Canine crisis as stray dogs increase puts £121,500 budget strain on Sunderland Council

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THE financial burden of stray dogs is on the increase as it is revealed that Sunderland City Council has upped its budget for dealing with the problem.

The age-old Dogs Trust slogan of “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas” appear to be falling on deaf ears, as the council has budgeted £121,568 for abandoned canines in 2014/15.

Figures obtained via a freedom of information request show the previous year’s stray dog budget was lower, at £109,787.

The extra spend comes at a time when the council is facing further budget cuts of £12million for the coming financial year. Last year, Sunderland City Council dealt with 673 dogs, compared to 629 in 2012/13, 695 the year before, and 607 in 2010/11.

Not only does the authority deal with abandoned and lost dogs, its officers will also collect dogs that can no longer be looked after, including where an owner has died.

The council’s portfolio holder for city services, Coun Michael Mordey, said: “The dog warden responds to calls to pick up stray dogs from across the city, with dogs temporarily kennelled until they can be re-united with their owners.

“Calls are also taken from owners who may not wish or be capable of caring for a dog. Where dogs remain unclaimed, and wherever possible, they are re-homed to new owners by our animal welfare partner. Stray dogs can cause traffic accidents and inconvenience to the community with increased dog fouling and nuisance.

“Owners have a responsibility to look after their animals and we would encourage all dog owners to look after their pets responsibly, by having them micro-chipped and not allowing them to stray.

“Owners can also be fined for failing to keep their dogs under control.” Meanwhile, the Dogs Trust has appealed to people’s common sense as well as their conscience not to buy puppies as Christmas presents.

Dogs Trust operations director Giles Webber, said: “With more and more puppies, available at the click of a button, flooding the Christmas market this year it is more essential than ever that our iconic message ‘A Dog is For Life, Not Just For Christmas’ is ingrained in people’s minds.”

Independent councillor Colin Wakefield described the increase as “a lot of money”.

“When you look at it, it’s a couple of grand per week,” said Coun Wakefield.

“Once again irresponsible people are being supported by responsible dog owners and I don’t think that’s fair.

“The police don’t seem to deal with this type of thing anymore so it’s the council’s problem.”