Canine crisis: A dog is seized every ten minutes in the UK

  • From 1st January – 31st August 2015, 36,670 stray dogs were seized
  • Direct Line Pet Insurance reveals 4,231 seized dogs were disposed of in 2014
  • Staffordshire Bull Terriers are most seized breed for the past three years
  • Labradors, Border Collies, and Akitas also in the top 10

New analysis from Direct Line Pet Insurance1 reveals that UK councils have seized more than 36,670 stray dogs in the first eight months of this year. This equates to 151 dogs a day, six every hour or one every ten minutes.

Whether the dog is mistreated or abandoned, on average, 135 dogs per council have been seized. Of those seized, Direct Line can reveal that 21,297 were returned to their original owners, 7,891 were rehomed with a new owner and 1,906 were disposed of.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers top the list of most seized breed from 2013-2015. They also top the list of most rehomed and destroyed breed. Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terrier Crosses, Jack Russell Terriers and Crossbreeds complete the top five most disposed of breeds. 

Top 10 seized, rehomed and disposed of breeds in 2015

Rank Most seized breed Most rehomed breed Most disposed of breed
1 Staffordshire Bull Terrier Staffordshire Bull Terrier Staffordshire Bull Terrier
2 Jack Russell Terrier Jack Russell Terrier Crossbreed
3 Labrador Retriever Lurcher Pit Bull terrier
4 Crossbreed Crossbreed Staffordshire Bull Terrier Cross
5 Lurcher Labrador Retriever Jack Russell Terrier
6 Border Collie Border Collie Other
7 Staffordshire Bull Terrier Cross Staffordshire Bull Terrier Cross Akita
8 German Shepherd German Shepherd American Bull Dog
9 Terrier Other German Shepherd
10 Mongrel Mongrel Rottweiler

While many may not be surprised to see Staffordshire Bull Terriers topping the table of most seized, rehomed and disposed of breeds, they may be more surprised to see that Labradors, Border Collies, and Akitas all make an appearance.

Madeline Pike, veterinary nurse at Direct Line Pet Insurance, says: “Staffies are the most seized and disposed of breed in the UK yet they make excellent pets. As a breed, they are caring, loyal dogs who trust people completely and are renowned for their love and protection of children3. Unfortunately, due to the historical connection with fighting and close resemblance to the Pit Bull Terrier, a banned breed in the UK, many consider these dogs as dangerous, but this may often only be the case if the owner is irresponsible or if the dog has been raised to fight.”

The findings raise questions about whether Britain really is a nation of dog lovers. The figures point to the mistreatment and abandonment of animals as 66,247 stray dogs were seized by local councils in Britain in 2014. This equates to an average of 246 dogs seized per council. Of the 66,247 stray dogs seized, 35,173 were returned to their original owners, 14,956 were rehomed with new owners and 4,231 were humanely destroyed.

Madeline continues: “The numbers speak for themselves - 66,247 stray dogs having been seized in the UK last year is a staggering amount. While it’s encouraging to see that the majority are either rehomed or reunited with their owners, the reality is that many end up having to be euthanised. We have a responsibility to ensure we can look after our dogs and ensure they don’t end up roaming the streets.  We urge anyone considering buying a dog for themselves or someone else this Christmas to think carefully beforehand and ensure they are able to care for it.”

Regional findings
On a regional basis, Staffordshire Bull Terriers feature in the top three most seized breeds across all UK regions. Labrador’s top the list as the most seized breed in Scotland and Jack Russell Terriers are the most seized in the North West, South East and South West.

Jack Russell Terrier is another breed which features highly on the most seized and destroyed breeds lists. While they are a very popular breed of dog, Jack Russells were originally bred as working dogs so are very energetic and need a lot of exercise2. They don’t enjoy being left on their own, so are not suited to people working long hours, which may explain why so many are seized and rehomed.

Region Top 3 seized breeds Top 3 destroyed breeds
East Midlands Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Jack Russell Terrier
Crossbreed
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Crossbreed
Lurcher
East of England Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Jack Russell Terrier
Labrador
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Crossbreed
Jack Russell Terrier
London Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Jack Russell Terrier
Labrador
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Crossbreed
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Cross
North East Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Jack Russell Terrier
Lurcher
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
American Bull Dog
Terrier Cross
North West Jack Russell Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Crossbreed
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Crossbreed
German Shepherd
Scotland Labrador
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Mongrel
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
American Bull Dog
German Shepherd
South East Jack Russell Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Lurcher
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Jack Russell Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Cross
South West Jack Russell Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Labrador
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Cross
Jack Russell Terrier
Wales Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Lurcher
Jack Russell Terrier
Crossbreed
Rottweiler
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
West Midlands Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Jack Russell Terrier
Crossbreed
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Crossbreed
Rottweiler
Yorkshire & Humberside Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Jack Russell Terrier
Lurcher
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
American Bull Dog
Crossbreed

Source: Direct Line Pet Insurance 2015

Most councils pick up stray dogs in their districts and take them to local kennels. If the dogs are not claimed by their owners within a certain timeframe, usually seven days, they become the responsibility of the kennels who will try to find the dog a new home. If a dog is not suitable for rehoming it may be euthanised.

The data reveals that we are on track to see a near identical number of dogs seized in 2015. Direct Line Pet Insurance urges anyone considering buying a dog for Christmas to seriously consider the implications of having a dog, the costs involved and whether the recipient has the means to fully care for it.

Notes to Editors

1 Direct Line Pet Insurance’s analysis of data supplied in response to a Freedom of Information Act request issued to the UK’s local councils on 28th September 2015.   Data based on responses received from 282 of the UK’s 453 local councils.  The data therefore will under represent the number of dogs seized, rehomed and destroyed. The majority of responses are based on calendar years but in some cases, the financial year has been used

2 http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/press-releases/2015/october/meet-britain%E2%80%99s-surprising-new-pedigree-dog-breed-%E2%80%93-the-jack-russell-terrier/
3 http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/breed/display.aspx?id=3080

For further information please contact:

Christopher Meers
Direct Line

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com.

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