Video: Pedigree dogs dumped at roadside a rising issue in Mid Ulster

An average of 17 dogs were impounded every week last year in Mid Ulster district, according to management at the area’s rehoming centre.

In an effort to get to heart of the problem with unwanted pooches, the Mail visited council employed Drumbonoway Kennels just outside Stewartstown.

Mid Ulster Rehoming Centre Manager Colleen Cunningham with one of her new wards

Mid Ulster Rehoming Centre Manager Colleen Cunningham with one of her new wards

And the most surprising fact to come out of the visit was not how many dogs were emaciated, unkempt and sick when they arrived - but the number of highly sought after breeds that were unwanted.

Huskies, Shar Peis, wolves, Pomeranians, sausage dogs, Chihuahuas, various colours of Labradors, Alsatians, Beagles, many types of Terriers, Collies, Red Setters and Spaniels were just some of the breeds that have been treated and rehomed by the centre.

“We have had loads of pure bred dogs,” Drumbonoway manager Colleen Cunningham said. “I don’t think there’s a breed of dog that we haven’t had.”

And although she couldn’t reveal exactly how many of the dogs they rescued [936] were pedigree, Colleen said that number has massively increased over the last 10 years.

Pup found on the roadside in Magherafelt

Pup found on the roadside in Magherafelt

Some of breeds, like Shar Peis, were selling for as much as “£1,700 a pup” just a few years ago, she explained.

A dog lover with five hounds of her own, she said puppy farming is responsible for a large part of the problem - and the solution, she said, is to shut them all down.

“There are loads of dogs needing homes,” she added.

“You just wonder where all these wee stray dogs come out of - it [also] has to be people not spaying their bitches.

“We’ve had everything up to two or three day old puppies put in a bag and threw in a skip,” she explained. “I don’t know what goes through people’s heads. For two or three years it was free neutering for everybody’s dog.

“People were actually getting the neutering vouchers and not using them.”

And as for their busiest times of year, she said: “February’s is nuts from Christmas dogs... and September, believe it or not.

“We think people get dogs to keep the kids amused over the summer holidays.

“The dog wardens have remarked that people call them when the kids go back to school and ask them to call out about a stray dog,” she added.

“We think they don’t want the kids there, because they’ll say ‘that’s our dog’.”

Last Year Mid Ulster Rehoming Centre rehomed most of the 936 dogs and puppies they took in through the council and private owners, with only dangerous or seriously sick dogs being put down.

Colleen has appealed for those with a dog they do not want to get in touch rather than dumping them. For a fee of £15 the centre can find unwanted pets a new home.

Allowing dogs to stray is an offence

In 2014, almost 750 stray dogs were collected by councils in Mid Ulster, the vast majority of which were reclaimed or rehomed.

A spokesperson for Mid Ulster council said: “Allowing a dog to stray is an offence, leads to dog fouling in public places, and can be costly for any owner who may have to pay fees for kennelling before their dog is returned.

“Dog owners should reduce the risk of their pets straying by making sure fences and gates are secure, that their dogs are trained not to run off, that they’re well-exercised and have toys to play with when they are alone.

“Collars, ID tags and microchips, which all dogs must have now to be licensed, help us to identify dogs quickly if they do stray and to return them to their owners more quickly.”