Blue Cross and County Durham Youth Offending Service have teamed up in a new initiative to tackle the issues surrounding status dogs and young people, through the pet charity’s RespectaBULL workshops.
The workshops are organised by Blue Cross with the youth offending service, a multi-agency partnership involving Durham County Council. So far, they have run two workshops together, which aim to empower young people to care for their dog and build safer communities.
Helen Spicer, Blue Cross Education Officer, delivers the workshops with the help of her Irish Wolfhound, Bramble. She explained: “There are preconceptions of both bull breed dogs – often associated with anti-social behaviour – and their owners. Working with the Youth Offending Service enables us to engage with young people, many of them dog owners, who might be at risk of offending. It’s great to be able to reach this group of young people directly and hopefully make a difference both for them and their pets.”
Inspired by large numbers of unwanted bull breed dogs like Staffordshire bull terriers, Blue Cross’s RespectaBULL workshops aim to reach young pet owners and potential owners with messages about how to care for their dogs and be responsible owners, to help dispel the negative image often surrounding them. The sessions are aimed at 11 to 25-year- olds and use hard-hitting videos and case studies to stimulate discussion and debate on issues surrounding dog ownership.
Lynne Tully, practice improvement officer for County Durham Youth Offending Service, said: “Many of the young people and families we work with are dog owners, with some having what are often referred to as status pets.
“Working with Blue Cross to deliver the RespectaBULL workshops is a great way to help them understand how to be a responsible dog owner and how to stay on the right side of the law.
“The workshops also give young people the chance to take part in group discussions which can help them to build relationships, challenge their views and opinions on issues and boost their self-confidence.”
The Blue Cross education team reached over 68,000 children and young people last year. To find out more about Blue Cross education talks or to book your free RespectaBULL workshop, visit https://www.bluecross.org.uk/respectabull
Feedback on RespectaBULL from staff and young people attending the workshops in County Durham:
“I found the workshop very interesting and it made me think about what is really involved in looking after a dog. I really enjoyed the part on status dogs and learned a lot about the different breeds and those that are banned in the UK.”
“The talk was good and I learned a lot about the laws about keeping dogs, like they have to be chipped and what are banned breeds. It also made me think about what dogs need and how to care for them well. I liked that there was a dog as part of the course’.
“The session was very informative, particularly the section around the law in relation to dog ownership. The young people’s interest was held for over an hour and those who attended gave positive feedback about the session. I feel that it provided the young people with a greater understanding of the responsibilities of owning a dog.”
“Helen made the session interesting and interactive for the young people who attended and bringing her dog Bramble along to the session put the young people at ease straight away and helped keep them engaged throughout. The section which explored what makes a good dog owner really made the young people think about what a dog needs to be happy and how they can be responsible owners.”