NINE stray dogs were put to sleep last year when their owners failed to collect them from the dog warden in York.

Figures obtained by The Press through a Freedom of Information request revealed 199 dogs were seized by a private provider working on behalf of City of York Council in the first year they used the service, but nine were put down because their owners could not be traced or the animals were too ill to be re-homed.

The council works with animal charities in the city to try and find a new home for the dogs, and says it only puts them to sleep when all other avenues have been exhausted.

Jane Mowat, head of community safety at City of York Council, said: “Taking on a puppy or a mature dog is a big responsibility where costs and liabilities can mount.

"Abandoned animals face considerable dangers and can sometimes pose risks to the community.

"We’re proud of our 95 per cent rehoming rate and urge people to talk to animal charities or research having a dog before taking one on, to ensure a lasting ownership.”

The 17th annual Stray Dog Survey, carried out on behalf of the Dog's Trust, found the number of dogs being picked up by councils reached 12,348 in 2013, an increase of 43 per cent on the previous year's figures.

Laura-Jane Muscroft, Dogs Trust Leeds education and community officer, said: "Local authorities do not want to put dogs to sleep but they are struggling to cope with huge numbers of strays.

"We hope to continue our existing work with local authorities through our extensive education, neutering and microchipping campaigns to help them tackle the issue of stray dogs.

"Dogs Trust hopes these alarming figures will remind dog owners to ensure their dog is microchipped and the details kept up to date to improve the chances of being reunited with the dog should they stray."