DOG catchers at the council have been kept busy with more than 2,500 strays collected across the borough since 2013.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that a grand total of 2,514 lost or abandoned pooches were picked up by Cheshire West and Chester Council in the past six years.

The majority (1,421 or 56.5 per cent) have been swiftly identified and returned to their owners but a substantial number (1,042 or 43 per cent) were sent for rehoming.

Tragically, 11 dogs (0.5 per cent) have had to be put down.

Clarifying the council’s position on having dogs destroyed, a spokesman said: “We have a non-euthanasia policy and our collected dogs are only put to sleep on a veterinary recommendation on health grounds. We have euthanised no dogs in either 2017 or 2018.”

The council has a statutory duty in relation to stray dogs. The service is provided by a contractor which provides a full dog warden service during office hours, including “responsible dog ownership engagement”.

The current contract cost for the wardens, collection and kennelling services is £58,500 per year.

CWaC has stressed that dogs found during office hours are checked for a microchip and collar information and are reunited with the owner immediately if they can be contacted.

The spokesman added: “We retained the RSPCA gold footprint this year for the sixth time, for our work within the borough.

“The award relates to the handling and care of stray dogs as well as more long-term issues such as supporting neutering and micro-chipping.

“It also recognises our anti-euthanasia stance in relation to our re-homing policy.”

The council has information on its website about what residents should do if they spot a stray dog, as well as photos of the most recent dogs its wardens have found.

Most recently a female bulldog and a male rottweiler were collected in Northwich earlier this month.

Chester and District Standard:

The latest found dogs on the council's website.

The charity Dogs Trust has previously called on all dog owners to have their pets microchipped.

It said: “The number of instances of straying on our streets is declining, but we still have a significant job to do when it comes to raising awareness about responsible dog ownership.

“Owners are unsure of who to reach out to and how much time they have to recover their dog should he or she go missing. Microchipping not only helps speed up the process of reuniting an owner with their dog, it is also significantly reducing the number of strays overall.”

Figures for stray dogs in Cheshire West and Chester:

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018

548 498 371 427 349 321 stray dogs collected

278 264 211 273 209 186 dogs returned to original owners

268 228 157 154 140 135 dogs sent for rehoming

2 6 3 0 0 0 dogs put to sleep

In total:

2,514 strays collected in past six years

1,421 returned to owners (56.5 per cent)

1,082 sent for rehoming (43 per cent)

11 put to sleep (0.5 per cent)