AN animal charity has appealed to people not to buy a puppy with their Christmas money, as the numbers of dogs abandoned each year continues to spiral.

The Dogs Trust, which has a rehoming centre in Sadberge, near Darlington, coined the slogan A dog is for life, not just for Christmas, more than 34 years ago, but said people are still buying dogs on a whim before realising that they cannot cope with them.

The charity, which sees an increase in the number of dogs abandoned between Christmas and Easter each year, has asked people to seriously consider their circumstances before taking a dog home.

The Dogs Trust, which looks after 120 dogs at any one time at the Darlington site, does not rehome animals between December 22 and 29, although visitors are still welcome.

It has released a list of things people should consider before buying a dog, including:

  •  Owning a dog is a lifetime commitment. The average dog lives for 13 years and will cost about £8,000 over its lifetime;
  • Puppies can be extremely hard work, particularly if there are young children in the house;
  •  Dogs do not come fully trained. They can cause a lot of damage to your possessions through chewing and accidents;
  • Christmas is a hectic time of year and is not the best time to introduce a new dog to the house.

Ledean Lawson, Dogs Trust Darlington supporter relations officer, said: “Sadly, the slogan ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ is as true today as when it was first coined.

“We see a number of dogs handed into our rehoming centre in Sadberge 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.”

For more information on rehoming a dog, call the Dogs Trust Darlington on 01325- 333114 or visit Hill House Farm, in Sadberge.