The 2011 annual Stray Dog Survey released today by Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, reveals the UK’s stray and abandoned dog numbers are at an 11 year high with over 126,176 dogs being picked up by Local Authorities over the last 12 months, an increase of 4% on the previous year which equates to 345 stray dogs being found every day.
Sadly over 6% (7,121) of these strays were put to sleep in the last year by Local Authorities for want of a home which represents an11% increase on the previous year.
These results indicate that 20 dogs are put to sleep somewhere in the UK each day, nearly one dog an hour.
The 15th annual Stray Dog Survey, conducted by GfK NOP on behalf of Dogs Trust, also revealed a large number of dogs were rejected by their owners who refused to claim them once found and identified by local dog wardens. This new trend is worrying as it appears some dog owners no longer view their pet as a valued family member or have not considered the true cost and responsibility involved with owning a dog.
Dogs Trust Chief Executive, Clarissa Baldwin OBE, comments:
“This year’s Stray Dog Survey is not good news for the nation’s dogs. Not only has there been an increase in the number of strays but the sheer volume of dogs being destroyed – 20 a day – is horrendous.
A combination of factors has led to this increase such as a high number of unwanted bull breeds, the economic climate meaning some people can no longer afford to have a dog, and a worrying increase in owners 'disposing' of their dogs when they no longer want them.
We work very closely with the Local Authorities who do their best in a very difficult economic climate. They do not want to put dogs to sleep but they are struggling to cope with such huge numbers of strays and a changing attitude to dog ownership.”
The number of stray dogs reunited with their owner due to a microchip has fallen by 4% to 31%, whilst collar and tag based reunites are at their lowest level ever with just 6% being reunited this way.
This highlights the importance of compulsory microchipping, which Dogs Trust continues to campaign for and most dog wardens regard as an essential step to ensure stray figures do not continue to rise.
Dogs Trust research reveals that if Government were to introduce compulsory microchipping it could save the public purse between £20.5 and £22.8 million per year.
To incentivise the Government, Dogs Trust will be offering free microchipping at all 17 UK Rehoming Centres
Despite this year’s shocking Stray Dog Survey results, the general public seem unaware of the real state of the nation’s dogs with a recent YouGov survey* revealing that nearly all - over 94% - of the public either underestimated or had no idea how many stray dogs there are in the UK.
Over 56% of those questioned also did not know how many dogs are put to sleep each year because they cannot be rehomed.
*YouGov Plc Survey Total sample size was 4347 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd - 25th August 2011. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
- You can find out more about the Dogs Trust annual Stray Dog Survey and read the full report online here.