The Dogs Trust has just released the results of its latest Stray Dogs Survey. The figures make disheartening reading.
Local authorities have a statutory duty to look after stray dogs for seven days (five days in Ireland). “Eighth Day Dogs” can be rehomed, passed to a welfare organisation or euthanased. Some local authorities have their own kennels, others tender kennelling to private companies or charities.
102,363 stray and abandoned dogs were handled by Local Authorities between 2014 – 2015 (an 8% decrease from last year). That represents an average of 1 stray for every 617 people (actual numbers vary by region).
47,000 owners abandoned their dogs
75% were seized – 1% under the Dangerous Dogs Act
1% were brought in by police
Fewer than 1% were transferred from vets, the RSPCA and dog wardens etc
16% were brought in by members of the public
Between April 1st 2014 and March 31st 2015:
An estimated 50% of stray dogs were reunited with their owners by being reclaimed during the statutory local authority kennelling period (36%) or returned directly to their owner without entering a kennel (18%)
9% were re-homed by local authorities
22% were passed on to welfare organisations or dog kennels after the statutory period
5% were euthanased (4,880 dogs)
Approximately 5,142 dogs were euthanased across the UK between April 1st 2014 and March 31st 2015
1,367 dogs were euthanased due to behavioural problems or aggression (390 under the Dangerous Dogs Act) and 717 due to ill health
1% were still in the local authority kennels after March 31st 2015
134 strays were retained by the finders
21 dogs were either dead when found or died in kennels
17,789 (20%) of the dogs taken in were already microchipped – a 4% global increase on the previous year, although it varies by region
8,833 of these dogs were reunited when the owner contacted the local authority or pound directly
Microchips alone accounted for 9,430 reunions; ID disks for 1,018 reunions and a combination of the two for 1,066 reunions
817 dogs were reunited due to already being known to the dog warden
Facebook was used to reunite 173 dogs and owners
Local/council registration schemes to reunite 98 dogs and owners
1,380 (3%) dogs taken in had no identification
306 authorities responded to the questions about dog warden services.
283 had services that were operational during working hours on Monday to Friday and 85 during working hours on Saturdays and Sundays
127 authorities had a dog warden service which worked on-call out of working hours on Monday to Friday and 119 authorities operated an on-call service out of hours on weekends
345 authorities in Great Britain reported 18,535 ‘status dogs’ (bull breeds including Staffies and Mastiffs, Rottweilers, Akitas or crosses of these) representing 21% of all strays handled.
1,023 of these (6%) were euthanased due to aggressive behaviour.
If we do not find solutions to irresponsible breeding, purchasing, selling and ownership, the year on year figures will continue to spell misery for the vast numbers of unfortunate dogs that they represent.