A national initiative which aims to overcome public confusion over who to contact about stray dogs has been launched

Each year the RSPCA and other animal charities receive hundreds of calls asking for help with stray dogs.

These calls then have to be redirected to local authorities and the police as these are the only organisations with legal responsibilities to deal with stray dogs.

New leaflets and posters are being distributed to help members of the public who either lose or find a dog. These explain that local authorities have the primary responsibility for stray dogs, with the police providing a back-up service. Finders can hand over stray dogs at a police station for temporary safekeeping.

Dog owners have a legal responsibility to stop their dogs straying and are also required by law to ensure their dog wears a collar and tag with the owner’s name and address. Permanent methods of identification, such as a microchip or tattoo are also recommended.

However, if you loose or find a dog you should always contact the local authority first. This increases the chances of the animal and owner being quickly reunited and allows people who persistently allow their dogs to stray to be reprimanded.

Lou Leather of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said: “We are aware that there is a lot of confusion about what you should do if you find a stray dog.

“This campaign is about educating the public so they know exactly what to do and who is responsible. We hope this will lead to fewer dogs straying in the first place, more lost dogs being reunited with their owners, and fewer dogs being put to sleep.”

The Local Government Association, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the National Dog Wardens Association, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the RSPCA have worked together to produce the new posters and leaflets which are available from local authorities and police stations.

People wishing to get a copy of the leaflet can get a special web version via the RSPCA’s website, visit www.rspca.org.uk

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