More than 200 stray dogs put down in five years after being impounded by Sheffield Council

Stray dogs.
Stray dogs.

Nearly 4000 stray dogs have been impounded by Sheffield Council in the last five years - with more than 200 being put down.

An animal welfare charity said the figures highlight how too many people are buying dogs as pets when they cannot afford them and then later abandoning them.

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Dr Samantha Gaines, a dog welfare expert for the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals, said people should think long and hard about the cost of having a dog before going through with the purchase.

She said: "It's really sad that so many stray dogs are euthanised each year and highlights a real problem in this country with pet buying habits and ownership.

"The RSPCA would urge anyone thinking of getting a dog to first consider what is involved. It's important the whole family is prepared for the commitment - both financial and time - before bringing one home."

She added many strays end up in the council dog pound because their owners have not microchipped them - which is now a legal requirement.

Dr Gaines said: "We would urge all dog owners to get their pets chipped so more dogs can be returned home successfully, which would help cut down on the numbers that end up in pounds and rescue centres."

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The figures - revealed through a freedom of information request - showed 3, 726 dogs had been impounded by the council between 2013 and 2017. A total of 210 - just under six per cent - were destroyed.

The authority said stray dogs which are unclaimed by their owners are usually either adopted to new owners or passed to rescue centres.

The council stressed that dogs which cannot be rehomed are only destroyed if they are a prohibited breed, in poor health on a vet's recommendation or for anti-social reasons, such as dogs which despite the kennel staff’s efforts, still present an unacceptable risk.

In addition, the number of strays impounded has also steadily decreased over the last five years, dropping from 1082 in 2013 to 489 last year.

Star readers also called for more action to tackle the issue and took to Facebook to voice their concerns.

Jeannie Hopwood said:"Adopt, don't shop. Perhaps the shelters should advertise more.

"There are many pets for sale sites on Facebook and rescues often successfully advertise dogs on these. Could more dog fostering be encouraged?"

Dr Gaines agreed that members of the public should consider adopting a rescue dog before buying a puppy and urged councils to work more closely with rescue centres.

She said: "We would like local authorities to work closely with rescue centres and do their best to rehome as many dogs in their care as possible, as many already do.

"Many local authorities have developed relationships with local charities and rescue centres, amongst other initiatives, to make sure euthanasia is always a last resort.

"We would expert relevant veterinary and behavioural checks to be done before decisions are made as to the dog's future."

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We asked Sheffield Council for a comment but did not receive a reply. .

*Look out for The Star's 'Give A Dog A Home' weekly feature in which we help the RSPCA to re-home rescued dogs.

Table

Year Total strays impounded Destroyed

2013 1082 90

2014 920 61

2015 668 24

2016 567 28

2017 489 7