Record numbers of pet owners are giving up their dogs and cats and leaving Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to pick up the pieces. The world famous charity has received almost 5,000 enquiries this year from members of the public struggling to care for their dogs, a 50 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.
Battersea is releasing the shocking figures as a new series of Paul O Grady: For The Love Of Dogs airs on ITV. This eight-part series reveals the work that goes into caring for thousands of abandoned dogs every year.
Last month alone the charity took 1,340 calls from troubled pet owners, the highest it has ever seen in one month. Whilst financial difficulties and moving into rented accommodation are key reasons cited by owners for giving up their pets, some owners turned to Battersea when they realise they haven’t got the time or patience to look after a dog.
Liz McWalter, Head of Intake at Battersea says: "We are seeing a shocking number of people coming to us because they are unable to cope with their dogs. The recession has played a big part in this, and sadly when people’s circumstances change they have no choice but to bring their pet in to us. But unfortunately we are seeing more and more people contacting us because they have grown bored or they didn’t realise the hard work involved in owning a dog.”
Moving home accounted for the biggest increase in people bringing their dogs into the Home, up 82% on the year before, whilst a change in working hours also saw an increase of 68%. Meanwhile, people claiming they had insufficient time to care for their pet grew by 55% indicating that many continue to buy dogs with little real understanding of the responsibilities and commitment involved.
10 week old Hudson is just one of the 400 dogs that Battersea cares for at any one time. The German Shepherd cross pup was bought via the internet, but brought to Battersea when his owners realised their young daughter was scared of dogs. He is now being cared for by staff and volunteers until he finds a new home.
Battersea takes in around 9,000 lost and unwanted dogs and cats every year, and around half of the animals it takes in are brought in by their owners. Liz McWalter adds: “Many of our dogs arrive as strays and have been carelessly dumped by their owners when they no longer want them. When people contact us for help they are doing the right thing, but we really do urge people to do lots of research before taking on a dog as it is a big responsibility.”
The new series of Paul O’Grady: For The Love Of Dogs, highlights some of the many dogs that come in to Battersea every day, including those who are brought in by their owners. The eight part series is on ITV and starts Thursday 9th May at 8.30pm.