THE summer is like a ‘death sentence’ for increasing number of dogs that are being abandoned when their owners go away on holiday, animal charities claim.
The stark warning comes as dog kennels and rehoming charities in East Lancashire said they were ‘full to the brim’ and could not take in any more.
As a result one kennel says one dog a day is being put down.
One organisation is even pleading with landowners to give up their own space to allow them to build emergency kennels as temporary homes for even more animals.
Steve Wood, welfare officer at Hyndburn Stray Dogs in Need, said of the 700 dogs picked up by dog wardens in East Lancashire each year, around a third are currently being put down.
He added the situation was ‘desperate’ and getting worse as families dump their pets so they can go on holiday.
He said: “There are a lot of dogs being put down. It breaks my heart.
“It is like a silent killing every day.”
The pressure is being felt across East Lancashire, with Paula Knowles, manager at Pendle Dogs in Need desperately appealing for help to find space to create more kennels.
Steve said the summer was a particularly difficult time, with wardens picking up more and more animals off the streets.
He said: “We are full to the brim.
“People are going away and they leave finding a kennel for their dog until the last minute. But they are all backed up and so the dogs are just thrown onto the street.
“Most rescue centres have got to the point where they cannot take any more because they have no room.
“Once the dog warden picks them up, after seven days, they are put down if there is nobody to rehome them.”
What happens to a dog after a warden finds them depends on the policy at individual councils.
In Pendle and the Ribble Valley, the animals can be rehomed or put down after seven days. In Blackburn with Darwen the dog becomes the property of the kennels it is housed in after a week.
Hyndburn Council has the power to rehome a dog if it is not reclaimed and Burnley Council can dispose of dogs if their owner does not come forward.
In Rossendale, dogs can only be reclaimed by prior arrangement with the boarding kennels.
Steve said he is receiving around 200 emails a day from dog owners asking for the charity to take their pets off their hands.
He said: “I am so depressed because I cannot help. But that is the reality.
“The summer is a death sentence for stray dogs.”
Kath Dewhurst, who runs Oswaldtwistle’s Glencoe Kennels which is used by Hyndburn Stray Dogs in Need for boarding, said the problem was ‘ridiculous’.
She said: “We are struggling.
“Possible reasons for the increase in the summer are that people have booked a cheap holiday and they cannot get their dogs into kennels.
“Maybe somebody was going to look after their dog and they changed their mind.
“It is a desperate situation at the moment.”
The site can currently take six stray dogs and Kath said workers at the kennels were fundraising to be able to build another block of six kennels, which will cost around £50,000.
The East Lancashire RSPCA centre is also full to capacity, currently looking after the maximum 46 dogs and 46 cats they are legally allowed to house.
Jeanette Ainscough, from the Altham centre, said animals brought in by inspectors might have to be taken to other North West sites if they cannot be looked after there.
She added that they have a particular problem with cats being brought in.
At Pendle Dogs in Need, volunteers are desperately trying to find a solution to the problem.
In the borough, on average one dog every day is having to be destroyed as pounds struggle to cope with the huge amount of dogs they are collecting.
Manager Paula Knowles said: “We have just nowhere to put the dogs.
“At the moment, dogs we know we can rehome if we had a few more weeks are being put to sleep.
“It is breaking my heart.
“We need dog experienced foster homes and as you can imagine these sort of homes are few and far between.
“If anyone knows of any local disused kennels or if anyone has some room for us to maybe build, please let us know.”
At Pendle Council, dogs found by wardens are kept at the kennels for seven full days to allow owners time to claim them.
If they are not claimed, the animals are put up for adoption, sold, or destroyed, depending upon their health and temperament.
Steve, a former dog warden, said other councils across East Lancashire had similar policies.
Anybody wishing to help Pendle Dogs in Need should call 07456616375 .