A stray dog was impounded by local councils every hour in Northern Ireland, it has been revealed.
Last year alone 3,192 animals were put to sleep — more than in Wales and Scotland combined, MLA Ian Paisley Jnr said.
Puppy breeders told a meeting of the agriculture committee of MLAs at Stormont a registration scheme was needed to make it easier to trace dogs.
Mr Paisley, who chairs the committee, said: “One stray every hour a year — which are pretty appalling figures for a community which claims to love its pets.”
Aside from the welfare implications he said the taxpayer was bearing the burden.
In 2007 there were 8,767 dogs impounded, equal to one every hour, the agriculture committee chairman said.