News broke this week about a dog being mauled to death at a doggy day care operation, Valley Dog Daycare, in West Auckland.
Winston, a Huntaway/Doberman cross, was found dead by his owner, lying in a pond at the day care’s property.
Auckland Council’s animal management team is investigating and this is a good thing because such a vicious death – apparently Winston was mauled and suffered many wounds – means something went majorly wrong at this property.
It has also been reported that the day care operator didn’t notice Winston’s absence, and that’s why his owner ended up searching for him on the rural property, a shock that most of us can only imagine.
It’s important that we look carefully at the investigation’s findings. There are already calls for the doggy day care industry to be regulated and it’s hard to argue against that in these circumstances.
I’ve said it many times when it comes to hiring anyone who is going to work with your dog in any capacity – find out their qualifications and experience and commitment to ongoing developments in their industry.
In larger operations, it’s possible that the ‘lead’ employee or proprietor has qualifications but the staff have only had in-house training (at best). Find out if the dogs on the property are ever left alone or unsupervised. Be sure that there are staff to supervise dog-to-dog interactions at all times.
Sadly, accidents do happen because animals can be unpredictable. Every facility should have a standard operating procedure to investigate and de-brief on findings of any near-miss or accident. This is what is expected under the workplace health and safety regulations when humans are involved and in my opinion it would be a practice easily adapted for facilities working and caring for animals.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand