ANIMAL charity Dogs Trust is appealing to the public to refrain from buying or giving dogs as Christmas presents after shocking statistics reveal online searches for pooches rocket over the festive period.
The plea comes as the charity launches its first ever Christmas television 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’.
Research conducted by Dogs Trust built keyword lists around buying, training and giving up dogs, and the analysis of five years’ worth of data produced some alarming trends.
Online searches for ‘get a dog’ last year increased by nearly 27 per-cent in the fortnight before Christmas, while searches for ‘buy a puppy’ jumped by 44 per-cent a week before December 25.
Dawn Bishop, manager at Dogs Trust Manchester in Denton, 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 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.
“You can become a volunteer, foster carer or sponsor one of our beautiful dogs.”
Dogs Trust, which receives a call every six minutes from people wanting to surrender their dog, is urging Brits to seriously consider the long-term commitment of being an owner before going ahead.
In 2017, between December 26 and January 31, the charity received nearly 5,000 calls from members of the public wanting to give up their dog. That equated to 138 calls per day.
And last year, the number of online searches for people wanting to hand over their pooches spiked by eight-per-cent in the weeks after Christmas, likely as a result of too many “impulse purchases”.
Dawn continued: “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.
“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.”
Dogs Trust receives no Government funding and is completely dependent on the generous donations of the public. Find out more at www.dogstrust.org.uk
• Dogs Trust Manchester is celebrating after its Christmas fair raised more than £8,000, a record-breaking amount.