IT’S a worrying sign of the times that almost 630 calls were made to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in London last month from people wishing to give up their dogs, setting a worrying record for the charity.

Battersea is concerned that pets are the latest victims of Britain’s throwaway society. The number of enquiries from dog owners increased by 30 per cent from last year’s average of 490 calls per month and people appear to be giving up their pets more light-heartedly.

One owner wished to give up their dog because they got a new ‘handbag’ dog and didn’t have space in the flat for both animals. Another had decided not to keep his dog because it barks, and one could not keep their dog because they were ‘going on holiday’.

Sean Welland, Battersea’s Intake Manager explains: “It’s sad when owners have no other choice but to bring their dog to us, but we see the other side of that when people bring in their dog because they simply ‘don’t want it anymore’ or they ‘didn’t give it enough thought’.

One of the most shocking calls we got last month was from a lady whose dog had puppies. She said her landlord wouldn’t allow puppies in the flat so could she bring them here until they were old enough to find homes and then get them back again so she could sell them to a pet shop. We also get calls from people who want to board their dog here whilst they go on holiday because they can’t afford kennels.”

Last year Battersea Dogs & Cats Home cared for almost 6000 lost and unwanted dogs. While many of the dogs come in as strays, more and more are being brought in to the centre by their owners.

Sean continues: “We are always busy with calls from people who can’t look after their dog, but I’ve never known as many calls as this. Most people have to bring their dog in through no fault of their own and they are doing the responsible thing by contacting Battersea to help, but too many people seem to be treating their pet as a disposable item and rescue centres like Battersea are left to pick up the pieces.”

Battersea also takes in cats from members of the public who are unable to care for them any longer. As well as taking 630 calls from dog owners last month, the charity also received around 500 calls from cat owners wishing to bring their cat to the charity to find a new home.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home urges anyone thinking of taking on a pet to give it considerable thought. Sean adds: “There’s so much to think about when getting a dog. Can you give it adequate exercise? What will you do with it if you’re out at work all day? Do you have the time and experience to give it the training it needs? It’s also really important to choose a dog that suits your lifestyle and experience and people should always refrain from buying a pet online as you don’t know what you could be getting.”

If you can offer a loving home to a Battersea dog or cat or would like to find out more about the charity contact 020 7622 3626 or visit www.battersea.org.uk.