Majority of stray dogs in Northern Ireland never return home


The data showed that from April 2022 to December 2022 there were 3404 complaints received across Northern Ireland in relation to stray dogs, with less than a third, 1065, being returned to their owners. *

The majority of strays were impounded (1620). Of the unclaimed dogs, 700 were given to animal shelters or organisations and 149 were sold to the public.

Belfast had the most complaints of any council area for stray dogs with 711 complaints, while Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon had the next highest with 473, followed by Newry Mourne and Down with 356.

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon had the highest number of impounded dogs with 318 followed by Belfast (219), Newry Mourne and Down (195), and Mid Ulster (194).

Derry and Strabane had less than half of all stray dogs in the council reclaimed by their owners.

Ards and North Down had the least amount of complaints about stray dogs of any council with 149 complaints.

As a result of the cost-of-living crisis, abandonment of dogs is on the rise. The Dogs Trust has reported a surge of enquiries from pet owners about giving up their dog, reaching the highest level since their records began, with a notable increase in the number of people calling in for financial reasons.**

Commenting on the data Ian Wilson, Managing Director of said: “It’s sad to see so many stray dogs in Northern Ireland that are never claimed or returned to their owners.

“When strays are seized by council dog wardens, owners may be issued with a warning, caution, fixed penalty fine or even prosecuted and fined up to £1,000.

“If a dog is seized and the owner cannot be located, it will be taken to the pound and if not claimed within five days, the dog may be put down or sold. This is why it is so important to microchip dogs and now cats as well, and take all the precautions necessary to make sure they are traceable.

“At a time when many people are experiencing financial pressures it is also important for potential dog owners to make sure they will be able to financially care for the pet before rescuing or purchasing. Some animals can cost up to £30,000 across the course of their lifetime, so it’s crucial owners realise the scale of the commitment before getting a dog and protect both their pup and themselves financially with a pet insurance policy.” can help pet owners save on pet, lifetime pet and older dog insurance.

Council areaComplaints received in relation to straysSeized and returned to ownersImpounded
Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council47310318
Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council34950145
Newry Mourne and Down District Council3567195
Mid Ulster District Council3190194
Belfast City Council711122219
Derry City and Strabane District Council1838166
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council22751129
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council2192988
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council21656121
Ards and North Down1494234
Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council2023561
April 2022 to December 2022




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