Wandering and barking dogs made up the majority of dog complaints over the past year in Stratford.
Stratford District Council has released its annual dog control policy and practices report which shows there were 2080 dogs registered in the year ending on June 30, compared to 2126 the year before.
Stratford District Council Animal Control Officer Kieran Best says the decrease could be due to dog deaths or relocation. Despite this the number of dog complaints has risen, with 299 made compared to 276 in 2017. Complaints included barking and wandering dogs and dog attacks on stock and people.
While complaints about barking and wandering dogs had increased, the number of dog attacks has decreased.
Five attacks on stock were recorded and six (minor) attacks on people. Nine dogs were reported for rushing at a person.
When it comes to menacing dogs, 20 were registered compared to 16 the year before. Kieran says these are classified by "breed as well as by deed". Some dog breeds are automatically classified as menacing.
Owners must declare the breed of their dogs when registering the dog, and Kieran says other breeds can be classified as menacing if the council considers they may be a threat to people or animals due to reported or observed behaviour or any characteristics typically associated with a dog's breed or type.
The classification means menacing dogs need to be on a leash in public and muzzled while in public.
Over the past year, 65 dogs were impounded, 13 more than the previous year. Kieran says dogs are impounded for wandering if the owner can not be located and are held for seven days. After that council may dispose of them — sell, rehome and if necessary euthanase. Around 34 per cent of impounded dogs are not claimed. Five impounded dogs found new homes last year. Eleven dogs were destroyed last year compared to10 the previous year.
If threatened by a dog:
* Don't run or scream or make any sudden movements.
* If a dog indicates it is uncomfortable with your presence you should stop and stand still. Ensure the dog stays in front of you. If the dog tries to go behind you, slowly circle with it.
* Always allow the dog room to escape. Stay calm, don't run. You may trigger a chase response.
* Try to ignore the dog.
* Don't act submissively.
* Don't make any sudden movement.
* Avoid eye contact, however don't lose sight of the dog.
* Use anything in your hand as a shield, not a weapon.