Darlington’s Dog Warden Team has achieved the Gold standard in the Stray Dog Footprint animal welfare awards for the seventh year in a row.

Launched by the RSPCA in 2008 the Community Animal Welfare Footprints (CAWF) is the only award scheme across England and Wales which recognises good practice from local authorities, housing providers and contingency planners in relation to animal welfare.

The scheme rewards those organisations exceeding basic and statutory service requirements with the aim of achieving higher animal welfare standards.

The bronze, silver and gold award levels each carry progressively more demanding criteria and this is the seventh year Darlington Borough Council’s Dog Warden Team has been awarded the Stray Dog Footprint Gold standard.

Andy Wood, Darlington’s Dog Warden said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have once again achieved the Gold standard, which is all down to the hard work of our small team.”

Rachel Williams, senior parliamentary adviser at the RSPCA said: “The awards in 2016 saw entries at an extremely high standard with a record number receiving a gold award. Darlington Borough Council was one of more than 80 local authorities and housing providers that hit the high standards necessary in the different categories to achieve Gold.  It is excellent to see that many are still providing a ‘gold standard’ service with regards to animal welfare.”

One added element that helps enhance the Dog Warden’s service is the team’s dog food collection initiative, which boasts collection boxes at Asda in Whinbush Way, Wilko in the town centre, and at the council’s Central House Annexe, Gladstone Street.

The initiative encourages shoppers to buy an extra tin or bag of dog food – or cat food – and leave it in a marked box near the exit. The food is then collected by the dog warden and distributed between the Darlington FoodStore Network and Deerness Kennels.

Dog food that ends up in the Darlington FoodStore Network goes towards helping families who are finding it hard to feed their pets. Food donations to Deerness kennels are always gratefully received and help to drive down the costs of caring for Darlington’s stray dogs.

Andy added: “The dog food collection is just one of the things we do to enhance our service and it’s proved a great success. We receive regular donations from all our collection points and it really does help make a difference.”

Go to Darlington’s Dog Warden Service for more information.

For more information about the RSPCA CAWF Awards and a full list of this year’s winners log onto the website at: http://politicalanimal.org.uk/england/cawf-awards/past-winners/