A YORKSHIRE council has been forced to put 411 abandoned and stray dogs to sleep in the past two years, new figures reveal.
A total of 275 dogs were put down between November 2013 and November 2014 by Leeds City Council – 28 per cent of all stray and abandoned dogs put in kennels by the council. And 136 were put down from November 2014 to November 2015, 16 per cent of the total dogs placed in kennels.
A spokesman for the council said: “We don’t like any healthy dogs being put down but this is a sad inevitability of people leaving dogs unidentified and unclaimed or unable to be rehomed due to breed or temperament.”
Animals found by the dog warden are looked after by the council for a week, before responsibility is handed over to the kennels service.
It tries to reunite all microchipped dogs with their owners, but many dogs remain unchipped or owners forget to update their details when they move house.
The council was unable to say how many of the dogs had been put down because of behaviour or because they were unclaimed.
Across the UK, 5,142 stray dogs were put to sleep by councils between 2014 and 2015, which works out at about one every two hours.
From April, new laws state owners must have their dogs microchipped or face a £500 fine.
The council spokesman said: “Dog wardens are still picking up dogs without chips or identification or if they do have microchips, the details are out-of-date. We’d urge people to not only get their dogs chipped now, but make sure the details are current.
“The kennels work with a network of rehoming and rescue charities to ensure that as many dogs as possible are found new homes. We also work closely with the Dogs Trust to care for the most vulnerable dogs.”
The council’s ‘Found Dogs’ Facebook page posts photos of dogs collected by the warden every day, and encourages followers to share the photos in the hope of reuniting the dogs with their owners.
Brian Wheelhouse, who owns Whitehall Dog Rescue in East Ardsley, said: “It sickens me if one healthy dog gets put down, and people still can’t believe it happens, it’s like something out of Victorian times.
“That said, it isn’t the council’s fault this is happening. They’re making the best of a bad situation. The fault is of the person who has turfed the dog out. The council have always tried to do their best.”
Dog warden Katie Reynolds said: “We are all animal lovers – you’re in the wrong job doing this if you’re not.
“If my dog had been lost I’d want someone to look after it. Putting a dog to sleep is never an easy decision.”