Rescued dogs look forward to a caring Christmas at Snetterton centre
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
The base of the tree is piled high with presents, awaiting the arrival of their recipients on Christmas morning.
But the present-opening at the Dogs Trust rescue centre in Snetterton will be a more boisterous affair than most.
On Sunday the 40 dogs currently being cared for at the centre will be treated to a morning walk, a Christmas lunch and the chance to forage in a mountain of presents.
Donated by members of the public, the horde includes bones, biscuits and cans of dog food, chewy, cuddly and squeaky toys, plus blankets, towels and dog-friendly Christmas crackers.
Assistant manager Lauren Cates said the centre sometimes even orders in turkey for the dogs' Christmas meal, and members of staff bring in extras for the special meal.
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During the celebrations, the four-legged residents will also get extra play time with the seven staff members on duty that day.
Ms Cates said: 'The dogs tend to get a bit more excitable because the routine is not quite the same.
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'It is a really nice day for the staff too, as it is their version of the Christmas they would have with their own dogs.
'We say they are our second pets, so we want to make their day as special as possible.'
In keeping with the charity's previous 'A dog is for life, not just for Christmas' campaign, this year saw the launch of the 'Give socks not dogs' campaign, discouraging families from buying pets as gifts – or 'impulse puppy purchasing'.
Ms Cates said: 'We do not recommend giving dogs as presents. We stop the rehoming process over Christmas because it is a busy time for households with a lot of activity and a lot of people – it is for the dogs' benefit.
'We have to be really careful about the homing process. We will always make sure people are ready to take a dog in their home. We also tend not to advertise when we have puppies in, and will generally hand-pick homes for them.'
As an alternative gift, the centre has a sponsorship dog, Bubba. People can pay to sponsor the terrier cross – a long-term resident of the centre – and visit him there.
Bubba recently took over from veteran sponsorship dog Freddie, who still gets personalised Christmas presents from sponsors.
So far in 2016 Dogs Trust Snetterton has rehomed 594 dogs – a 25pc increase on rehoming numbers for the previous year. Staff hope to reach 600 by the end of the year.
While the centre will not be sending any dogs to new homes between December 21 and January 3, the centre will be open on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve from 12pm to 3.30pm, and on December 27, 29 and 30 from 12pm to 4pm.