December 12, 2016

Leeds City Council was announced as the winner of the RSPCA CAWF innovator award last night (30 Nov) at a special presentation in London, where RSPCA Chief Executive Jeremy Cooper and Defra Minister George Eustice MP presented them with their trophy.

The presentation, held at RICS in Parliament Square, saw pioneering local authorities, housing providers and other public service organisations across England also celebrated the achievements of the 128 LAs, housing providers and other public bodies who won CAWF awards earlier in the year.

It was the Housing Team at Leeds City Council that impressed the judging panel, which comprised of representatives from Trading Standards Institute, CIEH, University of Aberdeen and WLGA, with their Pets Champion scheme, leading to their triumphant win.

Rachel Williams, senior parliamentary advisor for the RSPCA said: “At a time of reduced resources available to the Leeds Housing team, the Pets Champion approach has maximised the value of multi-agency working to address and improve animal welfare issues without impacting the allocation of existing staff resources.

“The proactive approach to animal welfare allows housing officers to identify issues before they become unmanageable or cause an excessive burden on animal welfare charities as well as Leeds City Council resources. Leeds City Council is the only authority that we are aware of with such a dedicated, proactive scheme and was a unanimous and obvious choice by the Innovator judges to receive the award this year.”

The Innovator in Animal Welfare Award recognises exceptional achievement in adopting an innovatory approach to improving animal welfare. There are no specific criteria for the Innovator award; the external judging panel looks for a genuinely inspirational and pioneering approach that demonstrates how an animal welfare issue has been tackled in an imaginative and innovative way.

Jeremy Cooper, chief executive of the RSPCA said: “The fact that this scheme has been effectively delivered despite reduced resources and without impacting on existing staff allocations makes it even more impressive. It’s no surprise that our Innovator judges were in no doubt that the 2016 Innovator in Animal Welfare Award should be presented to Leeds City Council. I would like to congratulate Housing Leeds on their exceptionally well deserved award.”

The Innovator can be awarded at two levels – the Innovator itself is the most prestigious of all the CAWF awards, followed by a ‘Highly Commended’ runner-up accolade.

It was Charnwood Borough Council that received the ‘Highly Commended’ Innovator award in England, recognising its work producing new guidance to improve the safety and welfare of both dogs and owners involved in rehoming animals from the council’s kennels. This collaborative new booklet, produced jointly by the council, the kennel provider and working with other councils in the area, explains the rehoming process in an easy to follow way from the dog’s point of view, identifying potential problems and explaining simply why they might happen and what can be done about them.

Rachel Williams added: “Although this booklet is not unique, the advice, the style and the presentation all represent best practice that can be achieved relatively simply and at little to no cost, something the Innovator judges were keen to recognise.”

The RSPCA’s Community Animal Welfare Footprints (CAWF) award scheme celebrates good practice by rewarding those organisations who go above and beyond statutory service requirements to achieve higher animal welfare standards.There are four Footprint categories recognising animal welfare: Stray Dog Provision, Contingency Planning, Housing Policy and the new Animal Establishments Licensing Footprint; with bronze, silver and gold standards awarded for each.

The long list of local authorities awarded either bronze, silver or gold CAWF awards were announced earlier this autumn, but the winner of the prestigious innovator award was not unveiled until last night’s presentation.

Established in 2008, the annual Footprint awards have been supported this year by George Eustice, Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) along with the Local Government Association, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

The CAWF scheme will return for 2017 with the Innovator award and bronze, silver and gold awards up for grabs once again, along with a new Special Recognition award.