Beaten, scarred and left to wander streets alone

NDET 11-10-12 MC 12'Dog Warden Feature. Steve Jacques and Melvin North with a rescued Jack Russell
NDET 11-10-12 MC 12'Dog Warden Feature. Steve Jacques and Melvin North with a rescued Jack Russell
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Scars from cigarette burns are clearly visible on Oscar the Staffordshire bull terrier’s head, a reminder of the cruel treatment he endured at the hands of his former owner.

Scars from cigarette burns are clearly visible on Oscar the Staffordshire bull terrier’s head, a reminder of the cruel treatment he endured at the hands of his former owner.

NDET 11-10-12 MC 15'Dog Warden Feature. Steve Jacques and Melvin North with a rescued Staffordshire Bull Terrier

NDET 11-10-12 MC 15'Dog Warden Feature. Steve Jacques and Melvin North with a rescued Staffordshire Bull Terrier

And Kizzy the Jack Russell is so lovable and friendly it is hard to imagine she was found only eight weeks ago starving and wandering the streets.

These are just two of the 100 unwanted pooches that NE Derbyshire’s dog wardens have dealt with since the beginning of the year.

Sadly the number of abandoned animals is increasing and NE Derbyshire District Council has recorded a dramatic increase in the number of Staffies needing to be re-homed.

Warden Steve Jacques, 56, said: “We are seeing a big increase in abandoned dogs especially Staffies which seem to end up in the wrong hands.

“A lot of people see them as a disposable item. They don’t look at them as a pet but see them as a commodity.

“They get rid of their old dog that needs a lot more care and buy themselves another little puppy then the cycle starts again.”

Steve has worked at the council for 35 years but in the last three years his environmental service role has been combined with picking up stray dogs and helping rehome them, along with his colleague Melvin North, 53.

The pair spend around 50 per cent of their time dealing with pest control and 50 per cent with dog control issues.

They have witnessed many examples of animal cruelty including a German Shepherd who was tied up in the middle of a field and left to die but was spotted by chance by a passing walker and Oscar, a two-year-old Staffy-cross found wandering the streets, beaten and scarred. His tail has been broken several times and he walks with a limp. Mel said: “When we tried to get a lead on him he went ballistic, we think he was tied up and flogged with a lead. But Steve has done a lot of work with him and got him used to people and dogs again and he will make a great pet now.”

Stray dogs can only be kept in kennels for a week before being moved on and if they don’t find a new home or a place at a rescue sanctuary the dog will be put down.

Steve added: “We’ve had Oscar for ten days now (longer than the normal seven days). We really need to find him a home soon. He deserves a second chance.

“He still wags his tail when he sees people. He’s so forgiving.”

As we visit the kennels Steve gets a call from the office to say someone has spotted Kizzy on the website and wants to adopt her.

“It’s a good outcome. You can’t believe anyone can be so awful and not want Kizzy as she’s so friendly and loves everybody,” said Steve.

Mel adds: “I think the recessions has contributed to the number of stray dogs. People can’t afford to feed them or pay vets bills. We couldn’t imagine abandoning our pets but not everyone looks at dogs in the same way.”

Another part of ‘dog control’ the wardens deal with is fouling and fining irresponsible owners.

They visit parks across the area, which are fouling hotspots and Steve and Mel stencil “pick up or pay’ signs on to the ground.

Then it’s on to dealing with pest control - problems ranging from wasps, bed bugs, fleas to mice and rats.

Bed bugs are becoming a growing problem. Previously the pair dealt with around one case a year but now there can be as many as two or three call-outs a week, in the summer.

The insects tend to enter homes in clothing, furniture or suitcases - and Steve and Mel believe an increase in holidaymakers travelling abroad could be to blame or the bugs are developing a tolerance to pesticides.

Rodents are a constant problem across the county all year.

Steve said: “Having rats doesn’t mean your home is dirty. Anybody can get them, they don’t distinguish whether you’ve got money or not. Providing there’s food, water and shelter they will be about and a rat can smell food from about 100 yards away.”

As we drive back to the office Steve and Mel agree they enjoy their job but fear the area’s dog dilemma could spiral out of control and the council be forced to put down more animals.

For now the pair are keeping their fingers crossed that Oscar’s story will have a happy ending,