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Scheme improving welfare of animals at traveler sites given RSPCA award

A special scheme working with South Wales’ traveller community to improve animal welfare standards has been recognised with a coveted RSPCA Cymru award.

Shared Regulatory Services (SRS), a partnership between Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Councils, picked up an RSPCA Innovator award at a ceremony at the National Assembly for Wales on Monday (October 23).

Innovator awards recognise pioneering and imaginative steps taken to improve animal welfare, and are chosen by an independent panel of expert judges, as part of the RSPCA’s Community Animal Welfare Footprints (CAWF) scheme.

Employees from SRS collected their award from the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths AM, and Paul Baxter, RSPCA council member for Wales.

RSPCA Cymru recognised SRS for the development of a series of proactive engagement exercises with the traveller community at sites on Rover Way and at Shirenewton, focussed on educating and improving the welfare conditions of animals.

The microchipping of dogs formed a key part of SRS’ work with the traveller community, raising awareness of the legal requirement to get dogs over the age of eight weeks of age microchipped. A total of 47 dogs across both sites have also been microchipped for free. Free bedding, collars and leads have also been provided to dog owners from the traveller community, to help raise awareness of canine welfare.

Strides have also been made by SRS to tackle long-standing equine issues within these traveller sites. This has included identifying owners of horse where welfare problems exist, a reduction in the numbers of tethered horses, and the hosting of an equine castration clinic with the British Horse Society, which has led a reduction in abandoned colt foals in the area.

Engagement exercises have been undertaken in conjunction with South Wales Police and the RSPCA.

Paul Smith, RSPCA Public Affairs Manager, said: “Shared Regulatory Services deserve great credit for their imaginative and effective approach to improving animal welfare standards at Rover Way and Shirenewton.

“Through proactive engagement, they have led the way in providing key education on dog microchipping, puppy breeding and other aspects of canine welfare.

“SRS’ work has also started to support vital improvements to equine welfare – reducing instances of tethering, over-breeding and identifying potential welfare risks.

“RSPCA is proud to recognise SRS with a special Innovator accolade. Award winners are chosen by an independent panel of judges – and they were hugely impressed by the combined efforts of Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Councils.”

Cllr Dhanisha Patel, Chair of the SRS Joint Committee, said: “It is always a pleasure to receive an award for the hard work undertaken by our staff. I would like to thank everyone involved with this scheme.”

Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs said: “The benefit of partnership working cannot be underestimated and this is evident today. Sharing best practice and innovative ideas is key to delivering lasting results.”

North Wales Police was also recognised by the independent panel of judges – being ‘highly commended’ in the Innovator category, for their Local Environmental Awareness on Dogs (LEAD) scheme.

LEAD encourages responsible dog ownership, by working with six local authorities in North Wales to proactively give advice to dog owners considered anti-social or inconsiderate. The scheme was expanded last year to include, Celt, a robotic golden retriever who has been visiting schools to teach young children about how to behave around dogs to improve public safety.

Mr Smith added: “The judges were really impressed to see North Wales Police educating children from such a young age about safety and responsible behaviour around dogs. This is a really important programme, which is reaching hundreds of children across the North Wales region.”

SRS and North Wales Police collected their awards as part of a wider ceremony, which paid tribute to all CAWF Cymru winners. The scheme acknowledges good practice from local authorities, housing providers, contingency planners and other public bodies in relation to animal welfare. In addition to the two Innovator successes, some 15 organisations scooped 18 CAWF awards.

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