NORTHERN IRELAND’S stray dogs are living or dying in a postcode lottery, according to claims made by the Dogs Trust.
Department of Agriculture figures for 2004 revealed that 456 animals in the Omagh council region; 366 in Derry City council area and another 323 dogs found straying around Dungannon council district were put down.
This is in sharp contrast to the 20 that died in North Down council area and a similar number in Carrick. Only 10 were put down in Castlereagh.
During that year a total of 3,371 dogs across the province were put down.
Other council areas where high numbers of dogs died include: Newry 291; Down 276; Armagh 241; Fermanagh 197.
According to the Dogs Trust - the UK's largest canine welfare charity - of the 11,000 stray dogs collected by local authorities in Northern Ireland during the past year over one third were needlessly destroyed
Despite a fall of 5%, almost 4,000 of these dogs were put to sleep by local authorities just for want of a home.
This means that a third of all stray dogs collected were put to sleep simply because their owner couldn't be traced or a new home could not be found for them, the Trust stated.
The survey, compiled by NOP World on behalf of Dogs Trust, reveals that over 105,000 stray dogs were collected by local authorities across the UK last year. This equates to 21 dogs destroyed every day, and 150 every week.
The Dogs Trust said Northern Ireland is one of the worst hit areas in the whole of the UK.
Figures for this region represents over 10% of the national total of strays collected, and is by far the largest contributing area across the whole of the UK.
The number of stray dogs being destroyed in the province also represents a shocking 49% of the figures for the whole of the UK.
Clarissa Baldwin, Dogs Trust Chief Executive, said: "It's shocking so many dogs are needlessly destroyed.
"It's a postcode lottery for a stray dog whether he lives or dies.
"In Northern Ireland, the chances of survival as a stray dog are really bleak, as 35% of stray dogs are put to sleep," said Ms Baldwin.
"However the problem is preventable and we are appealing to all dog owners to consider neutering and microchipping their dog."