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Uncertain future for strays
Death sentence for dogs as SSPCA to refuse council strays

Thousands of abandoned dogs are facing an uncertain future after a leading charity said it would no longer take in strays that council staff pick up from streets across the west of Scotland.
The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA) blamed financial pressures for its decision to end long-running contracts with local authorities, leaving them to make other arrangements to comply with their legal obligations.

Only two authorities have so far made any provision to cope with the change, leading to fears of a significant increase in the number of healthy dogs that have to be destroyed. For the past 12 years, the charity has accepted dogs from councils for at least the seven-day legal minimum they must keep strays, allowing owners to claim them back.

Councils pay the SSPCA £50 per dog, but the charity says it costs an average £250 to keep each animal and, due to its financial position, can no longer offer the service. It has given notice to end the contracts in June 2009.

One of the only authorities to devise an alternative, North Lanarkshire, sends 500 strays to the SSPCA every year, and another seven councils are known to be affected.


Stuart Earley, SSPCA chief executive, said: "All local authorities have a statutory responsibility for kennelling stray dogs for up to seven days and we have contracts to house stray dogs with a number of them. Something like 42% of the strays that come into our centres (have been lost and) are reclaimed, but that means nearly half of our kennel space is taken up by dogs that need never come into our care and could be housed in private kennels. It's that 58%, the unwanted dogs that will never be reclaimed, that desperately need our help and that's why we have decided to phase out our contracts with local authorities to house strays."

He added: "Our aim is to try to save and re-home as many of these unwanted dogs as possible. This initiative will hugely increase our capacity to save more dogs across Scotland and find loving homes for them."

The SSPCA does not put down healthy dogs, but it has been admitted by one of the councils involved that a number will have to be destroyed if they are not found a home.

North Lanarkshire has started to take forward plans to build its own kennels with East Dunbartonshire and Strathclyde Police. Another six councils in Strathclyde were asked if they wanted to take part in a shared kennels scheme, but only East Dunbartonshire agreed. Others, including Glasgow and Renfrewshire, are expected to open discussions with the SSPCA to find a solution.

Crawford Morgan, head of protective services at North Lanarkshire Council, said in a report to councillors: "To ensure that the running costs for the (new) kennels are maintained at a minimum, agreement will be sought with the SSPCA and other dog charities for the placement of dogs not claimed by owners.

"It is inevitable some healthy dogs will not be able to be transferred to an external facility, which will permit the retention of stray dogs that have exceeded the seven-day period. Although this will increase the build and running costs for the kennels, this will effectively restrict the number of healthy dogs having to be destroyed."

All dogs are housed at: SSPCA Glasgow Dog and Cat Home, Kinnell Avenue, Cardonald, Glasgow G52 3RY l Tel: 0141 882 1688 or visit