'Unfashionable' dogs abandoned

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The Independent Online

A record number of dogs have been abandoned in the run-up to Christmas as lifestyle-conscious owners trade them in for new models.

A record number of dogs have been abandoned in the run-up to Christmas as lifestyle-conscious owners trade them in for new models.

The New Year has always seen a surge in dumped animals, with bored families getting rid of the pets they bought as Christmas presents. But the seasonal throw-out has now shifted forwards by a month or more, allowing heartless owners to "trade up" to younger and more fashionable breeds in time for Christmas.

The National Canine Defence League, the UK's largest dog welfare charity, has taken in more than 200 puppies in the past eight weeks, double the figure for last year. Older, bigger dogs are the main victims, according to the league's spokeswoman, Louisa Bracking, who said: "These dogs are being kicked out to make room for newer, younger models."

According to dog shelters around the country the pre-Christmas figures might even be in excess of those predicted for the New Year. Of the 113,500 stray dogs found in 2000, 14,800 (13 per cent) healthy dogs were put to sleep because owners were unable to take care of them.

At Birmingham Dogs' Home they are now dealing with more than 300 abandoned dogs, a rise of a fifth on this time last year.

In London, Battersea Dogs' Home numbers rose only marginally but staff expect a post-Christmas rush. Spokes-person Ali Cuthbert said: "Once the kids have gone back to school people are left with an animal whose welfare they haven't considered."

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