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KCís dismay at new council proposal

Issue: 29/09/2017

Newcastle Under Lyme council has come under attack from the KC after a proposal was made to a council committee to put stray dogs to sleep if the owner can not pay the fine after seven days.
A report was presented to the Public Protection Committee which wanted to, 'seek support to cease offering a deferred payment option to residents of limited means seeking to reclaim their dog.'
The officer who presented the report, David Beardmore, wanted to 'ensure robust enforcement and discourage straying' and he recommended that the PPC agree that dogs should not be returned until full payment of fines has been made.
At present the council allows applications from people facing financial hardship for the fees to be deferred.
Two options were presented, one was to continue to offer deferred payments. The second option was to, 'Hold the dog at the kennels, for up to seven days, after which it would be rehomed or put to sleep if the owner has not made the required payments (£70 fine + £10 to £70 kennelling).'
Controversially the report recommended the second option. It says, 'Option Two sends a clear message that allowing a dog to stray is unacceptable and that where a dog warden seizes a dog a penalty must be paid in all cases. It treats all dog owners the same, inspective (sic) of their financial circumstances. It streamlines the council's administration of seized dogs.'
A statement from the Kennel Club said, 'The Kennel Club has expressed its dismay at a proposal that could see more dogs being destroyed or sent to rehoming centres, if their owners can't immediately afford the fine owed, which was discussed last night by Newcastle-Under-Lyme's Public Protection Committee.
'The new proposal would leave the most financially disadvantaged people in the community facing the prospect of their dog being sent to rehoming, or of those that can't be rehomed being destroyed, if they cannot afford to pay the fine within seven days of the local authority taking in the dog.'
Before the meeting the KC wrote to the council saying, 'We are very concerned about the council proposal to 'not release a dog unless payment is cleared in full', and while we understand that this is allowed under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 we are disappointed to see that the council has regressed to this position rather than keeping their current position of allowing people to defer payments.
'Through speaking to council officials we understand that the council will pursue multiple options such as rehoming before putting a healthy dog down. However having the option to euthanise the dog due to an owner not paying a fine does not seem in the best interests of the dog and we recommend that this option is removed from the proposal.'
A former council officer in Stoke, Neil Day, told OUR DOGS that the proposal was 'a shoddy piece of work. The report was poorly researched and they should have consulted with local people. Not every stray dog is the result of irresponsible owners.
'If this proposal was passed it could lead to people towards loan sharks to pay the fine or they could be forced to lose their pet.'
'The report is not written by a legal officer, but purports to give you a legal ability to kill somebody's pet in lieu of a debt payment. It makes no reference to a least five Acts of Parliament since 1990 that deal with animal and dogs welfare.
'It only refers to legislation that is 27 years old and not subsequent legislation. Also it confirms that numbers of stray dogs are reducing, but still recommends killing dogs after seven days as a way of cutting costs. When you work it out the savings are less than a thousand pounds.'
A representative from the Council told OUR DOGS, 'A dog would only be put to sleep if it was badly injured or old. The final decision would be taken by a vet. I think in the last year of the 106 stray dogs taken in by the council only eight have been put to sleep. The committee has decided to defer the decision.'
A Freedom of Information request has revealed that Newcastle-Under-Lyme council does not know how often their stray dog kennels are inspected.

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