It can be a dog's life for pets
North East Lincolnshire Council's animal welfare officers deal with more than 560 stray dogs every year. Reporter Richard York spent a day with the officers.
THE Animal Welfare Team deals with many cases of unwanted and stray dogs every day.
I spent the day with enforcement officer Jamie Taylor, who has worked for the council for six years.
He says every day is different, but the Christmas period always brings a big influx as people cannot afford to look after their dogs.
"We get calls to collect strays and we have people bring them in."
However, there are some unscrupulous people who try to get rid of their unwanted pets.
"In our job we have to investigate the circumstances of every dog we receive.
"Microchips are a big help. People don't realise how easy and effective it is to get dogs chipped. It only takes ten minutes and we can even come to you.
"We always scan dogs for microchips, but even if they have them they are not always helpful, as owners often do not update the information when they move house or pass the animal on.
"We keep all animals for 24 hours to try and return them to their owners – after that they go to Sangreat Kennels, in Brigg."
The kennels provide accommodation for 15 dogs from the council and will hold them for eight days before they are placed for adoption. So far this year the kennels have taken 170 and more are expected over Christmas.
Jamie said: "We don't have much space, so we have to move them on quickly.
"There has been a big increase in status dogs, the staffies and the rottweilers, and we have also seen expensive breeds like akitas.
"These dogs are sought-after, so you would think owners would try to sell them first before abandoning them.
"A lot of people would think that areas like Nunsthorpe and the East Marsh would be where most of the dogs come from, but that's not the case.
"We find strays all over the town and have many brought into us.
"We investigate all cases and if we find the owner has abandoned them we will take action."
Dogs that cannot be given back are taken to Sangreat.
Joint owner Paul Greenfield said: "During the summer people can be more concerned with going on holiday and if they cannot get a kennel they sometimes just leave the dog and hope its still there when they come back.
"Bonfire Night brings many dogs that escape and get disorientated by the fireworks.
"People chuck the dogs out at Christmas because they can't afford them."
"Some dogs are genuinely lost and simply having a collar and tag would make so much difference to reuniting them with the owners.
"A lot of people don't realise it's a legal requirement to have a collar and tag."
Sangreat and the council post images online of the dogs they currently hold in a bid to find their owners.
Paul said: "We never put down healthy dogs, but sometimes we must make a decision on a dangerous dog. Only the ill, old or the extremely dangerous dogs are humanly destroyed.
"Staffies can be really nice friendly dogs. Any dog can be aggressive it just depends on the human interaction it has had."
Councillor Dave Bolton, portfolio holder for community safety and neighbourhoods, said: "To give every possible chance of reuniting a dog with its owner, all dogs are recorded on the Sangreat Kennels website.
"Sadly, we find many dogs are abandoned by owners who can no longer look after them.
"I would urge any dog owner in this situation to contact a dog charity so that a home can be found.
"Letting them loose puts the public and the animal at risk.
For more information on stray dogs, visit www.sangreat kennels.co.uk