Little pup Gretal abandoned days before Christmas

While others will be tucking into their turkey dinner this Christmas, staff at Dogs Trust Ballymena will be spending their Christmas Day caring for this Christmas's first canine casualty, an abandoned eight-week-old crossbreed puppy named Gretal who was found callously abandoned just days before Christmas day.

Thursday, 22nd December 2016, 10:06 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:12 pm
Little Gretal is now at the Dogs Trust in Ballymena. INLT-53-702-con

Gretal was found by a member of the public in Craigavon, County Armagh, where she had been left to fend for herself.

She was found early in the morning, suggesting she could have been abandoned the night before, in freezing temperatures at just eight weeks old. After being taken to Craigavon Civic Centre, the local dog warden brought her to Armagh Dog Pound where she spent five days waiting to be claimed. When no-one came forward, little Gretal was taken to Dogs Trust Ballymena where has since being treated to lots of much needed TLC.

Sarah Hickie, who cared for Gretal at Armagh Dog Pound, says: “We believe that Gretal had been purchased as a family pet but for some reason was found wandering the streets on her own. She remained in our care for five days; however no one came forward to claim her.”

Despite her ordeal, Gretal is now in the care of Dogs Trust Ballymena until she is ready to find a loving new home in the New Year.

Dogs Trust Ballymena Rehoming Centre manager, Oonagh Phillips, added: “It’s very possible that Gretal may have been bought as a Christmas present and dumped when her owners realised the work involved in looking after a puppy.

“Our centre looks after thousands of abandoned and unwanted dogs every year but it still shocks us to think that someone could so callously abandon a puppy.

“This year is the 38th anniversary of Dogs Trust’s iconic slogan ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ and sadly it’s as true today as when it was first coined.

“Every year we see a number of dogs handed into our rehoming centres in the days and weeks following Christmas when the appeal of a cute puppy has worn off.

“It seems that people are still giving puppies as Christmas presents without considering the long term ramifications. Dogs can provide a world of happiness and enjoyment, and we urge anyone considering a new addition to the family to think it through properly and care for the dogs for life, its entire life.”

Dogs Trust CEO, Adrian Burder commented: “After nearly 40 years of highlighting our iconic slogan, “A dog is for life not just for Christmas”, it’s clear to see that it is still as prevalent today as it was back in 1978, as many dogs like Gretal continue to be bought on impulse, and sadly cast off when their appeal wears thin.

“Time and again, people continue to buy puppies as a Christmas presents without taking into consideration the demands of caring for a tiny puppy and the lifelong commitment that dog ownership brings.

“Sadly, there are many understandable reasons why people have to give up their dogs and we appreciate that circumstances can change beyond their control, however we cannot fathom that dogs should be callously abandoned simply because people haven’t done their research before buying.”

Over the last 12 months, Dogs Trust has cared for over 16,000 dogs and many have been handed in to the charity’s network of 20 rehoming centres in the UK and one in Dublin for a wealth of reasons.

Some of the strangest handover reasons included:

We realised we’re cat people

She grew too big to fit on my lap

Only 3 out of the 4 of us loved him

I had to spend an hour a day hoovering

She wasn’t cuddly enough

He’s too fluffy

We got a puppy which we preferred (so handed the 8-year-old dog in)

He frightened the goldfish

She kept barking in the garden

He ate my apples and pooed on the carpet

To find out more about the work of Dogs Trust or how you can get involved please visit or call 0300 303 0292.