The winner of the world’s most famous canine contest is backing a campaign to get dogs microchipped.
Little Westie ‘Geordie Girl’ Devon and her owner Marie Burns hit the headlines last month when they landed the highly coveted Best in Show title at Crufts 2016.
Now, the triumphant duo have thrown their weight behind the council’s #BeLikeChip campaign – just as new legislation is introduced which requires dog owners to have pets which are more than eight weeks old microchipped.
Marie, a County Durham resident, has had Devon microchipped along with her other dogs.
She said: “I think it is important as some dogs are never returned to their owners because of a simple microchip.
“We never plan on losing our dog but it does happen, much loved family pets escape from gardens or can slip a lead at any time.
“For the welfare of the dog it is important that they are returned to their owners as soon as possible to minimise any stress they encounter being separated from their family.
“The owner knows best how to care for their animal and its individual needs.”
#BeLikeChip is raising awareness of the legislation which comes in today, requiring all dogs over the age of eight weeks to be microchipped and registered with their keepers’ contact details.
The council, in partnership with national charity Dogs Trust and local dogs charity Stray Aid, has laid on free microchipping sessions across County Durham as part of the campaign this year.
Residents of Durham can also arrange an appointment at Stray Aid’s Coxhoe site or alternatively pay their local vet to get their dog chipped.
Ian Hoult, the council’s neighbourhood protection manager, said: “We are delighted with the support of Marie and Devon in spreading the word that microchipping is very important and all dog owners should be responsible and make sure they’re chipped.
“Whether your dog is like Chip, or Devon, or even aspires to be like Devon, all dogs whichever the breed, pedigree/non-pedigree, size or shape, should be microchipped as soon as possible.”
Devon, who is just under two years old, is the first West Highland White Terrier to win Crufts’ Best in Show in 26 years.
She beat off stiff competition from 22,000 other dogs, including six in the final heat, to claim the much sought after title.
Marie, a professional dog groomer, said: “Winning Best in Show at Crufts was amazing, I was very proud of Devon and proud of the fact she was bred, trained, handled and groomed by me.
“The nation embraced this win very positively, I think because it brought home to everyone that a much loved family pet can win this top honour.
“People from all over the world have sent their congratulations.”
Marie, who lives at Tow Law, is a member of the Guild of Master Groomers, an accolade only 28 people in the UK hold.
Her business Top Trimz is also a City & Guilds dog grooming school, training people from all over the North East who want to become professionals.
To find out about free microchipping events in County Durham or the new legislation, visit www.durham.gov.uk/microchipping or phone the council on 03000 261 000.
To make an appointment to have a dog microchipped at Stray Aid’s Coxhoe site, phone the charity on 0300 999 4247 or visit www.strayaid.org.uk
Pet owners can also sign up to the council’s Green Dog Walkers scheme which encourages owners to pick up after their pooch and carry poop bags.
Residents can do so by downloading a form at www.durham.gov.uk/greendogwalkers, emailing email@example.com or phoning 03000 261 000