Scandal of dogs dumped in Norwich

Soaring numbers of sick dogs are being abandoned on the streets of Norwich, with fears families short of cash in the recession are dumping their pets rather than paying to get them treated.

Soaring numbers of sick dogs are being abandoned on the streets of Norwich, with fears families short of cash in the recession are dumping their pets rather than paying to get them treated.

The city council picks up around 300 stray dogs a year and they, plus charities which look after animals, say the number with medical problems is on the up.

It is believed that, given many people are pushed for cash because of the recession, they are choosing to abandon their animals rather than risk running up vet's bills. But those people were today criticised for abdicating responsibility for their dogs and were instead urged to seek out help rather than leaving their pets to fend for themselves.

New figures from Norwich City Council revealed that 326 dogs were picked up in Norwich between the end of March last year and the beginning of April this year.

Of that figure, 161 were returned to their owners and 135 were successfully rehomed. Five were put down, one died in its sleep, six were passed to the RSPCA, while 18 were still in kennels at the end of March.

Anecdotally, the council's dog wardens have noticed that more of the dogs have something wrong with them, leading to conclusions cash-strapped families are dumping them instead of paying for treatment.

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A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council said: 'We deal with around 300 stray dogs each year. While we haven't noticed a significant rise over the last couple of years, we have been seeing more animals with medical problems being abandoned.

'We would urge people who are finding it hard to cope with a pet to contact those that can offer help, rather than just dump animals and leave them to fend for themselves.'

In April the Evening News featured the sad story of a St Bernard found underweight and abandoned in a Norwich park. The dog, nicknamed Beethoven, after the film about a similar canine, was spotted in Earlham Park.

He was taken to a vet where he was found to be 30kg underweight, with a tumour. He had to be put to sleep because he was too weak to cope with the illness.

Charities in and around Norwich say they are constantly bursting at the seams because so many dogs are being abandoned. At PACT Animal Sanctuary in Hingham, charity bosses have even had to rent extra kennels to house dogs.

George Rockingham, from PACT, said: 'Until more is done to bring in more licensing or enforce existing licensing it will continue to be a problem.

'There are just too many dogs being bred and that's especially true of Staffordshire Bull Terriers, People are breeding them to make money, yet the licensing laws are not being enforced.'

But he was not convinced that all people abandoning dogs were as cash-strapped as they claimed. He said: 'People are saying they cannot afford to keep them, please take our dog, but then you see a new car in their driveway and a plasma television in the living room.'

Just yesterday staff at the Dogs Trust in Snetterton discovered a four-year-old Collie tied up to the gate of its rehoming centre.

Diane McLelland- Taylor, rehoming centre manager at the Dogs Trust, said: 'We were so sad to see this beautiful dog tied up to our gate. He is a good dog and didn't deserve to be abandoned in such a cruel way.

'We will of course do our best to find him the most suitable and loving home for his needs. Staff have already named him Luther and will make sure that he settles in with the rest of the canine residents at Dogs Trust Snetterton.'

A Dogs Trust survey showed a staggering 107,228 stray and abandoned dogs were picked up by local authorities from UK streets in 2009 - an increase of 11pc, which is the highest increase recorded since records began in 1997.

The RSPCA has issued guidance to its branches, including those in Norfolk, to prioritise the dogs it takes in to those which have been seized from owners after being cruelly treated, which has led to some concern other charities will be even more hard pushed to deal with the number of dogs.

Suzie Graham, RSPCA East regional manager, said: 'If someone comes in and says they are fed up with the dog and we find out they got it from a charity we are asking them if they would like to take it back. We're saying please don't use the RSPCA as a dumping ground.'

But she said vets' bills were not always as expensive as people feared and urged people to get in touch with the RSPCA or other charities to find out what help is available.

She said: 'As a general rule our branches will suggest help with making sure dogs are seen by a vet, if the branches have got the funds to do that. What people should do, rather than dumping dogs, is to ring us or another charity.'

Do you have a story about a dumped dog? Perhaps you've rehomed one who has gone on to become a beloved family pet? Call Evening News reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email