An animal rescue organisation has been overwhelmed by the number of small dogs it has taken in over the past 12 months.
The Blue Cross animal welfare charity has said that the levels of abandoned shih tzus, chihuahuas and bichon frises have tripled, and thinks that the trend for the dogs popularised by the likes of Paris Hilton may be to blame.
Many dog owners look to emulate the heiress and her chihuahua Tinkerbelle, or Coleen Rooney and bichon frise Daisy, by carrying the pint sized pet around in a designer handbag.
However, many underestimate the care and attention needed to be given to their pets to ensure that they are healthy and well adjusted, and find that they are hopelessly ill equipped to look after them. As such, the charity has been left to find new owners for hundreds of unwanted dogs.
The task has been a struggle – many of the pampered pooches have been mollycoddled to the point of refusing to walk anywhere, and have to be carried. Some of them have even been noted to become aggressive if they witness affection being given to another dog and not themselves.
Lara Alford, who manages the charity which is based in Southampton, says that many of the dogs were bought as a fashion accessory rather than as a companion. She said:
“Although people think they look great when they see someone famous with one, they often don’t realise what a responsibility they are taking on. People think these little dogs do not need the same amount of exercise and attention as bigger ones but this is not the case.”
“If they are mollycoddled and do not get the stimulation they need, it can result in behavioural problems.”
She recounts how one pomeranian named Britney was terrified of her lead, and played dead in order to avoid walking. The new owner had to pick her up and carry her back home.
The dogs, which cost upwards of £1,000 before dog food and veterinarian bills, represent a substantial financial loss for these unprepared dog owners.