AN animal lover who has provided overnight shelter to dozens of dogs in the past two years has condemned council bosses for scrapping the service.
Wendy Dalton, who runs the Mangham Animal Sanctuary in Parkgate, insisted that Rotherham Borough Council was making a mistake by shutting an overnight kennels for stray dogs on the site.
The council said that the decision was down to a falling number of stray dogs and increasing costs, but Wendy insisted that the authority was axing a vital service.
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“We will have dogs tied up outside because people won’t believe that it’s shutting,” she said.
“The council used to pay me £10 a day to feed and look after dogs overnight but now they say they don’t have even that funding.
“That’s at the same time as they are planning to spend £5,000 on having Christmas in the town centre in the middle of summer.
“It really makes me angry that they’re imposing a cost-cutting measure like this here.”
Since 2008, Wendy has provided a local drop-off point for the public to leave stray dogs outside normal office hours.
But the council announced last week that people would be asked to take strays to the council’s contracted kennels at Hampole, Doncaster, which already provides a service until 10pm, seven days per week.
The daily pick-up service operated by the authority’s dog wardens during normal office hours will continue as normal.
Wendy added: “The council asked me to keep funding the out-of-hours service myself but I cannot afford to do it, although I would like to.
“I’ve had police and members of the public bringing dogs at all times of the day and night.
“I take phone calls, clean out the kennels and look after the dogs while they’re waiting to be picked up.
“Some days are busier than others but we had five dogs in at the weekend and three in last Christmas Day.
“The council says there’s falling demand for this service but I disagree.”
Cllr Jahangir Akhtar, the council’s Cabinet member for housing and neighbourhoods, said: “We appreciate that this may be difficult for both conscientious members of the public and the Mangham Kennels, but to ensure that an out-of-hours stray dog service is maintained at all, we have had to make some hard decisions in light of the circumstances and the current economic climate.
“We have not made this decision lightly and have tried to work with the Mangham Animal Sanctuary in an attempt to keep the local centre open but unfortunately this has not been successful.
“We are committed to ensuring that front line services are maintained and both the important daily service by our dog wardens and the out-of-hours service at Doncaster will continue and is not affected.”
To report lost or stray dogs or to complain about dog fouling please ring 01709 336003 from 8am until 8pm Monday to Friday. Alternatively e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.