The thought of losing a beloved dog is a traumatising one for most people. The idea that we could lose that dog forever and that our much loved pet could end up losing his or her own life as a result of something, a simple thing, that we failed to do is even more horrifying. Yet, it’s happening. It’s happening, sadly, all too often.  It’s preventable and if you haven’t done it yet, today’s the day to take action without delay.

Dogs Trust reveals stray dog numbers in the UK have fallen, yet 64% of microchipped dogs seized by Local Authorities don’t have up-to-date microchip details

There has been a 21% decline in the number of stray dogs handled by Local Authorities in 2015-2016. However, over 37,000 lost and abandoned dogs remained unclaimed in local authority kennels last year according to the annual Stray Dog Survey*, published today, by Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity.

Whilst this figure is alarming, it’s even more worrying that 1 in every 8 (4,732) of these unclaimed dogs are believed to be beloved pets who have found themselves languishing in kennels, facing the threat of destruction, simply because forgetful owners haven’t updated their dogs microchip details. This figure equates to 12 dogs a day or one dog every two hours.

The fact that these dogs are microchipped, suggests they were once a much loved member of the family, yet forgetfulness by owners could sadly lead to their dog being needlessly put to sleep by local authorities because their owners cannot be traced. With compulsory microchipping coming into force on 6th April 2016, the charity is positive that we will begin to see a bigger decline in the number of stray dogs, with even more dogs being successfully reunited with their owners over the next 12 months.

Dogs Trust questions local authorities across the UK as part of the annual Stray Dog Survey. The 2016 findings (for the period 1st April 2015-31st March 2016) reveal:

• 81,050 stray dogs were handled by Local Authorities in the last year, a 21% decrease in the total number of stray dogs compared to last year when 102,516 dogs were handled by Local Authorities
• Yet, Dogs Trust is shocked to discover that a quarter of the 16,447 stray dogs handed into local councils with a microchip, face being destroyed by local authorities simply because their owners haven’t updated their contact details .
• 43,767 of the 81,050 stray dogs in the UK were reunited with their owners, with over 9,000 reunifications being due to a microchip.
• 3,463 stray dogs were reluctantly put to sleep by Local Authorities, as they struggle to care for the vast numbers of strays that are picked up on the streets every day (down 32% vs last year in terms of absolute figures)
• 37,283 dogs remained unclaimed in council kennels last year

Updating a dog’s microchip details, if you move house or change your telephone number, is a very simple task, you can do it online, by telephone or post and takes just five minutes. However, a study conducted by Dogs Trust** has found a mere 9% of dog owners consider updating their dogs’ microchips post-move a priority, with sorting digital TV coming above this.

Dogs Trust Chief Executive, Adrian Burder said:

“To discover that the number of stray dogs in the UK is down from last year is promising, but with over 37,000 dogs remaining unclaimed in Council pounds last year, it’s clear we still have work to do. Local Authorities work tirelessly caring for stray and abandoned dogs each year, but sadly they just don’t have the resources or man power to care for every stray dog in the UK. 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”

“What’s most saddening from this year’s figures is the 4,732 dogs who face destruction due to a lack of an up- to-date microchip. Compulsory microchipping came into force in Northern Ireland in 2012 and in England, Scotland and Wales on 6th April this year, with penalties being handed out to any dog owner whose pet doesn’t have an up to date microchip. We hope this new law will significantly bring down the number of stray dogs and have a very positive effect on next year’s Stray Dog Survey results.

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