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Page last updated at 08:57 GMT, Wednesday, 3 December 2008
The pets hit by the credit crunch

By Duncan Middleton
Newsbeat reporter

There's been a big increase in the number of people saying they can't afford to keep their dogs any more, according to the Dogs Trust charity.

Dog named Tom Jones
The credit crunch is affecting the number of dogs abandoned

It says rising bills and problems with the economy are forcing people to make cutbacks - and many dogs end up being abandoned.

Newsbeat went to the charity's re-homing centre in Leeds to find out what's happening.

Meet Sugarplum. A big, bounding, bundle of energy who'll cover your arm in saliva the moment you start stroking her.

She was found on a freezing cold morning, tethered to a gate with no way of identifying her. She's one of many.

Walking past the rows of kennels, little yappy dogs and big growlers seem to be competing in a barking contest.

Extra expense

Others snooze on their beds, some even have worn-out armchairs to sit on. All of them need a home.
John Cullen and Sugarplum
Assistant Manager John Cullen and Sugarplum at the re-homing centre

Assistant Manager John Cullen explained how bad things are: "Back in January, we had around 100 people wanting to get rid of their dogs.

"That had got as high as 700 just recently. It has to be put down to the financial situation at the moment."

"I think people are trying to balance the books and the dog is something that's causing them an expense."

Some parts of the UK are worse hit than others.

In just a few months, some re-homing centres in London have received double the number of calls from people who're struggling to pay for their pets.

John understands it's not just owners who can't be bothered anymore.

"Maybe they've got a dog and absolutely loved it to bits but through no fault of their own they're having to give it up," he said.

No room

"Problems with the housing market mean some people can't sell their property or can't buy a new one so they move into rented accommodation, which hardly ever accepts dogs."

The centre's had to turn some dogs away because there simply isn't space to look after them.

In some cases, pets are just thrown on to the charity's land by owners who then speed off.
Dog owners can save money by buying dried dog food in bulk

"Some people do view them to be the first thing to go when trying to cut costs. It's unfortunate that people do consider abandoning their dogs," said John.

But although dogs can be pricey to look after, John thinks there are ways to save.

He said: "Shop around for your veterinary treatment. Not all vets charge the same prices.

'Savings to make'

"The same goes for insurance. Buy your dog food in bulk. Dried food is much cheaper than tinned stuff and you can buy it in huge sacks so you will save money."

As tiny little puppies look longingly through the glass, it's hard to imagine them staying without a home for long.

John wondered whether people were giving up on their dogs too easily.

"If we all look at our bank statements, there are always savings that can be made," he said.

"Maybe it's not making so many calls on your mobile or cancelling a subscription to a magazine. At the end of the day, you're getting to keep a lifelong companion in your home."

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