Strays assurance

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CRAIGAVON Council have given assurances that everything in its powers will be done to keep stray dogs alive in light of its switch to a new kennelling provider.

Craigavon Council has cancelled its kennelling contract with Hilltop Kennels, based in Portadown, in favour of Craigycor Kennels in Moira.

The owner of Hilltop Kennels, John Breen, was only obliged to keep stray dogs for six days under council contract, but often kept them for weeks at his own expense as he didn’t believe in putting any dog down.

While Craigavon Council received praise for its compassion towards strays dogs it was John and the people who he worked with who were ultimately responsible.

It’s understood they maintained a zero kill policy for unclaimed dogs from April 2011 to 2012. During that period only three dogs had to be put down for health reasons.

Hilltop Kennels last week lost the contract which it had held for six years, with 17 dogs being moved out last Wednesday night.

Owner John Breen claimed that he had to tender twice for the three-year contract because initially he was the only kennels to register an interest. The council then approached other DARD-approved kennels within a 10-mile radius of the civic centre and asked them to tender as well.

The kennels that won the contract is Craigycor Kennels in Moira which, although in the Lisburn council area, falls within the 10-mile radius stipulated within the tender requirements.

“I thought I had done a very good job here down the years,” said John. “I am gutted to lose the contract but it’s gone now and I will just have to get on with things.”

John pointed out that he hadn’t increased his prices in six years but, with rising costs in electricity and food, he had been obliged to increase them from £6 to £9 per dog, even though it was lower than his accountant had recommended.

He said: “My main concern now is for the dogs, I would like to think that the good work that has been done with charities and animal sanctuaries in saving dogs will be continued and that the dogs will not be put down.”

John is preparing to take dogs in privately. He is also hoping the charities and sanctuaries he worked with will continue to support him.

A spokesperson for Craigavon Borough Council said: “The council re-tendered for the kennelling services and a number of responses were received. These were considered and assessed in line with a number of criteria including pricing. The tender has been awarded for the next three years to Craigycor Kennels in Moira who also work with the charity Seventh Heaven in rehoming stray dogs.”

The spokesperson added: “Craigavon Borough Council is committed to the rehoming of dogs through its rehoming policy. We are actively working with the kennels and a number of charities to rehome dogs following the five day period required by law.

“The new kennels are already working with an animal charity and council is liaising with other animal charities to rehome dogs and maintain our excellent rehoming record. Last year 99% of dogs in the kennels were either sold, reclaimed or sent to a charity.”

People can find their stray dogs or give a dog a new home through www.craigavonstraydogs.com