The number of dogs put up for adoption or abandoned by their owners in Yorkshire has increased this year as families struggle to afford the costs of keeping them, a Yorkshire Post investigation has found.
According to Freedom of Information data, more than 4,300 dogs are living in kennels and animal rescue centres in the region after being given up by their owners, while nearly 900 have been put down over the past 12 months after falling ill.
Staff at rescue centres believe the economic climate and unemployment has had a major impact on families, who can no longer afford the “expensive hobby” of keeping dogs.
Consequently, the number of dogs being adopted has decreased and donations have dried up.
It comes as councils in the region encourage families to think twice before getting a dog this Christmas, as many don’t realise the cost of food, vets’ bills, equipment and insurance can amount to more than £1,000 a year.
In Sheffield alone, 1,246 stray or abandoned dogs entered kennels and animal pounds over the past year. Of these, just 537 were reclaimed by their owners.
In Bradford, 205 were euthanised after being picked up in an unhealthy state by rescue centres, while over 100 were put down in Sheffield, Kirklees and Barnsley.
In the Doncaster area, 826 dogs were taken in last year but only 295 were reclaimed and 128 adopted.
The figures led Doncaster Council to urge the public not to get a dog for Christmas.
Coun Cynthia Ransome, who has adopted two dogs from the Mount Pleasant Kennels in Hampole, including a bull terrier which was thrown out of a van, said: “Far too many people get a dog at Christmas and then after a few weeks decide it is too much trouble to look after.
“A dog is for life, not just for Christmas. It can be an expensive hobby and people don’t take that into consideration.
“There are vets’ bills and dog food and it is always in January and February when the kennels say they’ve found them. Many have just been left in the countryside.
“Please take time to think carefully about whether you can offer a dog a home for life.”
Leanne Plumtree, spokeswoman for the RSPCA, said kennels and rescue centres were struggling to cope.
“Stray dog services are under enormous pressure everywhere with many local authorities reducing their service or getting rid of them completely, and large cities are finding it especially tough,” she said.
“The problem of stray dogs is enormous. It’s extremely worrying and at the moment there is no light at the end of the tunnel. We believe it is, in fact, a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off.
“We don’t believe there is any easy solution without significant financial investment, and not only is this not going to happen but further cuts are going to be necessary in the coming months.”