EAST Hampshire District Council’s (EHDC) animal welfare officers have scooped two prestigious awards for clamping down on unlicensed kennels and providing a gold standard service for stray dogs.

The kind-hearted team picked up a “gold footprint” for its work with strays and a “bronze footprint” for its all-round work with animals as part of the RSPCA’s Companion Animal Welfare Awards.

Judges were impressed with the officers’ work in shutting down unlicensed establishments, such as kennels, catteries, illegal home-boarders and illegal pet shops. If not properly regulated, unlicensed businesses can put the animals in their care at risk.

The team has also urged dog owners to clean up after their pet by dressing up as ‘Scooperheroes’ and visiting town centres around the district.

The officers’ speedy work in getting unclaimed dogs re-homed and their use of good local contacts and close links with organisations like the Dogs Trust and the RSPCA were good enough to win a gold award for their care of strays.

Neil Burton, senior animal welfare officer, said: “These are the highest awards we have ever received and prove the service is improving all the time. We want to give all dogs and animals in our district the best possible care and it is gratifying to see the RSPCA recognises the work we have put in.

“We are always working to improve animal welfare in East Hampshire using education and enforcement.”