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Dogs Trust ‘encouraged’
by reduction of strays

Charity pleased with the latest figures in Northern Ireland but says ‘There is a still a long way to go’.

The UK’s largest dog welfare charity, Dogs Trust, is encouraged by the latest figures from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) which show a reduction in the number of stray dogs collected and put to sleep in Northern Ireland by local authorities, during 2005. However, the charity feels there is still a long way to go.

While local authorities make every effort to reunite stray dogs with their owners, take dogs to rescue shelters or find them new homes, dogs are still being destroyed for want of a home DARD figures for 2005 show that the number of dogs in Northern Ireland collected by local authorities has reduced by 6.4% in the last year. In 2004 9,145 dogs were collected, whereas in 2005 this number had reduced to 8,918. Also, the number of dogs put to sleep has dropped by 2.5% from 3,371 in 2004 to 3,154 in 2005.

Ronnie Milsop, Dogs Trust Regional Campaigns Manager for Dogs Trust, commented:
‘The figures released by DARD positively show a reduction in the number of stray dogs in Northern Ireland. In fact since the research began in 1999, the number of dogs that were put to sleep has dropped year on year. In 1999 60% of the dogs collected were put to sleep, in 2005 this figure has reduced to 35%.

‘These figures are extremely encouraging and I am sure they are due to the collaboration of local authorities, charities and vets who work tirelessly, to make a real difference to the number of dogs destroyed in Northern Ireland. It is important to remember though, that these figures are still far too high and Dogs Trust will continue to work relentlessly until the issue of stray dogs is no longer a problem and no healthy dog is destroyed for want of a home.’

Dogs Trust has 16 Rehoming Centres across the UK and the Ballymena Rehoming Centre in County Antrim works in a number of ways to try and reduce the problem of stray dogs. The Rehoming Centre annually cares for approximately 300 dogs with the majority of these dogs finding loving new homes.

The centre also has a dedicated Campaigns and Education team whose aim is to encourage and promote responsible dog ownership to the community. The Campaigns team runs a number of subsidised neutering projects and provide free neutering vouchers to councils, so that they can be offered to dogs owned by residents in need of assistance.

In addition, special HealthChecks aim to reach many more dog owners in priority areas highlighted by local councils. The free HealthChecks for dogs include neutering, vaccination, microchipping, worming and flea treatment.

The Educational Officer visits all schools in Northern Ireland, offering free interactive workshops which discuss responsible dog ownership in a fun and informative way.

In addition teachers can access free resource packs and information leaflets from the website, which all reinforce the responsible dog ownership message and help children to understand what is involved in owning a dog.

Dogs Trust have also produced a newsletter ‘Dogs Trust Update’ on the latest information from the campaign and education team in Northern Ireland - if you are interested in receiving the next issue or for further information on the work of Dogs Trust, please visit the website or contact Ronnie Milsop on telephone number: 028 2563 2820 or email: