Fewer dogs are being euthanised, but the country still has to deal with its huge canine overpopulation problem, according to a national animal welfare organisation.
Some 14,559 dogs were admitted to the pound system last year — 3,141 of these were put to sleep. This represents a 25% reduction on the number euthanised the previous year.
Counties Wexford (446), Limerick (308), Cork (282) and Clare (270) had the highest number of dogs destroyed. Counties Leitrim (1), Sligo (7) and Wicklow (10) had the fewest .
The figures, released by the Department of the Environment, continue a general trend that has seen the country’s dog destruction rate decrease dramatically in the last number of years.
In 2003, more than 20,000 dogs were put down. In 2013 this figure was reduced to 3,943. Of the dogs that end up in pounds, the majority are now either being rehomed, reclaimed or are transferred to the care of dog welfare groups.
SpayAware, a national campaign supported by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) and Veterinary Ireland, are urging pet owners to ease the overpopulation problem by getting their animals neutered or spayed.
“We still have a long way to go persuading many people that being responsible owners by having their pets neutered or spay is the only way to deal with this crisis,” said SpayAware founder and vet Pete Wedderburn.
“If unplanned pregnancies in the cat and dog population were prevented, there would be no need at all to euthanise unwanted cats and dogs.”
Mr Wedderburn added that no official figures are available for cats, but based on anecdotal evidence it is estimated that the number of unwanted, abandoned and feral cats far exceeds the totals for dogs.
“What the figures show is that local charities, welfare groups and concerned individuals all around the country are doing a terrific job saving perfectly healthy animals from being put to sleep. But this can’t hide the fact that Ireland is till dealing with a serious overpopulation crisis, not just of unwanted dogs, but abandoned cats too,” he said.
“Most people who allow their dogs to breed do not believe that they are adding to the pet overpopulation problem if they manage to find homes for all the pups. This is self-deception. Although the pups they produce may go to good homes, they are taking up spaces that would otherwise have been available for a dog that ends up being euthanised.”
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