Dogs’ Trust praises West Suffolk owners

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DOG owners in West Suffolk seem to be a more caring bunch than most in the UK.

The welfare charity Dogs’ Trust welcomed the fact that councils in West Suffolk bucked the national trend revealed in its latest annual stray dog survey. Responses from 82 per cent of councils showed that nationally, stray and abandoned dogs are at an 11 year high with more than 126,176 being picked up over the last year, an increase of four per cent on the previous year.

In addition, the number reunited with owners fell. Trust campaign officer Kirsty Scott said that nationally only 48 per cent of dogs returned to their families.

But in West Suffolk the figures show that not only are stray dog numbers stable, but the numbers reunited are around 60 per cent.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council works with Mid-Suffolk and Ipswich on strays. A spokesman said they have not seen a significant increase in strays since councils became responsible for them two years ago. Between January and July 2011 there were 66, of which 42, or 63 per cent, were reunited and 18 rehomed. Six put down because health or behaviour prevented rehoming, was three per cent above the national figure of six per cent.

In Forest Heath in 2010, 125 strays were collected of which 75, 60 per cent, were reunited, 49 rehomed and one put down. That was down on 2009 when 130 were picked up of which 68 per cent were reunited and two put down.

Kirsty Scott said: “It’s always good to hear from areas that are above average. That the figure for dogs reunited with owners has gone down nationally is a concern for us. It’s one reason we’re pushing for compulsory microchipping.”

The trust says 31 per cent of reunited dogs have chips compared to six per cent with collar tags. It offers free chipping at its rehoming centres, including at Snetterton on 01953 498377. The British Veterinary Association supported the call for compulsory microchipping.