Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The No Voice No Choice Event

On Saturday the 6th of August we attended the No Voice No Choice family day out and dog show held at the Company of Animals (COA) on Ruxbury Farm in Surrey.

The event was a celebration of responsible dog ownership which was organised by campaign group DDA Watch in association with the COA which also provided a great venue.

Around fifty stalls were booked, ourselves included, there was also a fun dog show with celebrity judges, canine agility, obedience, displays, talks, demonstrations, k9 hurdles, free health checks, free micro chipping and free entry and car parking, bouncy castles, face painting, refreshments, beer tent, even super clean mobile toilets, in fact everything you could want for a great day out was laid on!

We arrived extra early to set up, thanks to Paula Kelly we managed to get sorted on time and then helped out as volunteers on the day, leaving late, the whole day was busy, busy with all hands on deck pulling together to produce a well-run event which was enjoyed by everyone who attended, human and canine!

EDDR hadn’t run a stall recently, so we decided to start from scratch. We purchased a cream gazebo, two folding tables from the army surplus shop which we strengthened and an all-important copy of MS Office 2010 to polish up or renew the literature.

We wrote some new information sheets, updated what we had and got printing, after replacing several ink cartridges we eventually produced a good range of literature covering responsible dog ownership, dog law, canine welfare issues and campaigns.

As August marks twenty years of the draconian Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA), we took along plenty of template letters for people to send off to their MP and a separate one for Defra, both calling for total repeal of failed breed specific legislation, around eighty were taken home by people to send in. There was a poster up for Lennox & dog owners were shocked, many vowed to go home & sign the online petition.

We spoke to a family who had attended court the day before under section 4b of the DDA and were now waiting for their pet to be exempted as ordered by the court, this had been nothing short of a nightmare for them, we spoke to a lady we helped out a couple of months ago, this rescue dog pictured here had been accused of being ‘type’ was due to be destroyed and not rehomed because of it, then was breed identified as ‘not type’ and now allowed to live, he was walking round the show all day and spent a long time quietly sat outside the vet world tent whilst his carer worked inside it. Crazy law springs to mind constantly as you speak to these folks and meet their dogs!

With help from Tony, we set up a display board, designed to stand up in an open field! Luckily it did stand well and was handy to cover our posters with, quite a few people were shocked to learn more about the issues including the over-breeding of the bull breeds in particular the awful situation now faced as thousands die unwanted in this country, several people asked for copies of the info to be sent to them, posters included, helping to spread the word. During the course of the day, we were pretty much run off our feet, as was everyone, talking and giving out literature and advice.

It was great to meet so many good people and put actual human faces to names and emails, the stalls covered a wide range of issues including dog and animal rescue, welfare, campaign groups as well as interesting trade stands.

We brought along an extra table for the ‘bargain basement’ stall, pictured here with a collection of, well of anything we could try and sell really! All proceeds going to the care of the eight dogs who are in kennels and in need of much support to give them a chance of a real future having been held for over a year under BSL and later released, maybe you could make a donation or offer a permanent or foster home? Please see the DDA Watch rehoming page for details on how you can help the 'extraordinary eight'.
EDDR had also purchased a large waterproof gazebo to cover the bargain stall and offer extra shade and a quiet area for a dog/human if needed, pictured here rescue dog Charlie having a pose, the heat wave missed us, thankfully, so did any rain and our new larger gazebo stood in as an emergency replacement for ‘vet world’ where all the free microchipping etc took place. Having to take this down was not a fun part of the day, we’re just so glad that we had help to get the thing up in one piece!

We also had printed two new posters with our logo on and a large banner with the web site address on, this arrived in time and we made a last minute pick-up, one of many pick-ups or drop-offs, this transport run thanks to heavy traffic took over half a day!

Also we ordered new collection boxes with printed logo/sticky labels and a collection bucket for DDA Watch to  help raise much needed funds to care for their dogs.

Our behavioural advisor Colin Goff ran a competent handler test, this was good to see, muzzled dogs were welcomed as Colin designed his own course to allow this, it was slow to begin with-no one wanting to be first in the ring, but soon got busy with handlers & dogs receiving certificates, Amanda and Ozzie passed gold with a young helper, read about on Amanda's blog here.

It was nice to meet new people all associated with canine rescue, welfare, training & behaviour as well as friends including legal advisor solicitor Tina Hay, barrister Pamela Rose who we have worked with for years and renowed animal behaviourist Dr. Roger Mugford who was there also early till late working away pictured here with EDDR founder Amanda Dunckley. There were also several campaign groups present, all busy spreading the word to educate and protecting our canine pals.

Maria Daines, took round her new CD ‘Faith, Hope & Sanctuary’ and donated some to every stall to sell to raise funds, such a wonderful donation, the 16 track CD is a collection of songs for dogs. Claire Matthews donated some canine items for us to sell on our stall-many thanks to you both!

The dog show went very well, pictured here is the last class for registered dogs.  With an exempted dog taking best in show at the very end but always the best dog is the one you take home with you, it was a lot of fun for the dogs, as was the hurdles which so many people said they really enjoyed having seen nothing like it before.

 We spoke to the owners of a beautiful black shepherd, passing a comment that he would steal the show, only to find out this dog now four years old had spent the first two years of his life shut inside a garden shed, found filthy, stinking and a shivering wreck, a rescue had taken him in and here he was two years later, what a transformation, just one dog of many who had been given a second chance.

The DDAWatch grand raffle was drawn on the big day.

A crowd gathered at the end of the event, tickets had been sold in the weeks prior to the show and on the actual day itself,  the first prize was a one night stay at the beautiful Powder Mills Hotel, we provided several of the smaller raffle prizes and there was a fantastic range of prizes won on the day bringing more smiles to more faces.

Well now we have a stall organised, we hope to improve on what we have and get round to some more shows. If you can recommend a good event to attend, or have a space for our display stand please let us know.