A BADLY-NEGLECTED border collie cross is the latest victim in an escalating stray dog problem blighting east Durham.

Since April, more than 230 dogs have been impounded in the area and a local vet believes animals are being needlessly consigned to death row because of old-fashioned beliefs which are leading to an explosion of unwanted animals.

And yesterday, as attempts were being made to trace the owner of the neglected dog, which had lost most of its hair and was almost blind, vet Ruth Nelson also called on dog owners in the Easington district to have their pets neutered.

The black collie cross, believed to be about two years old, was impounded from the Parklands Terrace of Seaham, earlier this month, and taken to the White Lion Veterinary Group in South Hetton, where he is undergoing treatment and has been named Bud.

Ian Harrison, Easington district council's senior environmental warden, said: "This young dog was in a very poor state when we found him and had obviously been neglected for some time."

He added: "The council does not tolerate such cruelty to animals and we are urging anyone with information on who owns him to get in contact with us so that we can take legal action."

But with Bud on the mend, and looking for a new home, Ms Nelson revealed there was a massive problem with stray dogs in east Durham.

"It appears to be a much bigger problem here than in most areas and we feel that there is a belief among pet owners that bitches should be allowed to have at least one litter."

She said this was not true, and she urged as many owners as possible to have their dogs neutered.

Both Easington District Council and the Dogs Trust offer a free or subsidised neutering service for the pets of owners who cannot afford the cost of the simple operations.

Anyone with any information on Bud's owners or who wants to know about the neutering service, is asked to contact Easington council on 0191-527 5040.