Five unwanted dogs put down each day across Ireland
Five stray or unwanted dogs were put down in pounds every day last year, official figures have revealed.
Reports from councils around the country show 1,824 pets were euthanised in 2015, a fall of more than a third on the previous year.
Separate figures show 203 retired greyhounds were also put to sleep.
The Department of Environment said the highest euthanasia numbers were in Wexford where 232 dogs were put down, 204 in Limerick city and county, and 201 in Cork County.
The report also shows the most on-the-spot fines for breaches of the Control of Dogs Act for offences such as not muzzling a restricted breed or having no licence or identity tags were issued in Cork, where 2,143 people were prosecuted.
Overall there was a 10% fall in the number of dogs sent to the pound – down to 13,051 last year, including 3,437 animals which were handed over by their owners.
Mark Beazley, executive director of animal welfare charity Dogs Trust, said 37 canines are sent to a pound every day.
“When a dog is picked up by a dog warden and enters the dog system as a stray, the pound has an obligation to keep the dog for five days in case the owner comes forward looking for their pet,” he said.
“However, when a dog is handed over by its owner… the pound has no legal obligation to keep it for any length of time and the dog could be put to sleep the same day. The majority of these dogs are healthy animals surrendered by their owners who cannot or, in some cases, will not care for their pet anymore.”
Kilkenny and Carlow had one of the best records in the country for alternatives to euthanasia after reducing the number of dogs being put down to 12 across the two counties.
Others with strong records were Leitrim where only two dogs were put down, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown where five dogs were put to sleep, and Cavan which recorded seven animals put down.
Dogs Trust urged people to consider the cost of keeping a dog before they decide to become an owner, which it said was 1,500-2,000 euro a year for a medium sized pet.
It also raised the ongoing concern of the number of greyhounds which retire from racing without a home – about 1,600 a year.
Mr Beazley urged people in the sport to think about finding a home for the dogs, and for animal lovers to consider taking them in as pets.
“They are probably the laziest dogs going, they don’t need a lot of exercise,” he said.
“They need short bursts of exercise, they don’t really like long walks, and for an apartment they don’t really shed much and they are quite placid.”
He added: “A lot of greyhound owners or trainers are taking the easy option of surrendering their animals to the dog pound. We believe there should be a duty on owners and trainers to rehome them.”