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Tuesday, 4 January, 2000, 03:57 GMT
Unhappy Christmas for dogs' home

More than 200 dogs have been brought in since Christmas


Battersea dogs' home has had one of its busiest Christmas seasons ever, with hundreds of unwanted pets being handed in.

Despite nationwide promotional campaigns urging people not to give dogs as presents, the south London animal shelter has seen a big increase in its post-Christmas intake.

A total of 238 dogs have been taken in by Battersea since Christmas Eve.

The home's chief executive Duncan Green said: "It's definitely been a bad Christmas for dogs.

"The protracted holiday period has created more opportunities for dogs to go missing.

'Unwanted gifts'

"People are staying together for a longer period, doors are left open and, with the fireworks, many dogs bolt and can't find their way back.

"There were definitely some unwanted gifts among the animals brought in by their owners."

Mr Green said one person brought in a West Highland terrier puppy, worth about 400, because they had not realised what was involved in bringing it up.

"But we can't condemn the people who bring pets in when they can't cope, because at least then we can find out about the animal," he said.

"Less responsible people simply abandon their dog - there's evidence that some of the sick dogs found on the streets have been abandoned because the owner has taken them to the vet and realised they can't afford the bill.

"Of course some of the dogs we get are just lost, and hopefully we will be able to reunite them with their owners."

Christmas influx

Mr Green added that they had been helped by the fact the home had had greater numbers of visitors than usual, with more than 1,400 prospective owners looking for a new pet over the past two days.

He said: "We always have an influx after Christmas because people very sensibly decide to get their new pet when the festivities have died down.

"The pet then gets a chance to settle without kids running around, doors being left open and so on."

A total of 47 cats were also taken in over the Christmas period, which is about normal for the time of year, Mr Green said.

Last year the home dealt with more than 10,000 dogs and 3,500 cats.

About 60% of these were re-homed, 30% were re-united with their owners and the remainder were put to sleep.

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See also:
25 Aug 99 |  UK
Outrage at 'needless destruction' of strays

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