MORE than 600 stray dogs have been collected by a council in the past five years - but numbers are on the decline.

Colchester Council has revealed the figures as part of work to promote responsible dog ownership.

During the period from 2014 to 2019, a total of 601 abandoned dogs were collected by the council.

They were then reunited with their owners or re-homed.

A report, set to go before Colchester Council’s policy and public initiatives panel, said numbers of stray dogs reported was on the decline.

In 2014, there were 148 dogs collected compared to 61 in 2018.

So far 16 dogs have been collected in 2019.

In the past two years council officers have handed out 23 fixed penalty notices of £100 to people who did not clean up after their pets.

The fines were dished out to members of the public who either failed to clear up after their animal or breached a public space protection order at Colchester Rugby Club.

The report, which will go before councillors next week, said the council’s website should be updated to give advice on dog ownership.

It said existing policy and advice was “virtually unknown”.

The council published a responsible dog strategy policy for the years 2012 to 2015.

But it was not updated after it was found the public did not look to the council for advice and rarely downloaded the PDF.

The council has now agreed to look at the issue again after a member of the public spoke out.

The report, which will go before the committee, said: “The council online team has advised that it is exceptional for members of the public to download a PDF document and that information regarding dog ownership would be better presented in bite size chunks which are easier to read via a phone or on a tablet.”

The panel will also be asked to approve continuing to support public events and providing a free microchipping service so dogs’ owners can be traced when dogs are found.