Hundreds of dogs have been put down in Blackpool after council dog wardens could not reunite them with their owners.
Findings obtained by The Gazette through a Freedom of Information request found 234 animals were euthanised between 2008 and 2013 when their owners could not be traced.
The Blackpool Council numbers show 3,800 dogs were collected from the resort’s streets and 1,305 of them had to be re-homed.
Standard council procedure means a dog is left with the authority’s wardens at a stray dogs kennel for seven days. But if the owner fails to pick up their dog during this period the pet is then re-homed or, as a last resort, put to sleep if it is unwell or aggressive.
Instances of dogs being put to sleep in the last six years include:
n An aggressive male staffie who was discovered running at people barking and gnarling. The dog ran up to a passer by who was walking another dog and had to be secured on a grasping pole. The owner of the animal failed to come forward.
nA Shar Pei collected from a home which was visited by the wardens. The officers were told the pet needed muzzling and had bitten people in the past. Once the dog was in kennels the owner came forward to say it was handed in and it was put to sleep because of its aggressive past.
nA Collie cross dog was recently found on a busy road under a car and could not get up or walk. The dog was taken to a vets and later a kennel, but had not improved and did not show any interest in food or water. After further veterinary assessment, and in the welfare interest of the dog, it was put to sleep.
Coun Gillian Campbell, Blackpool Council cabinet member with responsibility for street scene, said: “It is abhorrent when dogs are abandoned by their owners and we are proactive in trying to prevent this in a number of ways.
“As well as carrying out education work, we also offer free microchipping and, in some cases, neutering vouchers. Another key issue to point out is that many dog owners don’t know that, by law, their dog must have a name tag with their contact details on.
“We always do our best to help ensure animals are re-homed and are successful in doing so the majority of the time. It is always extremely sad when any animal has to be put to sleep and this is only ever done as a last resort when an animal is ill or aggressive.
“Finally, we would urge anyone thinking about taking on a pet to ensure first of all they have the time and financial means to look after it properly and the patience to do so.”
Groups and sanctuaries which take care of dogs on the Fylde coast say the first step for all dog owners should be getting their pet micro-chipped to avoid losing their animals forever.
Mandy Leigh, owner of Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary, in Ansdell, has called for homes to be checked before owners take home a dog in a bid to reduce the number of strays.
She said: “It’s absolutely horrendous. I know dogs have to be put to sleep, but an awful lot of them could be re-homed to a good home, but there’s no point in someone going to a strays kennel and paying for a dog they don’t know anything about.
“There should be home checks before every dog is re-homed. I know there’s time and money involved but there are volunteers out there willing to do this.
“If a big dog is re-homed to a house with a 3ft fence it is going to get out and the owners could be whacked with a great big bill.”
A spokesman for Blackpool RSPCA added: “The RSPCA strongly urges all dog owners to ensure their pet is microchipped as this is the best way of ensuring that, if separated, they can be reunited.”