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DOGGONE IT

23-03-2010

Dog

The number of dogs abandoned on the streets of Birmingham has reached record levels. Everyone agrees that the problem has to be solved – but how?

Birmingham city council officials are calling for stiffer penalties to be imposed on thoughtless owners who abandon dogs in the city. The call comes as the number of stray dogs reported in the city has grown alarmingly.

Councillor Neil Eustace, Chair of the Public Protection Committee at Birmingham City Council, is calling for fixed penalty notices for owners who repeatedly allow their dogs to stray, as well as new powers that could force dog owners to ensure that their garden fences are of sufficient strength to prevent the dog from escaping.

Dog wardens at the council’s Animal Welfare team are reporting a significant rise in the number of stray dogs that are being abandoned across the city, from 1,224 in 2007, to almost 2,016 in 2009, the highest number of dogs ever collected in Birmingham.

The type of breed most commonly abandoned has also changed over the years. While ten years ago, it would have been Rottweilers and Alsatians, dog wardens are finding more and more Staffordshire bull terriers abandoned in the city.

It is estimated that of the 2,016 dogs collected last year, 43%, (a total of 866 dogs) were crossbred or purebred Staffordshire bull terrier types. Only 30% of dogs are reclaimed and there could have therefore have been claimed to be genuinely lost. The rest were abandoned by their owners.

That’s a lot of dogs and therefore a lot of time and resources spent by the council, not to mention the problems that a stray, often vicious, dog can cause to people in the vicinity. The problem has caused national concern, although there is still no common agreement about the best way to deal with the problem.

Earlier this month the government unveiled plans for microchipping and to make dog owners take out thirds-party insurance although these plans were scrapped within days after an outcry from dog owners. The idea is now that only owners whose dogs who have caused problems will be forced to insure their charges – or, more likely, turn them out onto the street.

While breeds such as Staffies are being used as a fashion accessory-cum-weapon by those who have little regard either for the law or the well-being of the animal, this problem is going to increase. Maybe it’s time to look at reintroducing dog licences.

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