The RSPCA has awarded Winchester City Council’s Animal Welfare team their 10th Gold ‘PawPrint’ award in five years for their outstanding work with stray dogs and the licensing of animal establishments.

The team has been recognised for their continued efforts on the front line of animal welfare, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns and a significant rise in dog ownership over the past two years.

Team members Dave Griffiths and Ross Shepherd were both recognised for going above and beyond for their work protecting, re-homing and returning stray dogs to their owners and ensuring establishments are providing excellent care for animals.

In a joint statement Dave and Ross reflected on their win:

“We are so honoured to have achieved this recognition from the RSPCA Gold PawPrints Awards scheme. The past 18 months have been challenging on the front line of animal welfare, and it is wonderful to have our care and determination awarded.”

Cllr Lynda Murphy, Winchester City Council Cabinet Member, said:

“We’re extremely proud to have achieved the Gold standard from RSPCA for the tenth time running. The award recognises the hard work and dedication from the council’s Animal Welfare team to maintain the highest standards consistently despite the pandemic. During the national restrictions, dog ownership has soared and this award underscores the brilliant work done by this team under difficult circumstances.

“I know how important animal welfare is to our residents and I am pleased to see the team demonstrating their commitment to the health and happiness of our pets.”

Rachel Williams, senior parliamentary advisor at the RSPCA, said:

“We’re delighted that Winchester City Council’s high standards of animal welfare service provision have continued despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic – with the local authority continuing to go above and beyond for stray dogs, and in its licensing of local animal establishments. 

“The RSPCA’s PawPrints scheme is all about paying tribute to those teams who, too often, don’t get the recognition they deserve. The exceptional work of Dave Griffiths, Ross Shepherd and the rest of the team at Winchester City Council is doing so much to ensure high standards of animal welfare in the local community.”

The RSPCA works closely with local authorities, the police and housing associations to help them deliver animal welfare services. The awards recognise organisations that go above and beyond basic requirements to ensure higher welfare standards have been running since 2008.