Almost half of stray dogs destroyed in some areas

Dog Trust says councils need to work with dog charities to reduce figures

Almost half of dogs impounded in three council areas were put down last year statistics published by the Department of Environment show.

One in five dogs which ended up in pounds in Ireland last year were put down.

However, in some areas that figure was much higher with 45 per cent or more of stray dogs in Limerick, Galway City and Cork County Councils destroyed in 2014.

The three areas also had the lowest proportion of dogs which were rehomed, reclaimed or transferred to dog welfare groups.

Conversely over 90 per cent of dogs impounded in Meath, Monaghan, Sligo, Wicklow, Galway County and Cavan councils were rehomed, reclaimed or transferred to dog welfare groups last year.

Leitrim County Council destroyed fewer dogs than any other council with just one dog put down in the local authority area in 2014.

Mark Beazley, the executive director of dog welfare charity Dogs Trust, expressed concerns about the variation in the number of dogs being destroyed and said councils needed to work closer with dog charities to help improve the rates of dogs being rehomed.

The number of dogs put down has decreased dramatically in past decade. In 2004 almost 16,600 dogs were destroyed across Ireland compared to 2,896 last year, an 82 per cent drop.

However, while Mr Beazley welcomed the fall off he noted that an average of eight dogs were still being put down each day, many unnecessarily.

“When a dog is picked up by a dog warden and enters the pound system as a stray, the pound has a legal obligation to keep the dog for five days in case the owner comes forward looking for their pet.

“However, when a dog is handed over by its owner, the pound has no legal obligation to keep it for any length of time and the dog could be put to sleep the same day. The majority of these dogs are healthy animals surrendered by owners who cannot or, in some cases, will not care for their pet anymore,” he said.

Mr Beazley also expressed concern at the high number of dogs still entering Irish pounds, with almost 14,559 dogs impounded last year.

“Our message to dog owners is very simple; please be a responsible dog owner by neutering and micro-chipping your pet,” he said, while also urging those thinking of getting a dog to consider taking a stray or abandoned dog.

“We live in a society now where, when people want something they just on the internet. Online you will literally see thousands of pups for sale but many of them are being bred in very poor conditions you have no idea of their vaccination history,” he said.

Annual figures released by the Department of Environment also show that dog control measures left Ireland’s county councils with a cumulative deficit of over €1.7 million last year.

Over 190,000 dog licences were issued in 2015. By far the highest number of dogs licensed dogs was in County Kerry where there are 11 dogs per 100 population according to the figures.