FIRST off, it is important to be clear about the happy news that thousands of stray dogs put in the council pound after being found wandering the streets over the last decade have been sent to loving homes. The number of dogs re-homed by local authorities outweighs the numbers that are put to sleep.
That doesn’t mean, however, the numbers of stray dogs being euthanased – not my word – in London every year doesn’t make the heart sink a little. I sent an FoI request to London’s 32 authorities asking just how many strays had been put to the sleep in the last ten years. Some only had figures from the last year, or the last five years, some gave a full answer – but on a rough average each council puts to sleep around ten Rovers a year.
This isn’t exact science because obviously councils pick up a different number of dogs each year and the figures are a little higher or a little in different areas. For example, in the previous financial year, Camden Council put 14 dogs to sleep and has done the same to four more since the start of April, while Richmond put down seven in the last year. Islington has put to sleep 116 dogs since the start of 2003, about eleven a year. Tower Hamlets: 23 in 2012, 13 in 2013 so far. Havering, only 35 in the last ten years. And so on.
To make things simple – and it’s not an unfair from the data provided – if we say ten a year for each council, then that’s still 320 a year and not so far from meaning one dog a day, somewhere in London, being put down by a council because they are found too sick or too aggressive to control.
When the West End Extra newspaper asked about the 44 dogs that have been put down in Westminster over the last three years, the RSPCA warned again that people needed to “first find out exactly how much it will cost to keep” the pets before taking them on. It seems highly sensible advice.
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