Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Friday, 4 April 2008 12:52 UK

'More dogs will be on the street'

By Catherine Marston
BBC News

A stray dog in a kennel
Last year more than 105,000 strays were picked up

Dogs charities warn a change in the law making councils solely responsible for picking up stray dogs means they will not be dealt with out-of-hours.

Within a few minutes of arriving on the Homewood estate in Bradford, we find a small pack of stray dogs.

They have grouped together and are roaming the area, on the loose and possibly in danger. We see one run away from the dog warden straight into the path of car. The driver just manages to miss it.

Stephen Wilkinson regularly patrols this area on his rounds as dog warden.

He says he always finds strays, and only some can be reunited with their owners. Many owners deny they have let their dogs roam freely and always promise to keep them indoors, but Mr Wilkinson says it is often the same dogs on the loose.

He is called to a house where a young couple have taken a stray in after finding her wandering the streets.

Mr Wilkinson regularly spends his days taking the strays found to kennels, in this case in Ossett in Wakefield.

'Gap to fill'

But none of the dog wardens work in the evenings, and from Sunday they will have to rely on the public to collect strays out of hours.

Jim Aviard, an environmental health officer in Bradford, says the changes will leave a time gap when the council will not be able to collect strays.

He said: "The police are available 24/7, we are not. So we now have a gap to fill between finishing work on a Monday night and opening on a Tuesday morning."

At the kennels there are dozens of dogs that have been collected off the streets. A worker from the charity Dogs Trust arrives to take a few to their kennels for re-homing.

It's only your true dog lovers that are going to go that extra mile to help the dogs
Amanda Sands
Leeds Dogs Trust

Amanda Sands, the manager of Leeds Dogs Trust, said councils would not have the resources to deal with strays 24 hours a day and the public may not want to help either.

"It's only your true dog lovers that are going to go that extra mile to help the dogs," she said. "You're asking them to handle dogs they don't know as well, and that could put people at risk."

The lucky few dogs are loaded into the van to be taken for re-homing. Last year more than 105,000 strays were picked up and of those almost 8,000 were eventually put down.

That may well be the fate of some of the dogs left behind at the Ossett kennels.

But Amanda also said the extra 4m being given to councils to help with these changes, would not be enough.

It works out at approximately 9,000 per council per year. She says it is just not enough money to provide an out-of-hours service and more dogs will end up on the streets for longer.

"They could start forming into a pack in the worst instances," she says.

"If they're out on the streets longer they are more likely to be involved in road accidents. There are many repercussions."




SEE ALSO
Owners are urged to identify dogs
26 Mar 08 |  Cornwall
Rottweiler stray killed by police
04 Feb 08 |  West Yorkshire
Warden sees surge in stray dogs
08 Jan 08 |  Shropshire

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