Sunday, 6 November 2011


Well for all of you that don't know I'm now back working full time as an Inspector, this time for the SPCA in Bermuda. There are lots of challenges but the work is exciting (and slightly more dangerous than usual) with a multitude of Horse, Pig and Pit Bull complaints to deal with.
You might be surprised to know that apart from the Pit Bull issue there are no stray dog problems in Bermuda. The problem is that there are very few adoptable dogs full stop !!! If you don't want a Pit cross then you are out of luck .

And don't get me started on Feral cats !! They are a major problem and are currently in a turf war with the Feral Chickens . When Chickens turn wild could be the title of my book ! There I am looking at all these chickens running around with tiny fluffy chicks and cockeralls cock a doodle doing all over the place thinking 'Ah how cute' when all I hear from the locals is curses and gnashing of teeth as the birds root around in their flower beds. I got the same response from a friend in Australia when I went all misty eyed at the sight of some Kangaroos and their babies in her field. All I got was a frantic ranting and a search for some big rocks to chase the 'overgrown vermin' out of her hay field. I guess one mans pet is another mans pest.

Still, it is truly a beutifull Island and as soon as I get a day off I'll take advantage of the fabulous beaches.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Fundraising for Animal Charities

Whether you are a group of friends rescuing street dogs or a large international animal charity with many departments probably the most vital person in your organisation is the fundraiser. If you had told me that when I was on the front line of animal welfare kicking down doors and taking names I would have laughed as surely the most important person is the one actually doing the animal welfare work ? Well yes and no.

Clearly no charity can exist without people who are prepared to get ‘down and dirty’ and work at the often unpleasant end of animal welfare on the streets but without funds to pay for animal food, vets bills and advertising for your work then you will always be struggling.

Now more than ever it is important to look at different ways to fundraise so that you have an income to continue your vital work.

Where do you start? Firstly you need to look closely at your supporters and volunteers. How well do you interact with them? It is likely that you will have a small core of regulars who volunteer weekly but what about the wider circle of people who have come into contact with your organisation, do you know anything about them? It may be you have a supporter who is an athlete or a top businessman or a fashion designer or even an entertainer that might be willing to help with a specific event like a sponsored run, designing a logo or even just helping sort out your finances.

Your volunteers and supporters are your greatest asset so it pays to try and get to know them and what better than to recruit them to help fund raise.

So let’s quickly go through fundraising options starting with the most common.

Stalls and booths at events. A good way to sell your merchandise and promote your organisation provided the stall is well stocked with good quality merchandise and literature. To maximise revenue how about a raffle? You could approach some of the shops in the Mall or nearby before the event to see if they would be willing to donate a prize in return for being included in your publicity material for the event. Also if you kept contact details of those who entered the raffle you might be able to increase your supporter database.

Dog shows and sponsored dog walks Can take a lot of organising so not an event you can just put on. You need to make sure that you have enough volunteers to ensure it runs smoothly. A good way to get people involved in your organisation. Try and get people to sign up to different classes before the event so that you know roughly how many will turn up. Remember it is a fun event so try and share out any prizes. In the UK fun dog shows are very popular and often a local celebrity is asked to judge some of the classes which may have themes like’ Dog most like its owner’ or ‘Dog with the waggiest tail’.

Charity/Celebrity Auctions A charity I advised organised a celebrity auction. They wrote to as many famous people in the country as possible asking for items to be donated which would be auctioned to raise funds for their shelter. They got quite a good response with paintings from artists, signed scripts and items of clothing from actors, signed photographs and sporting items from other celebrities as well as the unusual like a day at a Spa or a meal for two at an upmarket restaurant. They combined this with an open evening/auction night at an art gallery and sold tickets to people interested in bidding for the items. Simon Cowell of X Factor fame was the auctioneer.

Collecting Boxes. Do you use collecting boxes ? Perhaps you can organise a tie up with a chain of shops or pet stores to have your collecting boxes near the till. Think wacky, another charity I worked with had some handmade wooden dogs with a Perspex tummy so you could see your money being swallowed by the grateful pooch.

Charity Shops/Garage Sales . In the UK charity shops are big business , especially in a recession. The secret is to obtain good quality donated clothing, books and bric-a-brac to sell. You may have to chase donations and if you have a van and driver you could perhaps leaflet a suitable area asking for certain items like books, unwanted good quality clothing, ornaments and possibly even small household appliances or furniture, if you have the storage and display space. You never know what you might get and it is worth getting an expert to cast an eye over the results just to make sure you haven’t got a Ming vase in amongst the items collected ! The charity Oxfam in the UK even have specialist charity shops which sell the designer label clothing that is donated whilst other charity shops specialise in books, records and CD’s

Sponsored events. Again very common in the UK. Probably the most popular is a sponsored run with people entering marathons and other races and getting people to sponsor them per kilometre completed. The event does not need to be competitive, how about a sponsored swim at your health club or a sponsored row on a rowing machine in the gym ? A team of fundraisers in the UK raised £1,000’s for the Haiti earthquake appeal by rowing the distance to Haiti from the venue in the UK on a number of rowing machines . They had been sponsored by friends, family and workmates for each kilometre completed.

Overseas challenges are also popular with charities organising sponsored climbs and treks to places like Machu Picchu (Peru) or Kilimanjaro (Tanzania , Africa). The participants must raise a minimum amount of sponsorship to be able to take part. How about a sponsored trek up Kinabalu ?

Corporate Sponsorship. It is always worth approaching large organisations to see if they will sponsor a specific project. Usually they want something to show for their money so make sure you do your homework on what they might contribute to. This is where your volunteers and supporters will come in useful . Do any of them work for a large bank or international company ? being on the inside they will be able to find out the information you require and the person that you need to approach to maximise your chances of pitching your appeal for funds successfully.

Regular Small Donations. Many charities work on the basis of regular monthly donations from their supporters. This is where the mailing list is invaluable. By requesting a small regular donation for a specific use your supporters can visualise where their money is going. For example “ 10RM will feed a kitten for a week, whilst 15RM will treat a dog against heartworm and ticks for a month. 20RM will vaccinate a dog against rabies and 50RM will pay for a cat to be neutered” By giving a range of donations each individual can give what they can afford each month and provide a regular income for the charity .

These are just a few of the more common ways to raise funds but in a recession it pays to be quirky and inventive. So get together with some friends and start planning . Let me know how you get on or contact me for help and advice . Good luck

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Police Dogs killed by handler

Yet another Police Officer has left their dogs to die in a hot car. This time it is a Police Sergeant from the Metropolitan Police and it even happened at their Training Center.

It seems that some of these 'handlers' treat their dogs just as tools of the trade and whilst the majority of Dog handlers put their dogs first there are some that clearly would be better off looking after nothing more valuable than a stack of traffic cones.

It is an honour and a privilege to work with animals particularly ones who are prepared to lay down their life to protect you. There should be no second chances or cover ups for these evil people and the full weight of the law must come down on any person, Police Officer or not, who does such a horrendous and despicable act. This guy needs to be prosecuted and thrown in jail with all the other abusers and criminals. He apparently has 'previous' as a dog he was training died.

I certainly don't want to hear the Police whining about implementing new procedures and safeguards to prevent it happening again - it shouldn't have happened in the first place , it isn't too difficult to comprehend the risk of leaving dogs in vehicles.

There are many websites devoted to Police Dog Memorials and some are truly moving but unfortunately there are a significant number of dogs that have died as a result of errors by their handlers. I fully support the Police but this must be the last time any dogs are killed by inadequate handlers.

A K9 Prayer.

Oh almighty God, whose great power and eternal wisdom embraces the universe, watch over my handler while I sleep.

Protect my handler from harm while I am unable to do so.

I pray, help keep our streets and homes safe while my handler and I rest.

I ask for your loving care because my handler's duty is dangerous.
Grant my handler your unending strength and courage in our daily assignments.

Dear God, protect my brave handler, grant your almighty protection, unite my handler safely with the family after the tour of duty has ended.

I ask nothing for myself.


~Author unknown.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Animals in War Memorial - Hyde Park London

Since the dawn of time when man first domesticated the wild dog we have used the special instincts of animals in our battles with each other.

Horses were probably the most common animal used initially but some armies even used elephants and camels in their ‘cavalry’ units. The Great General Hannibal in 218 BC crossed the mountains with 37 war elephants to attack the Roman Empire and many tribes in desert regions used camels instead of horses due to the harsh conditions.The 20th century probably saw the greatest use of animals in warfare particularly during the two world wars. Almost 8 million horses, mules and donkeys were used in WW1 to carry supplies to the front lines in horrendous conditions which proved too much for the early military vehicles. Horses and mules were again used in WW2 in the jungles of Burma and East Asia to carry weapons and supplies through the mountains and valleys which were inaccessible by any other means. Many didn’t survive or were abandoned when the armies withdrew. (The Brooke horse charity came about in the 1930’s due to the plight of hundreds of war horses abandoned in Egypt by the UK, Australia and America after the first world war)
Apart from the obvious duties of guarding camps and soldiers dogs have been used for carrying messages, laying telephone wires and detecting mines as well as searching for injured people in collapsed buildings. In the Vietnam War America used over 4,000 dogs to protect its bases, seek out the enemy and enter tunnels which were too dangerous for the soldiers to climb into. 500 were killed in action (KIA) and shamefully when America withdrew at the end of the war the rest were abandoned to their fate.

In the two world wars of the 20th century over 300,000 homing pigeons were used to transport urgent messages back from the front line and many units moved forward under fire with cages of these birds to send back updates on the battles. Even cats have played their part and many a Royal Navy warship has had an official ships cat whose duty it was to keep the rats and mice under control. The most famous of these cats was Simon who served on HMS Amethyst during the late 1940’s. He had been found wandering sick and exhausted in the docks of Hong Kong by one of the crew and taken on board the ship and nursed back to health. He repaid this kindness by catching and killing any rodents he could find that posed a threat to the food supplies of the ship. Even when he was badly injured during a protracted battle he still stayed with the ship until it managed to escape a blockade and return to its homeport. For his dedication to duty he was awarded the Dickin medal for gallantry and given the official rank of ‘Able Sea Cat’ (An Able Seaman is the equivalent human rank). Elephants, camels. Dogs, oxen, bullocks, cats, canaries, mules, horse and donkeys are just some of the animals that have given their lives in the wars and conflicts of the 20th century. Often struggling on through appalling conditions wounded, hungry and thirsty. Always loyal always giving their all.

In November 2004 a large memorial was unveiled at Brook Gate, Park lane , London as a powerful and moving tribute to all the animals that served, suffered or died alongside the British, Commonwealth or Allied forces in wars and conflicts of the 20th century.
The memorial comprises a large Portland stone wall partially shielding an arena through which two bronze mules are struggling, heading for some steps and a gap in the wall leading to the gardens beyond. Once through the gap in the wall you find two further bronze statues, one is of a large war horse closely followed by a medium sized dog. The horse is breaking into a gallop whilst the dog is looking back over his shoulder. These two animals symbolise hope for the future whilst at the same time bearing witness to fallen comrades.
The arena side of the wall has raised carvings of the different animals that have gone to war for mankind whilst on the reverse are silhouettes of animals intended to depict the spirits of those lost in conflicts. Carved on the front of the memorial below the dedication is a simple sentence, “They had no choice”

Standing next to the bronze dog in the shade of the trees I felt an overwhelming sadness about what mankind does to the animals of this planet. Dogs and Equines in particular give unending devotion and service yet are often abused and neglected. I watched as people and vehicles passed by rarely stopping to read the inscription or taking time to study the memorial.
Scattered at the foot of the memorial were a number of fading poppy wreathes probably from the preceding armistice day (marked on the 11th Hour of the 11th day of the 11th Month each year commemorating the end of World War 1) and some poignant messages from people who had not forgotten what sacrifices were made by the animals in conflicts.

A lone candle was lit by a Dutch cyclist completing a 540km sponsored bike ride for a Sri Lankan animal charity and those people at the memorial fell silent for a few minutes. The Animals in war memorial in London does not glorify conflicts but serves as a reminder to us all that mankind owes a great debt to the animals we use for our own ends.
“They had no choice”

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

RSPCA Photos and Awards

My first rescue after being posted to the Brecon Beacons in the winter of 1994/5. A mountain pony had fallen through snow into a mountain stream and was trapped with just it's front legs on the bank. Luckily my fellow Inspector Jim Farr who had been posted out with me was able to assist and together we managed to pull her out. Then had to find our white RSPCA vans in a blizzard.
Horses were always the main problem, whether it was in the Welsh Valleys, Bristol or even Hereford. I always ended up with the big cases no-one else would touch. Nice to get some recognition for all the hours of hard work.

When the Sea Empress oil tanker ran aground as it was trying to enter Milford Haven Harbour in West Wales I was one of the first three Field Staff deployed to assess the impact and start rescue operations.
Being presented with my medal and certificate by Peter Davies the Director General of the RSPCA at the RSPCA RCC (Regional Control Center) in Brecon , Wales.

Looking dodgy in my best 'Dress Blues'. A thorn between roses (Chaps on the end not included)

Even as a trainee I was destined to deal with equines. I was awarded the Antonia Parry Award for best equine knowledge.

The actual Antonia Parry shield. Can't believe how young I looked.

RSPCA Passing out ceremony after 6 months of grueling boat, rope and legal training. Class A 1994

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Animal Welfare Legislation and CSI workshop Malaysia

Together with the SPCA Selangor in Malaysia I conducted two short workshops on current animal welfare legislation and evidence gathering. These were held in the SPCA education room on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th March 2011.

Ee Lynn one of the SPCA volunteers and a Lawyer by profession conducted the first section on Malaysian legislation and how to report cruelty.

The workshop was well attended particularly on the first day with many professionals such as lawyers, vets and media professionals eager to take part. Altogether we had almost 40 participants over the two days.

The workshop was a mixture of presentations, discussion and practicals and each participant had a manual and workbook with notes and information.

The Malaysian Animals Act 1953 is very similar to the old UK Protection of Animals Act 1911.

The workshop comprised 4 sections with a short break for lunch after the second.

Nothing too graphic was used so as not to upset the squeamish.

What exactly is and isn't evidence certainly surprised quite a few people.

With so many professionals and representatives from other SPCA's there were plenty of questions and discussion.
Each participant received a certificate and CSI Animal Welfare baseball cap.

Participants came from as far away as Singapore and even Thailand.

The coveted 'CSI Animal Welfare' baseball cap.

Don't worry if you missed the workshop you can get most of the information in the Global Animal Welfare Solutions Field Manual. Alternatively if there is enough interest we can run another one or even come to your organisation or club. Just e-mail me for more information.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

TV 2 Live Breakfast Interview

On Monday 14th March 2011 the SPCA Selangor asked me to fill in for them on live Breakfast TV where there was to be a debate on the current state of animal welfare in Malaysia. So after a very early start I found myself having my nose powdered and sitting in the very impressive domed building that hosts the set of HOT (Hello on Two) produced by TV2.

The two hosts were Steven and Annie who are exactly how they seem on the screen , fun and friendly .

The set was in a large circular studio with a big domed roof and there were a number of other sets spread around the studio . The colour scheme was designed to wake up even the sleepiest of guests.

The hosts particularly Annie were very switched on and aware of the subject. I'm always amazed how professional presenters like Annie can switch topics so easily and still ask really relevant questions. The topic after the discussion on Animal Abuse was relationships and the guest speaker was an Austin Powers look alike Life Coach complete with white suit, a brightly coloured scarf around his neck and funky glasses. Yeah Baby !

The other guest was Dr Paul Jambunathan a consultant psychologist and lecturer. Also a fun guy and apparently well know for his wacky dress sense . Between a consultant Psychologist in a psychedelic jacket , a life coach dressed in a white suit and the vibrant primary colours of the set I could have been forgiven for thinking that I had been transported back to the 1960's !
I'm never very comfortable when cameras are around and certainly not someone who looks good from every angle (or ANY angle for that matter !) I definitely have a face for radio !

There is an American ventriloquist called Jeff Dunham whose act includes a puppet called 'Achmed the Dead Terrorist'. His catchphrase (along with a piercing stare) is " I kill you" . I guess if I decide to give up my day job I can always fill in for Achmed when he is on holiday. Check out Achmed and Jeff on YouTube and see what I mean.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

LCO Taiwan

In January this year I visited Taiwan as a guest of the Life Caring and Animal Rescue Organisation Taiwan.

LCO is the largest animal welfare organisation in Taiwan and has shelters and staff throughout Taiwan Island. They provide a 24 hour service for animal cruelty incidents as well as injured and sick stray animals. From their HQ in an industrial area just outside Taipei they run a fleet of rescue vehicles , a mobile neutering clinic as well as a team of senior staff charged with investigating cruelty.

They also have at least 4 shelters split roughly North and South as well as two offices which double as mini shelters.

Apart from animal cruelty one of the main problems in Taiwan is the indiscriminate use of 'gin' or leg hold traps which are freely available in most hardware stores. These traps which are pretty crude locally made affairs cause immense pain and suffering to the stray animals and along with road accidents contribute to a large population of 3 legged dogs and cats.

Whilst I was there they organised a 'White Rose Parade' to lobby the government to improve animal welfare legislation. Lots of supporters and their pets attended and the day was a huge success.

Top (Above) Gin Traps and dog that had been deliberately blinded by juvenile being displayed during White Rose event, Middle - LCO vehicles arranged at event , Bottom - Senior LCO staff in Taipei.
Above - traps on wall outside LCO HQ Taipei.

At White Rose Event - Can't understand why I needed my own personal External Affairs Police Officer keeping tabs on me all day !! (Not like I look dodgy or anything)

Fundraising at a night market in Kaohsiung. (Above)

Dog shelter near Kaohsiung.(Above)
Newly built shelter near Tainan. (Above)

LCO have some very high tech equipment including hand held fiber optic camera's, GPS units and real time satellite tracking of all rescue vehicles. Response vehicles also have on board cameras and carry rescue equipment including dart pistols and blowpipes.

Animal Police and Animal Rescue Taiwan style.

Unfortunately LCO do not have an English language website yet but it is on the way. A very impressive animal welfare organisation and one many in the region can only aspire to emulate.