Dogs’ charity that takes 138 calls a day to rehome unwanted pets sends out a festive reminder that “a dog is for life not just for Christmas”

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To a generation it is among the most enduring slogans in living memory.

The world was a different place in many ways when the adage, “a dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ was unleashed 40 years ago.

But not so far removed for it to have lost its relevance today.

Between Boxing Day, 2017, and January 31, 2018, Dogs Trust received 4,827 calls from people asking to hand over their dogs to the charity for a variety of reasons - that’s an average of 138 calls a day.

Among the callers were those who were looking for a home for their unwanted Christmas gifts.

“Every year – even on Christmas Day itself – we have dogs brought to us from people who have received them as presents and don’t want them,” said Dogs Trust operations director, Adam Clowes.

“Once the initial Christmas sparkle has worn off and people realise the huge commitment it takes to own a dog, they come into our care. It’s heartbreaking for us to see when it could so easily have been prevented.

“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. Christmas presents aren’t dogs, and dogs aren’t Christmas presents. It’s that simple.”

The number of calls Dogs Trust receives in the Christmas aftermath from people wanting to give up their dog to the charity is on the rise.

In 2016 it took 3,400 calls, increasing to 3,596 in 2017. Its latest figure is almost 5,000.

Its famous slogan, ‘a dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ is at the heart of its festive campaign.

The phrase was coined by Dogs Trust former chief executive, Clarissa Baldwin, in 1978 when she was working in the charity’s public relations team and was asked by the trustees to come up with something ‘cheap and cheerful’ that really hit home the responsible dog ownership message.

Four decades later, it is still being used to remind people that dogs should never be given as gifts or bought on a whim.

This year Dogs Trust has focused its campaign on younger audiences who are not as familiar with the slogan.

Certain breeds of dogs are almost seen as fashion accessories, it says, and are bought or given as presents without people considering the realities of dog ownership.

Various factors can lead to a dog being given to the charity including the animal’s behaviour.

Dogs Trust has received more than 6,000 calls this year from people wanting to give up their dogs for this reason.

In a bid to stop dogs finding themselves without a home because of behaviours that could be prevented with the right training, the charity is keen to support the UK’s dog owners with its Dog School, which offers affordable, nationwide puppy, adult and rescue dog training classes.

And in Dogs Trust rehoming centres, experts in canine behaviour work with dogs who may have behavioural issues so that they can be found a suitable home in the future.

As Christmas draws closer volunteers are preparing to work the festive shifts at rehoming centres across the country.

And when the Christmas trees have finally been taken down and the baubles tucked away for another year, Dogs Trust asks anyone considering bringing a four-legged friend into their life, to rehome a rescue dog.

On any given day the charity has around 1,700 dogs in its care and its kennels are never empty.

It would never recommend buying a puppy from any online source, but instead advises prospective dog-owners to thoroughly do their research so they can be confident that the puppy they are considering has been bred responsibly.

Dogs Trust has a wealth of advice on its website to help people be confident that they are buying a puppy from a good breeder, instead of a seller who makes money pedalling sick puppies which may have been illegally imported into this country.

It also says that when visiting a puppy, people should expect the breeder to be as curious about them and the home they can provide, as they are about the puppy.

For more information visit: Dogs Trust

To watch Dogs Trust’s Christmas advert, which is being screened in cinemas until just before Christmas, visit Dogs Trust-A dog is for life not just for Christmas

* For your nearest Dogs Trust rehoming centre visit: Dogs Trust