Submitted by Steve on 12:28, 11th Jul, 2017 | 0

Last week the GSPCA hosted and welcomed almost 40 animal charities and professionals from around the British Isles and Ireland to discuss best practice and challenges to the sector.

The focus of the meeting was on microchipping with leading experts from the sector visiting Guernsey to head a discussion panel to the charity members of the ADCH.

The ADCH (Association of Dogs and Cats Homes) promotes best practice in animal welfare for dogs and cats. The members are dedicated to dog rescue & cat rescue There are some 16 million pet dogs and cats throughout the UK, the vast majority kept by responsible, loving owners. Regrettably however some 250,000 pets come into rescue centres each year where the members endeavour to place them in new caring homes. 

ADCH members and those taking part at the meeting arrived throughout last week and many spent full days learning and shadowing the GSPCA team.

The week began on Tuesday afternoon with Rick Hayman MD from Medimark who helped run our talk to rabbit owners and training with a focus on the recently discovered RHVD2 which has been killing rabbits in Guernsey.

Tuesday evening team members from the Cats Protection, Dogs Trust and Blue Cross attended the BBQ and Bubbles evening as we reopened our on-site charity shop and also got a short tour of the GSPCA to find out about the broad work that is carried out and future plans.

On Wednesday the bulk of those attending the meeting arrived to a reception at the GSPCA where staff and volunteers welcomed those from around the British Isles helping animals in many ways.  The team show cased the work of the GSPCA in the Training and Event Room and ran full behind the scenes guided tours as well as staff and volunteers spending time with the GSPCA to see how we work here in Guernsey and share ideas.

The ADCH has an elected committee with a number of co-opted members and that afternoon a meeting was held at the GSPCA to drive the ADCH forward and focus on helping its members and improving animal welfare across all jurisdictions.

GSPCA Manager Steve Byrne volunteers as an ADCH Committee Member and joining him at the meeting were members from the Blue Cross, Rain Rescue, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, RSPCA and National Animal Welfare Trust. There are a number of others on the committee from Wood Green, Cats Protection, Margaret Green Animal Rescue and Irish SPCA that sent there apologies and hoping to visit on another occasion.

This was the first ever meeting of its kind in Guernsey and some exciting subjects were covered and from new members wanting to join the ADCH to ways to help reduce costs for members and planning of the 2018 Conference, a wide selection of subjects were covered. The ADCH Conference held in April this year was the BIGGEST ever to be held with over 500 delegates meeting in Birmingham over 2 days to help dogs and cats and work together with speakers from around the world covering subjects helping animal charities of all sizes and abilities.

Wednesday evening saw nearly 70 delegates and GSPCA staff and volunteers come together at Les Cotils for what most thought was a meal.  What the diners hadn’t accounted for was a wonderful evening of entertainment from a wide selection of the Guernsey community.

The evening was started by dancers from Guernsey Ballroom Dance Club who dazzled the crowd which was then followed with an opening address from Claire Horton the ADCH Chairman and CEO of Battersea Dogs and Cats Homes.

Steve Byrne GSPCA the welcomed all to Guernsey and talked about many of the 30 GSPCA team members present and other guests and the work of the Animal Shelter and challenges in Guernsey.  GSPCA President and local vet John Knight concluded the opening address with a few words and as food was served a duo who had been playing at Sark Folk Festival called Bolt and Owen entertained with some classic folk music which started a lot of foot tapping and clapping.

As the third and final course was being served the GSPCA surprised the crowd with yet another amazing act, a local band called Honest Crooks who turned the dance floor alive with the crowd getting up to dance and enjoy the wonderful music.

The entertainment wasn’t finished there as when the band had to pack up local DJ Tom Le Page hit the decks to carry on the entertainment mixed with a selection of karaoke.  All of the entertainment came along free of charge keen to entertain the crowd and charities with their skills which was extremely well received and a huge thanks to everyone for helping make a phenomenal evening.

Many of those attending work around the clock helping animal welfare in an environment which is constantly challenging emotions and to celebrate working together and taking time out was an amazing evening of fun enjoyed by all.

Around the room were displays of the GSPCA work as well as fund raising ideas which many tried out the tombolas you see at events around Guernsey nearly every week of the year.

After a great night and wonderful service by Les Cotils the main ADCH meeting was held on Thursday at the hotel.

Over 40 delegates and speakers got together with representatives from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, RSPCA, National Animal Welfare Trust, Rain Rescue, Dogs Trust, Animals in Distress, AVID PLC, Cats Protection, Hope Rescue, The Kennel Club, Labrador Lifeline Trust, Leicester Animal Aid, Medimark Scientific Ltd,  Microchip Trainer, Burton National Dog Warden Association, Newcastle Dog & Cat Shelter, Oak Tree Animals Charity, Petlog Services, Petplan  and Yorkshire Cat Rescue.  Joining them were of course many from the hosts the GSPCA as well as the Guernsey States Vet David Chamberlain and local manufacturer who make the Halo microchip scanners from the Pet Technology Store near Vazon.

The subjects covered included updates on animal law and legislation, members benefits, training opportunities, discussions of feedback from the members, cat population and neutering campaigns, talks from the sponsors on their products and grants available and awards, feedback from each of the members on their work and a huge focus on microchipping.

As mentioned last week in most jurisdictions microchipping is now compulsory for Dogs with the law coming into effect in many parts of the UK in April of last year.  Sadly this is not the case in Guernsey and with approximately 10,000 dogs and 10,000 cats in Guernsey and when we find a lost animal trying to find an owner can often be a challenge.

For over the last year the GSPCA have been running an online survey to find out the feelings of the public in Guernsey and of the 316 that have completed it here are the results so far-

Do you think we should have compulsory microchipping for dogs in Guernsey? 99% say yes 

Do you think we should have compulsory microchipping for cats in Guernsey? 95% say yes, 2% unsure

Do you think we should have compulsory microchipping for rabbits in Guernsey? 58% yes, 17% unsure

Do you think we should have compulsory microchipping for horses in Guernsey? 72.45% say yes, 12.24% unsure

The Guernsey States Vet asked a number of questions to the panel for their thoughts in compulsory microchipping here in Guernsey which highlighted a need for dogs and cats and with the recent survey run by the GSPCA something that shows that the public are overwhelmingly in favour of.

The GSPCA helps over 150 stray dogs each year and hundreds of stray cats from those killed on the roads to strays found in gardens. Of the strays we see approximately 65% of dogs with a microchip and just over 60% of cats.

It is extremely rare for a rabbit to have a microchip and even less so for a horse which the GSPCA helps nearly 100 stray and unwanted rabbits and help 30 to 50 loose horses each year.

Thankfully by using social media and local knowledge we do find the owner of every stray dog although often instead of taking seconds to scan and find the owners details it can take a day or so in some circumstances.

A very popular issue is that we see only around 50% of dogs with a collar with the correctly engraved tag & relevant details.

With over 200 cats and some years nearly 300 killed on the roads of Guernsey we are often challenged in finding feline owners if their pets aren't microchipped.

Steve Byrne GSPCA Manager said "What an amazing week we all had last week with so many animal charities from around the British isles.”

“The ADCH is an organisation striving for best practice and it was wonderful to host the largest ever animal welfare meeting here in Guernsey last week."

"The dog and cat charities and speakers included Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, RSPCA, National Animal Welfare Trust, Rain Rescue, Dogs Trust, Animals in Distress, AVID PLC, Cats Protection, Hope Rescue, The Kennel Club, Labrador Lifeline Trust, Leicester Animal Aid, Medimark Scientific Ltd,  Microchip Trainer, Burton National Dog Warden Association, Newcastle Dog & Cat Shelter, Oak Tree Animals Charity, Petlog Services, Petplan  and Yorkshire Cat Rescue and with over 100 others we all work together for dogs and cats and share best practice."

“It was also lovely that States Vet David Chamberlain could join us and here about how useful compulsory microchipping has become in the UK and how it could benefit dog and potentially cat owners here in Guernsey.”

"The ADCH meet every 3 months and each year a conference is held where over 500 charity delegates meet and learn, share ideas and forge working relationships to help dogs and cats across the British Isles, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Ireland."

"We really made the whole week an event for all those visited and thank the media for last week highlighting the focus on microchipping which currently has no laws here in Guernsey unlike all parts of the UK.”

"It is extremely frustrating when we help a stray animal with no way to easily contact an owner."

"For just £4.99 we can microchip dogs, cats and rabbits at the GSPCA and with all of the local vets also providing a chipping service there isn't an excuse to not get this done to help the GSPCA return your pet safely and promptly if ever they go missing."

"Without doubt the hardest thing we have to deal with nearly on a daily basis is when a cat is killed and it isn't microchipped as it proves extremely difficult to contact an owner."

"With 99% of those surveyed thinking all dog owners should microchip them and 95% of people think cats should be chipped in Guernsey it seems apparent that it would be not also extremely useful for charities like the GSPCA in finding owners of those lost quickly but also the community think it is extremely important."

“Many of the animal charities visiting got to see behind the scenes, spend time with staff and volunteers, experience some of our events and enjoy the wonderful hospitality we put on for them.”

“A huge thank you must go to Guernsey Ballroom Dance Club, Bolt and Owen, Honest Crooks and Tom Le Page for the amazing entertainment at the meal.”

“Also a special thank you to the wonderful team at Les Cotils for their amazing hospitality and looking after us all so well.”

Clare Horton Chairman of the ADCH and CEO of Battersea Dogs and Cats Homes said “Thanks so much to Steve and all of the GSPCA for such a fabulous 2 days.”

“We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.”

Caroline Johnson General Manager from  Oak Tree Animals Charity said “Thank you to you and your team for giving us so much of your time last week.”

“We really appreciated having the opportunity to see GSPCA and the great work you are doing – it provided more than enough conversation to fill the journey back to Carlisle!”

“Once again many thanks for all you help, we’re really missing your sunshine today!”

Neil Thomas CEO from Animals in Distress said “A big thank you to you for your hospitality over the last couple of days.”

“The evening entertainment at the hotel went down very well and everyone had a great night.”

“It was great to meet you and some of your team, who are credit to you and to have guided tour around the shelter.”

“Your facilities and varied work are amazing and the GSPCA certainly provides a well needed service to the island’s animals and people and beyond.”

“A big thank you to Suzy, Helen and Becky who were our taxi service, please pass on my appreciation.”

Anne Carter from Labrador Lifeline Trust “Just a note to say thank you so much for the hospitality shown to us all both at the meeting, dinner and our trip around your estate!”

“You are an inspiration to us all – well done to you and all your staff – wish I had your energy!”

Jacquie Neilson from Rain Rescue and an ADCH committee member said “Thanks for hosting us all last week.”

“It's a lovely centre.”

Steve continued “The words and feedback from all that visited last week has been truly inspiring and heart felt and I am so proud of all of our team and so many others that really made an extremely busy week one that will be remembered for a very long time.”

“I am sure we have helped dramatically towards the amount of visitors that will come back to Guernsey with one already booking a trip in September.”

“During the meeting a special thank you has to be given to local professional photographer Chris George who came along and kindly took the most amazing picture of us all on the grass of Les Cotils overlooking St Peter Port, Herm and Jethou.”

“Chris also helped video a very special message to Anita Twigger from Pawprints Rescue who sadly had to cancel her trip last minute and would have celebrated her 50th birthday.”

“We all sang her happy birthday with the stunning background at Les Cotils and posted it online which she was extremely thankful for and she said made her day.”

“We all hope the ADCH members will b visiting again very soon and a huge thank you to everyone involved in making such a wonderful week.”

If you would like to take the survey please visit - https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/J8B9VBV

To find out more about the ADCH please visit - http://www.adch.org.uk/

Bolt and Owen - https://www.facebook.com/boltandowen/

Guernsey Ballroom Dance Club - https://www.facebook.com/Guernsey-Ballroom-Dance-Club-101687726616004/

Honest Crooks - https://www.facebook.com/honestcrooksmusic/

Halo microchip scannes - http://haloscanner.com/

Chris George Photography  - https://chrisgeorge.dphoto.com/

What is a microchip?

No bigger than a grain of rice, a pet microchip is a radio-frequency identification transponder made up of just a few components encased within a slender capsule of bioglass, which is used extensively for implants in both humans and animals. Some microchips have anti-migration features to ensure capsules stay in place by bonding with the tissue under the animal’s skin. A microchip’s sole function is to store a unique ID number that is used to retrieve a pet parent’s contact information—it differs from a Global Positioning System, which is used for tracking, and requires a power source such as a battery. When a microchip scanner is passed over the skin of a microchipped pet, the implanted microchip emits an RF (radio frequency) signal. The scanner reads the microchip’s unique ID code. The microchip registry is called, and the registry company uses the ID number to retrieve the pet owner’s contact information from a database.

We have more pictures to follow from this lovely week so please watch here for more.....

(Photo Credit Chris George Photography)

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