Microchips accounted for 1,327 reunions this year across the Yorkshire area
Despite falling numbers of stray and abandoned dogs, close to a third of owners in Yorkshire will still lose their dog at least once during the animal’s lifetime
- Total number of stray and abandoned dogs in Yorkshire falls by 22% from 12,348 to 9,612
- Microchips accounted for 1,327 reunions this year across the Yorkshire area
- 28 per cent of Yorkshire dog owners have lost their dog at least once during the animal’s lifetime
- 69 per cent of Yorkshire dog owners are unaware that they only have seven days to recover a missing dog before he/she is rehomed or potentially put to sleep
- An estimated 1,351 stray and abandoned dogs reluctantly put to sleep in Yorkshire by Local Authorities this year
The 2014 annual Stray Dogs Survey released by Dogs Trust today, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, shows that 9,612 stray and abandoned dogs were handled by local councils across Yorkshire between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014. This represents a 22% decrease from the 12,348 dogs handled during the same period in 2012 – 2013.
Across the UK, the numbers of stray and abandoned dogs have decreased, with the total number of stray and abandoned dogs falling by 1% from 111,986 to 110,675. This improvement could be attributed to modern technologies such as microchipping which continue to grow in popularity and efficacy. The small chips, which are no bigger than a grain of rice, accounted for 1,327 reunions across the Yorkshire area this year alone – a figure which has grown annually since 2011.
However, having analysed a broad mix of local authority data and consumer polling Dogs Trust findings also show that despite a gradual decline in the number of stray and abandoned dogs, close to a third (28 per cent) of dog owners are still losing their dog at least once during the animal’s lifetime.
When dogs do go missing, more than half (59 per cent) of Yorkshire dog owners don’t know whose responsibility it is to care for missing stray and abandoned dogs. When asked who they would contact, close to half (48 per cent) of respondents said they would get in touch with a family member or neighbour, rather than calling the local council, not knowing who else to turn to.
A further 69 per cent of respondents were also unaware that they had only seven days to recover their missing dog once he/she is in local authority care before ownership of their pet can be transferred to a new owner or they are potentially put to sleep if a new home cannot be found. On average, those surveyed suggested that a dog owner has 16 days to recover a missing dog, more than double the official time allocated – a figure which could help account for the 1,351 dogs in the Yorkshire region that were unnecessarily destroyed this year. Although Local Authorities continue to encourage responsible dog ownership and do not want to put dogs to sleep, they do struggle to cope in this difficult economic climate.
The stress of losing man’s best friend is also having a serious impact on Yorkshire’s workforce. Widely considering their dog as one of the family, 14 per cent of owners said they had taken time off work because of a missing dog – either to search for him/her or because they were upset at the dog having gone missing. And it’s not just an afternoon out of the office. On average, dog owners were absent from work for 4.2 days when their dog went missing. Sixty one per cent of those dog owners said they’d be too embarrassed to talk about their absence openly with colleagues – choosing instead to explain their time off as ‘annual leave’ (63 per cent), or ‘compassionate leave’ (33 per cent).
New figures from the Dogs Trust also show that traditional means of trying to recover a missing dog are largely ineffective. More than half of those surveyed in Yorkshire (51 per cent) said they never take any action to note down the contact information or details of the missing dog after having seen a ‘missing dog’ poster.
Clarissa Baldwin OBE, Chief Executive of Dogs Trust says:
“The number of instances of straying on our streets is declining, but we still have a significant job to do when it comes to raising awareness about responsible dog ownership. Owners are unsure of who to reach out to and how much time they have to recover their dog should he or she go missing. Microchipping not only helps speed up the process of reuniting an owner with their dog, it is also significantly reducing the number of strays overall. We’re calling on dog owners across the UK to come along to one of our free microchipping events at www.chipmydog.org.uk so that we can continue to improve the situation ahead of the change in law in Wales in 2015 and England in 2016 which will make microchipping compulsory.”