The number of strays arriving at Britain's leading home for abandoned dogs has increased steadily since Christmas Eve. Staff are working round the clock to care for unwanted Christmas pets at Battersea Dogs' Home in south London, which has housed 33 animals left to roam the city's streets over the past three days - 8 per cent more than last year.
A total of 706 abandoned dogs are at present at the centre and the spokesman Stephen Danos said he expects this figure to increase over as the festive season. "What is worrying is that if the number of stray dogs in the home is up now, just a few days into Christmas, what will it be like in late January?" he said. "On the whole older dogs are being abandoned, perhaps being displaced by a new puppy."
The 137-year-old sanctuary for abandoned dogs saw nine new arrivals on Christmas Eve, a dozen more on Christmas Day and another 12 by mid-afternoon today. A struggling fox terrier rescued from the icy waters of the River Thames was among the first Christmas strays to arrive at Battersea on Christmas Day. It was rescued by a passer-by who waded in to save it and then took it to the home.
The RSPCA last night urgently warned pet owners to be more responsible as workers brace themselves for the number of strays to increase in to the New Year.