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A Third of Owners Will Lose Dog During Pet's Lifetime

18 September 2014
Dogs Trust

UK - Despite falling numbers of stray and abandoned dogs, close to a third of UK owners will still lose their dog at least once during their pet’s lifetime, according to research by Dogs Trust.

  • Total number of stray and abandoned dogs in the UK falls one per cent from an estimated 111,986 to 110,675
  • 29 per cent of dog owners have lost their dog at least once during their pet’s lifetime
  • 72 per cent of dog owners are unaware that they only have seven days to recover a missing dog from a Local Authority before he/she is rehomed or potentially put to sleep
  • An estimated 7,805 strays reluctantly put to sleep by Local Authorities this year – which equates to 21 a day
  • Microchips accounted for 10,084 reunions this year

The 2014 annual Stray Dogs Survey shows that an estimated 110,675 stray and abandoned dogs were handled by local councils across the UK between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014. This represents a one per cent decrease from the 111,986 dogs handled during the same period in 2012 – 2013.

This improvement could be attributed to modern technologies such as microchipping which continue to grow in popularity and efficacy. The small chips, which are no bigger than a grain of rice, accounted for 10,084 reunions this year alone – a figure which has grown annually since 2011.

However, having analysed a broad mix of local authority data and consumer polling Dogs Trust findings also show that despite a gradual decline in the number of stray and abandoned dogs, close to a third (29 per cent) of dog owners are still losing their dog at least once during their pet’s lifetime.

When dogs do go missing, close to two thirds (64 per cent) of owners don’t know whose responsibility it is to care for missing strays. When asked who they would contact, nearly half (46 per cent) of respondents said they would get in touch with a family member or neighbour, rather than correctly calling the local council, not knowing who else to turn to.

A further 72 per cent of respondents were also unaware that they had only seven days to recover their missing dog once he/she is in local authority care before ownership of their pet can be transferred to a new owner or they are potentially put to sleep if a new home cannot be found.

On average, those surveyed suggested that a dog owner has 15 days to recover a missing dog, more than double the time allocated – a figure which could help account for the estimated 7,805 dogs that were unnecessarily destroyed this year.

Although Local Authorities continue to encourage responsible dog ownership and do not want to put dogs to sleep, they do struggle to cope with such a huge number in this difficult economic climate.

The stress of losing man’s best friend is also having a serious impact on the UK’s workforce. Widely considering their dog as one of the family, one fifth (20 per cent) of owners said they had taken time off work because of a missing dog – either to search for him/her or because they were upset at their pet having gone missing. And it’s not just an afternoon out of the office.

On average, dog owners were absent from work for 4.2 days when their dog went missing. Sixty one per cent of those dog owners said they’d be too embarrassed to talk about their absence openly with colleagues – choosing instead to explain their time off as ‘annual leave’ (63 per cent), or ‘compassionate leave’ (33 per cent).

New figures from Dogs Trust also show that traditional means of trying to recover a missing dog are largely ineffective. Half of those surveyed (50 per cent) said they never take any action to note down the contact information or details of the missing dog after having seen a ‘missing dog’ poster.

Clarissa Baldwin OBE, Chief Executive of Dogs Trust says: “The number of instances of straying on our streets is declining, but we still have a significant job to do when it comes to raising awareness about responsible dog ownership. Owners are unsure of who to reach out to and how much time they have to recover their dog should he or she go missing.

"Microchipping not only helps speed up the process of reuniting an owner with their dog, it is also significantly reducing the number of strays overall. We’re calling on dog owners across the UK to come along to one of our free microchipping events at www.chipmydog.org.uk so that we can continue to improve the situation ahead of the change in law in Wales in 2015 and England in 2016 which will make microchipping compulsory.”

DT

ThePetSite News Desk

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