HARD-UP pet owners are leaving their dogs in kennels because they can’t afford claim-back fines.
Pick-up fees and overnight costs to house dogs found wandering the streets have to be met by owners when they go to retrieve their animals.
But many are left shocked by the bill they receive.
Now, kennel bosses say some owners are not even bothering to turn up to claim pets because they know it will leave them out of pocket.
Sarah Wilkinson, from West Hall Kennels in Cleadon, said: “People are often unhappy they have to pay to get their dogs back.
“Sometimes when they find out how much the fines are, they don’t bother showing up at all.”
If a dog is picked up in Sunderland or South Tyneside, there is a £35 pick-up fee plus an extra £7.50 for every night the dog spends in kennels.
Animal welfare experts fear many hard-up Wearsiders are now not bothering to check with kennels, knowing that reclaiming a missing pet will put a hefty dent in their bank account.
Jennifer Martin, 29, of Red House, Sunderland, had to hand over more than £50 to one North East kennel after her terrier went missing.
She said: “I was quite shocked about how much you have to pay, but she is my baby, so I didn’t mind too much.”
Ms Wilkinson also highlighted problems with owners taking to Facebook to find their missing dogs without first contacting kennels.
She added: “A lot of people are posting pictures of their dogs on social media sites, but aren’t even thinking about ringing the kennels to see if their pets are there.”
During last weekend, West Hall Kennels took in 15 stray dogs during a busy weekend for them. Of those 15, 10 owners were traced.
Ms Wilkinson added: “Two came and got their dogs. The other eight know their dogs are here but are yet to come and get them.
“What people have to remember is that it’s illegal for a dog to be left to roam the streets unaccompanied.
“You can’t just open your door and let your pet out alone.”