The latest stray dog statistics for Ireland: good but could be better. Pete the Vet Podcast from Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk

Every year, the Irish dog pound system compiles statistics about stray dogs, and the figures for 2017 have just been published.

To hear the podcast, see foot of page.

Stray dog issues

The latest stray dog statistics highlight three main issues
1) The headline number of dogs being euthanased in pounds is the lowest ever, at less than 1000 for the first time GOOD NEWS!
2) The number of dogs entering pounds is still stubbornly high, at over 11000 BAD NEWS!
3) The number of dogs being surrendered because they are no longer wanted is very high too, at over 3000 BAD NEWS!

To comment further on each area:

1) Dog destruction rate

Statistics released by the Department of Rural and Community Development last Friday reveal that 916* dogs were destroyed in Irish pounds in 2017, which is a 40% decrease on 2016. There were also 80 greyhounds euthanased (the figures are recorded separately) bringing the total to 996 dogs. This is the first time the annual destruction rate has been less than 1000. In 2004, the annual figure was 16500, in 1991 the figure was around 30000, so this new figure represents a massive drop over the past 27 years.
This progress represents the outcome of a coordinated joint effort between animal rescue groups, local authority staff, vets and other groups. A National Stray Dog Forum, back in the early 2000’s, set a goal for this to happen, so it is great news that the goal has been attained.
There are many factors that have led to this, including:

A) Dogs are being passed from pounds to dog rescue groups who rehome them in Ireland, the UK and elsewhere overseas
B) Vocal pro-neuter and spay campaigns have been held ( to highlight the health and population benefits of having the operations done on animals when young
C) Dog pounds have become wary of being highlighted because of high destruction rates and have modified their strategy to focus on trying to rehome rather than euthanase
D) The general tone of the country has become more dog-friendly compared to 20 years ago

2) Stubbornly high levels of dogs are still going into pounds

The latest statistics also revealed that 11,559 dogs entered Irish Pounds during 2017; this represents an 8% reduction on the 2016 figures and it is down from over 25000 entering the pounds in 2004, and over 35000 in 1991. While this is a welcome improvement, there are still a high number of stray and surrendered dogs in Ireland.
Charities like Dogs Trust believe in a “prevention is better than cure” approach. Greater emphasis needs to be placed on ascertaining why these dogs are entering the pound system in the first place and setting a clear strategy for reducing this number. A primary focus of the charity is educating the public about responsible dog ownership and safety around dogs through its free Education programme and ‘Be Dog Smart’ campaign, as well as other preventative measures such as subsidised neutering and microchipping campaigns. The aim of these initiatives is to ensure that the number of dogs entering Irish pounds continues to decrease.
Vets and animal welfare groups are currently trying to analyse why exactly so many dogs are entering the pounds, to see if targeted efforts can be made to further reduce the number of dogs entering pounds.

3) High levels of dogs being surrendered because they are just not wanted

The number of surrendered dogs remains alarmingly high. In 2017, 3,135 dogs were relinquished by their owners to Irish dog pounds. This highlights the worrying issue Ireland is still facing with people taking on the responsibility of owning a dog without thinking about the long term commitment it entails. The message needs to be sent out again and again: don’t get a dog if you are not sure about it; it is a lifetime of responsibility, with high ongoing time and money costs.

Questions about pets from listeners

  1. My cat will randomly bite for no reason, often when he’s being quite friendly. How do I stop him doing this?
  2. My 13 yr old Westie ate half a big bar about 100g of Milk choc during the night. He seems ok. Should I be concerned? Ally
  3. What’s up with my cat, puss pouring it of one of its ears, for years now, vet has injected, given antibiotics, no change. Any help? John
  4. We have a 5 month old maine coon cat and will by bringing home a 3 month old french bulldog cross puppy soon.I know I need to introduce them gradually just wondering how long before they might be comfortable with each other?
  5. My Son has a nest of Blackbirds with Chicks in his Attic. The attic has droppings all over it. What is the most humane way to get rid of nest as I have been told that some of the chicks might not survive and that could cause a fly infestation.They have a young Baby. Thank You Paddy
  6. I am crate training a new pup. She has toys but still cries and whinges. Should I just ignore her and let her cry until she stops. Pat S
  7. I was wondering if you could ask your listeners if anyone is available to take on a cat. We have 2 in work which we can’t care for. They kind of adopted us as they were strays. While we can feed them. What they really need is a couch and a human to cuddle them. Any help would be appreciated
  8. We have a husky ‘Balto’ we got from kildare rescue 3 years ago. He’s around 5 years old now. He’s extremely lame, Had xrays done and he has dysplasia in both back hips. Needs surgery we don’t have pet insurance and not much money. Where would cheapest place in Ireland to get it done. Dog is in pain.
  9. My 4 year old beagle has been suffering from FCE for the last 3 weeks. She has recovered her walking very well, albeit a bit staggered but she is still incontinent, any idea how long before she recovers control of bladder and bowel?
  10. Is kennel cough in a small dog serious ?
  11.  Our cat is Coughing/ gagging accompanied by an almost barking like a dog, otherwise in perfect form, any advice? Geraldine
  12. Our ten year old Bichon May have Cushings disease. She has all the symptoms and blood tests have been inconclusive. She is incontinent and on medication. She doesn’t seem to be in pain. Although the incontinence drives me crazy. My husband wants to euthanize her. Thoughts from Pete?

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