05 September 2011

Dogs Trust survey reveals shocking trend in owners refusing to reclaim their dogs

The 2011 annual Stray Dog Survey released today by Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, reveals the UK’s stray and abandoned dog numbers are at an 11 year high with over 126,176 dogs being picked up by Local Authorities over the last 12 months, an increase of 4% on the previous year which equates to 345 stray dogs being found every day.

Sadly over 6% (7,121) of these strays were put to sleep in the last year by Local Authorities for want of a home which represents an11% increase on the previous year. These results indicate that 20 dogs are put to sleep somewhere in the UK each day, nearly one dog an hour.

The 15th annual Stray Dog Survey, conducted by GfK NOP on behalf of Dogs Trust, also revealed a large number of dogs were rejected by their owners who refused to claim them once found and identified by local dog wardens. This new trend is worrying as it appears some dog owners no longer view their pet as a valued family member or have not considered the true cost and responsibility involved with owning a dog.

Dogs Trust Chief Executive, Clarissa Baldwin OBE, comments:

“This year’s Stray Dog Survey is not good news for the nation’s dogs. Not only has there been an increase in the number of strays but the sheer volume of dogs being destroyed – 20 a day – is horrendous.

A combination of factors has led to this increase such as a high number of unwanted bull breeds, the economic climate meaning some people can no longer afford to have a dog, and a worrying increase in owners 'disposing' of their dogs when they no longer want them.

We work very closely with the Local Authorities who do their best in a very difficult economic climate. They do not want to put dogs to sleep but they are struggling to cope with such huge numbers of strays and a changing attitude to dog ownership.”

The number of stray dogs reunited with their owner due to a microchip has fallen by 4% to 31%, whilst collar and tag based reunites are at their lowest level ever with just 6%% being reunited this way. This highlights the importance of compulsory microchipping, which Dogs Trust continues to campaign for and most dog wardens regard as an essential step to ensure stray figures do not continue to rise.

Dogs Trust research reveals that if Government were to introduce compulsory microchipping it could save the public purse between £20.5 and £22.8 million per year. To incentivise the Government, Dogs Trust will be offering free microchipping at all 17 UK Rehoming Centres

Despite this year’s shocking Stray Dog Survey results, the general public seem unaware of the real state of the nation’s dogs with a recent YouGov survey* revealing that nearly all - over 94% -  of the public either underestimated or had no idea how many stray dogs there are in the UK. Over 56% of those questioned also did not know how many dogs are put to sleep each year because they cannot be rehomed.

Notes to editors:

  • Dogs Trust invests each year in neutering, microchipping and education programmes in the worst affected areas of the UK - Northern Ireland, North West England, North East England and Wales.  Since the campaigns began in 1999, over 400,000 dogs have been neutered and 250,000 have been microchipped through Dogs Trust.
  • Dogs Trust is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity and cares for over 16,000 dogs a year through its network of 17 rehoming centres. Dogs Trust never destroys a healthy dog in its care.
  • Responsible dog owners can get their pet chipped at their local vets for an average cost of £20-£30. Dogs Trust will microchip all dogs by appointment at any of their rehoming centres and will soon be introducing free microchipping for all dogs.
  • *YouGov Plc Survey Total sample size was 4347 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd - 25th August 2011.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
  • You can find out more about our annual Stray Dog Survey and read the full report online here.
  • Please contact the Dogs Trust Press Office for full survey results, images, filming requests, details of the Dogs Trust Rehoming Centres across the UK and general information on dogs.


Please contact:

National Spokespeople include:

  • Clarissa Baldwin OBE, Dogs Trust Chief Executive
  • Trevor Cooper, Dogs Trust Legal Consultant
  • Giles Webber, Dogs Trust Operations Director

All figures are estimates based on an assumption that responding authorities are representative of authorities as a whole. Results relate to the period 1st April 2010 to 31st March 2011. The 2011 survey was produced by GfK NOP who mailed questionnaires to all 378 local authorities in England and Wales. 306 LAs responded to the survey, with an additional 26 authorities in Northern Ireland submitting partial data. The results were then weighted to represent the 404 authorities across the UK.(DARD)

Dogs Trust has a non destruction policy, we never destroy a healthy dog.  We are working towards the day when all dogs can enjoy a happy life, free from the threat of unnecessary destruction.

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