A dog is for life, not just for Christmas. Surely everyone knows that by now.
Not according to Julia Youd from Dogs Trust Manchester, who says those words are just as relevant today as they were 40 years ago.
Some people still believe dogs are suitable Christmas presents and don’t think about all the responsibilities that come with bringing a puppy into their house.
Every year, in the month after Christmas, dog re-homing centres brace themselves for yet another influx of abandoned dogs.
Between Boxing Day 2016 and 28th January 2017, Dogs Trust Manchester received 650 calls – an average of 20 handovers a day. Nationally, they’ve received 3,596 calls – a call almost every five minutes.
“People leave their older dogs behind to make room for a new puppy around Christmas,” says Julia. “Then, in January everybody has to go back to work, the children go back to school and it all just becomes too difficult. It’s then they realize the time commitment and the financial commitment that it takes care for a dog properly.”
A recent survey of 2,000 dog owners in the north west has revealed that 15% of people admitted they’d bought or received a dog as a Christmas gift.
25% of those surveyed said they spent less than two weeks doing some research before buying a dog – and 11% confessed to buying a dog simply because it was a cute accessory.
The dog-owning public also significantly underestimate the financial cost of dog ownership, with 37% of people believing their dog will cost them less than the actual cost of £10,000 during its lifetime.
Every dog that arrives at the Trust gets a full medical check within the first 48 hours, as on site vet Dr. Round explains:
“We check to see if they are microchipped and if they’re up to date with their vaccination, if they have any health problems, any lumps or bumps or if they need any dental work.”
And every dog that comes to the centre is neutered to prevent unwanted litters and reduce dog homelessness.
“Dogs Trust take in thousands of much loved dogs from heartbroken owners who sadly find themselves unable to continue to care for their dogs due to unavoidable changes in their circumstances,” says the charity’s manager, Dawn Bishop.
“It’s particularly hard for staff when they see the other end of the spectrum – dogs handed in simply because their owner bought them on a whim and consider them little more than toys to be discarded when the novelty wears off.
According to Dogs Trust, something else people need to consider before getting a dog is the breed they choose to make sure it’s compatible with their lifestyle.
How big your family is, what kind of house you live in and whether you have owned a dog before are all questions that need to be taken into account.
“It is so sad that we receive so many calls from people wanting to hand over their dogs as dogs deserve to be treated as a member of the family,” says Ms Bishop. “They aren’t disposable commodities. They are a huge commitment and should be for life.”
Find out more about how to choose the right dog for you here.