Over 5000 stray dog complaints received in last year


New data analysed by CompareNI shows there have been thousands of complaints received in Northern Ireland for stray dogs over the last 12 months.

The data showed that from April 2023 to March 2024 councils across Northern Ireland had received 5079 complaints about stray dogs, an increase of 11% on the previous year’s statistics.*

Shockingly just 441 were returned to their owners directly, without the need to impound them.

The majority of dogs were impounded (2947) and 713 of these dogs were eventually reclaimed by their owner.  Of the unclaimed dogs, 1270 were given to animal shelters or organisations and 272 were sold to the public, sadly the remainder had to be put down.**

Belfast had the most complaints of any council area for stray dogs with 955 complaints, while Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon had the next highest with 907, followed by Fermanagh and Omagh with 663.

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon had the highest number of impounded dogs with 540, followed by Belfast (403), Newry, Mourne and Down (341), and Mid Ulster (306).

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 number of complaints about stray dogs of any council with 164, followed by Mid and East Antrim (235) and Derry City and Strabane (241).

As a result of the cost-of-living crisis, abandonment of dogs is on the rise.  A recent survey by reflected this, with over a fifth of people claiming they know someone struggling to afford a dog due to financial pressure.

The survey also found that nearly a quarter of people (24%) felt like they were struggling to keep their pet due to rising costs, with veterinary bills being the hardest to maintain for the majority of respondents.***

Commenting on the data Ian Wilson, Managing Director of, Northern Ireland’s largest price comparison site said: “It’s sad to see that the number of stray dogs across Northern Ireland has increased in the last 12 months.

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

“If your dog is seized and you can’t be located, your dog will be taken to the council pound.  If you have not claimed your dog within five days, or you cannot be identified or located, your dog may be put down or sold. This is why it is so vital to microchip your dog.

“It’s also important to note that even if you do claim your seized dog within five days, you will have to pay for the cost of keeping your dog in the pound and any veterinary fees, as well as any fixed penalty imposed, before your dog will be released to you.

“As our survey suggests, pets can add on extra financial pressures to their owners with 24% now struggling to keep their pet due to rising costs. So, it’s important that people take this into consideration before rescuing or purchasing a dog and also make sure they are always protected with an appropriate pet insurance policy throughout the pet’s lifetime.  Pet insurance can protect you from unexpected vet bills and doesn’t have to be expensive, comparison sites can help owners find savings.” can help pet owners save on pet, lifetime pet and older dog insurance.


Statistics – April 2023 to March 2024

Complaints in relation to strays and details of follow-up actionComplaints ReceivedSeized and returned to ownersImpounded
Belfast City Council955104403
Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council90729540
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council66350147
Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council46443156
Mid Ulster District Council4290306
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council39821341
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council34633147
Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council27760108
Derry City and Strabane District Council24120171
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council23542136
Ards and North Down Borough Council1643942


**’s findings are based on a randomised survey of 600 respondents across Northern Ireland from March-May 2024, which represents a margin of error of approximately 5% at a 95% confidence level

***Previous statistics available here, note the time periods, previous regional statistics run April-December 2022.

This article is intended as generic information only and is not intended to apply to anybody’s specific circumstances, demands or needs. The views expressed are not intended to provide any financial service or to give any recommendation or advice. Products and services are only mentioned for illustrative rather than promotional purposes.