At the beginning of Crufts week, the biggest event in the canine calendar, I called for action after it was revealed Rugby Borough Council is euthanasing many more dogs this year than it did last.
Rugby Borough Council has a statutory duty to euthanase stray dogs if they are unclaimed for over 7 days, not adopted or are deemed dangerous or ill. In the municipal year 2009/2010 the Council paid for the destruction of 7 dogs, in 2010/2011 it was 8 dogs but this year the number if projected to be nearer 20.
On unearthing the figures I thought it was such a desperately sad situation to see healthy dogs put down purely because the owners have decided they do not want them anymore. As a dog lover I feel that the system is broken if we reach a stage where the only solution is to destroy healthy animals.
The economic downturn has seen animal charities like the Dogs Trust and RSPCA faced with an avalanche of dumped dogs. Whereas before, dogs seized by the Council may have found new homes, due to the sheer number of dogs being released by their owners supply is vastly outstripping demand. In 2011 6,000 healthy dogs were put down in the UK.
One of the other worrying facts I found is the predominance of one breed in the list of those put to sleep: the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. As of March, over 60% of the dogs destroyed by the Council were Staffordshire Bull Terriers (also known as “Staffies”).
I recently lost my own dog that I took on from the Dogs Trust. I have been looking around rehoming kennels for a new dog and the sheer number of Staffordshire Bull Terriers is astounding. I know that these dogs can be brilliant pets. Unfortunately they seem to have become a status symbol for some, and people are taking them on and sometimes, once the novelty has worn off, they then decide to dump then. It’s so sad.
I have written to Sean Lawson, Head of Environmental Services at Rugby Borough Council, to ask that for a trial period dogs are kept for 1 week longer than the statutory week if they are considered suitable for rehoming. If this trial period enables more dogs to be saved then I would like the Council’s standard time for holding dogs to be 2 weeks.
Microchipping is an excellent way for the identity of dog’s owner to be verified and the dog to be reunited. It can also allow the authorities to ascertain any reason why a dog has been dumped – potentially finding a solution to the causal factor. I have written to the Minister responsible, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, to add my voice to the call for compulsory chipping.
I would add finally that there are no such things as bad dogs, only bad owners.