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560 dogs, two of them pitbulls, put down by Northern Ireland councils since April last year

By Rebecca Black

Published 10/09/2016

Almost 560 dogs have been destroyed by councils across Northern Ireland since April 2015, it can be revealed (stock photo)
Almost 560 dogs have been destroyed by councils across Northern Ireland since April 2015, it can be revealed (stock photo)

Almost 560 dogs have been destroyed by councils across Northern Ireland since April 2015, it can be revealed.

The proportion of the 559 dogs put down across our councils varies enormously - from none by Ards and North Down Borough Council to 185 by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

Just two dogs that were deemed to be illegal pitbull-types were put to sleep - one by Belfast City and one by Fermanagh and Omagh.

In a statement, Fermanagh and Omagh council said: "One of the 185 dogs put down was a pitbull-type. The dog was seized after attacking another animal and the owners relinquished it."

Belfast City Council also said the illegal pitbull-type dog it had put down had attacked either a person or an animal, but did not specify which.

Earlier this year, Hank the dog escaped being put down despite being found to be an illegal pitbull-type.

He was seized by Belfast City Council following a concern raised by a member of the public, and officials brought a canine expert over from England to examine Hank.

However despite Hank being found to be a pitbull-type dog, he was released to his owners with a number of conditions.

The Belfast Telegraph discovered the figures by making information requests to each of the 11 councils. Two required us to ask for the statistics using the Freedom of Information Act.

The time period for each one was from April 2015, when the new super-councils officially became responsible for local government after a year of sitting in shadow form.

Ronnie Milsop, Northern Ireland campaigns manager for the charity Dogs Trust, said the figures were a poignant remainder of how important it is to microchip pets.

He also urged dog owners to ensure the details on their animal's microchip were up to date, that dogs were neutered and to ensure that they wore a collar with an address or phone number printed on it.

Mr Milsop said he believed the disparity in the figures of the number of dogs destroyed in different council areas was due to more people in rural area tending to own dogs, with fewer in urban areas.

"If you take, for example, the border areas such as Newry, Fermanagh and Derry, those will be councils that will have more stray dogs," he added. "It stems back to the agricultural background of rural areas.

"The more rural an area is, the greater the tendency to have more dogs. Whereas if you take, for example, north Down, there are fewer dogs."

Mr Milsop said there tended to be more stray dogs in Northern Ireland than in England because there is less neutering of dogs here.

He urged anyone who loses their dog to contact their local dog warden as soon as possible.

Figures from the Dogs Trust show that across the UK, 5,142 stray dogs were put to sleep by local authorities between 2014 and 2015 - the equivalent of one dog every two hours.

Dogs Trust does not destroy any dogs in takes in.

It runs campaigns to highlight the importance of neutering and microchipping and it is currently running a free microchipping service. It also runs a programme called Chance Of A Lifetime, in which it takes 2,000 dogs a year from Northern Ireland to England for rehoming.

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