Dogs Trust has issued a plea to the public not to buy or give dogs as presents as new statistics show online searches for puppies skyrocket by 44% in the countdown to Christmas.
The appeal comes as the charity, which has a rehoming centre in Ballymena, launches its first ever Christmas TV advert – which features a puppet dog who brings to life the message behind its famous slogan ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas®’.
On average, Dogs Trust, receives one call every six minutes from people wanting to give up their dog and in January alone this year Ballymena received 87 calls.
While people give up dogs for all sorts of reasons, the dog welfare charity is encouraging people to make sure they’re ready for the commitment and, if they decide now isn’t the right time to welcome a dog into their life, they are urging them to support rescue dogs in other ways.
After analysing online search trends the charity found that: Online searches of the phrase ‘buy a puppy’ increased by 44% from 95,659 to 137,499 a week before Christmas last year, compared to the yearly average; and, online searches to ‘get a dog’ increased by nearly 27% from 357,779 to 452,656 two weeks before Christmas, compared to the yearly average.Oonagh Phillips, Rehoming Centre Manager at Dogs Trust Ballymena said: “These figures show that people still think to buy a dog in the rush before Christmas. It’s very easy to pick a puppy at the click of a button but dogs don’t come with a gift receipt. We take calls all-year-round from people who feel they have no choice but to give up their dog and it can be heart-breaking, even if an owner knows they are doing the right thing. If someone isn’t sure about whether now is the right time to welcome a four-legged friend into their home, we would encourage them to support rescue dogs in other ways such as becoming a volunteer foster carer or sponsoring one of our beautiful dogs like Eric or Lola Belle.”
The charity’s Home from Home foster scheme provides temporary homes for dogs who come into Dogs Trust but who will particularly benefit from continuing to live in a home environment until they find their forever home, such as very young or old dogs, poorly dogs, or dogs who prefer a quiet life.
‘Sponsor a Dog’ helps the charity raise funds so they can care specifically for dogs who need a little extra TLC and so that dogs can be looked after for however long they need, whether that’s a few extra months, or years.
Oonagh said: “Thousands of people choose to give a rescue dog a loving home every year which is wonderful, but there are many other ways to help rescue dogs if now isn’t the right time to adopt. We really hope this Christmas our message ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas®’ comes across loud and clear and we want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone that supports us in any way. It is only thanks to the support of the dog-loving public that we can make sure we can give our dogs everything they need until they find their forever family.” Visit www.dogstrust.org.uk/adogisforlife to watch the advert.