BEHAVIOUR AND BITE PREVENTION
Grace Clarke and Cheryl Thomson are part of our Bite and Behaviour Sub-Committee.
Find out more about them here.
I am a third year English Language student with a lifelong passion for all things canine! I have been interested in the Dangerous Dogs Act since studying it during my diploma in Animal Management. Breed specific legislation is an issue which I feel very strongly about; the destruction of healthy, friendly dogs due to something as arbitrary as their shoulder measurements is completely illogical and it truly baffles me that Section 1 of the Act has remained in place for 25 years.
In response to the frustration I felt from seeing countless newspaper articles about dog attacks (which often contained inaccuracies and sensationalist language), I set up the blog ‘Not so Dangerous Dogs’ in 2013. The blog, now entitled ‘Bark!’, contains reviews of doggy television programmes and books, my thoughts on
dog-related topics in the news, and even an interview with an ex gang leader, Justin Rollins, who has published material about his experiences with status dogs. The main focus of my writing has always been breed specific legislation - one of the most popular posts which received a lot of attention on social media was a report about the euthanasia of three young puppies after they were ‘typed’ at a rescue centre.
I have qualifications in both Dog Training Theory and Canine Psychology, in addition to plenty of hands on experience with dogs through kennel work and being involved with obedience classes. Within the next year I will be working on my English Language dissertation which, naturally, incorporates dogs! My aim is to perform a Corpus Linguistics analysis in order to examine the language used within media reports of dog attacks and how these play a role in reinforcing public attitudes surrounding ‘dangerous dogs’. I am very excited about being involved with the Born Innocent team and look forward to working alongside others who are just as passionate about changing our current dog legislation.
I come from an HR background and I now work part-time from home as a PA for an Inspection Company.
I love all breeds of dogs but especially Staffordshire Bull Terriers. My husband, daughter and myself have had staffies for over 21 years. Until recently I was heavily involved within a Staffy Rescue and it was an honour to be part of.
I first learnt about BSL here in Northern Ireland when a young Staffordshire Bull Terrier named Bruce was seized in 2007. This wasn't a widely exposed case within the media but was local to me. Then in 2010 Lennox became worldwide news. I vowed then I would learn more about BSL and I would get actively involved within groups to campaign against this dreadful law.
I am very excited and proud to be a member of Born Innocent and be an ambassador here in Northern Ireland and to be part of an amazing team that will undoubtably force changes to be made to Dangerous Dog Act 1991.
My moto is : Breeds don't make dangerous dogs! .... People make bad dogs!
Sid, Cheryl's dog
I have been working with dogs since I was sixteen years old when I joined the army and worked with training police dogs. Since leaving the army I have worked at dog kennels, vets and for Wood Green Animal Charity, in Godmanchester. I have run my own dog training business called "Trainer McPhee” for the past six years.
I have completed two courses with Shaun Ellis, the Wolf Man, where I worked closely with the wolves and wolf-dog hybrids and learned a great deal about canine communications, pack relations, human-canine relationships, food, diet and common problems. I have also completed a two day course with Alpha on "Career as a Dog Trainer"
I have achieved the level of professional skills and management with The Cambridge Institute of Dog Behaviour and Training and have completed a diploma in Canine aggression with Compass Education and Training. Currently, I am in the process of completing the Advanced Diploma in Canine Behaviour Management and am a member of the T.C.B.T.S (The Canine Behaviour & Training Society). I have also completed seminars with Dr Ian Dunbar, Anne McBride, Nick Thompson, Brenda Aloff and Grisha Stewart.
I am also a professional member of Grisha Stewarts Animal Building Blocks Academy.
Throughout my years of study I realised that whilst there are many dog-training books out there for adults, there are none for children. It also became apparent that there is a lack of education for children on dog safety. It has become my life and passion to change this. I wrote my book, 'What's my Dog Saying?' as the first stepping-stone in child-dog safety. I also give presentations to children in order to educate them around this area.
Breed Specific Legislation is a big part of my work and I was delighted, to be asked, to join Born Innocent’s sub-committee, in order to help change these cruel and unjustified laws. As always, my firm belief is 'Deed not Breed' and unfortunately, it is dog owners that are usually to blame for the deed and this needs to be addressed through educating people about responsible dog ownership.
You can follow Nickola's work on her Facebook page and please let your friends and family, who have children and dogs, know about Nickola's work.