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A dog pound is being forced to put down dozens of pooches a year as cash-strapped owners dump popular Staffordshire terriers in the economic downturn.

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The so-called “death row” dogs are put to sleep after staying just seven days at the Dagenham kennels in Rainham Road North, an Essex animal rescue service has revealed.

Workers are having to put down more pets during the summer months when owners go on holiday, according to the Hornchurch Animal Rescue and Rehoming service.

Other pet owners leave their pooch behind when they lose their home after being made redundant, service founder Donna Evans told the Post.

She said the downturn had led to an increase in the number of dog deaths, as hard-pressed owners over-bred Staffs then abandoned puppies weeks later.

The pet rescue service estimates that two dogs are put down at the Dagenham dog pound each week during busy periods.

Barking and Dagenham Council said it had had to put to sleep 33 stray dogs this year.

Donna, 41, said: “A lot of people lose their home and are having to go into privately rented accommodation. This is the number one reason.

“Staffs have become a dog of choice. People are breeding their pets to make a few pounds and we end up getting puppies.”

The Rainham Road North pound at Frizlands Lane Depot only has space for four dogs at any one time.

The council pound uses an overflow vet kennel in Chingford and turns to organisations like Hornchurch Animal Rescue to rehome stray dogs but simply cannot cope with the numbers.

A council spokesman said: “Unfortunately many dogs are not microchipped and do not have ID tags on their collars, therefore it is not possible to trace their owners.

“After the seven-day period has expired we continue to make efforts to rehome the dogs. There are rescue centres that will take some of the dogs and try to find homes for them and some are taken on by the person who found them if they remain unclaimed.

“Sadly there are simply not enough potential homes to fit the number of abandoned dogs. For this reason, unfortunately some do have to be put down.”

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