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Stray dogs fears

PUBLISHED: 16:15 09 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:49 03 July 2010

GREAT Yarmouth could return to the fears of the 1970s when packs of stray dogs roamed the streets, a leading animal charity warned this week.

From Monday, the borough council took on full responsibility for dealing with strays as police gave up the role following a change in the law.

GREAT Yarmouth could return to the fears of the 1970s when packs of stray dogs roamed the streets, a leading animal charity warned this week.

From Monday, the borough council took on full responsibility for dealing with strays as police gave up the role following a change in the law.

However, the town-based Norfolk and Suffolk Animal Trust warned that more strays could be seen roaming the streets because during the evenings and weekends people will have nowhere to take them.

Julie Utting, kennel manager, said: “It's going to be the charities that will pick up the pieces and there will definitely be more dogs on the streets. If we get a call about a stray we will go and pick it up, we can't have dogs roaming the streets, but we have limited resources.

“I think we will go back to how it was in the 1970s in Yarmouth where you had stray dogs in packs of up to 20 roaming the streets. This was one of the reasons our charity was set up in the first place.”

The borough council does not employ a dog warden but it does have “stray” kennels at Runham Vauxhall.

Mrs Utting said last week the charity had taken in 12 strays and over the Christmas period were handed 14 stray Stafforshires.

She added: “The problem is definitely getting worse. We've always had a problem but it seems to be growing.”

She believes the main cause of strays was over-breeding.

“We have always been inundated with greyhounds and Staffies but another problem is that people get a cuddly puppy but a few months down the line the novelty wears off and people just let them go.”

Until now police and local authorities have been jointly responsible for dealing with strays but the public can no longer hand them into police stations.

Peter Astle, environmental health manager, said he didn't think the change in law would lead to more dogs on the street.

“I can't see that happening,” he said. “Before, if a member of the public found a stray dog and took it to a police station the police had to accept it because it was their duty. If people take strays to police stations now they will be defaulted to the council.”

The borough council has not had a dog warden for at least five years and instead employs a contractor who collects strays once they have been caught by the public and secured.

The council's out-of-hours service operates until 8pm although in some cases Mr Astle said the contractor would collect strays up until 10pm and on weekends the service operates 9am-8pm. Dogs not claimed after seven days may be re-homed or even put down.

If you find a stray dog contact the borough's environmental health team on 01493 846478. For the out-of-hours service call 01493 330369.

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