HUNDREDS of stray dogs were reported in the local area last year, however only a few dozen were eventually returned to their owners.
The sad statistics show in Fermanagh and Omagh, between April and December 2022, the Council received 227 complaints in relation to stray dogs. A total 51 of those located were returned to their owners, while 129 were impounded.
Of the dogs that were unclaimed, four were ‘humanely destroyed’, four were sold to the public, and 73 were passed on to local shelters or other organisations.
The figures, which were collected from the local Council by DAERA and have been analysed by pet insurance provider CompareNI.com, show the situation is even worse in other areas.
For example, in Mid Ulster there were 319 complaints regarding stray dogs, none of which were returned to their owners.
Across the North there were a total of 3,404 stray dog complaints received, with 1,065 returned to their owners, less than a third.
The statistics back up the concerns of local animal charities and dog experts, who had warned the cost of living crisis was resulting in more pets being abandoned.
The Dogs Trust, for example, has reported a surge in the number of enquiries from pet owners regarding giving up their dogs for financial reasons.
Enniskillen dog trainer Sharon West has also noticed a similar trend, previously telling the Herald she had spoken with Enniskillen Foodbank about potentially arranging an animal food bank.
Ian Wilson, managing director of CompareNI.com, said the statistics showed not only the importance of microchipping pets – to ensure they are traceable – but also of ensuring you can afford a pet before bringing it home.
“At a time when many people are experiencing financial pressures it is also important for potential dog owners to make sure they will be able to financially care for the pet before rescuing or purchasing,” said Mr Wilson.
“Some animals can cost up to £30,000 across the course of their lifetime, so it’s crucial owners realise the scale of the commitment before getting a dog and protect both their pup and themselves financially with a pet insurance policy.”
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