Leicestershire rescue kennel is forced to put dogs down for first time
A rescue kennel has been forced to destroy stray dogs for the first time in 20 years.
Staff at College Garth Kennels, in Hathern, which takes in and tries to re-home strays found on the streets of the county, said more dogs were being abandoned after being bought as "accessories".
John Barker, who owns the kennels, said there had been a massive rise in the number of certain breeds of dogs being dumped by owners.
He said they had spaces for 92 dogs, but because of the increase in the numbers of dogs being abandoned, they were full with nowhere to place the extra animals.
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He said: "The problem we have these days is that more and more people, usually young men, are buying "bull breed" dogs – such as Staffordshire bull terriers, English bull terriers and bull mastiff mix-breeds.
"What happens is that they get them very cheaply on a whim as status symbols and accessories.
"When the dogs get older, these fickle owners lose interest in the animal and they just dump the dog.
"This has led to a situation where, for the first time in the 20 years we have been here, we have had to send a number of dogs to be put to sleep.
"We had to send 10 to be put down and eight of those were these bull breeds.
"It is an appalling situation and very saddening."
College Garth Kennels takes strays in from Leicester City Council and councils in Charnwood, North West Leicestershire and Melton.
The latest figures for Leicestershire showed that the number of dogs being abandoned had risen from 892 last year to 1000 this year.
Michele Ikin, senior dog warden at Blaby District Council, said the real problem was the drop in the percentage of owners who reclaimed their dogs.
She said: "The rate of owners coming in to reclaim their pet dogs has dropped from 75 per cent a couple of years ago to just 46 per cent last year.
"What this means is that more and more people are just dumping their dogs.
"A lot of people are finding that in this economic climate one way to reduce the household bill is to get rid of the dog.
"It is awful because often the dogs are entirely innocent and are lovely. What this also means is that we are stuck with more unwanted and abandoned dogs on our hands.
"We try to re-home every dog but because of these new circumstances we fail some and they face the ultimate sanction of being put to sleep."
All animals are assessed, vaccinated, microchipped and neutered (where possible) before rehoming and a fee of £105 is charged to cover these costs.
For help or advice, please contact the council's dog wardens on 0116 272 7555 or e-mail:
To view photos and a description of all dogs that need re-homing visit: