Page last updated at 09:42 GMT, Thursday, 25 December 2008

Downturn hits dog rescue centres

Border collie
Pedigree puppies are being taken in because breeders cannot sell them

Dog rescue centres have said they have been left struggling to cope because of Christmas and the economic downturn.

Chichester District Council said cash-strapped families were "thinking twice" about having a new pet because of concerns about how much it will cost.

The authority's dog control officer Viv Barale, said that the credit crunch was "definitely having an effect".

"Traditionally there is a slowdown in re-homing dogs at Christmas, but this year it has slowed down even further."

Homes repossessed

She said pedigree puppies were being taken in by rescue centres because breeders had been unable to sell them.

Recently, a litter of cocker spaniel puppies was taken to a local centre for re-homing.

She said dog wardens had also reported animals being taken in after their homes were repossessed or owners evicted.

Ms Barale said: "The message, 'A pet is for life and not just for Christmas' remains an important one."

She said people struggling to look after their dogs, because of financial reasons or because of the animal's behaviour, should contact the dog wardens for advice.

But turning a dog out was not an option and was illegal, she added.

People who can take on a new pet, to be loved and cared for "long after the festive season", are urged to contact the rescue centres.

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