Headlines: July 20th, 2004

Local councils across the country are destroying an average of a dog an hour according to new figures from Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity. Its research shows that almost 10,000 dogs were put down last year simply because councils could not trace their owners and new homes could not be found for them.The survey results, compiled by NOP World, also show that local authorities picked up more than 105,000 stray dogs last year, which means there is a stray dog for every 557 people in the UK. The number of strays is, though, down 5 per cent on the previous year’s figures with the number of dogs destroyed also falling by 2 per cent.

The figures based on the results of questionnaires sent to the country’s 432 local authorities and covering the 12 months to April 1st this year. Almost 250 councils replied.

Dogs Trust Chief Executive, Clarissa Baldwin, said the results showed the stray dog problem was solvable and she called on Britain’s dog owners to help the trust achieve this aim sooner rather than later. The trust last year invested more that 2.5 million pounds in neutering and micro-chipping schemes in areas of the country worst affected by the stray dog problem. Since 1999 more than 110,000 dogs have been neutered and 150,000 fitted with chips through the organization.

The survey shows that the number of stray dogs rose in only one region – the North East of England – where the figure is up by 28 per cent. At the same time councils in London, Southern England and Northern Ireland have seen an increase in the number of dogs they destroy. In London that figure rose by 41 per cent. Northern Ireland is still the ‘hot-spot’ for strays accounting for forty per cent of the UK’s total dog destructions. Scotland meanwhile, a problem area in the past has seen a 34 per cent drop in the number of stray dogs collected by local authorities as well as an overall drop of six per cent in dog destructions.