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When is a stray not a stray?

No it is not a joke or a riddle. This is a serious subject. Here at the Shelter we are the designated kennels for the Bolton area for 'stray' dogs. Therefore all 'stray' dogs are brought here to us. The legal definition of a stray dog is a dog that is at liberty on its own or is not under control. This includes the dogs that are deliberately put out by their owners for their toilet. We often have problems with people claiming their dogs and saying that "He knew his way home and the Dog Warden had no right picking him up". In fact that is the polite version of what gets said!
Equally we get the dog owners who have had an unfortunate a accident and lost their dog. This can be for any number of reasons. The most heart rending being the after effects of a burglary. These people are almost without exception very grateful that we have been able to re-unite them with their friend, and never any protest about the impending fine made by the Local Authority.
That answers the dog situation but what about cats. That is a very different matter altogether. There is no legislation that affects cats and therefore no requirements controlling their freedom of movement.
However we very often have cats brought to us that are in perfect health and yet supposedly "stray". We cannot say to the finder please put him back he will go home, as that would make us seem uncaring. However if we admit the cat we know that there is a less than 5% chance that the cats owner will come to us to see if he is here. Therefore we find ourselves getting new homes for cats that were not lost in the first place. There does not seem to be a solution to this dilemma other than people being more aware of their animals needs and how the law affects them.

Poop sweepingHere at the Shelter a very large part of our work is done in partnership with the Environmental Health Dept. of Bolton Metropolitan Borough.
The Environmental Health Dept. are responsible for providing a Dog Warden service to the town. In many ways we are quite lucky with Bolton's way of interpreting their statutory duties.
It is true that dog owners who let their dogs stray are very likely to be presented with a fine, rightly so, we would say. However there are compensations. For instance every dog owner whose dog arrives at the Shelter is offered a free identi-chip which is jointly funded by the borough and ourselves.