81,050 Stray Dogs Handled by Local Authorities in 2016

lost-dog The 2016 Dogs Trust survey of local authority dog wardens and environmental health officers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has just been published. 370 local authorities with responsibility for environmental health in Great Britain. returned 338 questionnaires by the deadline and 3 after, giving a response rate of 92%.

Local authorities were responsible for seizing 78% of strays. 17% were handed in by the general public, figures that have remained stable over recent years. the remaining 5% were handed in by the police (1%), under the Dangerous Dogs Act (1%), picked up by other means (3%) or already in local authority kennels on 1st April 2015 (1%). Transfers from vets, the RSPCA, dog wardens, and other agencies each accounted for fewer than 1% of reported strays.

This represents 81,050 stray dogs handled by local authorities in the last year. Although this is a decrease of 21% on the previous year when 102,516 dogs were handled by local authorities, there is no cause for celebration.

Just 29% (16,447) dogs were microchipped. 64% of these dogs face being destroyed by local authorities because their owners have not updated their contact details which, as of April 2016, has been illegal. Just 478 microchipping enforcement notices had been served between April 6th 2016 and the survey deadline of July 31st, 2016. 51% were due to the stray dogs being unchipped and 49% were due to the chip having incorrect details stored. 43,767 of the 81,050 stray dogs were reunited with their owners, with more than 9,000 reunifications due to a correctly registered microchip. ID disks accounted for 1,161 reunions and a combination of the two for 768 reunions. 7,341 dogs were reunited due to the owner contacting the local authority or pound directly. 662 dogs were reunited due to already being known to the dog warden. The numbers of stray dogs chipped with a foreign microchip has remained globally stable, although numbers vary across authorities. 18% did not require kennelling.

170 of the 292 local authorities offered a microchipping service, with 41% of those making it free of charge to the owner using Dogs Trust chips, 6% offering it free at a cost to the council and 20% requiring the owner to pay. Many authorities used a mixture, such as allowing free chipping in some cases but requiring the owner to pay in others.

3,463 stray dogs were destroyed by local authorities leaving 37,283 dogs unclaimed in council kennels. The reported number of stray dogs that were re-homed by local authorities across the UK fell from 8,465 in 2015 to 6,143 this year. However, this accounts for the same proportion that were re-homed by local authorities as last year (9%) due to the decrease in the estimated total number of strays. Just under a quarter (22%) of the strays handled were passed on to welfare organisations or dog kennels after the statutory period of kennelling. This proportion remains the same as last year and is in line with estimates over the last 10 years. A small proportion of dogs were kept or retained by finders, were dead when found or died in kennels.

216 (70%) of local authorities employ a dog warden directly whereas 76 authorities (25%) contract the service out.
206 (72%) authorities house strays in private boarding kennels, 28 (9%) use a council-owned pound and 82 (27%) use charity kennels. The remaining 20 authorities said that they used an alternative option for handling their strays. 293 (95%) of authorities run dog warden services during working hours Monday to Friday and 101 during working hours on Saturdays and Sundays. 141 (46%) work on-call out of working hours Monday to Friday and 147 authorities operated an on-call service out of hours on weekends, with 50% of all LAs reporting offering an out-of-hours service at any time. This is broadly consistent with finding from previous years.

14,519 (19%) of all strays reported as being handled by local authorities were regarded as being so-called “status dogs” and tended to be bull breeds, Rottweilers, Akitas or crosses of these breeds, representing a reduction of 21% on 2015. of those, 738 (5%) were euthanised due to aggressive behaviour. This proportion has been declining gradually from a reported 8% in 2013-14 to 6% in 2014-15.

These figures are simply disgraceful. Any improvements do not disguise the fact that far too many dogs are straying or being dumped. So much for the “nation of dog lovers”.

Can You Rise To The Bulldog Challenge?

bulldog-illness UC Davies has recently published a paper in the peer-reviewed journal Canine Genetics and Epidemiology examining the genetic diversity among 102 registered English Bulldogs, all used for breeding. The authors’ objective was to assess whether the breed retains enough genetic diversity to correct the abnormalities associated with poor health which have a genetic basis and which can be seen in the outward appearance of many dogs.

Predictably, some in the bulldog fraternity have attempted to discredit the paper while other continue to stick their fingers in their ears and their heads in the sand. The health problems of this breed, as the authors note, are well documented and include:

Severe conformational changes necessitating a high rate of artificial insemination and Caesarean sections
Small litter sizes (inbreeding depression)
Extremely high levels of congenital disease and associated puppy mortality including flat chests with splayed legs, anasarca and cleft palate
Poor lifespan ranging from 3.2 to 11.3 years with a median of 8.4 years as dogs requiring extensive veterinary care at a young age rarely live beyond 5–6 years of age.

The bulldog suffers its own particular problems due to brachycephaly combined with a tongue that is excessively large at the base, a large palate that is easily obstructed by the base of the tongue, a lower jaw that is pushed forward, frequently stenotic nares and a hypoplastic trachea. Consequently, they suffer from loud panting during exercise, stridor and slobbering during rest, sleep apnoea, hypercapnia and hypochloremia/hypomagnesemia, exercise intolerance, cyanosis and collapse and choking fits manifested by gagging, retching, vomiting, aerophagia, flatulence and aspiration pneumonia. The breathing difficulties of English bulldogs also make them very sensitive to overheating and heat stroke.

Chondrodysplasia, a heritable skeletal disorder, predisposes English bulldogs to hip and elbow dysplasia, luxating patella and shoulders, intervertebral disk disease, cruciate ligament rupture, hemivertebra, torsional pelvic deformity and, as mentioned, difficulty in achieving normal copulation and parturition. Prognathism predisposes to dental disease, while excessive folding of the skin, especially on the face, is associated with skin fold dermatitis, muzzle acne, folliculitis, furunculosis and eye conditions such as entropion, ectropion and eversion of the third eyelid. The cork-screw tail can result in tail fold dermatitis. Inbreeding has also produced cataracts, heart valve defects including pulmonic stenosis, hydrocephalus, cysteine urolithiasis and hiatal hernias, immunologic disorders including a propensity for severe demodectic mange due to immunodeficiency, allergies associated with atopic dermatitis and ear infections and autoimmune diseases such as hypothyroidism. The common range of cancers include glioblastoma, mast cell sarcoma and lymphoma.

Doesn’t sound like a very healthy breed does it?

Many owners who accept these defects as “normal” pay huge amounts for treatments as their dogs stagger through their shortened lives but many dogs also end up in rescue or are euthanised due to the prohibitive cost of treatment.

All may not be lost as there are a few bulldogs out there that can breathe and move freely, reproduce naturally and that are free from skin and eye problems, allergies and other immunologic disorders.

The papers authors are therefore calling the bluff of bulldog owners outraged by their paper. They have issued a global challenge to bulldog breeders and owners to provide proof that their dog is a purebred (registered), healthy English bulldog. Owners are requested to e-mail the authors with supporting evidence. If the dog is deemed to meet the criteria as defined by the authors, the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at UC Davies will provide a free DNA collection kit from which a genetic profile of the dog can be compared with the information provided in the genetic assessment paper and added to the genetic profile database for the English bulldog. The aim is to identify a genetic profile that is conducive to greater health and it may yet save the breed from imploding.

Pedersen NC et al (2016) A genetic assessment of the English bulldog, Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, V3(6) DOI: 10.1186/s40575-016-0036-y [accessed online at https://www.vgl.ucdavis.edu/services/dog/GeneticDiversityInEnglishBulldogs.php]

Thanks to Pedigree Dogs Exposed for this information.

Still Feeding Raw?

contaminateed chicken The Guardian reported today that a quarter of 189 samples of chicken bought from seven major supermarket chains were contaminated with antibiotic-resistant E coli bacteria. Whole roasting chickens, diced breast meat and packets of legs, thighs and drumsticks produced ESBL E coli on 22 of 92 samples. In addition, 51% of E coli from pork and poultry samples were resistant to the antibiotic trimethoprim, which is used to treat more than half of lower urinary tract infections in humans. So, in addition to getting food poisoning, you might find that handling raw chicken and pork means that you pick up other drug-resistant infections too.

Even if you do not become ill, you risk infecting other vulnerable people such as those recovering from illness and the immuno-supressed. Oh, and your dog too. Your dog can also spread the bacteria far and wide.

There is ample evidence to suggest that feeding raw provides a poor diet for dogs and can cause significant harm to dogs and humans.

Why risk it?