Luton’s senior dog warden Dexter Hockley, 52, is a happy man.
Not only has he been the driving force behind the innovative Dog Intelligence Group (DIG) but his team has just been awarded the RSPCA Gold Stray Dog Footprint 2014 which celebrates procedures regarding stray dogs and their welfare.
In the seven years since the charity’s community animal welfare footprints were launched, the council has won one platinum, five golds and a silver.
It’s particularly rewarding for Dexter as it signals national recognition for the valuable work he and his colleague Gary Upton are doing.
DIG was initially started as an information-sharing organisation for professionals dealing with dangerous dogs. Partners include the police, RSPCA, Blue Cross, Pet-ID Microchips Ltd and Appledown Kennels.
Dexter said; “We realised we needed to reach out to the community as well. So we’ve launched a new website – www.dig-uk.org – and are encouraging people to sign up. We’ve had a very positive reaction so far.”
The site includes alerts and news on dog-related matters, events, training courses and an online forum encouraging and promoting responsible dog ownership and services.
He added: “There’s lots of negatives about allegedly dangerous or ‘status’ dogs but the main problem is their owners don’t train them. They run off, bite people, cause damage and accidents and that’s why they’re not liked.”
Dexter – a trained greenkeeper who’s an expert on Manchester Terriers– is keen to get the message across. He said: “We’re going into schools and teaching children not to be afraid of dogs, as well as emphasising the importance of training.”
He’s incredibly modest about his CV, which includes being an accredited Crufts announcer, vice charman and archivist of the British Manchester Terrier Club and author of the first book about this ancient breed.
In addition he’s worked with the Kennel Club to stage an art exhibition celebrating these black and tan dogs and has researched and written an article for the September issue of Dogs Monthly.
He’s also judged both here and abroad.
Dexter and his wife Denise are the proud owners of Manchester Terrier Trevor and rescue dog Eric, a much loved Lurcher.
> If you see a stray dog, contact the council during working hours on 01582 510330. After hours ring Appledown Kennels on 01525 220383.