Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
How should we tackle the problem of stray dogs?
New figures show that more than 13,000 stray and abandoned dogs were walking the streets of Wales last year.

Five hundred healthy animals had to be destroyed because there owners could not be found.

The charity the National Canine Defence League (NCDL) has called for an end to this "sickening" destruction.

Many abandoned animals are puppies bought as Christmas presents who have got too big and boisterous for their owners liking.

The NCDL want dog owners to get their animals neutered if they do not intend them having puppies or micro chipped so they can be identified.

Are we no longer a nation of dog lovers? What should we do to protect our pets from a life roaming the streets?

This Talking Point is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

I live in Cardiff and a number of families around where I live feel that it is okay to turf their dog out onto the streets in the morning and then let it back in again at night, when they get back from work. Throughout the day, they cause accidents on the roads nearby and have been known to attack local children. These dogs and strays should be gathered up and put down - they are a menace and should be treated as such. As for the owners who treat their dogs in this way, they should be fined. Heavily.
Mark, Cardiff

These dogs and strays should be gathered up and put down - they are a menace and should be treated as such

Mark, Cardiff
It is sickening to see sentient beings destroyed for no reason other than their owners getting bored of the commitment they took on. Unfortunately, short of housing them, I see few alternatives. A certain number can be re-housed which, at the very least, makes the problem go away for a while. Beyond that, the options are dog pounds or termination.
John B, UK

Its time we woke up, tackling dogs is only half the problem. Cat owners have just as much responsibility to the rest of the population and it's time for them to be legally made to take far more responsibility for their pets. I often wonder how many of the most vociferous complainers about dogs have cats which they are quite happy to allow to roam everywhere and mess in other peoples gardens etcetera.
Luke, UK

All pet owners should be required to have a license for each animal and each animal should be identified with a micro chip. The price of the licence and identification should be kept as small as possible but should always be high enough to cover the costs involved in administration and enforcement. There should be harsh penalties for owners who neglect, abuse or abandon their animals, and anyone convicted of such an offence should automatically be banned from ever again keeping an animal again. Easy.
Dave Stanley, India

Why are the British so ridicuously sentimental over a butch of cats and dogs, when they don't give a thought for how their sunday roast is produced?
Chris, India

In Australia all dogs have to be registered with the local council. In Queensland, you have to show vaccination and neutered certificates. Dogs have to be on a lead at all times unless in a lead-free area. We also have some areas like picnic areas or swimming and surfing beaches which are "no dog areas". Any infringements incur a $50 on-the-spot fine. Dog litter bags are provided by council and people are expected to remove droppings and place them in bins provided. Rangers round up strays and dogs not on leads even if the owner is present.
David Butler, Australia

If only people would consider that adopting a pet bears the same responsibility as adopting a child, they might think twice. It is a life time commitment and if people are not willing to accept that, then they should walk away. It should be mandatory to micro-chip every animal sold or adopted and if a pet is not purchased for breeding purposes then it should be mandatory to have the animal neutered. If only people would realize that cats and dogs and all animals actually experience the same emotions as humans, then maybe they might treat them with the respect that is their God given right. We humans share the planet, we don't own it.
K, Canada

If all dog owners were registered, then you would not see so many strays. We have to have a licence to drive a car. Why not have the same for dog owners

Gaynor Bonnar, New Zealand
You want to drive, you get a licence. You want a car, you have a log book. It's registered to you. Use the same practice for having a dog or cat. Simple.
Andy Spratt, UK

Animals suffering from significant mental trauma, health, or behaviour problems should not be re-homed.
Jo, UK

I am the owner of a "problematic" dog. This is due to the fact he was mistreated as a puppy by the breeder he came from. This has made him hard to handle and has impressed on me the need for tighter regulations of dog breeders. Also the fees charged by local dog pounds are too high for stray dogs. If people can show themselves to be genuine dog lovers they should take the animal home for free. Additionally the vets charges for hystorectomies/steralisation are also too high, these fees prevent owners from having their dogs neutered and adds to the problem of unwanted and abandoned dogs.
Evill, Scotland

If all dog owners were registered, then you would not see so many strays. We have to have a licence to drive a car. Why not have the same for dog owners.
Gaynor Bonnar, New Zealand

Re-introduce the dog licence and make it far more substantial than the poultry amount it used to be. It should also be made an annual charge. The ownership of dogs and the ease with which they can be purchased needs to be more aligned with the adoption of children. Anyone found to have bought a new dog for their children's Christmas/Birthday present and then abandon it when they realise that it has to be fed and watered should be heavily prosecuted and carry out community service, cleaning the streets of dog mess left by their fellow irresponsible so-called dog lovers.
Paul, UK

I give £4 a month to sponsor a dog with the NCDL. This is the best £4 a month I spend!! Increased fines, naming and shaming would deter these people.
Louise Ingham, south Wales

Anyone who keeps what is termed a domestic animal should be not only responsible enough to feed it, but to have it tagged and immunised for the whole of its natural life span and particularly in the case of dogs under control and its whereabouts known at all times.
Hazel, UK

What right to we as "human beings" have to terminate another living being's existence for inexcusable reasons as trivial as laziness? The NCDL should instate stricter regulations on animal ownership ensuring that the right type of person who is prepared to go the extra mile can be the ones with a canine friend, and the others can go right where they belong...the doghouse!
Ashley, Canada

I have been in other countries where there are lots of stray dogs, all healthy, neutered and released, regularly checked by vets and they are not a problem

Stacey, UK
Do as they do in New Zealand. All dogs must be registered and have certificates for the various injections they need. I live next door to one of many idiot families with a dog too big for its surroundings and that gets no walking or training - it's sheer hell. I have had dogs all my life. They have all been trained to behave as impeccably as any dog can. People just do not realise that they are basically taking on a baby - one that needs a huge amount of attention and a positive role model to follow otherwise he will take over as pack leader and that is no fun. More fines for tiresome neighbours and their noisy, uncontrollable dogs.
maz, UK

We have a similar problem here in Canada but our figures, I believe, are not as high. Our shelters now provide the new dog or cat owner with a coupon for neutering at any of a list of local veterinarians. The cost of the neutering is included in the fee. Some shelters will neuter the animal - if it is of age, before releasing to the new owner. The cost of the on-site neutering is, of course, included in the fee. All animals from shelters here are micro chipped. Again, the cost of the neutering, micro chipping and future neutering of these animals is included in the cost of the animal. As an aside to this, but in keeping with the last letters from readers, I think that Malcolm McMahon of York, UK and his fingerprinting idea is on the right track. If the owners can be traced, even if they move, the dog might be returned to its owner. These things are never simple but these ideas are a beginning to solving the problems.
Karen, Canada

I am a fan of most animals, particularly squirrels and I don't like to see dogs chasing the squirrels. All dogs should be kept on a lead and the owners made responsible for their behaviour. This includes fouling the pavement.
David , London

Stray dogs need to be neutered and if they are sick, destroyed. People can be employed as street cleaners if their mess is too intolerable for people. I have been in other countries where there are lots of stray dogs, all healthy, neutered and released, regularly checked by vets and they are not a problem. People should not be able to sell dogs un-neutered or without a license, and people who buy dogs should have them micro chipped and checked at regular intervals. The sort of people who will let a dog loose on the streets should be fined and banned from keeping animals forever in the same way as an abusive pet owner would be. If there is an effective register of dog-owners, breeders and micro chipped animals, tracking these offenders down should not be a problem.
Stacey, UK

All dogs and cats should be registered with the local authority for a substantial fee. The local authority should then make spot checks on the people who have licensed their pets. There are approximately nine million dogs in the UK and if each owner paid say £20 per annum for a licence then surely the government could give cash to the various societies to look after the animals instead of relying on charity. I get very cross when this subject is brought up, I get more cats and foxes in my garden than I get stray dogs. I have three dogs, they are all registered at the vets and also registered on a dogs register. We clean up after them if they foul a footpath and they are never off the lead when out walking. More than I can say for people walking past my house when they drop their cigarette ends, crisp packets and drink cans.
John Kendall, UK

I agree - put down all stray dogs. They are intimidating and frightening to young and old alike. However, we should also tackle the problem from the other end as well. Introduce a system where the cost to purchase a dog is heavily taxed. Microchip every dog that is sold and register on a national database. Heavily fine anyone who willingly abandons their dog. Apply a levy to all pet food with the extra taxation spent on educating the public in their responsibilities as pet owners.
Julia, UK

Given some of the horrors that abused children experience it does not surprise me that people can be so cruel to animals. We live in a throw away society and unfortunately once the novelty has worn off.... Dogs are expensive, time consuming and hard work - they all NEED to be immunised, neutered and micro chipped for their own safety. It disgusts me that some people have such a cavalier attitude.
Harriet, London

An expensive and complicated licensing system should be introduced.

Far too many people in this country take on pets without seriously thinking it through. It's a huge responsibility that shouldn¿t be taken lightly. Where I live I often see stray dogs roaming about, posing a danger to themselves and road users. My local RSPCA shelter is full of animals that have been dumped, some for the most pathetic of reasons (one was because the dog ate some chocolates from a Xmas tree!) People who allow this to happen don¿t deserve to have pets and the dogs themselves deserve a better life. People should seriously think before getting a pet and be prepared to take them on for LIFE where ever possible. Getting a dog neutered or micro chipped isn¿t that expensive (there are plenty of charities that do these at discounted rates for those in need). Anything other than responsible pet ownership is inexcusable.
Amanda, UK

I am a cat lover and it is awful to think of animals being mistreated in any way. I look after my pets very well and live on a farm so know what it means to be responsible for animals. People who mistreat animals should be heavily fined.
Rebecca Puttick, England

The most effective strategy would be a compulsory dog registration scheme with chipping, and making it illegal to sell dogs without both registration and transponder chip. If nothing else it might bring home to people buying dogs that they were taking on a responsibility rather than a toy. Better yet if technically possible how about putting the dog's DNA fingerprint on the registration? That might make it possible to trace those responsible for discarded puppies.
Malcolm McMahon, York, UK

This might sound cruel but stray dogs are miseries to dogs and public health hazard for people. If no money can be found for keeping those dogs safe and healthy, they should be put down.
Y R Shen, UK

An expensive and complicated licensing system should be introduced. This would (1) discourage people from buying dogs and (2) finance cleaning our streets of the mess the filthy animals (or rather their filthy owners) leave behind them.
Bryan, UK

No problem with strays, destroy the lot. Nothing inhumane, just get rid. Our streets are covered with their filth already and I don't want my kids blinded by Toxocara and who knows what else. Sorry dog lovers, I know this will upset you. If you want to keep your pets that's fine by me as long as you clean up after them.
Steve Harrison, UK

I have a cat who is a rescued stray. He is the sweetest, most loving little animal and I don't know where I'd be without him. He brings me so much pleasure and I love him to bits. I pity these people who let their animals walk out of their lives, or even worse push them out. These people must be very sad and soulless individuals.
Kath, UK

See also:

17 Aug 01 | Wales
Charity's stray dog plea
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Talking Point stories