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More festive dumping of dogs than ever

LARGE NUMBERS of dogs and cats were abandoned over the Festive period, with many smaller rescue centres reporting that the numbers were higher than in previous years.

Whilst all the major dogs homes in the UK, such as Battersea, Birmingham and Manchester all reported a sharp rise in the typical ‘festive intake’, many smaller rescues in different parts of the country were struggling to cope.

Staff at the Freshfields Animal Rescue Centre, near Ince Blundell, Lancashire have nursed two newborn pups back to health after they were left abandoned in a street.

The two female six-day-old puppies – believed to be Bull Terrier crossbreeds – were found dumped in a cardboard box on Valerie Street, Fazakerley, two weeks before Christmas by a passer-by. One of the pups had a number of infected flesh wounds which vets believe were inflicted by the pup’s mother. After being treated by vets, the pups, christened Joy and Hope, were taken to Freshfields Animal Rescue Centre.

The pair were fed bitch milk substitute are now recovering well in a nearby foster home where they will spend the next few weeks before rehoming.

Volunteer Marge Albert said: ‘We always get a lot of animals left here over Christmas, it normally starts during Christmas week but it started early last year. ‘These are two of the predicted 130 animals to be dumped and cared for by Freshfields Animal Rescue at an estimated cost of £52,000 to the centre. As always, we plead with people not to get a dog, or any pet, for Christmas.’

Daily life at the Newcastle Dog and Cat Shelter is always busy but over the festive period it gets more frantic as the number of abandoned animals triples.

Staff at both the Claremont Road and Benton Lane sites have been working around the clock over the past few weeks, taking in abandoned animals and caring for those that are unwanted and desperately in need of new homes.

More than 100 animals, around 70 dogs and 30 cats, were brought in to the shelter between December 20 and January 1 and the numbers continue to grow.

Many of them are older animals that have been cast aside by families to make way for puppies that have been given to children on Christmas Day.

January is one the busiest times of the year as staff try to reunite pets with their owners and find suitable homes for those that have been abandoned.

The shelter was open during all the festive bank holidays to look after the existing animals and to take in new ones.

Layla Rutter, chief executive of Newcastle Dog and Cat Shelter, said: ‘We have everything from kittens and puppies to much older animals who are abandoned, particularly at this time of year, when people just throw them out on the street because they are getting a new cat or puppy.
‘Some are genuinely lost and we are quite successful in finding their owners, particularly if they have been microchipped because it makes it easier for us to find the owners.

Year on year workers at the shelter see the numbers of unwanted animals rise and, despite a policy of not rehoming animals in the week before Christmas, homeless cats and dogs continue to flood into the centre in the New Year.

It is then left to staff to feed the animals and put a roof over their heads until a suitable owner can be found.

The centre, which has been open since 1896, has 30 paid staff and 80 volunteers who take the dogs for walks and look after the cats in a cat-cuddling room. Layla adds: ‘We get really busy in the run-up to Christmas and this is because there are people who have not thought through their decision properly. Many decide they want to jet off to the sun at Christmas or go to visit family and they have not made provision for the animals. Quite often they have older animals they have decided are not much fun anymore.

‘Often there are people who buy an animal for Christmas without considering what they are taking on. These animals will end up coming in the New Year. If people are serious about wanting a pet they should look to get one in the New Year, look into it properly, do their research and weigh up the options, and get an animal when the festive season has died down.

Staffie-cross twins Jingle and Kringle, born on Boxing Day, were saved by Manchester Dogs’ Home, along with pup Scooby.

The shelter’s normal intake of 60 dogs a week doubled in the wake of the festive period. Manager Lisa Graham said: ‘We’ve never had more dogs than now – we’re bursting. ‘There are old dogs and puppies – there seems to have been an endless stream. It's appalling. The message that a dog is for life has to be reinforced.’

Jingle and Kringle are expected to stay until March at the home, which lets prospective owners ‘foster’ a dog for a short period to experience looking after a pet.

Lisa said an unusually high number of pedigrees were cast out, like Bedlington terriers and German Spitzes. She said people should adopt rather than buy.

Amanda Robinson, of the UK’s largest canine welfare charity Dogs Trust, said they took in more than 600 dogs last month. She said: ‘Some centres had seven or eight puppies dumped outside – it’s very sad. It seems that we will be looking at a new record.’

Jennifer Martinez, of Grinshill Animal Rescue Centre, Shrewsbury, called for tighter rules for buying dogs. She said: ‘It should be more difficult so people know that it’s what they really want.’