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Big drop in abandoned dogs and animals put down in Clare

THE number of dogs being surrendered to the pound has dropped by half in Clare over the last five years, new figures show. However, there were more dogs abandoned in this county in 2019 than almost every other. Only Tipperary saw a higher number of surrendered dogs last year.

The number of dogs being put down, meanwhile, has seen a 12-fold drop in this county since 2015, largely down to greater cooperation between the dog control authorities and rescue organisations.

Data released by the Department of Rural and Community Development show that a total of 182 dogs were voluntarily handed over the to the pound in Clare last year. The only county with a higher rate of surrenders, Tipperary, had 191 dogs given over to the pound in 2019.

While still higher than the national average, the number of surrenders has been steadily decreasing in the last five years and is down from 393 in 2015.

“The figures are still relative high,” said Dog Warden Frankie Coote, “but when I started 25 years ago, there were 30 dogs coming into the pound ever single day. People, overall, have become far more aware of their responsibilities when it comes to looking after dogs. At one time, when we would be doing licence checks, there would be a dog in every second house. Now, it’s only every sixth or seventh house. People realise that if both partners are out working long hours every day, that’s not fair on a dog and they’re being more responsible, by and large.”

In terms of the numbers of dogs having to be euthanised, there has been a dramatic and welcome decline in Clare. The figures show that 180 dogs had to be put down in 2015 and 129 in 2016. By 2017, that figure was down to 19. In 2018, it was 18. Last year, it was 15. Mr Coote put the drop down to cooperation with the charity Dogs Trust. “We have been working with them for the last four years or so,” he explained. “That’s made a huge difference and it’s great. The number of dogs that can be rehomed overall has risen massively thanks to their support.”

The dog warden also said that there has been a big improvement in the welfare of greyhounds. The figures show that there were three surrendered in Clare last year, all of which were transferred to animal welfare groups. “We don’t really deal with greyhounds,” Mr Coote said, “but I will take the odd one, if necessary, and we take them to a group in Kildare who organise for them to be rehomed in Sweden. Things have improved hugely in that respect.”

Mr Coote also expressed his satisfaction with new facilities in Clare for looking after stray and abandoned dogs. “We have brand new facilities and we’re over the moon with the level of support from Clare County Council and other groups, that’s made a really big difference to the way we do things.”

In terms of enforcement, two on-the-spot fines were issued in Clare, under the Control of Dogs Act last year, both of which were paid. By comparison, no fines at all were issued in Tipperary, 39 were issued in Limerick City and County (eight of which were paid) and 29 issued across County Galway (22 of which were paid).

The latest Dog Control Statistics contain, for the first time, details of incidents of dogs worrying livestock. Three were reported in Clare. There were five in County Galway, ten across Limerick City and County and 16 in Tipperary.

About Fiona McGarry

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