When it came to picking the judging panel for our Dog-friendly Pub Awards, we wanted to make sure we had a whole pack of dog-lovers. And who better than Lisa from the RSPCA? Lisa has the ‘pawsome’ title of Senior Science Officer at the beloved animal welfare charity that not only does amazing work in local centres across England and Wales to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome dogs, but also campaigns and lobbies the government to improve up the laws that protect animal welfare.
We sat down with Lisa to learn more about what her job title means day to day, and to ask her why dog-friendliness in pubs is important, too!
DogBuddy: If you could match your personality to a dog breed, what would you pick?
Lisa Richards: That’s a tricky one, as all dogs are individuals with their own personalities and quirks (just like people!). I like going for long walks but I’m also very happy to be on the sofa reading a good book. So it would be a dog who enjoys being active, but also enjoys chilling out and having some quiet time. And probably one that’s a bit scruffy and doesn’t mind getting muddy 🙂
DB: What have been some of the things you’ve been working on at the RSPCA in the last year?
LR: We’ve been working really hard this year on our campaign to end ineffective breed specific legislation (aka BSL) – read DogBuddy’s blog here for more information on why BSL doesn’t protect public safety, and has a negative impact on the dogs and their owners.
We’ve also been working to raise awareness about unscrupulous puppy dealers and breeders and provide advice so that if someone does buy a puppy, they have the best chance of buying a happy, healthy one. Of course, we would always recommend rehoming first – we have lots of loving dogs in our care looking for homes!
DB: You’ve been busy! In amongst campaigning stop dog-cruelty, why take time from your busy schedule to help promote and judge the Dog-friendly Pub Awards?
LR: These Awards recognise that for many owners, their dogs are part of the family, so being able to find dog friendly destinations is really important to them. Dogs are sociable animals and if they’ve had the right experiences, including appropriate socialisation and training, they can really enjoy our company – so being able to help owners who want to include their dogs and spend more time with them is brilliant.
It’s great to recognise and celebrate the pubs who are already doing so much to make dogs and their owners feel welcome, and to encourage others to do the same.
DB: Having seen the calibre the finalists in the Dog-friendly Pub Awards last year, what are you looking for this year for a dog-friendly pub to really stand out as a potential national champion?
There were some great pubs doing a lot to welcome dogs and their owners last year, so I’m looking forward to seeing more of the same this year.
Some of the things that really stood out for me were pubs having somewhere quiet for the dogs to go if they want to chill out, and making it clear on the website and social media that dogs are welcome so that owners can plan ahead.
It was also great to hear some of the pubs saying that they don’t assume that all dogs are the same, and that they try to recognise the needs of individual dogs and accommodate them. This could be by providing separate water bowls for the dogs who aren’t comfortable sharing, taking time to introduce new dogs to the ‘regulars’ gradually to avoid any stress, and not assuming that all dogs will want a fuss so checking with the owners first.
DB: If you could design your perfect relaxing weekend pub visit, what would it look like?
LR: The pub would have a real oldy-worldy feel about it – like stepping back in time. There would be a comfy old sofa in the corner where you can relax after a long walk in the countryside and they would of course, welcome dogs!
There would be lots of regulars, but they’d also be very welcoming to new visitors (human and doggy), and above all would be somewhere to escape from the busyness of daily life, and to eat, drink and relax!
DB: What’s your reaction to the following stats from our 2017 dog-friendly pubs survey?
– 67% of people in the UK are put off visiting a pub if it’s not dog-friendly
– 24% of people in the Uk have left a pub because it wasn’t dog-friendly
– 14% of people in the UK have been asked to leave a pub because of their dog.
– 64% of people search online for dog-friendly pubs before planning a visit.
LR: These results show that for dog owners, being able to take their pets to dog friendly pubs is really important, since so many of them are researching online before visiting. Being able to find dog friendly destinations helps owners plan their activities so that they, and their dogs can have the best time possible. This means it’s important for pubs to make it clear on their website and social media whether they welcome dogs. And with around 25% of homes owning a dog, that’s a lot of potential customers, so it’s worthwhile for pubs as well as dogs and their owners!
Know a dog-friendly pub who deserves your vote? What are you waiting for? Search for it now and cast your vote.