COUNCIL bosses have turned to a social networking site in a bid to get stray dogs rehomed more quickly.
Hartlepool Borough Council is to start using a Facebook page to post pictures of stray dogs that are collected around town.
Kennels staff will use a camera phone to photograph the dogs when they are collected and email the pictures to the administration team who will upload them onto the new site.
Each photo will have a unique reference number and a brief description of the dog, including colour, sex, breed - if known - and the date it will become available for adoption.
Officers say the site will allow people to check to see if their lost dog has been posted, which they say will be particularly useful after normal office hours.
People will also be able to upload their own pictures of their missing dog to the site.
Officers say it will help reduce kennel costs if the dogs can be reunited with their owners or rehomed more quickly, causing less stress to the animals and their owners.
Legally, the council’s waste and environmental services section has to keep hold of dogs for at least seven days but officers say they often keep them for nine days to give the owners every chance of being reunited with their pet.
If they are not collected, then they are offered for adoption.
The rehoming service - which collects about 350 stray dogs every year - is currently promoted through the council’s website, the Mail’s Give a Dog a Home campaign and posters in vets and pet shops across town.
Officers say the majority of dogs are rehomed but the number returned to their original owners is low - at about 10 per cent.
Labour councillor Robbie Payne approved the plans at a meeting of his finance and procurement portfolio.
The new initiative will have no extra cost to the council.
Katie Ainger, environmental projects officer, said: “There is also a potential cost saving from this project in terms of reduced kennelling fees.
“By reuniting dogs with their owners or rehoming them more quickly the dogs will spend fewer days in the kennels which will reduce the fee paid by the council.”
Coun Payne said: “Anything that reduces costs to the council should be pursued vigorously.
“If this helps reunites dogs with their owners and gets a dog a home then we should be embracing that.”
The new site, which will be regularly monitored, could also be used by the council to promote micro chipping surgeries, neutering campaigns and enforcement action.
Residents do not need a Facebook site to use the new service.
The site www.facebook.com/hartlepooldogs is expected to go live later this month.
To see dogs picked up in Hartlepool visit Hartlepool dogs
To see dogs picked up in east Durham visit East durham dogs