.  She has entered a parliamentary question http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Lords/2017-02-24/HL5602/

Pets or Pawns? Using Pets to Control Partners

Beachside Stroll

Having pets can enhance a couple’s relationship.  But sometimes the pet becomes a pawn in a power struggle between adults. I have seen many cases of hidden agendas between people who use their dog to control their partner.

Continue reading

Lies, Cons and Private Dog Sales

ebtThe last week has brought a larger than usual set of calls and messages from people who bought or were given a dog from a private seller/owner.  They happen frequently, but suddenly there’s more.  I don’t know whether the change to compulsory microchipping is behind it as many turn out to not be chipped.

Whatever the reason, both sellers and buyers do some really crazy and dangerous things. How can you avoid the pitfalls of private sellers who lie?  Or buyers who lie about their circumstances? Or disreputable rescues? Continue reading

Met Police Seize 300 Illegal Breeds under Dangerous Dogs Act

skynews1404 The Sky News special report of 12th April caused uproar in the dog world.  They had spent time with the Status Dog Unit and accompanied the dog handlers on various dog seizures.  Sky News interviewed Debbie Connolly, Dog Behaviourist and court Expert Witness, about this statistic.

Continue reading

My dog has bitten, the Police seized my dog

The biggest fear of many dog owners is that of their dog scaring or biting someone and the police taking it away.  We have done several behaviour assessments for court cases relating to the Dangerous Dogs Act and if you are in trouble, here is some advice.  Don’t panic. We have also successfully fought cases where tenants were told by Housing Associations or Councils that their dogs has to go after behaviour complaints.

DDA changes 13th May 2014 incorporated, last update February 2016

Continue reading

DDA Assessments, Court Expert Witness, Dog Bites

MDHB2I returned to doing Court Expert Witness work last year after relocating centrally.  I feel strongly that dogs involved in bite incidents need full assessment and support.  Owners can easily be misled or misinformed by Police and other owners and a dog’s life could be at risk.  What exactly do Expert Witnesses do?  Here’s an explanation: Continue reading

Tragic Fatal Dog Attack in Preston

Houses-of-ParliamentWe start 2016 with the sad news of another death caused by a dog. The tragic loss of a young man, Liam Hewitson is also a story of families breeding and owning Pit Bull type dogs and the potential cause being a dog reacting to an epileptic seizure. Continue reading

Appealing a Dog Destruction Order

jenson1This Labrador dog was given a destruction order under the Dangerous Dogs Act after 3 bite incidents.  After completing a period of residential training with us, returning to his owners who then proved that they could also reproduce the new behaviour, I gave evidence in court based on my report and we successfully had the order changed to a contingency destruction order.  An important case for anyone in the same position. Continue reading

Britain’s Got Talent, Matisse the Collie

matisse-stunt-double-mainI don’t watch BGT, I find a lot of it cruel and uncomfortable.  I couldn’t ignore the winner this year as it hasn’t been out of the papers.Jules O’Dwyer and her dogs won BGT but were billed as “Jules and Matisse”. Does this win really justify death threats and over 1000 complaints to Ofcom?  Petitions to rob them of the title? It’s just a dog doing tricks on TV isn’t it?  Some people think not. Continue reading