Regulation of the security dog industry is long overdue and it is time we address this important issue says David Ward, Chief Executive Officer of national security company, Ward Security. He explains
“While BS 8517-1:2016 Security dogs – Part 1: Code of practice for the use of general security dogs provides an excellent best practice framework, it is not currently a legal requirement for any supplier of general purpose security dogs to meet the standard. We believe it the Home Office need to review The Private Security Industry Act 2009 and to make dog handling a licensable activity, whereby suppliers would be obliged to meet the code.
“Organisations such as the National Association of Security Dog Users (NASDU) diligently strive to offer courses, training and their own accreditations, but the reality is that best practice standards are voluntary and so do not provide the industry-wide safeguards against incidents that are unfortunately inevitable. A legal obligation to meet the standard would result in a much safer environment, and a higher level of service to customers who employ general purpose security dog services.
“It cannot be right that somebody can offer to ‘hire out’ dogs for security use with no safeguards in place to the nature, training or capability of the animal. That this happens serves to illustrate the ridiculous ‘Wild West’ situation we find ourselves in and the urgency of a review.
“Hindsight is uncomfortable when talking about unheeded warnings. The risks of unregulated security dogs, services, training and handlers are obvious. The dogs used for security are by definition potentially very dangerous and capable of serious injury or fatality. A 6 stone German Shepherd presents a formidable deterrent when under proper control, but an inadequately trained one in the hands of an inadequately trained or inexperienced handler presents a significant threat to public safety.
“If and when that moment occurs, and somebody is seriously injured or killed by an inadequately trained animal, it will be the entire security industry that shares the blame. Security companies that strive to provide the highest level of service and safety, using the best trained animals and handlers, and who themselves have invested in achieving at least BS 8517-1:2016 will unfortunately count the costs of reputational damage.
“As a supplier of security dog services, as well as search dogs, Ward Security takes great pride in its services. Current legislation such as The Guard Dogs Act 1975, The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, and the latest Animal Control Bill 2015 are in place, however, there is an obvious missing piece of the legislative jigsaw. We call upon the security industry and organisations that provide guidance and accreditation to prioritise this important issue and to lobby Government for a strengthening of regulations that cover all aspects of security dog services, including training, handling, hire, and animal welfare.”