Page last updated at 14:28 GMT, Friday, 4 April 2008 15:28 UK

Fears over stray dogs law change

A stray dog in a kennel
Stray dogs have to be dealt with by councils in future

Dog charities are warning there could soon be more strays on the streets because of a change in the law.

Currently, the police deal with the animals at night and at weekends, but local authorities are to become responsible for them 24-hours-a-day.

An extra 4m has been allocated to the councils in England and Wales, but some dog charities say this is not enough.

The Dogs Trust said it feared there could be no protection at night and weekends when dogs most commonly stray.

Animal concerns

Councils become responsible for strays full-time from Sunday.

The government said the policy had changed after requests from local government and the police, and to allow councils to provide a "more comprehensive service as the single authority with responsibility".

If an animal is found after office hours then many councils will ask the public to take the stray they are reporting to a designated kennel.

We have limited resources and sadly may not always have the space to take them
Steve Goody, Blue Cross

The Dogs Trust say few people will be prepared to deal with an animal that is not theirs.

Clarissa Baldwin said the change in law was a "significant change to a 100-year-old piece of legislation".

She said: "It suggests that local authorities only have to provide this 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service when it's practicable for them to do so.

"Our concern is that dogs will not get the sort of protection that we believe they deserve.

"We have evidence to suggest that more dogs go straying at weekends and in the evenings, and if the local authorities have not provided a service for that time, what is going to happen to these dogs?"

'No space'

Steve Goody, of the Blue Cross, said: "Many local authorities seem to be insufficiently prepared and funded to provide 24-hour care for strays, and we fear that they will be left with nowhere to go.

"Most charities do not routinely take in strays unless they have a specific arrangement with the local authority.

We are basically relying on the members of the public who take in stray dogs to either hang on to them until the following day until a warden is available to call round and collect
Jim Aveyard, Bradford City Council

"While they may be signed over to us after the specified holding period, we have limited resources and sadly may not always have the space to take them."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: "Dog welfare organisations were fully involved in the development of the legislation and supported one authority having responsibility for dealing with strays rather than two."

Jim Aveyard, an environmental health manager for Bradford City Council, told the BBC they needed the public's help to make the system work.

He said: "We are basically relying on the members of the public who take in stray dogs to either hang on to them until the following day until a warden is available to call round and collect.

"Or alternatively, for a certain amount of time during the course of the evening if they contact our emergency number we'll give them details of what they can do with the dog to get it out of their possession."

More than 105,000 strays were collected in 2007, with almost 8,000 of those put down.




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Stray dogs on the streets of Britain



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