December 22, 2016 – New analysis by Direct Line Pet Insurance reveals that in the first 10 months of 2016, councils seized more than 38,670 dogs – the equivalent of 127 dogs a day. Of those dogs seized so far in 2016, Direct Line can reveal that 11,213 or 29% were rehomed and 1,238 dogs were euthanised.

The seizure of dogs has been on the decline over the past three years, having peaked in 2014 with 73,503 dogs seized by local councils or 201 dogs per day. In 2015, there were 61,339 dogs seized by local councils or 168 dogs per day, with the number of seizures this year indicating that we will likely see a continuation of this trend by the end of 2016.

Table one: Breakdown of seized, re-homed and ‘disposed of’ (euthanised) dogs           

Year Number of dogs seized Number of seized dogs rehomed Number of seized dogs disposed of
2014 73,503 20,810 4,173
2015 61,339 17,483 2,447
2016 (Jan – Oct) 38,670 11,213 1,238

Staffordshire Bull Terriers top the list of most seized breed from 2014-2016 and are also the most commonly euthanised dog breed. In 2016 alone, 5,963 Staffordshire Bull Terriers have been seized by councils across the UK. Jack Russell Terriers (2,175), crossbreeds (1,979), Terriers (834) and Lurchers (766) complete the top five most seized breeds in 2016.

The Lurcher has consistently been the breed most likely to be rehomed, while fewer than one in 25 mongrels find a new home once seized. The research also reveals the breeds that councils struggle to rehome once seized. Some breeds appear in the top 10 most disposed breed list, but are not one of the most seized breeds. German Shepherds, Akitas and Mastiffs are all commonly disposed of (euthanised)  breeds, yet are not among the most seized breeds by UK councils.

Table two: Most seized, rehomed and disposed of dog breeds in 2016 (Jan-Oct)

Rank Most seized breed Most rehomed breed Most disposed of breed
1 Staffordshire Bull Terrier Staffordshire Bull Terrier Staffordshire Bull Terrier
2 Jack Russell Terrier Crossbreed Crossbreed
3 Crossbreed Jack Russell Terrier Pitbull
4 Terrier Lurcher Bulldog
5 Lurcher Terrier German Shepherd
6 Labrador Border Collie Terrier
7 Bulldog Labrador Retriever American Bulldog
8 Border Collie Bulldog Akita
9 Yorkshire Terrier German Shepherd Dog Jack Russell Terrier
10 Mongrel Mastiff Mastiff

“It is a shame Staffies top the list of the most seized breeds again and again. As with any dog, it takes energy, care and attention to train and Staffies are no exception,” Prit Powar, head of pet insurance at Direct Line said.

Local authorities have a legal duty to deal with stray and lost dogs under Section 68 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005. The local authority which has seized the highest number of dogs to date in 2016 is Durham County Council (890), closely followed by Cornwall Council (881). The local authority which has seen the sharpest increase in the number of dogs seized is Broadland District Council, which seized more than three times the number of dogs in 2015 (68) compared to 2014 (18).

A number of councils managed to rehome all the dogs they seized this year including Chorley Borough Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council and Monmouthshire Council.

Table three: Councils with the highest rehoming rate in 2016 (Jan-Oct)

Council Number of dogs seized Number of dogs rehomed Proportion of dogs rehomed
Chorley Borough Council 65 65 100 %
Cheshire West and Chester Council 234 234 100 %
High Peak Borough Council 4 4 100 %
Monmouthshire Council 27 27 100 %
Rutland County Council 28 28 100 %
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council 72 72 100 %
Carmarthenshire County Council 290 289 99.7%
Conwy County Borough Council 243 242 99.6%
Medway Council 474 469 98.9%
East Hampshire District Council 92 91 98.9%

Most councils pick up stray dogs in their districts and take them to local kennels. If the dogs are not claimed by their owners within a certain time frame, usually seven days, they become the responsibility of the kennels who will try to find the dog a new home. If a dog is not suitable for rehoming it may be euthanised. London Borough of Tower Hamlets has put down the highest proportion of dogs seized so far in 2016.

“While it is encouraging to see that the number of dogs being seized is reducing significantly year on year, there is still a long way to go. As a nation of dog lovers, there really shouldn’t be tens of thousands of dogs seized each year. Dog owners have a responsibility to ensure they can care for their pet and if they can’t, should take it to a rehoming centre or animal welfare charity, not let it roam the streets,” Prit added.

Direct Line Pet Insurance urges anyone considering buying a dog for Christmas to seriously consider the implications of owning a dog, both financially and whether the recipient has the means to properly care for it in the long term.

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