RSPCA bosses outlaw workers’ pets

RSPCA charity shop volunteer Julia Anderson with her dogs Gina (left) and Tilly, who was told she couldn't bring them to the shop on Union Street, Halifax, where she volunteers anymore.
RSPCA charity shop volunteer Julia Anderson with her dogs Gina (left) and Tilly, who was told she couldn't bring them to the shop on Union Street, Halifax, where she volunteers anymore.

AN RSPCA volunteer has been banned from taking her dogs to work.

Julia Anderson was stunned to be told her two Staffie cross rescue dogs – Gina and Tilly – were no longer welcome at the RSPCA shop in Union Street, Halifax.

Mrs Anderson has worked there for 16 years and in recent years has let the dogs snuggle down behind the counter for her Thursday afternoon shift.

But a health and safety review by the RSPCA’s Halifax, Huddersfield and District Branch has blocked the practice – although shoppers’ dogs remain welcome.

Mrs Anderson, a life member of the charity, said: “I am told health and safety concerns – which have never been a problem before – are cited as the reason.

“Unlike people, they don’t steal charity tins from the counter, or £25 jackets from the rails, drop chewing gum, food or rubbish on the carpet, disrupt the displays - never mind exhibiting `threatening behaviour.’

“Health and Safety is robbing people of common sense and officiously enforcing it in contexts like this positively encourages people to sue for not taking personal responsibility.

“To ban Halifax Animal Home rescue dogs from the shop on the odd occasion is truly beyond satire.”

Mrs Anderson said her dogs were always well received by customers.

Branch trustee Kath Airey said the branch had to consider health and safety implications.

If all volunteers brought dogs to work risk assessments would be needed along with volunteers’ insurance and it wouldn’t be possible to predict dogs’ behaviour.

“There have been a couple of instances, not at this shop, which gave cause for concern.

“This is a blanket decision for all branch shops.”

She said the decision was taken with the safety and welfare of everybody.

“Julia Anderson is a long-standing volunteer and we appreciate her effort over the years - but she will have to make arrangements for her dogs in future.

“Sixteen years ago we would not have had to think about this but today more and more people are being taken to court and we can’t afford to let that happen.”