Norfolk dog rescue centres full

The region's animal rescue centres are at bursting point after being inundated with unwanted dogs and cats in the run up to Christmas, with staff describing the situation as 'horrendous'.

Centres such as Meadowgreen Dog Rescue Centre at Hales, near Loddon, People for Animal Care Trust (Pact) at Woodrising, near Hingham, and the Dogs Trust at Snetterton are all full and are being bombarded with calls from people asking them to take in animals.

Rescue homes expect a surge in unwanted pets at this time of year but have found themselves busier than ever.

Meadowgreen, which is run by mother and daughter Sue Cootes and Cherie Williams, can accommodate 42 dogs but all the pens are full.

Mrs Williams said: 'We get a lot of requests to re-home older dogs at this time of year. People are thinking about getting puppies for Christmas and the existing dog is being pushed out. These are family pets and it is heartbreaking.

'We recently had a call from someone who had quite a rare breed dog, six years of age. They had got themselves a puppy and the dog had tried to bite the puppy. Instead of sending the puppy back they wanted to get rid of the older dog. It is much easier to re-home a puppy but people do not consider that.'

Mrs Williams said the economic downturn had also had an impact.

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'We have people ringing up who cannot keep their dog. They are losing their homes and being put into rented accommodation where they cannot take pets. They are backed against a wall. They have got to have a home for their children but they do not want to give the dog up. People sometimes drop the dog off on the way to their temporary accommodation and you see grown men crying their eyes out. They have lost their home and their children are so upset.'

She added: 'People do not realise that the average dog lives 14 years and is a full-time commitment.'

George Rockingham, administrator at Pact, said it currently has about 28 dogs at the sanctuary and another 40 are on a waiting list.

He said the situation is so dire the trust is currently paying for eight dogs to be boarded in private kennels.

It is a similar situation with cats and Pact has about 60 cats and kittens looking for new homes.

Mr Rockingham said: 'The situation is so bad at the moment. It is getting horrendous. You cannot paint it black enough.'

Fay Durrant, assistant manager at the Dogs Trust at Snetterton, said it is currently looking after about 60 dogs while another 60 to 80 are on a waiting list.

'Any animal needs to be given lots of consideration before it is taken on as a pet,' she said.

Meadowgreen, Pact and the Dogs Trust do not re-home animals during the Christmas period and all are appealing for people not to buy puppies for Christmas.