Britain is apparently a nation of dog lovers but, according to Birmingham’s dog wardens, more than 25 strays a week are being found on the city’s streets. Despite a 26 per cent drop in the number of stray dogs found in 2014/15 (1,375 compared to 1,874 in 2013/14), wardens were still on average having to deal with at least three strays per day.
Of these, 184 were dogs that had either been reported missing, micro-chipped or known to wardens. This meant they could be returned to their owners directly. The remaining 1,191 were taken to Birmingham Dogs’ Home: sadly only 403 were subsequently claimed by their owners, with 788 left at the dogs’ home, as they are simply not wanted.
People who can no longer afford or manage to look after their dogs should rehome them responsibly. There are a number of animal rescue centres in Birmingham that look to rehome unwanted pets. Owners who choose to rehome their pooches can provide important information – name, medical history, vaccination status, and details of any aggressive nature or biting incident.
Without this vital information, these dogs are harder to rehome – which is a common problem faced by the kennels who, in many cases, don’t even know the dog’s name. Vikki Allwood, senior animal welfare officer for Birmingham City Council, said: “Dogs are said to be man’s best friend but – while the vast majority of owners understand a dog is for life – we are still finding too many strays.
“Abandoning a dog not only puts it at risk but puts an extra 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. “Some owners cannot afford high veterinary fees, but this is a cost they must factor in when they get a dog. The PDSA may be able to offer discounted veterinary care in some cases, but only for people who are receiving benefits.”
Compulsory dog micro-chipping is due to come into effect in April 2016, which should greatly reduce the numbers of strays and provide wardens with extra powers to make people who abandon their dogs accountable for their actions. Dog owners must by law also ensure the details on the microchip database are kept up to date.