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Council Dog Warden service receive national recognition for their innovative dog walker scheme

Wiltshire Council's Dog Warden team has been awarded the special RSPCA Innovator in Animal Welfare Award at the national RSPCA PawPrints Awards 2023.

Published 6 September 2023
Dog warden team

Wiltshire Council's Dog Warden team has been awarded the special RSPCA Innovator in Animal Welfare Award at the national RSPCA PawPrints Awards 2023.

The annual awards scheme celebrates and rewards local councils and organisations for going above and beyond to deliver the best animal welfare services. There are five main award areas: stray dog services, licensing of activities involving animals, contingency/emergency planning, housing and kennelling. Each has three levels: bronze silver and gold, with each level carrying progressively more challenging criteria.

There are also two special awards: 'The Special Recognition' and the 'Innovator' awards, which are reviewed and assessed by a panel consisting of representatives and experts from the animal welfare sector.

The team was also awarded the PawPrints Stray Dogs Services Award (Gold) for the third consecutive year.

The team were recognised after they introduced an innovative registered Dog Walker scheme after seeing an increased demand in people looking for dog walkers following the COVID-19 pandemic. They noticed that people were offering to walk dogs without previous experience, or the correct equipment and training. The team also identified that dog walkers could also help with the responsible dog ownership message and help with reporting lost and found stray dogs.

Cllr Nick Holder, Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Public Protection, said: We are extremely proud of our Dog Warden Service and all that they have achieved. The Dog Walker scheme has been really popular since its launch in July 2021, and there are now six dog walking businesses registered with us. The feedback from all members has been really positive and their membership on the scheme has helped to increase their business.

Dog owners who use a dog walking business that is registered on the scheme, can be assured that they have the correct insurance, have suitable vehicles to transport their pet and adhere to a code of conduct to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the dogs in their care. All things that help to put owners minds at rest whilst they are not with their pets.

Congratulations to everyone involved - this award and being recognised yet again as a Gold standard in the PawPrints Stray Dogs Award are very well deserved.

Lee Gingell, the RSPCA's public affairs manager for local government, said: Despite the challenging situation for all local authorities and public bodies across the country, we're thrilled to see Wiltshire Council's Dog Warden team pick up the RSPCA's Innovator in Animal Welfare PawPrints Award.

It's a tough time for pet owners as the cost-of-living crisis continues, a tough time too for local authorities and public bodies as demands increase and resources decline. In the face of these challenges, we're proud to recognise Wiltshire Council's Dog Warden team as part of the PawPrints Awards for implementing and promoting schemes and policies that protect and promote animal welfare, and support pet owners - now more important than ever. 

PawPrints is all about shouting from the rooftops; recognising individuals and teams and celebrating and promoting best practice. The Dog Walker Scheme is a wonderful example of how local authorities can go above and beyond legal minimums to protect, promote and improve animal welfare - and at little-to-no cost.

The RSPCA PawPrints Awards 2023 ceremony takes place in November, in Leeds.

People looking for more information about the dog walker scheme or to find a registered dog walker can visit

For more information about the Dog Warden team, people can visit If anyone finds a stray dog and cannot contact the owner, it is a legal requirement to report it to Wiltshire Council by calling 0300 4560107.

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