Figures published by the Department of the Environment show that the city and county’s dog pound dealt with 639 dogs in 2014, 490 of the animals were seized and 148 were surrendered by their owners.
Of these, just 81 found new homes and only 25 were reclaimed by their owners.
A further 223 dogs were transferred to animal welfare groups.
According to a spokesperson for Limerick City and County Council, 77 per cent of the dogs were strays seized by the local authority’s dog wardens, “which is much higher than the national average”.
“In general, strays are more difficult to rehome than dogs that are surrendered to the service. Unfortunately, some strays are just not suitable or fit for rehoming due to their temperament and unknown background,” said the spokesperson.
She added that the number of dogs rehomed is not out of line with most other local authorities, but admitted it was “lower than we would like”.
The council says it has already extended the opening hours of the pound and hired a kennel assistant in June 2014, whose efforts to improve rehoming rates “would not be fully reflected in the statistics”.
“Since late last year, we have also begun social media campaigns to rehome dogs with their images and details of previous dogs who have been rehomed. The council also linked up with a number of welfare groups which do excellent work on rehoming”, added the spokesperson.
Limerick Animal Welfare founder Marion Fitzgibbon said that the number of dogs put to sleep has decreased in recent years, but that the number of unwanted dogs in Ireland is still far too high.
“Animal shelters just can’t cope with the number of dogs. The figures are so high because so many unwanted dogs are being born. Cats are even worse, they are treated like vermin. There is absolutely no cat control at all.”
She added that if Limerick Animal Welfare wasn’t taking in so many dogs, the Council “would be putting down four times as many”.
Nationally, 14,559 dogs found their way into Irish pounds in 2014, a reduction of 1,000 dogs compared to the previous year.
Some 43 per cent were saved by animal rescue groups, and 2,896 dogs were put to sleep – a reduction of 620 dogs from the 2013 figures.
The pounds directly rehomed 3,129 of the dogs, while 2,252 were reclaimed by owners.
To view dogs available for rehoming, go to www.limerick.ie/council/rehome-dog-limerick-dog-shelter.