Following The Dogs Trust’s annual survey, which reported a fall in the number of stray dogs picked up by local authorities, Vikki Allwood, senior animal welfare officer for Birmingham City Council, looks at why that figure is rising here.
Britain is apparently a nation of dog lovers, but according to Birmingham's dog wardens, the growing number of strays being found across the city suggests otherwise - with a more than 1,500 picked up in 2013.
While The Dogs Trust's annual survey recently reported a small fall (one per cent) in the number of stray dogs picked up by local authorities, the city's dog wardens cited a slight increase.
In 2012 the city's dog wardens handled 1,502 stray dogs, but that figure rose by 52 to 1,554 last year – an average of more than four dogs being found every day.
The 143 dogs that were micro-chipped or had a collar tag were returned to their owners, but the remaining 1,411 were impounded at the city council's stray dog kennels, Birmingham Dogs' Home.
Only 469 of the impounded dogs were claimed, with the remaining 942 dogs left at the dogs' home, as they are simply not wanted.
Unfortunately this trend looks set to continue, as officers have alrea+dy picked up 878 stray dogs between January and June 2014.
While the vast majority of dog owners understand that a dog is for life, there's been a significant increase in the number of strays our dog wardens are finding across the city.
Abandoning a dog not only puts it at risk but puts added strain on the city's stray dog kennels, as rehoming these unwanted pets can prove difficult - people want to have cute puppies rather than adult dogs. The problem is made worse as the kennels have no information on the dog's temperament, medical history or vaccination status. They do not even know the dog's name.
Some dog owners cannot afford high veterinary fees, but it is a cost that dog owners must account for when they get a dog. In some circumstances the PDSA may be able to offer discounted veterinary care, but only for people who are in receipt of benefits.”
Owners who cannot cope with their dog should rehome them responsibly. There are a number of rescue centres who may be able to help and owners must provide all the necessary information to help with rehoming. It's also essential that if a dog has bitten or has an aggressive nature, that full details are provided.
Birmingham City Council is hoping that compulsory dog micro chipping, which is due to come into effect in April 2016, will greatly reduce the numbers of stray dogs and will provide additional powers to make those dog owners who abandon their pets accountable for their actions.
While this dog was micro-chipped, the details were incorrect as the dog had been re-homed to somebody else some time back. He was in excellent condition and was taken to Birmingham Dogs Home.
Officers contacted the registered owner who confirmed they no longer owned the dog and that he had been re-homed.
When stray dogs are found and taken to contracted kennels, the owner has seven days in which to come forward and pay any expenses incurred before they can claim the dog back.
Dog wardens will check all lost dog reports that we receive daily to see if any of the dogs can be matched up with any possible owner. Where possible, dog wardens will try to return the dog to its owner, but in all instances the owner is notified of the seizure if the details are available and correct.
For more information:
- To read The Dogs Trust stray dog survey for 2013 visit: http://www.dogstrust.org.uk/az/s/straydogsurvey/straydog2013.pdf
- For information on subsidised or free healthcare for your dog, visit: http://www.dogstrust.org.uk/az/h/helpwithvetbills/#.VBcJ_pRdX_M