Campaign for responsible dog ownership continues

Published: 31 January 2013

An average of five dogs per week have been microchipped since 2009 as part of Wandsworth’s drive to encourage responsible dog ownership.

The borough now has a record of approximately 5,000 dogs living in the borough - with many details having been gathered through housing tenancy conditions that require housing estate residents to get their dogs chipped and registered.

The conditions - the first of their kind to be introduced by a local authority - are designed to counter problems associated with so-called 'status dogs', such as anti-social tenants using potentially aggressive or temperamental dogs to harass others.

Wandsworth Council has long been one of the leading local authorities in the campaign to tackle irresponsible dog owners and related dog nuisance and attacks. The borough was recently the focus of a good practice case study on London Councils' website.

Wandsworth has been calling on the Government to introduce new rules on dog ownership since 2007.

Ideas have included strengthening the dog licence regime and introducing competency tests for owners, which would make dog owners prove they have the skills to handle their animals.

The council has also been backing the introduction of compulsory microchipping - a proposal which ministers last year agreed to consult on.

This would allow the police and local authorities to trace owners if their dogs have been involved in an attack and also enable animal charities like the RSPCA and Battersea Dogs Home to easily contact the owners of lost or abandoned pets.

More recently, the council formed a partnership with the local branch of the RSPCA, to provide free neutering to dogs that are registered as part of the microchipping scheme. This is designed to help prevent unwanted and/or unplanned litters of puppies.

Wandsworth's community safety spokesman, Councillor Jonathan Cook, said: "Our officers have been leading the charge against irresponsible dog owners, whose actions not only cause misery and potential harm to others - but also often to the dogs themselves.

"The council's compulsory microchipping for housing estate tenants and leaseholders' dogs has led to a dramatic decline in the number of complaints about dog attacks as owners know they can be easily traced if they cause problems.

"Compulsory microchipping for all dogs would certainly be a step in the right direction - as it would also mean that strays and lost dogs could be returned to their owners without any delay and without incurring expensive kennelling costs for local authorities and charities."

The council has also supported calls for the introduction of a reasonable charge for a dog licence. This could be set at a level that would not put off genuine dog lovers but might deter anyone who sees their dog as just a temporary 'fashion accessory' or 'status symbol'.

In addition to helping target the most troublesome owners and their dogs, it would also generate income to better support dog control teams that are needed around the country.

For information on the work of the council's dog control officers, including how to get your dog microchipped regardless of whether you live on a housing estate, visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/dogs.

Meanwhile, concerns about the way a dog is being treated in Wandsworth can be reported in confidence to the council's Dog Control Service on (020) 8871 7606.

ENDS