Teddy is a microchip dog and for very good reason. Have you seen many stray dogs in Britain? I’ve seen packs in Ecuador. I’ve seen – and fed – plenty of stray cats in Greece. I’ve watched lonesome-looking dogs on the West Coast of America (were they were stray or let-out to roam?). But I’ve never knowingly seen a stray on the streets over here – the only unaccompanied dogs that I ever see are on Hampstead Heath, and clearly in pursuit of their person.
I’ve obviously not been looking hard enough. The annual Stray Dog Survey by the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, Dogs Trust, makes shocking, sad reading. From 2014-2015 in the UK:
102,363 stray and abandoned dogs were handled by Local Authorities.
47,596 dogs were left in council pounds.
5,142 dogs were destroyed by Local Authorities.
“Stray dogs that find themselves at Dogs Trust are the lucky ones,” says Adrian Burder, Chief Executive of Dogs Trust. “We will care for a dog for its entire life if needed.” But While Dogs Trust will not put a healthy dog down, the harsh fact is that Local Authorities are struggling to care for the stray dogs picked up on the streets of the UK everyday. Abandoning a dog puts them at risk of being put down by local authorities after seven days. In the past year, 14 dogs a day – that’s one dog every two hours – were destroyed.
Re-homing charities help as many as they can. While many of these dogs are abandoned, some are lost dogs, and are wanted back desperately. Less than half of the dogs in the report – 54,767 – were re-united with their owners. Of course all dogs should wear a dog tag, but they should also be made traceable via a microchip.
To ensure more dogs get to go home, Dogs Trust offers free microchipping. In April 2016, it will become the legal responsibility of dog owners in England, Scotland and Wales to microchip their dogs. Good news.
If your dog is not a microchip dog, please get it done. And just a heads-up – Dogs Trust is a marvellous charity, worthy of support.