The numbers of dogs killed by local authorities varies to an extraordinary degree across each of the Province’s 11 council areas, a breakdown of new figures indicates.
The recently released statistics show how many dogs were “humanely destroyed” by each council over a three-month period, with a single council accounting for 39% of all the dogs killed.
The figures cover dogs which were collected at owners’ requests or dropped off at the pound – they do not include strays.
The data stems from the Department for Agriculture, the Environment, and Rural Affairs (DAERA), and covers the quarter to the end of June.
It was published on October 2; the first part of what is an ongoing plan to regularly release dog-related statistics collected by the government.
Whilst there were a handful of short reports about the figures at the time, they did not focus on the details of the disparities between councils.
In order, the numbers of such dogs destroyed were:
l Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council: one
l Ards and North Down Borough Council; Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council; Mid and East Antrim Borough Council: three each
l Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council; Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council; Belfast City Council; Derry City and Strabane District Council; Newry, Mourne and Down District Council: four each
l Mid Ulster District Council: seven
l Fermanagh and Omagh District Council: 24
Much greater numbers of dogs were either sold or re-homed, not destroyed, when taken across all councils.
Asked if it could suggest why it had killed so many more dogs than any other council, the Fermanagh and Omagh authority said it collects dogs whether they are suitable for rehoming or not, that it has a “robust rehoming policy” involving two shelters, and that destroying a dog “is a means of last resort when a dog is deemed unsuitable for rehoming”.
The USPCA’s David Wilson said the figures show a need for “significant changes in our attitude to pet ownership” – principally, realising that dogs are a life-long commitment.
When it comes to animals dumped or abandoned, he said: “It is an undeniable fact that we have too many dogs and too few suitable homes.”
In addition, the figures show the number of penalties issued vary vastly.
In addition to the number of dogs killed, the number of fines – handed out for offences including not having a licence, straying, or losing control of a creature (though not including dog fouling penalties) – in the same three-month period were radically different depending which council was looked at.
In Fermanagh and Omagh, just one fine was handed out.
Antrim and Newtownabbey and Mid Ulster also issued single-figure numbers of fines (seven and two, respectively).
Newry, Mourne and Down council issued 13, Lisburn and Castlereagh issued 17, Causeway Coast and Glens 18, Mid and East Antrim 51, and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon issued 72. However, Ards and North Down issued 132 in the same period, and Derry City and Strabane issued 146 – whilst Belfast came top, with 227 fines issued.