New report highlights crucial role of local councils in cutting stray dog numbers
The Dog Rescue Federation is asking local authorities to adopt a consistent approach towards dealing with stray dogs and is urging them to be more proactive in tackling irresponsible dog breeding and ownership.
The Federation makes these and other recommendations in a report it has published after conducting a national survey of local authority dog wardens which 96% of councils in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland took part in.
The report (full copy below) has been presented to Rob Flello MP (Stoke-on-Trent South) who is soon to be appointed as Chair of an All Party Group in Parliament dealing with dog issues.
In the survey, councils were asked questions on a variety of issues ranging from how their dog warden services are managed, what their procedures are for dealing with stray dogs, how much time is spent on dog-related community work and how frequently they inspect dog breeding premises.
Peter Egan, popular actor, respected animal rights campaigner and the Federation’s spokesperson said: “Cash-strapped councils are struggling to cope with the high number of stray dogs they deal with. During the 12 months covered by our survey we estimate that local authorities handled over 116,000 stray dogs of which nearly 9,500 were euthanised. It’s very easy to become depressed by these figures but at the same time the Federation is heartened by the work that some local authorities are doing to reduce the numbers of unwanted dogs and promote responsible ownership.”
Peter Egan continues, “Our survey throws considerable light on how local councils differ in their practices and approaches towards dog welfare. Some appear to have good strategies in place but others seem less focused on the problems involved. We don’t wish to blame councils for giving dog-related issues a low priority; after all, when local authorities were handed full responsibility for stray dogs back in 2008, central government didn’t really provide them with the money they needed to run an effective service. But the survey clearly demonstrates that some councils have become very proactive in the way they are dealing with dog welfare issues and this begs the question – if they can do it, why can’t all councils? “
“As just one example of how some councils are falling behind the good practices of others, the survey asked about re-homing of unclaimed dogs and we found that 31% of councils do not allow dogs to be returned if re-homing is unsuccessful, 36% do not microchip dogs, 40% do not vet new owners, 43% do not vaccinate dogs and 63% do not neuter dogs. Therefore, the Federation is very keen for local authorities to share best practice with one another and we are very willing to work with them to achieve this. But we also feel very strongly that central Government should be doing much more to support councils financially, particularly as a reduction in the number of stray dogs handled by councils will ultimately save them and the taxpayer money, not to mention reducing the terrible suffering of dogs.”
On receiving the report Rob Flello MP commented, “I welcome this report on the outcomes of the Dog Rescue Federation’s National Survey of Local Authority Dog Wardens. It’s an excellent piece of research, giving a comprehensive look at the situation across the UK and I hope it will serve as an urgent call for the Government to act to improve the serious issue of overbreeding, stray and abandoned dogs and irresponsible dog ownership”.
The survey findings have been sent to all local authorities in the UK, DEFRA (the Government department responsible for dog welfare), MP’s, the Local Government Association, the National Dog Wardens’ Association, the Dogs Trust and other interested animal welfare organisations and professional bodies.
If you want to let us know your views on the survey you can access a blog on our home page