I’m sure we’ve all heard the Dogs Trust slogan ‘a dog is for life, not just for Christmas’, but as the charity receives almost 5,000 calls in the weeks after the festive period, it seems the message just isn’t sinking in.
It’s all too easy to look at a picture of a cute dog and imagine spending the rest of your days talking to it in a ridiculous dog voice and smushing its adorable face with kisses.
Similarly it’s understandable why many people may think a dog would be the perfect Christmas present, as the look on a partner or child’s face when they’re presented with a fluffy ball of love would no doubt be a happy one.
But as Dogs Trust have tried to convey to us time and again, sometimes it’s forgotten that the responsibilities of owning a dog last long beyond Christmas Day.
The charity centred their Christmas advert around this message, with the hopes of relaying the importance of it once again:
UNILAD spoke to Dogs Trust about how many dog owners they can expect calls from in the new year, and learned that in the first weeks of 2018 the company received 4,827 calls from people wanting to hand in their dogs.
Adam Clowes, Operations Director at Dogs Trust, explained that while the charity receives calls for a number of reasons they are aware some of the dogs who are being given up were gifted as Christmas presents.
Unfortunately, despite their continued attempts to prevent people from handing over cute pups as presents on Christmas Day, Dogs Trust see an increase in the number of calls they receive year after year, suggesting 2019 will be met with even more calls.
In 2016 the charity received 3,400 calls, increasing to 3,596 in 2017. With the latest figure at nearly 5,000, it’s vital people who are thinking about getting a dog don’t do it on impulse and really take into account the responsibilities that come with it.
One possible reason for the continued increase in calls to Dogs Trust is thought to be down to social media, where you can’t scroll for more than a few seconds before coming across a video of a cute puppy or a celebrity playing with an irresistible four-legged friend.
According to The Mirror, Dawn Bishop from Dogs Trust explained:
After nearly 40 years highlighting our iconic slogan, ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’, we hoped that this would be the Christmas that the message would finally sink in.
But it seems that, in this day and age, where puppies are readily available at the click of a button, people are still choosing to purchase a dog on impulse, without thinking about the long-term effect this will have on their life.
As well as buying without thinking of the big picture, the number of dogs abandoned after Christmas may be a result of the timing of the new addition to the family.
I think we can all agree Christmas is a hectic period, and having a new little life relying on you certainly doesn’t make things any easier.
While a family may be able to cope with getting a new dog at a time when there’s not much else going on, having to juggle puppy training, walking and feeding with Christmas parties, work and entertaining children can be overwhelming. Owners may feel there is no way they can cope with the dog along with everything else, resulting in them giving it up.
Adam from Dogs Trust explained:
Dogs are a wonderful addition in the right circumstances, but before bringing one into our homes we all need to think whether they are right for our lifestyles and whether we can give them a home for life.
Dogs are given to [Dogs Trust] for a variety of reasons but it’s more heartbreaking when it could so easily have been prevented, like a dog who has been bought on a whim or as a present.
Some owners struggle with dogs who are badly behaved, but Dogs Trust works to ensure pups aren’t left without a home because of their naughtiness.
The charity offers a Dog School to support UK dog owners, where the website explains experienced trainers teach skills for developing a strong bond, coping with everyday domestic life and avoiding some of the common pitfalls which lead to behaviour problems.
For dogs who are given up because of their behaviour, Dogs Trust finds a place for them and works to improve on their issues so they could make a more manageable pet in the future.
In 2018 alone, the charity has received over 6,000 calls about badly behaved dogs, but through Dog School and the work of canine behaviour experts in shelters, the charity are working hard to lower the number of dogs who are left without families due to their behaviour.
As much as we would hope otherwise, it is inevitable faithful dogs will continue to be turned over to the care of Dogs Trust and other shelters.
On any given day, the Dogs Trust has around 1,700 dogs in their care, with dogs spending an average of 38 days in the rehoming centre – though as Dogs Trust never put a healthy dog to sleep, some poor pups who can’t find a new family are there for longer.
The staff at the charity make sure the dogs in their care never feel as though they have been abandoned, and for the loveable canines who are in shelters over the Christmas period, the workers do what they can to make sure their day is just as special as everyone else’s.
Every year, our teams give up their Christmas to make the big day as special as it can be for the four-legged friends in our care.
Beyond the festive season, we will look after these dogs for as long as it takes for their special someone to walk through the door. Every dog at Dogs Trust is a part of our family, and there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a dog we have loved and cared for find their forever home.
If you are considering bringing a new furry best friend into your house – and it’s a calculated decision – Dogs Trust have lots of tips for wannabe dog owners on their website.
We would always ask anyone considering bringing a four-legged friend into their life to rehome a rescue dog. We have thousands of dogs of all shapes and sizes in our rehoming centres waiting to meet their special someone.
We would never recommend buying a puppy from any online source, but instead thoroughly to do your research so you can be confident that the puppy you have your eye on has been bred responsibly.
All of the dogs pictured in this article are hoping to find their forever homes – but don’t let their puppy-dog eyes distract you from the big responsibilities that come with taking on a dog!
Remember, they’re not just for Christmas, and they don’t deserve to be turfed back to the shelters after just a few weeks. Find all adoptable dogs here.
If you have a Christmas story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]
Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.