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Christmas 2016 Newsletter!

We have had a very busy year at Friends for Pets providing lots of high quality pet services to our clients big and small! We have opened up a new branch of Friends for Pets in Barry and the Vale of Glamorgan which is run by the lovely Catherine Clarke. The launch has been very successful so far with lots of clients already using our small team of pet carers in the area. Thank you for your support and custom through 2016, we really do appreciate it and are working hard on continuing to improve all of our services that we offer. If you do have any suggestions to help us improve please get in touch with your local manager or Becca at head office on becca@friendsforpets.co.uk. Instead of sending Christmas cards we have given a donation to the charity Hounds for heroes (please see their website http://houndsforheroes.com/ for more information about them).
We wish you and your pets a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Best Wishes
Becca and the Friends for Pets Team x

Bradford-on-Avon & Frome Manager’s charity work

Charity DogsSarah, one of our lovely managers, has been doing some work with the Swedish non-profit organisation during her stays in Sweden. Here is a little bit about her work…
“As a team-leader at Friends For Pets I am passionate about animal welfare. Last year I went to Sweden and volunteered with a Swedish non-profit organisation, Hundar Utan Hem, which rehabilitates and rehomes abandoned dogs from Sweden and Ireland. This year I have returned to Sweden to help more dogs in need and I am currently fostering a beautiful one-year-old German shepherd called Jessica. Like so many other dogs, Jessica was dumped outside a pound in Ireland when she was just a few months old and would have been destroyed if it were not for the tireless efforts of Irish dog rescue organisations and Hundar Utan Hem. Now she is safe and happy and has a bright future ahead of her. This Christmas, remember how much joy your pets bring to your life and please do what you can to support your local animal welfare and rescue charities. For more information about the work please visit http://www.hundarutanhem.se/English/.”

Dog charity collections

We have been collecting equipment and food donations for the charity Dogs Friends (http://dogsfriends.me.uk/) throughout the year and matching donations with a monetary donation from Friends for Pets. This year we have raised £150 with matched monetary donations. Thanks to Axe Valley Vets and the Pet Shop in Cheddar who allowed us to place our collection bins with them as points for people to drop goods off as well as everyone who donated through the year, we really are very grateful.

Dog Agility Classes

This Summer we started our Leap Dog Agility classes in Pucklechurch. We held Introductory courses, young handlers and Intermediate sessions. All dogs and handlers had lots of fun, learning agility techniques and playing lots of games at the same time. Our agility will start again in the Spring, we will be taking bookings in the New Year so if you would like further details, and to be added to our mailing list, please email Julia on bath@friendsforpets.co.uk

Awards

We have had a successful year from the business side of things being made a finalist for Customer Service Excellence in the Sedgemoor Business Awards and our Bath Franchise owner, Julia, was made Franchisee of the Year Award winner of the National Mum and Working Awards. We are very honoured to have been part of these awards.

Christmas Office Hours

Although we are carrying out pet care everyday over the Christmas holidays we will be ‘shutting’ our offices from 5pm on Wednesday 21st December and reopening on Tuesday 3rd January 2017. This is just so our managers can have a little break over the Christmas period. Email and voice messages will be checked over this time and anything urgent dealt with otherwise we will get back to you on Tuesday 3rd January.

Pet Carer Award Scheme

Our Pet Carer Training and Award scheme has been rolled out this year with much success and we have developed this even further ready for launch in 2017. Pet carers will now receive training in Pet Nutrition, Behaviour and Communication, Health and Disease, Common Behavioural Issues, Handling Skills, Dog Law, Pet First Aid Skills as well as common traits, health and behavioural issues of different dog types. We hope this will continue to improve the quality of our services by having an even more knowledgeable and experienced team.

Franchise Opportunities

In 2017, we are preparing to relaunch our Franchise opportunities with different options to help grow the Friends for Pets brand. If you or anyone you know are interested in launching your own pet care company or would like further information sent to you on relaunch in the spring please email becca@friendsforpets.co.uk. We are also keen to hear from people currently running their own pet care company wanting support in doing this.

Find us on Social Media at:

If you have any social media accounts we have lots of extra info, pictures of our clients and lots of news through out social media pages. If you would like to follow us our details are:-
See you on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/FriendsforPets?ref=hl
See you on LinkedIn at: http://www.linkedin.com/company/friends-for-pets
Follow and Tweet us on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/FriendsforPets

Team Contact Details

Other Enquiries or Franchise Enquires – becca@friendsforpets.co.uk

All the Best from

Friends for Pets

The Power of a Partnership…

When we first started out in the pet care industry, nearly nine years ago, there were very few pet-related businesses around. Over the past few years we have seen the rise of an enormous number of competitors in the pet care industry. Different companies now offer a huge variety of services from grooming, training, pet care and transport services. This is great for the pet industry but due to the number of companies starting up and the work being much more demanding than people first anticipate, so many companies fail to keep going past the first few years or trading. This is a real shame for smaller companies that could have offered so much to pet owners.

Unfortunately for pet owners most trades within the pet industry are unregulated i.e. Dog walkers, pet sitters, dog trainers. For dog walkers, a membership with the Pet Services Association, part of the Pet Industry Federation, although not mandatory, shows a commitment to carrying out as professional job as possible. Currently there are no set dog walking or dog training standards or qualifications so anyone can start their business up. At Friends for Pets, we think it is so important for the welfare of pets in our care to ensure workers in the industry have suitable qualifications experience and knowledge. For all of our new pet carers that work with us they are able to undergo our in house training pet sitter award scheme covering aspects of pet care such as:-

  • pet nutrition,
  • pet behaviour,
  • dog walk management,
  • pet first aid,
  • Dog Law,
  • Dog types and breed traits,
  • pet health and disease as well as many other aspects of pet care.
  • Different companies set their own standards of work many that although start with the best intentions, end up money-focused rather than animal-focused, for example dog walkers walking dogs in groups larger than six (the maximum number to be walked together in a group covered by most dog walking insurance companies) so they are able for less time. The welfare implications for animals is very upsetting and many times the pet owner is unaware that the dog will be spending more time being transported around collecting and delivering dogs back to their homes than actually walking. It is a huge responsibility for that one dog walker to have if something goes wrong either with one of the dogs in their group or from a reactive third party dog. It is so important that standards are developed for our industry.

    Friends for Pets are supporting an All-Party Parliamentary Group to develop standards for different trades within the pet industry which once set, should filter out some of the less animal-focused companies and therefore enhance animal welfare through the pet care and training industries. Friends for Pets is currently one of three pet care companies in the UK that are associate members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare which works to keep MPs informed about Animal Welfare issues and to produce potential legislation in the UK to improve Animal Welfare Standards.

    Over the past couple of years Friends for Pets have linked up with individuals offering pet care services who have the same ethics and values as us. This benefits smaller companies hugely as they get to refocus their efforts back to the animals due to having more time. We help enhance their knowledge through our training schemes, help with the business side of things and offer a back up support for their regular clients. Not only does this help strengthen the animal welfare focused individuals, it weakens the more money-focused companies which improves animal welfare standards in the pet care industry. Improving pets welfare is why most people start their pet business and if professionals in the industry work together rather than ‘against’ each other we can make this happen. Collaboration of professionals also benefits the local pet owning communities by giving pet owners peace of mind knowing the pet is going to be safe and cared for by someone knowledgable, reliable and experienced.

    If you would like to share you experience of working in the pet care industry or understand more what we do here at Friends for Pets get in touch on becca@friendsforpets.co.uk.

    Christmas Charity Donation to Hounds for Heroes

    Our chosen charity this year is Hounds for Heroes. Hounds for Heroes provide specially trained assistance dogs to injured and disabled people from the UK Armed forces and Emergency Services. Through the assistance dogs it is hoped that their clients quality of life is enhanced though help and practical support. Puppies are carefully chosen and placed with ‘puppy parents’ for their first year of training. They then enter into advanced training to turn them into assistance dogs. The dogs are trained to open doors, pick up items, collect money from ATMs, open train doors as well as providing companionship for someone. nFor more information on these fantastic dogs and the jobs they do please see www.houndsforheroes.com. We are pleased to give our Christmas donation to Hounds for Heroes instead of sending Christmas cards to our clients this year.

    EJ and New Coat

    EJ and New Coat

    Our Bath franchisee wins National Business Award!

    On Oct 11th 2016, we attended the Mum and Working Academy and Awards after Julia, our lovely Bath franchise owner, was made a finalist in the Franchisee of the Year Awards. It was a great honour to attend and mix with inspiring business mums and entrepreneurs. Guest speakers and judges included Caprice Bourget, Sarah-Jane Honeywell, Janey Lee Grace, Debbie Bird and Sarah Willingham, famous for being a BBC ‘Dragon’!

    Julia was lucky enough to be chosen from some very high quality nominations as the winner of the Franchisee of the Year and all of us at Friends for Pets are immensely proud of her for al that she has achieved.winner_2016_mumandworking_awards

    Julia’s story!

    One of our franchise owners has become a finalist for the National Mum and Working awards! We are so proud of her as she truly deserves to be in the final! Here is a little big about Julia and her role…julia mumandworking_awards_finalist

    Animals have always played a huge part in Julia’s life. She has a vast amount of experience growing up with a wide range of different species from hamsters to horses! When Julia saw the role of pet carer advertised for the Bath area with Friends for Pets she was very excited to have a career change to what she had always wanted to do. After excelling at the role she was offered to take on the Bath franchise which she jumped at. The Bath franchise became so successful that Julia also took on neighbouring areas being Bradford-on-Avon and Frome. Julia now has her own managers running the day to day aspects of the pet care whilst she oversees all the teams and can therefore spend a bit more time bringing up her very young family. Being made a finalist for the National mum and working awards is a huge honour and it is rewarding to have all the ‘juggling’ work and family life acknowledged. We wish Julia and all of the other finalists at the Mum and Working awards the very best of luck. You are all doing an amazing job!

    Some great dog walks around Frome, Radstock and Warminster.  

    1.Heavens Gate

    A great walk with wonderful views over the Longleat Estate and Frome. There are nice shady parts in the forest for the warmer days. It’s quite a flat, pathed walk so not to stretching if you want an easier route which is also good for wheelchairs and buggies. It’s fairly popular with dog owners and walkers on nice weekends. There is free parking as well

    2.Shearwater Lake

    Beautiful lakeside walk which can be extended into woods and hills if you would like. The walk around the lake is mostly flat and wheelchair and buggy friendly. Dogs should be kept on the lead and any mess (as in all the listed places!) taken home or disposed off in an appropriate bin.

    3. Colliers Way

    A gorgeous 25 mile disused railway link between Radstock and Frome suitable for walking with buggies and wheelchairs as well. It can get very popular with cyclists and horse riders too so keep doggies close by to ensure their safety. There are plenty of attractions along the route and some lovely places for a refreshment or two!

    4. Mells

    There are plenty of fields and woodland in the area suitable for some beautiful walks. A popular one follows a river. The walks are mostly flat so not too strenuous. 

    5. Harridge Woods

    Is a beautiful nature reserve close to Nettlebridge. The reserve is made up for five sections so there are plenty of different walks within the Woods to choose from. There are pleasant streams for dogs to cool off in on warmer days and stunning views from the higher parts of the walks. There are a variety of species of wildlife here including threatened species such as Dormice so it is really important to keep dogs under control at all times when visiting. 

    We are very lucky to have such beautiful countryside for us and our dogs to enjoy! 

     

    The Countryside Code

    With the summer months fast approaching, hopefully more people will be able to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Here is a copy of the countryside code to help keep people visiting, land owners, visiting dogs and livestock safe on their walks.

    1. Respect the people whose lives and livelihoods depend on the countryside ie. don’t park across gateways or footpaths.

    2. When riding a bike or driving a vehicle, slow down or stop for horses, walkers and farm animals. They have right of way over cyclists on bridleways.

    3. Co-operate with farmers working in the countryside.

    4. Go Green! If possible leave your car at home and use public transport or a bike to visit the countryside.

    5. Leave gates and property as you find them.

    6. Keep to the marked footpaths. Let the local authority know if you think a sign has been placed illegally.

    7. Don’t touch livestock or farm machinery.

    8. Use gates or stiles rather than climbing over walls etc incase you cause damage to them.

    9. Do not disturb the birds, rocks, plants, trees or pick wild flowers.

    10. Take all litter and leftover food home.

    11. Do not start fires.

    12. Keep dogs under control at all times especially around livestock and horses. Some local authorities ban dogs from certain areas and also restrict the number of dogs walked by one person at any one time so check with the local authority of the place that you are visiting first.

    13. Remember to bin or take home any dog mess from your dog.

    14. Ensure you check the weather forecast and your route so help prevent any problems whilst out walking.countryside code

    Charity Collection Bins

    As part of our community work this year we have recently launched our charity collection bins project. We have collection bins located in a couple of locations around the Cheddar and North Somerset areas (hoping to bring this project into a couple more areas soon). Lovely donators can then drop their pet related donations off in these locations and Friends for Pets will collect and deliver the donations to the local pet related charity. Friends for Pets will also match any donations given with a monetary donation. Our first charity we are collecting for is Dogs Friends http://dogsfriends.me.uk . They are particularly looking for:-

    * Collars and leads (second hand are just great)

    * Sardines in sunflower oil

    * Lots of toys for puppies and adult foods – all sizes

    * Treats, chews, etc for all dogs and pups – (out here now for fosters)

    * Tins of dog meat, especially for puppies

    * Soft dogs beds

    * Duvets – getting through lots

    * Cleaning products – for washing bedding, floors, hands, etc.

    * Used stamps

    * Wicker baskets to make up hampers for our stall.

    We currently have a bin in the Pet Shop in Cheddar but hoping to place them in some other places shortly. If you or you know of anyone that spare anything the lovely homeless doggies will appreciate greatly xxBin

    Dog and your Home Security whilst in the care of a dog walker or pet sitter.

    It takes a lot of trust as a pet owner to give someone that you might not know a key to your home, let them know when you will be out of your house and let them have access to your four legged pride and joy! So how do you know what you are opening yourself up to and how can you minimise the risks?

    With the large array of dog walkers and pet sitters available the choice is vast and can be a bit of a minefield as to who to choose. Top priorities in choosing a dog walker or pet sitter that you don’t know might include:-

    1. They should always have insurance. This should include for all pet services that they are offering, insurance to cover the loss or injury to your pet in their care, key and lock insurance and third party insurance. Most insurance companies only cover for six dogs to be walked at any one time, ensure your dog walker sticks to this number for your dogs welfare as well as the insurance risk.

    2. They should have a DBS check. This is the new form of CRB check to prove that they do not have any criminal records or burglary.

    3. They should be able to provide references from other clients.

    4. If they are visiting your home when you are not there you should ensure they are providing a discrete visiting service. You should consider carefully if choosing a pet siting service which arrives at your home in a liveried vehicle. There are many many horror stories of homes being broken into if the vehicle is being followed, your dog may also be at risk from theft if travelling in a marked sign-written van. It is a well known fact that more often than not dog walkers are usually visiting house which are unoccupied. They even remove the guard dog for an hour or so!

    5. You should ensure that your dog is not left unattended in a vehicle for any period of time. If your dog is walked in a big group what is happening to your dog whilst the pet sitter is collecting and delivering all of the other dogs on the walk? I the summer they may get overheated within minutes if left in a non- temperature controlled vehicle. If they are not securely separated then this could lead to unsupervised, confined conflict between dogs.