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Ken the dog rescuer wins a double award
WHEN you’ve got virtually nothing in the world, the last thing you want to lose is your dog.
Oxford City Council dog warden Ken Williams has been making a special effort to reunite pets with their homeless owners and his work has now been recognised by the RSPCA.
Mr Williams, 48, has been awarded an RSPCA innovator award, and has also won a gold award from the charity for the second year running.
Mr Williams set up the scheme with manager Graham Eagle last year.
He said the innovator award recognised work the dog warden service had been doing with the homeless and their dogs.
He goes out of his way to make sure dogs owned by homeless people are properly chipped and tagged, and keeps records of them in order to help him re-unite dogs and their owners if the pets run off.
Registration tags are compulsory by law — each has a unique number which allows the warden to find information on the dog and contact details for its owner.
The microchips act as back-up if the tags are lost. The chips can be scanned and all the vital information will be brought up by a database.
Mr Williams said: “It can be hard to track down homeless owners but some have mobile phone numbers.
“If not then we take a relative’s details. Failing that we can store information about the Night Shelter or even Big Issue offices. We can normally track them down in the end.”
Mr Williams added: “If a dog doesn’t have a collar and tag, it ends up going to the kennels, and we pass any fees on to the owner.
“I don’t want to put someone who is already down on their luck under financial pressure, and the chances are they wouldn’t be able to pay, so their dog would end up being re-homed.
“The system means we don’t put the dog under more stress, it doesn’t put the owner under more hardship, and it saves the council money.”
Mr Williams described the feeling when he reunites dog and owner as “one of the best parts of the job”.
He added: “The reaction of the dog when you get it back to its owner is great. It makes it a good part of the job.
“If dogs get run over, I still have to scan them for microchips. That’s not so nice.”
Mr Williams became a dog warden more than 20 years ago after becoming frustrated with life as a manager of a rescue centre in Dorset.
He said: “I got really fed up of people handing dogs over for stupid reasons. I decided to do something about educating people, because education is key to responsible dog ownership.”
He said he was “overjoyed” the service won the two awards.
John Tanner, city board member for a cleaner, greener Oxford, said: “It is great news that our dog warden service has been recognised again by the RSPCA.
“The service works hard to tackle stray dogs in the city, as well as providing education to dog owners about fouling and keeping control of dogs in public places.”
The city douncil is responsible for dealing with all stray dogs including those found out of hours.
The dog warden service is available to give talks and presentations to schools, community groups, parish councils and tenants associations.
Call 01865 249811 for details.