Gold for Northumberland County Council at RSPCA awards

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Northumberland County Council has been recognised by a national awards scheme for excellence in achieving high animal welfare standards.

The council’s animal welfare team achieved a Gold Stray Dogs Footprint award for the fourth consecutive year, as part of the RSPCA’s Community Welfare Footprints (CAWF) scheme, which recognises good practice in animal welfare from organisations such as local authorities and housing providers.

The team was recognised for its efforts in looking after stray dogs, with acknowledgment of establishing an out-of-hours reception service, and for working in partnership with the Dogs Trust to provide a free micro-chipping service, which will become a compulsory requirement in 2016 for all dog owners.

To achieve gold standard, the entrant must demonstrate a number of criteria. This includes regular proactive work to educate owners about responsible pet ownership, preventative measures to reduce straying such as providing an out-of-hours service and offering methods of permanent identification for all stray dogs.

The aim of the footprint scheme is to recognise and promote the achievement of higher animal welfare standards in the delivery of services. Each year, the winning entries are documented to provide models of good practice across England and Wales.

Philip Soderquest, head of public protection, said: “The team has demonstrated yet again its ability to curb stray dog numbers in Northumberland, by delivering an excellent service which treats the welfare of stray dogs with the upmost care while pro-actively educating owners about responsibility.

“For the fourth year running, we are one of only a few local authorities in the North East to have achieved a gold footprint award reflecting our commitment and professionalism in delivering the service, to ensure the welfare of all animals across the county.”

The council’s free micro-chipping service is offered to residents throughout Northumberland and can be requested via the council’s online form. The new law for compulsory micro-chipping will come into effect on April 6, 2016.

Liz Simpson, deputy business chairman for Northumberland County Council, said: “By delivering the proactive service, we can significantly reduce time spent collecting and taking care of stray dogs, which will ultimately reduce our costs and allow us to prioritise our resources. I’d like to congratulate the team on this fantastic achievement.”

Residents can report animal welfare issues directly to the team by visiting the council’s website