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Dogs the latest victim of the recession

The family pet is the latest victim of the credit crunch as cash-strapped owners desperately try to cut costs, according to figures released last week.

The number of pets put up for sale, says, has doubled in the past six months, from 8,500 in September 2008 when the credit crunch really started to bite, to 17,000 in February 2009. Since July 2008, when only 5,500 pets were advertised on the site, the number of pets for sale has more than trebled and cannot be attributed to the usual post-Christmas spike.

Dogs make up the largest percentage (70%) of the pets advertised on, followed by cats (15%) and others (15%). Dogs are the most expensive family pet, costing an estimated £750 year to keep (roughly twice the amount of cats), and therefore the most likely to have fallen foul of tighter family finances.

According to the figures, large and small dogs appear to be equally susceptible to the economic downturn with the Jack Russell, Chihuahua, German Shepherd, Bulldog and Labrador, the top five breeds being advertised on the site.

The figures reflect a trend that has been highlighted by a number of animal groups and charities since the credit crunch began. In December, the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home announced that more and more people have been dumping their dogs on the streets because they can no longer afford to keep them, while only recently the Chilterns Dog Rescue Society said the recession is forcing dog owners to hand over their cherished pets. In many cases, these dogs are subsequently put down.

The data suggests that people are not only selling pets to save money but also — in a potentially vicious circle — to make money. Between July 2008 and February 2009, there has been a conspicuous 50% increase in the number of breeders advertising on the site. Increasingly, it seems, people are turning to the family pet to generate extra income. But if these pets remain unsold or are sold to people who subsequently realise they cannot afford them, the cycle repeats itself all over again.

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