Dog cruelty increases as rescue centres struggle to take in pets

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A DOG rescue centre in Yorkshire is being forced to turn down an astonishing 30 to 40 requests every day as more and more pets become unwanted.

West Yorkshire Dog Rescue say they are full to capacity after seeing a 30 per cent increase over the last 12 months as families struggle to find enough money to keep their pets and the region continues to feel the effects of the recession.

The number does not include dogs abandoned by their owners on the street, tied to lamp posts or thrown out of cars, or the increasing number of strays brought in by dog wardens.

Recent instances include a young lurcher called Nolly, rescued from a stray dog pound just before Christmas. She was so emaciated every single bone in her body was visible. A boxer puppy called Rainbow was chained up and abandoned outside a pub late one night, while a two-year-old deerhound used as a hunting dog was found with a broken leg.

Kathy Trout, founder of West Yorkshire Dog Rescue, branded 2011 their “worst year ever” and believes the numbers are increasing because people can no longer afford essential vet treatments and food.

“In terms of dogs needing help, 2011 is the worst year ever from our perspective,” she said.

“Reasons given by the public for no longer wanting to keep dogs were primarily due to either losing their job, losing their home or moving to rented accommodation, partnership or marital breakdown, or increase in work hours.

“The biggest pressure causing these is the recession. We have seen a 30 per cent increase in the use of these reasons compared with last year.

“Less frequently, reasons include the dog’s behaviour, the owner’s medical problems, or they simply don’t want a dog in their life with all the commitment it takes.”

The West Yorkshire centre and others of its kind across the county have struggled to find space for all the dogs – resulting in more instances of cruelty after owners are turned away.

“There are about a dozen dog rescues throughout Yorkshire, most have no space or at best one or two free spaces at any one time,” said Mrs Trout.

“These are simply not enough for the volume of dogs – in our rescue we are turning away 30-40 requests per day from the public.

“We are seeing a comparative increase in cruelty cases over previous years. In the last two months alone, we have seen an abandoned deerhound with a broken leg, two dogs with severe mange, six toy breeds with extensive tooth decay and overgrown matted coats, three cases of emaciation, one of which is very severe, and two dogs with large tumours left untreated.”

According to a Yorkshire Post investigation, more than 4,300 dogs are living in kennels and rescues in the county after being given up by their owners, while nearly 900 have been put down because of ill health over the last 12 months.

Lisa Park, from Rotherham Dog Rescue, said: “We have taken in far more dogs this year resulting from social service cases, and from people having to move into rented properties due to a job loss.

“The economic climate has had a big impact on owners having to work longer hours, and that has caused more dogs needing to be re-homed.”

But despite this rise, donations to rescue centres are drying up as a result of the financial crisis, leaving many struggling to survive.

“Our frustration is that people constantly ask us for help yet very few offer to foster, so we are always stretched to the limit, which is very stressful,” said Mrs Trout.

“Consequently, our rescue costs have rocketed, especially as we have a policy for ensuring all dogs are neutered and vaccinated, so our vet bills average £1,000 per month.

“For 2011, the average cost per dog was £260, compared with £180 last year.

“We have a professional approach but our survival is at risk and this paints a dismal picture for unwanted dogs in 2012.”