Cost of kennelling Huntingdonshire’s stray dogs is revealed

Huntingdonshire District Council.

Huntingdonshire District Council. - Credit: Archant

Huntingdonshire District Council spends more than £30,000 a year dealing with stray dogs in its towns and villages, new figures have revealed.

The authority spent £32,000 – which equates to about £87 a day – on lost and abandoned animals last year. The same amount was also spent in the two years previously.

Hundreds of stray dogs were picked up on the district’s streets in 2016 with only £4,833 of the £32,000 sum recovered from the owners of the animals.

Figures also released following a Freedom of Information Act (FOI) request by The Hunts Post show that of the £96,000 spent by the council between 2014 and 2016 to place dogs in kennels, just £15,552 has been recovered.

A spokesman for the district council said: “Huntingdonshire District Council does not have its own kennelling facility and to ensure that we are able to fulfil our statutory duty, it has been necessary to outsource the reception and kennelling responsibilities.”

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the council is required to treat any unaccompanied dogs on public land as stray.

According to the council, the annual £32,000 bill is due to a contract awarded for three years.

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“It is not possible to predict the number of stray dogs the council will have to respond to each year,” the spokesman added.

“Unfortunately there are not very many kennelling facilities within the county that are able or prepared to offer a reception and holding centre for stray dogs.

“It is evident that it is not sustainable for the provider to charge on a ‘per dog’ basis, and in the discussions that were had with potential providers, this was not an option because whether the dogs are admitted or not, the facility still needs to be staffed 24/7.”

The district council’s budget for dealing with stray dogs for 2017 has decreased to £27,000 since it has been awarded to Wood Green Animal Shelter, in Godmanchester, and is expected to decrease for the next three years.

However, the FOI request highlighted that there has been a fall in the number of stray dogs impounded in the district by more than 45 per cent between 2014 and 2016.

In 2014 it was found that 224 dogs were held, compared to 122 in 2016 – this, according to the council, is due to the legal requirement for owners to microchip their dogs. In an attempt to reduce the number of stray dogs in the long term, the authority has asked staff at Wood Green to carry out 28 educational events during the term of the contract, to help raise awareness of responsible dog ownership.