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Number of stray dogs roaming West Country soars by 70 per cent

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 08, 2012

  • This dog is one of the lucky ones. Picked up as a stray he has been successfully re-homed. Yet across the Westcountry the number of strays has gone up by 70% since the start of the economic downturn in 2008

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The number of stray dogs roaming the Westcountry has soared by 70% over the past four years, with charities blaming the continuing economic downturn.

New figures reveal the total of stray or abandoned dogs increased from 3,048 in 2008 to 5,181 this year.

While some pets are reunited with owners, the worrying shift equates to 14 dogs a day being picked up by dog wardens working for local councils.

The figures feature in the Dog Trust's annual Stray Dog Survey. Claire Joselin, supporter relations officer at the Ilfracombe branch of the charity in Devon, said economic hardship affecting pet owners was a significant factor in rising numbers.

She said: "This year's survey represents depressing news for the Westcountry's dogs with the total number of strays remaining at high levels. Many of these dogs will end up with rescue centres such as Dogs Trust.

"We work closely with local authorities and run extensive education, neutering and microchipping campaigns to help them to tackle the issue of stray dogs."

Andrew Millie, environment protection and emergency planning manager at North Devon Council, said the authority's data showed a "fluctuating picture" with 175 dogs collected in 2008/09, 109 over the 2009-10 period, 134 in 2010-11 and 84 for 2011-12.

He said: "The majority of owners are responsible but there are a minority who cause the majority of problems. It's not even a social issue.

"There are owners who some might class as working class who are hugely responsible and others who may be deemed upper class who are far from it."

Nationally the stray dog figure stands at 118,932, indicating a surge of 23% since 2008, when it stood at 96,892.

Louise Clarke, centre manager at National Animal Welfare Trust in Hayle, West Cornwall, said: "While there have always been people who will dump pets there's definitely been a rise in our numbers – we could fill our dog pen that takes 24 four times over.

A spokesman for Cornwall Council said from April last year to March 31 this year wardens collected 1,574 dogs from the streets and figures were "pretty high." She said: "Cornwall has one of the highest rates of lost dogs. We are trying to work out why."

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  • Doitdreckley  |  September 11 2012, 8:26PM

    Bilge indeed. There are people who I would prefer were 'put to sleep' than many dogs. Insurance is a difficult issue, there is a case for compulsion, but as a warning to those who may support private health insurance for people, insurance gets more expensive as an animal gets older or has health problems. A proper dog license could help support a 'dog NHS'. Vets like charging and that is something else that needs to be thought about.

    |   1
  • spindles12  |  September 08 2012, 10:55PM

    My sister boards dogs and just this afternoon an owner dropped his Collie dog off before going on a two week holiday. He had brought the dog's favourite toys, which included a yellow rubber ball, about the size of a satsuma. Unfortunately, shortly after the man left the dog swallowed the ball and was choking. My sister had to rush it to the emergency vet approximately ten miles away because her local vet didn't do emergencies out of surgery times. Luckily she got it there in time, and under light sedation the vet recovered the ball and gave it an antibiotic injection in case of infection. The bill for that little escapade? - £127.50. Hopefully my sister will be able to recover the money from the owner, mainly because the man brought the toys himself and actually told her that the ball was the dog's favourite and he played with it all the time. I wonder how many people either have insurance or have sufficient money to pay for unexpected vet's bills? Whether compulsory insurance, microchipping or dog licences will make any difference is very questionable because there are some people who drive cars with no insurance, MOT or even a driving licence even though they are compulsory so the same thing is likely to happen with some types of dog owner.

    |   12
  • Bod66  |  September 08 2012, 10:54PM

    by willemsSaturday, September 08 2012, 6:20PM "The first requirement that must be enshrined in law should be; Are you responsible enough to be placed in charge of a sentient,living creature ?".................. I would Vote an fight for that Law.

    |   5
  • Bilge11  |  September 08 2012, 10:35PM

    "Chipping dogs should be compulsory" Surely putting them to sleep is enough! I'll get me coat.

    |   -11
  • Fuzzyfuzzball  |  September 08 2012, 10:04PM

    I find it hard that anyone could do this. If you live with a pet and cared for it how could you sleep at night?

    |   14
  • Regennotdegen  |  September 08 2012, 7:03PM

    Chipping dogs should be compulsory, so should a minimum level of insurance to cover vets bills and accidents or injury to Third parties. Then bring back the Dog Licence but make it payable every year, make it a sum that discourages irresponsible dog ownership, £250.00 Per Year and make it more for dangerous breeds. That way those who stupidly purchase puppies might think twice.

    |   -10
  • Regennotdegen  |  September 08 2012, 7:02PM

    Chipping dogs should be compulsory, so should a minimum level of insurance to cover vets bills and accidents or injury to Third parties. Then bring back the Dog Licence but make it payable every year, make it a sum that discourages irresponsible dog ownership, £250.00 Per Year and make it more for dangerous breeds. That way those who stupidly purchase puppies might think twice.

    |   -2
  • willems  |  September 08 2012, 6:20PM

    The first requirement that must be enshrined in law should be; Are you responsible enough to be placed in charge of a sentient,living creature ?

    |   10
  • happygutz  |  September 08 2012, 6:14PM

    why cant they just put all the strays to sleep? this would make owners that care be more careful and also keep our streets cleaner.

    |   -18
  • The_Real_SKoM  |  September 08 2012, 5:54PM

    Lafrowda, change your vet - we don't pay that much

    |   3

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