Heated debate over plan to charge more to reclaim dogs

A couple walking their dog in the rain. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

A couple walking their dog in the rain. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. - Credit: PA

There were heated exchanges over plans to increase charges to people reclaiming their lost dogs, and which had been put in kennels by the borough council.

In Great Yarmouth Borough Council's budget for 2016/17, it was suggested fees for owners collecting dogs from kennels would increase to £145. The urrent statutory fee is £25.

Councillors criticised the proposals, amid concerns a dog that had simply become lost, or run off, would be destroyed if their owners could not afford the collection fee.

The majority of councillors united to vote against the proposals, at Wednesday's full council meeting at town hall.

Cllr Trevor Wainwright, said: 'Just think if there is a little 80-year-old lady on the Shrublands estate, and she gets a call saying 'we've got your dog'. What happens if she can't afford to pay the fee? It is scandalous.'

Cllr Barry Coleman, the council's deputy leader, responded: 'Taking emotion out of this, I understand the point, but I think we have to realise that no, the dogs won't be destroyed overnight. 'And the same thing would apply for anything else. The same 80-year-old lady, if there was an issue with her parking, her wheel would be clamped. Then the same situation and process would go by, but the dog would be looked after.'

If a dog which went missing was microchipped, it could be returned to the owner free of charge.

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However, council leader, Graham Plant, said if the owners were not in, or the dog was not chipped, then the owner would have to pay the fee. He said: 'It is not £120 a night, it is a collection fee. There is a cost to collect dogs, it is not a free service. If it was the other way around and you had stray dogs on the street which might go after people, then we would be blamed for that.

'There is a reasonable belief for owners of dogs to keep them under control.'

Mayor Shirley Weymouth expressed concerns about chipping.

She said: 'If for whatever reason the dog goes missing or if a workman leaves a door open and it runs away, on some occasions the chips don't work and the dogs can't be identified back to their owner.'

Throughout the council's report on its budget for the 2016/17 year, comments and jokes were made about the proposals.

Cllr Jamie Smith, said: 'I feel bad for whatever parent loses their child in their local supermarket, that's another £120 for a living thing.'

The kennelling home for stray dogs picked up in the borough is in the Dereham area.

Figures from a Freedom of Information Request, showed that in 2014, 357 lost and abandoned dogs were picked up in Great Yarmouth. Among those figures, 114 owners paid for them to be returned, 106 were returned without kennelling, and nine were put down.

Cllr Colin Fox put forward the amendment to keep the charge at the statutory £25 fee.

A vote saw councillors from all parties unite, with 22 voting in favour of the statutory fee of £25, two against and 12 abstentions.

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