A fluffy little bundle of four-legged joy may seem like an ideal present for a child, partner or friend during the holiday season.
But not everyone is prepared to take on the huge responsibility of a dog – which often results in many of them being dropped at a shelter sometimes only weeks after Christmas.
A recent poll of 50 people showed that 87 per cent love the idea of finding a puppy under their tree this Christmas. This is clear evidence that a pup is high up on festive wish-lists and explains the spike in animals being abandoned in December/January.
Yet, Irlam’s Animals in Distress supervisor Justine Ramsden states that it isn’t just gifting around the festive season that leads to dogs losing their homes. The pets can simply be too much trouble.
She said: “People want to get rid of dogs when family come over so they don’t get in the way and jump up at people and make a fuss.”
A 54 per cent increase of dog abandonment in January occurred last year, and charities such as Dogs Trust believe it is down to the easy accessibility of purchasing the dogs through social media. It is now just as simple as logging onto Facebook to purchase a pet – and it is this ease of access that could be leading to the frequent abandonment. Twitter, Instagram and even Snapchat are also in active use regarding the distribution of Christmas puppies. Although there is no law regarding background checks on buyers, a law has come into action which means that all dogs need to be microchipped to their owner or the shelter they come from. This means that those who may abandon their dog could now be prosecuted.
Dogs are the most neglected animal in the UK, making up approximately 57 per cent of all animal abuse cases reported to the RSPCA . Listen to more shocking canine abuse statistics here:
A main piece of research that should be made before purchasing a dog this Christmas would be ensuring that the canine fits in well with your circumstance. Using the example of a border collie, Ms Ramsden said: “They need lots of exercise. If you go out to a 12-hour shift and come home to see the dog has chewed everything up its your fault not the dogs. They are working dogs and they need constant exercise and attention.”
Ms Ramsden gives advice to those considering purchasing a dog, including supporting the ‘adopt don’t shop’ movement. She said: “There are thousands of unwanted dogs. Why pay nearly £800 to a breeder when there’s so many in these shelters? It’s all just a money making scheme.”
At least five American bulldogs are reported to the shelter in a single week.
She said: “They look so cute when they’re a puppy and then they grow up, they end up knocking children over. Just because a puppy is cute now doesn’t mean they will be in 12 months.”
The breed is going up in the rankings, with the Staffordshire Bull Terrier currently being the UK’s most abandoned breed, alongside mutts.
There is additionally a huge stress on getting a dog for children during the Christmas period.
She warned: “When they decide to get bored of it, don’t palm it off. It’s your responsibility too. If you can’t handle one, buy them a stuffed one! You wouldn’t buy your kids a reindeer so don’t buy them a dog!”
Irlam’s Animals in Distress charity currently has three dogs up for adoption at the shelter.
Milo has been brought back two times already due to being highly energetic and lively, and loves to jump up at people. He was admitted to the shelter when his family split up.
Alfie is around 17 months old and has been described as a “lovely” dog. He is chipped, neutered and has good behaviour and manners. Animals in Distress has attempted multiple times to contact his owners through both telephone and social media.
Another Alfie, who is only 11 months old, was brought into the shelter after his owner died. He is a Staffie breed and is said to be “very friendly and affectionate.”
Thousands of dogs just like Milo and the two Alfies will be alone this Christmas, due to neglectful owners who do not take out the correct precautions and measurements before deciding to adopt. If you are thinking of welcoming a new furry addition to the family this Christmas, there are steps and advice to take beforehand on RSPCA’s website here.
To inquire about any of the dogs up for adoption, please contact Irlam’s Animals in Distress at 0161 775 2221.
To report a neglected dog in your area, please contact Salford Dog Wardens at firstname.lastname@example.org who are based in Eccles.