Rowallene Councillor Patrick Brown secures support from the Economic Regeneration and Tourism Committee after it considers a motion he brought forward on dog euthanasia in the council area.
Alliance Councillor Patrick Brown has made a significant contribution to animal welfare in the Newry Mourne and Down District area. He has been continuing his work around dog euthanasia issues.
Councillor Brown brought forward a motion for consideration, following revelations that Newry Mourne and Down Council puts more dogs to sleep than any other District – a third of all dogs across NI (53 of the 152 total).
He said that this statistic is “particularly worrying” when considering the recent increase in dog theft and illegal puppy farms.
Councillor Brown, speaking during the virtual digital meeting and as not a member of the ERT Committee, said “Whilst I appreciate there are always situations where a dog may need to be put down due to ill health, we should strive to get this number as low as possible.
“Even many old or aggressive dogs, who are often put down, can lead fulfilling lives under the right circumstances (usually with the help of specialist animal charities).
“Unfortunately, our Council sends less than 5% of its dogs to animal charities (most other areas this figure is around 60-70%) and Council sells 72% of them to the public (in other areas it’s around 25%).”
“I commend our local kennels for finding homes for so many dogs, but I do think that by working more closely with animal charities we could reduce the number of unwanted dogs and subsequently the number that are put down.
“I hope that Council can begin to work strategically to find a forever home for every dog possible – regardless of their age or disposition.”
Councillor Brown brought the motion forward to try and find out why numbers are so high for dogs being put down and is pleased to announce that a number of actions will now be taken as a result of this.
He said: “Firstly, Council has started to consult with animal charities on how the number of dogs euthanised can be reduced.
“Secondly, Council has begun discussions between its animal welfare officers and the PSNI to crack down on puppy farming and illegal breeding establishments.
“Finally, I raised concerns that many Councils have not clarified why their figures are so low. I am worried there is a lack of transparency in how some Councils report their numbers as many did not write back to Newry Mourne and Down when asked for clarity on how they manage unwanted dogs.
“Whilst this doesn’t excuse our district’s overly high figures, it does bring into question why other areas are so low.”
Cllr Brown added: “I would like to see all healthy, un-homed dogs not to be put down but found a home – even if that is with a specialist charity which can deal with dangerous or aggressive animals.
“I hope to see progress and a reduction in the number of dogs euthanised in our area in the months ahead and I look forward to working with Council to achieve this.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Willie Clarke proposed the motion and said: “I totally agree with this motion. We live in a very rural area and there are a lot of dogs in our area.
“The kennels contracted by the Council are doing a good job and help to get dogs rehomed. Aggressive dogs are always a risk and we have to consider this.
“And most older dogs too are rehomed. Those not rehomed often go to dog charities. But we must always be looking at how we can do this better. Sometimes a dog has to be put down unfortunately.”
SDLP Councillor Declan McAteer seconded the motion.