Dog Theft Awareness Day – 14th March

Dog Theft Awareness Day is around the corner and it is an issue that, despite recent political events gets very little coverage.

More than 5,000 dogs have been reported stolen to police forces in England and Wales since the start of 2013, a BBC investigation has found. (Link here)

This shows a 22% increase within the last two years so it is pretty safe to say that it’s a worryingly sharp rise and one that I feel needs highlighting in Parliament. Fortunately the MP for Dartford, Gareth Johnson is keen to discuss this and propose a change in dog theft legislation.

Many may already know that in the eyes of the courts, animals are viewed as chattels, or possessions. If I asked most of my readers and fellow dog owners if they had to put a ‘value’ of a dog it would be absolutely priceless.

Nottinghamshire Police recorded the highest rate of dog thefts between 2013 and 2016. There were some two dogs stolen per 10,000 people served by the force.

It’s difficult to put a monetary value on something that holds so dear to the family? Sadly the value of a family loved dog would be found to have the same value as the chair I am sitting on. The courts would have very little interest in upholding the law in tragic cases of a dog being stolen, even if it was used in cases of dog fighting, puppy farming etc.

That is where the law needs to be reformed.

Dog Theft Awareness Day is around the corner and those need to make sure their voice is heard! Fortunately I will be attending talks within Parliament on the 14th of March to discuss these issues. Do you have an experience of dog theft? Do you know someone that has been a victim of this thoughtless crime? Leave a comment or email me at mark@walden.me and I will do my best to raise this to those who have authority.

Handy advice from www.pettheft.co.uk

The issue of Dogs in Hot Vehicles gets heated

Summer is officially here! Year after year, many dog owners and lovers including myself raise awareness of the dangers of leaving your dog in vehicles. Who could argue with this? You’d be surprised, this week I have been looking at this thorny issue.

To the majority (I hope) of dog owners this concept is relatively simple and clear. Horror stories are often circulated on social media and other outlets of the dangers of leaving animals in vehicles and in my opinion it’s one that needs to be continuously amplified across the world.

All of this can happen over in just over a few minutes and the worst of it is that it can be so easily prevented.

As you can imagine, The Kennel Club makes it’s stance very clear. In every Kennel Club licensed show there should be no dogs in hot vehicles. This is to be expected as well as campaigning and raising awareness like any dog organisation would.

But at the same time many dog exhibitors at shows ignore and argue with this concept. This left me very surprised and intrigued as to why?

Many exhibitors have customised vehicles for transporting dogs, many of which have the state-of-the-art air conditioning and climate control ensuring the dogs are always kept cool and secure inside. You can easily see that the welfare of their dogs are paramount to them. They also argue that the dogs are in a better condition inside the vehicle than under a tent in hot weather which is understandable. Why should they be penalised for the actions of the few irresponsible owners?

Hot dogs in cars
Having the window down a few inches may seem acceptable to some…

But this is where I differ; how can we uphold a very important rule if there are exceptions to certain individuals? We can certainly judge every exhibitors vehicle and conclude if the vehicle is safe or not but who is to say other exhibitors will see this and think their heated vehicle with their windows down a couple of inches is also acceptable? Where do we draw the line?

It’s a catch 22 situation we have here and it has left me thinking. Many senior exhibitors and judges alike are concerned they are being ‘tarred with the same brush’ as the irresponsible owners. Unfortunately, they are missing the point completely, the issue we have here is that if we uphold a rule we cannot give exemptions for certain individuals.

So lets turn the coin and imagine if there are no rules for dogs in hot cars. People would be ultimately responsible for their dogs wellbeing which, in itself is not a bad thing. If a dog tragically dies however at a dog show the first question above all else would be ‘Could this have been prevented?’ As I’ve stated above, yes absolutely. Do we as dog lovers and professionals want to uphold a good example for the general public? Yes absolutely. Above all else, the welfare of the dog is paramount and as dog lovers and professionals we must set an example towards the general public.

The issue we need to focus on now is to ensure that every show, especially in the summer, must have measures to monitor this. Patrolling vehicles, having decent not-for-competition tents that are well ventilated and monitored and reporting offenders to the appropriate authorities is the way to go forward.

Many will think these measures are unnecessary and over-the-top but if this saves just one dog a year – isn’t it worth it?

Richard Burgess – VE Day Companion

8th of May marks one of the most remarkable celebrations of our time, it was the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. It was the day I also attended a funeral in Aldershot, the heart of the British Army to celebrate the life of a remarkable man and dear friend who fought with the Gurkhas during World War II, Richard Burgess.

Richard and I crossed paths via my grandparents who keep Beagles. After the war Richard was a Housemaster of a school, he needed a companion and expressed no desire to have a obedient Labradoor or King Charles Spaniel so he eventually decided to get a Beagle. Now, as most Beagle owners are well aware they are not well known to be the most obedient of all breeds, quite the opposite as a matter of fact!

He saw a litter of puppies, one of which crawled over to his feet and chewed on his laces and thus began his love and admiration for Beagles.

Since then, Richard has always had a Beagle by his feet. Indeed, as the years went on, many Beagles came and eventually passed away and Richard always had another to keep him company. His house was always full with war medals and memorabilia married with portraits of his four legged companions over the years.

Before he came to me asking for his final Beagle he had been living in solitude for five months after his previous Beagle passed away. I remember vividly how he said to me that those five months was the worst time of his life  without that companion. I had to remind myself that this man spent many years in the jungle fighting during World War II and here he is telling me that not having a companion by his side for five months in his quiet English cottage in sunny Farnham was by far his worst period of his life without hesitation. It’s hard to comprehend this and yet summarises his devotion for dogs, more than I feel I can ever empathise with.

Part of the ‘Forgotten Army’ during the Burma Campaign the British had a strong alliance with the Nepalese Soldiers fighting against the Axis powers, most notably the Germans and Japanese. Richard was an intelligence officer feeding vital information back to command and thus he was given the nickname ‘Rabbit‘ as he often sprung from jungle to jungle without a sound to be heard.  He established lifelong friendships amongst his comrades, most of whom passed away as the years went by. Echoes of this can be seen on his walls and shelves in form of war medals, memorabilia, portraits and Gurkha knives (also known as khukuri).

Admittedly he never spoke about his experiences to me, he seemed to be very reserved in that respect or perhaps I felt it was far too intrusive to ask. It is a very rare thing these days to have veterans alive to this day who can tell the tale which only fuels my fascination. When I am in my 50s there will be no first hand accounts and we will ever rely on reading books, archive footage and online research. Remarkably, however he kept diaries of his experience, tens of years worth of handwritten diaries from the war when he was 23 years old to very recently when he had guests, including myself visiting for a cup of tea.  These will be kept at the Gurkha museum, I cannot think of a more fitting place for them.

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One of my many visits to Richard, captures of enjoyment Beagles bring to our lives!

‘Boo’ was his last Beagle companion who I looked after when I was still working at a boarding kennels and rescue home. Boo, as with most rescue dogs came from a broken background and it was my delight to introduce her to him. They found each other and their lives were once again filled with joy and glee. Richard was a remarkable person and I cannot express how much it was an honour to be a part of that.