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Dogs’ homes ‘packed’ in run-up to Christmas

DOGS’ HOMES in Britain’s major cities were "packed to the gunnels" with stray and unwanted dogs in the run-up to Christmas with the prospect of many more dogs being abandoned and handed in over the festive season.

Tellingly, the number of strays has dramatically increased in the weeks since Bonfire Night and Dhiwali, the Hindu Festival of Light, a trend blamed by the centres on the unchecked increase in loud fireworks during this period.

Birmingham Dogs’ Home reported that the November to December 2002 period had seen the centre’s worst ever intake in dogs, far higher than in the corresponding period in previous years.

‘Basically, dogs are being dumped by families and turned out because they’re either in the way at Christmas or they simply want a newer model,’ according to Centre Manager John Goodhead. ‘People who hand dogs in have even admitted as much to me over the years – an incredibly callous attitude.

‘We are now more than full and I expect will be even fuller over he Christmas period.

‘However, one thing I can guarantee to all the dogs in our care is that they’ll all be warm, clean and well looked after this Christmas, they will all receive treats and special turkey dinners on Christmas Day."

Manchester Dogs’ Home Administration manager Cynthia Marks told OUR DOGS that the centre was ‘packed out’.

‘We have more than 300 dogs in the rehoming row alone, and that's more than ever,’ she said. ‘We will keep them all until they are rehomed however.

‘The numbers have steadily increased in the weeks since Bonfire Night and Dhiwali. I think the dogs that run away are simply terrified of the explosions going on and they run in a blind panic. People who live some way from Manchester often say ‘Oh, my dog can’t have run that far, it can’t be in Manchester Dogs Home’, but we cover a 50 mile radius and get dogs from further afield even than Ellesmere Port. I’d urge anyone who lives within a wide radius of Manchester and who has lost a dog to get in touch – there’s a good chance that we have it here.’

Cynthia expects the number of dogs to increase during the Christmas period, as people dump their pets because they are in the way of their parties. ‘It’s a sad reflection on the North West,’ she adds. ‘We’re the biggest dogs home in the UK and it certainly shows with the sheer number of dogs we get here.

‘Hopefully when we start rehoming again in January the numbers will diminish as people are prepared to give unwanted dogs a new, caring home. Let‘s keep our fingers crossed!’

Dramatic rise

The Dogs’ Home, Battersea, London reported a dramatic rise in the number of dogs over the past few weeks and also equated the cause of this to the ‘firework season’.

‘We’re taking in between 26 and 30 dogs a day, and that matches our usual summer figures, traditionally our busiest time of year,’ says Ali Cuthbert, the Home’s PR Manager. ‘It is very clear that the numbers of strays has increased since the firework season, which starts with Dhiwali in October and then goes onto Bonfire Night in early November and beyond. Dare I say it, and no pun intended, the numbers have rocketed since that time. We are always busy at Christmas and the numbers are increasingly steadily and will no doubt peak during Christmas.’

Battersea does have more than a glimmer of hope for its many inmates however. In the week before Christmas, the Daily Mail newspaper ran features in some of the Capital’s many dogs needing new homes. ‘The campaign has seen a tremendous response form the public,’ says Ali. ‘Our switchboard literally went into meltdown with calls from people wanting to take a dog on. The Mail’s own switchboard was jammed too. We’ve stopped the rehoming of puppies and kittens until after Christmas, and once all home checks have been completed, we will interview people and hopefully get good homes for many of the dogs. But there’ll always be more strays needing love and care.’