Cardiff Dogs Home - Cllr Michael Michael, RSPCA's Paul Baxter, Maria Bailie, Martin Birch, Sarah Brown, RSPCA's Paul Draycott, Cab Sec Lesley Griffiths AM, RSPCA's Chris SherwoodLocal authorities, housing providers and other public bodies are being urged to show their commitment to animal welfare and apply for a prestigious RSPCA PawPrints award – with the application window opening today (9 April).

PawPrints remains the only award scheme recognising good practice from public bodies in relation to animal welfare.

The scheme – which has recently rebranded after more than a decade as the Community Animal Welfare Footprints (CAWF) – was first established in 2008.

Wales’ Councils, housing providers, contingency planners and other public bodies ┬ácan apply for an award via the RSPCA’s dedicated Pawprints web portal. Organisations have until 31 July to apply online.

The animal welfare charity is also eager to work with all public bodies aspiring to meet the criteria for an award, to help them improve their animal welfare policies, principles and protocols.

PawPrints is split into a number of categories – with entrants from Wales gaining recognition for their stray dog provision, animal licensing work, contingency planning and housing policies. There are bronze, silver and gold standards in each – with awards given to those meeting certain, scientifically-robust criteria.

The scheme has had the backing of the Welsh Government, Welsh Local Government Association, Chartered Trading Standards Institute and Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

Additionally, there is also a special RSPCA Innovator award, which rewards pioneering and imaginative steps taken to improve animal welfare.

In Wales, 143 awards have been issued since 2008, with many agencies using the scheme to prove their commitment to animal welfare, secure funding, or improve policies that have a direct impact on the lives of animals.

Sixteen organisations across Wales were recognised last year, picking up 19 awards.

It was a “golden year” for Wales – with a record seven golden gongs issued, with Cardiff Dogs Home (Cardiff Council), Newport City Council, Denbighshire County Council, Wrexham County Borough Council, Shared Regulatory Services and Conwy Council all recognised for their stray dog provision; and Monmouthshire County Council for their animal-friendly approach to contingency planning.

Chris O’Brien, RSPCA Cymru Public Affairs & Media Manager, said: “We’re so excited to launch the application window for the iconic RSPCA PawPrint awards today (9 April).

“For more than a decade, the scheme has celebrated the tireless efforts many public bodies make towards animal welfare.

“Local Authorities, housing providers, contingency planners and others have a huge role to play in the delivery of animal welfare. It’s so important we mark and celebrate that commitment – which is what the PawPrints are all about.

“PawPrint awards help public bodies prove to their service users they care about animals. They have been utilised to help departments secure funding, while the scheme’s criteria offers important benchmarks to inspire future improvements for animals across Wales.

“Last year was a golden year for the scheme – with more winners bagging a top prize in Wales than ever before. We hope to continue growing PawPrints – as we know the public are hugely passionate about animals, and want to see public bodies utilising their position to further animal welfare.”