Rescue shelter slams owners after older dogs are abandoned in favour of puppies

Newcastle Dog and Cat Shelter says they have seen more older and sick dogs being picked up off the streets as strays, and suspect that their owners have replaced them with a new puppy

A North East dog shelter has hit out at owners who have heartlessly thrown their old dogs out onto the streets after replacing them with a new puppy.

Staff at Newcastle Dog and Cat Shelter say that they have had “phone call after phone call” come in recently about stray dogs being found, with a huge increase in recent months which they believe is due to people buying new puppies during the pandemic.

“Older dogs with issues, like medical problems, seem to be coming [in as] strays. We feel like there might have been a few lockdown puppies bought, and then the ones that have got issues and the older ones are no longer wanted,” says Charlene Bradwell, assistant welfare manager at Newcastle Dog and Cat Shelter.

More than 3 million UK households welcomed a new pet within the first year of the pandemic, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association.

The Kennel Club says that one in four new owners admits to impulse buying a pandemic puppy.

And it seems that the pets bought before Covid hit have suffered from the trend most of all, being heartlessly cast out of their family homes by their owners in favour of new puppies as they get older or fall ill.

Charlene says that in some cases, the shelter manages to track the owners of the stray dogs down – only for them to reject them all over again.

“When you do get in touch with anyone who’s on the microchip, they’ve either passed the dog on, or it’s not their dog – there’s always something,” she explains. “We feel like people have been replacing dogs, which is really sad.”

Older dogs being tossed onto the streets is just one of the heart-breaking ways that loyal canine companions have borne the brunt of the pandemic. The Newcastle shelter says that it has also seen more dogs arriving with them suffering from serious illnesses in recent months.

Staff have increasingly heard from dog owners suffering from financial hardships due to the knock-on effects of the pandemic, which has resulted in sick dogs not getting the treatment they desperately need.

“Money has been a huge, huge worry for people. But it does have a long-lasting effect if you don’t get the veterinary care straight away,” warns Beth Codling, digital and partnerships manager at Newcastle Dog and Cat Shelter.

The staff at the shelter say that they have seen instances of minor infections and illnesses turning into something far more serious due to owners putting off taking their dogs to the vet, or even abandoning them on the streets when they can’t afford vet care.

They want to warn owners against welcoming a dog into their home if they don’t have the means to provide for them should they get sick.

“You need to be able to get to the vets when they do have issues,” urges Charlene. “They’re like humans; they have health problems. It’s just part of an animal’s life.”