Dog shelters seeing ‘record number’ of rehoming this winter

Good Morning Britain: Should dogs sit at the Christmas dinner table?

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Pets are common gifts for Christmas, despite animal charities warning that they should “never be given as gifts” due to the lifelong commitment that comes with owning them. But hundreds are expected to receive puppies as gifts over the festive period, with the Labrador Retriever being the most popular breed in the UK, according to research by Statista. And with the cost of living crisis continuing, animal shelters are warning of the long-term cost of keeping pets, with dogs costing around £2,000 a year.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home said they see an increase in animals being brought in in the spring and summer which they believe could be linked to pets that have been gifted at Christmas time.

Steve Craddock, London Centre Manager at Battersea, said: “Whilst Battersea doesn’t usually see an increase in the number of animals arriving at Christmas, we do however notice more animals being brought to our centres during the Spring and summertime.

“We believe this could be due to animals being bought as Christmas presents a few months earlier, with many of these animals arriving as strays, suggesting they may have been given up by owners who perhaps felt they had no other choice.

“We would always urge people who are considering getting a pet to consider the financial and long-term commitments involved in owning a pet. Battersea estimates the typical annual cost of owning a cat is around £1,500 per year, while the typical annual cost of owning a dog is around £2,000 per year.”

Meanwhile, the cost of living crisis is seeing more pets being given up for adoption as some struggle with affording to keep their pets with costs rising.

Dogs Trust said they have taken a “record number of calls” in recent months due to the soaring costs in energy bills and food prices – with families across the country struggling this winter.

Adam Clowes, Dogs Trust Operations Director, said: “Dog ownership is a wonderful thing and will likely bring many years of joy to your family. It is also a big, long-term responsibility, and we would recommend people to think carefully about whether a dog is right for them, as some dogs can live for up to 18 years, depending on the breed.

“This year we have taken a record number of calls and enquiries from people who feel they have no choice but to give up their dog, with many telling us that the rise in the cost of living is a factor in this.”

The charity are expecting to see an influx in the coming months, with more owners being left with no choice but to give up their pets.

Mr Clowes added: “Although we expect to see demand on our services continue to grow in 2023, we don’t tend to see a spike in handover enquiries in January related to Christmas puppies.

“But as we all know, puppies don’t stay puppies forever, and as they develop into teenage dogs, they may start to present more challenging behaviours which, without the right training, can lead to problems. It is then that we often see people making the difficult decision to part with their dog.

“Dogs Trust is always here to help families who are struggling to care for their dog, for whatever reason, but we’d encourage anyone that is finding their dog’s behaviour challenging to sign up to professional dog training, including here at our Dog School, to help their dog fulfil their potential and make sure families and four-legged friends can continue to live happily together.”

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Battersea Dogs & Cats Home have also seen an influx as people struggle with ongoing costs.

The London Centre Manager said: “We understand that some people may be feeling financial pressure over the festive season, especially with the increased cost of living.

“If owners are struggling, or thinking about making the difficult decision to give up their pets, we would urge them to contact a rescue centre like Battersea to see what support might be available.”

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