COUNCIL officials are celebrating after winning a national animal welfare award.
The Dog Warden Service, which is part of Hartlepool Borough Council’s waste and environmental services section, has scooped a silver award in the “stray dog services” category of the RSPCA Community Animal Welfare Footprint Awards 2012.
Kate Ainger, environmental projects officer with the council, said: “We are delighted to win this prestigious award which recognises good practice in stray dog provision by acknowledging local authority services that have mechanisms and policies in place to ensure dog welfare, provide staff training and promote responsible dog ownership.”
The RSPCA Community Animal Welfare Footprints is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year.
The awards scheme covers four areas of work (footprints) that impact on animal welfare – stray dog services, housing, contingency planning and animal welfare principles – and each footprint has three levels – bronze, silver and gold.
The council was informed that it had won an award after submitting a detailed dossier highlighting its work around stray dogs.
This included information on how procedures are in place to treat injured and sick stray dogs efficiently and humanely, and how efforts are made to re-home all unclaimed dogs unless they are too sick, injured or aggressive.
The council’s entry also highlighted how it works closely with local press and radio and uses social media to help find new homes for unclaimed dogs.
It comes after the Mail launched the Give a Dog a Home campaign that highlights the plight of abandoned dogs in Hartlepool and East Durham and features animals in appeals for new owners.
Ms Ainger added: “This award is also testimony to the excellent working relationship we have with staff from Low Fallowfield Farm Kennels in South Hetton who collect and look after stray dogs from Hartlepool on our behalf, and the quality of service they provide.
“The kennels can take up to 24 stray dogs and every dog is housed in an individual kennel. Each kennel has a raised sleeping area which is out of sight of the kennel on either side to allow a dog to hide from other dogs if required.
“Each kennel also has an individual heat source and dogs are provided with clean bedding, food and water. Kennels are cleaned out on a regular basis throughout the day.
“The staff realise that for some dogs kennelling can be distressing so they take time out to play with and reassure dogs struggling to adjust to their new environment.”