Council left with £45,000 bill to tackle stray dogs in Ipswich

Stray dog Milo who was taken to Blue Cross Centre in Felixstowe, and since been reserved for a new o

Stray dog Milo who was taken to Blue Cross Centre in Felixstowe, and since been reserved for a new owner - Credit: Archant

Almost one stray dog a day has been reported in Ipswich over the last three years, according to new figures.

The data, released by Ipswich Borough Council after a Freedom of Information request, revealed that in 2013/14, £45,523.84 was spent on dealing with 357 stray dogs.

The news comes as leading dog rehoming centre Blue Cross has noted a fivefold increase in the number of strays coming through its doors in Suffolk over the last three years.

Clare Williamson, deputy centre manager at Blue Cross in Suffolk, said: “Sadly stray dogs are a big issue across the country and local authorities and animal charities are left to pick up the pieces of irresponsible pet ownership.”

The organisation is hoping to tackle the problem in Ipswich with a new re-homing centre in Wherstead, which is set to open later this year, and will have a dedicated admissions centre for stray dogs.

A spokesman for Ipswich borough council said that although it has a budget of £73,420 to deal with strays in the current financial year, it does not believe the number of strays is increasing – with 295 reported so far for the 2014/15 year.

A spokesman from Ipswich Borough Council said: “It is a shame that so many dogs get out and we would remind all dog owners to ensure that they keep doors and gates closed to help keep their pets safe.”

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When stray dogs are picked up they are checked for a microchip which will allow them to be reunited with their owners, but for those who cannot be identified they are taken to a kennel where they are prepared for re-homing.

However, from April 6 next year, it will be a legal requirement for dogs to be chipped which will allow more to be reunited with their owners.

A council spokesperson added: “Microchipping is a simple solution that provides peace of mind to owners as it is easier to get pets back and trace them if stolen, but it is also necessary to keep details up to date.”

The Blue Cross, which offers free microchipping, is hopeful that the change in legislation will help combat the number of strays.

Ms Williamson added: “We hope the new microchipping law that comes into effect in April 2016 will make a big difference. Compulsory microchipping will help make owners more accountable for their dog and it will also help dog wardens and rehoming centres like Blue Cross reunite strays with their owners.”

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