SOME of the excuses used by dog owners getting rid of their pets have been disclosed, including “my dog doesn’t match the sofa” and “he isn’t as cute as when I first got him”.
Animal welfare charity Dogs Trust said more than 16,000 dogs have been cared for at its 18 UK centres in the past 12 months.
It has launched its festive campaign, A Dog Is For Life, Not Just For Christmas, to drive home the message that potential owners should carefully consider what is involved before getting a pet.
The campaign discourages giving an animal as a present and in line with this, the Dogs Trust does not rehome any dogs between December 22 and 29, or until January 2 at its centres in Scotland.
At the Dogs Trust’s Glasgow rehoming centre in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, a litter of labrador/collie-cross puppies were recently brought in after their mother gave birth unexpectedly.
The original owners managed to give four of the eight away to homes, but called on the Dogs Trust to help rehouse the remainder of the six-week-old litter, whom staff have named Piper, Paige, Phoebe and Pru.
George Paparakis, assistant manager at the centre, said that while many people give up their pets for genuine reasons, it can be frustrating to see those who make excuses because they did not properly think it through in the first place.
“Sometimes there are real reasons why dogs have to come in to us, but it can get quite frustrating when people perhaps don’t truly understand what it means to live with a dog,” he said.
“So sometimes the dogs will come back to us and some of the reasons that we’ve seen over the years have been: The colour of the dog doesn’t match the colour of the sofa; or the dog has got too big for the house; or the dog barks and makes too much noise.
“It just highlights the importance of doing research and thinking about the dog that you’re taking before actually committing to it.”
In one case, an owner who recently bought a white couch brought a dog back because it was casting black hairs, Mr Paparakis said.
“One of the things we’re trying to do is to bring awareness to how much hard work taking a dog into the house can be, especially at the festive time when there’s lots of stress.
“We are asking people to really think carefully about taking a dog into the house and to carefully consider the fact that a dog shouldn’t be a present. It’s going to be a big part of their life.
“There’s a lot of variables that they’re going to have to consider. The average dog is going to live for 13 years and cost about £8,000 over the course of their lives.
“It’s a huge commitment.”
The Glasgow centre cares for around 1,200 dogs each year and usually manages to rehome about 1,000 of them.
At the charity’s other Scottish centre, in West Calder, West Lothian, one of the reasons an owner gave for bringing back a pet was because it smelled “of dog”.
Reasons given at centres around the UK have been: “He keeps scaring the goldfish”; “he snores really loudly”, “he can’t do any tricks”; “my dog keeps passing wind”.
The Dogs Trust said some are handed in “just for being dogs” and the charity said it is is bracing itself for the latest influx of unwanted presents.
Clarissa Baldwin, chief executive of the Trust, said: “This year sees the 34th anniversary of Dogs Trust’s iconic slogan ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ and sadly it’s as true today as when it was first coined.
“We see a number of dogs handed into our rehoming centres in the days and weeks following Christmas when the appeal of a cute puppy has worn off.
“It seems that people are still giving puppies as Christmas presents without considering the long-term ramifications.
“Dogs can provide a world of happiness and enjoyment, and we urge anyone considering a new addition to the family to think it through properly and remember that the only place a puppy should be is on the outside of the wrapping paper, not inside it.”