Tackling the unprecedented increase in stray dogs

13 Aug 2010 16:24:17.913

Experts at The University of Nottingham are to set up a database of homeless animals in the hope of finding a solution to an unprecedented increase in the number of unwanted pets in the UK.

The problem was highlighted by the BBC’s Panorama programme “Britain’s unwanted pets” after cameras were invited into Battersea Dogs and Cats Home to show the harsh reality of this growing problem.

Based at the newly established Centre for Evidence-based Veterinary Medicine (CEVM) at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, Dr Jenny Stavisky will spend the next three years trying to find out the true extent of the problem. She wants to know exactly how many animals are in shelters in the UK, how many animals are put down and what can be done to stop the unprecedented increase in dogs and cats being brought in to animal shelters and homes

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Dr Stavisky says: “People who run homes and shelters are working really hard to care for the UK’s unwanted pets but their resources are limited and we want to find more cost and time effective ways to target those limited resources.  We need to take a step back from the situation to look at the bigger picture. This way we can characterise the problem and hopefully then we can find ways to improve the situation and reduce the growing number of healthy animals that are euthanised.”

Dr Rachel Dean, Director of the CEVM, said: “Jenny’s work is a very important part of the Centre’s work.  We are studying both the owned and unowned pet population. If we are going to help these homeless animals we need to understand why they are relinquished in the first place and what factors affect whether they are re-homed or not.”

The Centre will be enrolling as many people and organisations as possible who are involved in running shelters and homes for stray and unwanted pets, as well as people who offer foster homes to homeless dogs and cats, to find out how many unwanted animals there are and what happens to them.

Jenny knows only too well how important it is to find good homes for unwanted pets. She owns a rescued Staffordshire Bull Terrier Cross called Oskar. He was two years old when Jenny took him in. Since then Oskar has helped teach vet students, has donated blood and has worked as a therapy dog.

Ultimately Jenny and the CEVM team hope to establish a long term shelter surveillance project to monitor diseases which may be seen in rescued animals, and to detect the emergence of any new diseases in this population. 

The School of Veterinary Medicine and Science want to graduate a new generation of vets that understand the challenges faced by animals in shelters. So Dr Dean, with the help of Dr Stavisky, delivers some of her clinical teaching direct from an animal shelter.  Dr Dean said: “Only when students are faced with the sheer scale of the unwanted pet problem do they understand how important this issue is.”


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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.

 More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.

 The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation – School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.

Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives (

www.science-city.co.uk) in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City

Story credits

More information is available from Dr Rachel Dean on +44 (0)115 9516575, rachel.dean@nottingham.ac.uk or Dr Jenny Stavisky on +44 (0) 115 9516660, jenny.stavisky@nottingham.ac.uk
  Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: lindsay.brooke@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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