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New online course to prevent dog-related offences
Instead of punishment, the course aims to empower users to become responsible owners.
The course encourages responsible pet ownership.

A neighbourhood policing officer has spent his free time developing an online course, designed to prevent first time offenders committing further dog-related offences.

Working with Blue Cross, PC Paul Croft has established the Responsible Dog Owners Course (RDOC), an online course educating users on the principles of responsible dog ownership.

The course targets first-time, low-level offenders, who have committed offences under Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and Section 2 of the Dogs Act 1871. Instead of imposing punishments, the educational course aimed to instead empower users to become more responsible pet owners.

A range of topics are covered in the RDOC, including legislation, ownership responsibilities, dog safety, canine communication and dog control and management.

The course is already being implemented in 30 police forces across the country. Wiltshire Police, for whom PC Croft works in Chippenham Neighbourhood Policing Team, now sits in the top five police forces for referral numbers – with a 0 per cent reoffending rate.

PC Croft has also partnered with Blue Cross with the development of a Dog Safety Police Assembly for school children.

The assembly would see pupils in Key Stage 1 and 2 being taught how to deal with dogs, as well as important signs in a dog’s body language.

As part of this work, PC Croft has trained nearly 60 colleagues in delivering this talk to primary school pupils. Wiltshire Police is the first force to train officers to give this assembly, which has been presented to 1,400 children so far.

Alongside the online course and dog safety assembly, PC Croft has also developed a Dangerous Dog Act Community Protection Warning, Wiltshire Police Dog Handbook and the investigation templates used for dangerous dog incidents. He will work with Royal Mail on a Dog Safety Awareness Campaign, which could reduce dog attacks on postal workers.

PC Croft has also contributed to two magazines, to promote awareness of the RDOC.

Inspector Pete Foster said: “The work PC Croft has carried out to improve the response to dog bite incidents not only in Wiltshire, but nationally, is exceptional and should be commended.

“I have no doubt that the online course and the assembly for young children will help prevent future dog bite incidents and potentially save lives.”

Image © Wiltshire Police

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Reporting service for dead wild birds updated

News Story 1
 The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has updated its online reporting service for dead wild birds.

The new version allows those reporting a dead bird to drop a pin on a map when reporting the location. It also includes a wider range of wild bird species groups to select from when describing the bird.

The online service, which helps APHA to monitor the spread of diseases such as avian influenza, can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
NI chief vet urges bluetongue vigilance

Northern Ireland's chief veterinary officer (CVO) has urged farmers to be vigilant for signs of bluetongue, after the Animal and Plant Health Agency warned there was a very high probability of further cases in Great Britain.

There have been 126 confirmed cases of bluetongue virus serotype 3 in England since November 2023, with no cases reported in Northern Ireland. The movement of live ruminants from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is currently suspended.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the virus is most likely to enter Northern Ireland through infected animals or germplasm (semen or ova) being imported.

Brian Dooher, Northern Ireland's CVO, said: "Surveillance for this disease within Northern Ireland has been increased to assist with detection at the earliest opportunity which will facilitate more effective control measures."

Farmers should report any suspicions of the disease to their private veterinary practitioner, the DAERA Helpline on 0300 200 7840 or their local DAERA Direct Veterinary Office.