Many thanks to all the hundreds of supporters who wrote to the News & Star and Allerdale Council expressing your concerns for the welfare of dogs kept at Northside allotments in Workington.

A disappointing article has been published in the newspaper and we have written to the Editor to request the biased reporting be addressed as a matter of urgency.

We have also submitted two Freedom of Information requests to Allerdale Council, which we hope will confirm the exact nature of the greyhounds poor state of health and whether the council’s claim of ‘no welfare issues’ was in fact,  financially influenced.

Please click here to read the News and Star article.

Cumbrian dog owner forced to defend himself after YouTube ‘attack’

To the Editor of the News & Star

Dear Mr Hodgkinson

I was extremely disappointed to read your newspaper’s biased reporting of greyhounds kept on Northside allotments in Workington headed ‘Cumbrian dog owner forced to defend himself after YouTube ‘attack’ and would respectfully request you address this as a matter of urgency.

Anyone reading a hard copy of this poorly prepared article, would not have access to watch the video and this in itself, prevents the reader from making a fully informed and balanced opinion of the situation.

Regardless – how does video evidence constitute as an ‘attack’? The video was not taken covertly and has no commentary but conveys only what the camera sees – the absolute truth.

Your reporter’s account of Mr Lawman being ‘bombarded with accusations of neglecting his pets’ are totally false – complaints were submitted to Allerdale Council following their reluctance to use their powers of enforcement under the Animal Welfare Act and their refusal to provide written assurances – in terms of a vet’s report – of the dog’s welfare.

Mr Lawman – who I am led to believe – is an ex-bookmaker and uses greyhounds engaged in economic activity, i.e. greyhound racing at Gretna, therefore the assumption the dogs are ‘pets’ and kept as such, is questionable.

If Mr Lawman has won ‘emphatic support’ from the police – who were there purely to force entry should Mr Lawman have failed to attend the pre-arranged inspection – then perhaps you could provide a statement from the police to substantiate this.

The RSPCA were not urged to seize the dogs – Allerdale council were requested to seize the dogs and well within their powers, as rescue places had been secured for the dogs. This was never a legal matter for the RSPCA.

Although not obligatory, Allerdale Council has adopted the Animal Welfare Act and in doing so have full powers of enforcement  – unlike the RSPCA who have no enforcement powers but merely act as private prosecutors, as anyone can.

The specific reasons for Allerdale choosing to adopt the Act are clearly outlined in the minutes of the Executive Committee meeting which states The adoption of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 would allow local authorities to address issues of ‘wellbeing’ with owners who regularly allow their dogs to stray’. No consideration or references were made to the enforcement of section 4 – Unnecessary Suffering and or section 9 – Duty of Care.

Ian Payne – Head of Environment – compiled a report to the Executive Committee on February 11th 2009. The report again fails to highlight the council’s responsibilities under both sections 4 and 9 of the Act but reiterates the reasons for adoption as to ‘control stray dogs’ and the possible financial benefits through the issuing of fines.

It may have been professional if not courteous for you to phone the complainant – Mr Locke – and obtain his version of events on the number I personally emailed to your newspaper.

It may have also been professional to contact the vet in question and obtain a statement from him – rather than quoting the council, whose opinion of ‘no welfare issues’ – I would suggest – is formed on the basis of economics, considering they will be reluctant to incur expenses which they have clearly not budgeted for.

Requests have been formally submitted to Allerdale council, under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the inspecting vet’s and council official’s reports, the fees charged by the vet, what finances – if any – have been budgeted by the council for the enforcement of sections 4 and 9 of the Act and confirmation as to whether the dogs are used in economic activity – racing or breeding and their ear tattoos.

Regardless of the politics – the concern here is of the dog’s welfare and I would appreciate your newspaper’s cooperation in seeking factual evidence of exactly that and not the opinion of the owner and Allerdale council – who appear to be unaware of their responsibilities towards animals.



Trudy Baker