RSPCA superintendent Martyn Hubbard, Minister of Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths with Innovator winners Newport City Council and RSPCA chief executive Chris SherwoodA record-breaking number of organisations have been recognised by the RSPCA as part of their prestigious PawPrints scheme.

The scheme is the only awards programme recognising good practice from public bodies in relation to animal welfare.

Winners picked up their trophies at the ceremony in the Pierhead in Cardiff Bay yesterday (23 September) – with speeches given by the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths AM and RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood.

PawPrints – formerly known as the Community Animal Welfare Footprints (CAWF) – was first established in 2008; but 2019 has marked the “best year yet” for organisations in Wales, despite a “tough economic climate”.

Awards are divided into five PawPrint categories, awarded to bronze, silver or gold standard. They recognise the achievements of public service organisations for their stray dog services, contingency planning, housing policy, animal activity licensing and kennelled dog welfare.

The RSPCA also issues special Innovator awards, recognising stand-out, unique and pioneering activities that have made a tangible difference for animals and their welfare.

Newport City Council were recognised as an ‘Innovator’ by the RSPCA for creating a safe playing space for dogs taken into the care of the Council.

Following generous charitable donations, Newport City Council applied for planning permission to enable part of Coronation Park in Newport to be sectioned off as a dedicated secure dog exercise area.

The planning process was approved in January and the construction of the fencing was completed the following month. That meant stray and abandoned dogs in the care of Newport City Dogs Home were able to exercise safely off the lead in a secure environment.

Ultimately, the aim is for the space to provide a secure spot for those within Newport and the surrounding areas to exercise vulnerable dogs without the worries than can be associated with walking them in public spaces.

Newport City Councillor Ray Truman, cabinet member for licensing and regulation, congratulated staff and volunteers on the awards and praised everyone for their hard work in ensuring the kennels are run smoothly and stray and unwanted dogs are cared for.

“The new exercise area is a great asset for the dogs home and we would like to thank our charity partners Friends of the Dogs Wales and Opt to Adopt Newport for their help in helping us achieve this.

“We know this area will provide a safe and secure place for dog owners and their pets to exercise in without the worry of their dogs being off a lead and perhaps running away or being a danger to others.

“The RSPCA’s awards are also recognition of the continuing hard work that goes on by our staff who ensure stray dogs are looked after and cared for. We are also proud of the number of dogs who are able to be rehomed,”

North Wales Police Rural Crime Team were also given ‘Special Recognition’ in the Innovator category, for their tireless work in supporting the RSPCA’s special operations unit with a high-profile prosecution that tackled illegal badger baiting and animal fighting activity in the region.

In total, 24 awards were given out; with six organisations – Wrexham, Newport, Denbighshire, Conwy, Cardiff Dogs Home and Shared Regulatory Services – recognised with a gold award for their high standards of stray dog provision.

Pontyclun-based Hope Rescue picked up a gold award for the way they look after kennelled dogs for public bodies in Wales.

Other ‘gold standard’ winners included Monmouthshire County Council, who were again recognised for their steps to consider the needs of animals when planning for emergencies.

The awards are supported by the Welsh Government, the Welsh Local Government Association, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

Lewis Clark, RSPCA public affairs adviser, said: “For twelve years, the PawPrints scheme has celebrated public bodies going above and beyond for animal welfare – but 2019 has broken all records.

“We’re delighted to have given out two-dozen awards to organisations; including for the way they treat stray and kennelled dogs, support animals in social housing and plan for emergencies which could impact animals.

“It was a particularly fantastic moment to recognise Newport City Council with an Innovator award. Their special dog exercise area they have developed, and wish to continue to expand, is an incredible facility to support stray and abandoned dogs in a secure, welfare-friendly environment.

“North Wales Police, too, were singled out for special recognition for their tireless efforts supporting the RSPCA in tackling the heinous crimes of badger baiting and animal fighting. The RSPCA’s work with them has been so important in tackling some of the very worst acts of cruelty against animals.

“All across Wales, public bodies are putting in so much effort behind the scenes to improve local animal welfare outcomes – but these efforts are too rarely celebrated. PawPrints is proud to raise awareness of these achievements.

“Despite the tough economic climate, it is amazing that the public sector in Wales has done enough to secure the best year yet for this well-established animal welfare scheme.”

The full list of winners is as follows:

Organisation

Footprint

Level

Shared Regulatory Services

Animal Activity Licensing

Silver

Denbighshire County Council

Animal Activity Licensing

Bronze

Pembrokeshire County Council

Animal Activity Licensing

Bronze

Monmouthshire County Council

Contingency Planning

Gold

Cardiff City Council

Contingency Planning

Bronze

Mid-Wales Housing Association

Housing

Silver

Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association

Housing

Bronze

Merthyr Valleys Homes

Housing

Bronze

Rhondda Housing Association

Housing

Bronze

Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd

Housing

Bronze

Clwyd Alyn Housing Association

Housing

Bronze

Hope Rescue

Kennelled Dogs

Gold

Cardiff Council (Dogs Home)

Kennelled Dogs

Silver

Shared Regulatory Services

Kennelled Dogs

Bronze

Cardiff Council (Dogs Home)

Stray Dogs

Gold

Conwy County Borough Council

Stray Dogs

Gold

Denbighshire County Council

Stray Dogs

Gold

Shared Regulatory Services

Stray Dogs

Gold

Newport City Council

Stray Dogs

Gold

Wrexham County Borough Council

Stray Dogs

Gold

Pembrokeshire County Council

Stray Dogs

Silver

Isle of Anglesey County Council

Stray Dogs

Bronze

North Wales Police Rural Crime Team

Special Recognition Award

Newport City Council

Innovator Award

More information on the PawPrints scheme is available online. Should you wish to help the RSPCA, you can donate online.