The number of stray dogs in the region is falling - but there could be even less say charity bosses.
There were 2,880 canines in the North East not claimed by their owners and left in council kennels between 2015 and 2016 according to Dogs Trust - a 14% drop form the previous year.
However, the charity’s annual Stray Dog Survey, which is released today, reveals that 5% of the 2,880 unclaimed dogs in the region will never find their way home, and could even face destruction, simply because forgetful owners haven’t updated their microchip details.
Charity workers are now urging owners to make sure microchips are up-to-date so any missing animals can be swiftly traced back to them.
Denise Kelly. the Trust's north of england campaigns manager, said: “It’s shocking to learn that 5% of the unclaimed dogs in the North East are actually much-loved family pets who are left languishing in kennels or, worse, face being put to sleep by Local Authorities without their owner’s knowledge, simply because their owners were too forgetful to update their details on the microchip database. It’s heartbreaking that these lost dogs will never find their way home, as it’s something which could so easily have been avoided with a bit of forward planning.
“Microchipping became compulsory in Northern Ireland in 2012 and in England, Scotland and Wales on 6th April this year but it’s not enough for owners to get their dogs microchipped, it’s also a legal requirement for them to make sure their details are up to date on the relevant microchip database too. Stray dogs that find themselves at Dogs Trust are the lucky ones, as we will never put a healthy dog to sleep, but not all of the unclaimed dogs are so fortunate. Microchipping is the most effective way of ensuring a beloved pet is safely reunited with its owner, but this simply cannot happen without the details on the relevant database being up-to-date.”
Whilst there is still a way to go when it comes to educating dog owners about the importance of compulsory microchipping, the Stray Dog Survey figures for the North East are largely positive with 6,416 stray and abandoned dogs handled by local councils in the region between 2015 and 2016. This represents a 14% decrease from the 7,457 dogs handled during the same period in 2014-2015.
Across the North East the number of strays that were reunited with their owners remains in line with last year, with 3,536 dogs heading back home, 919 as a direct result of the dog having a microchip. The charity is hopeful that this number will continue to grow across the region, as microchipping became compulsory for all dogs in England, Scotland and Wales on April 6.