Last week, children in and around Burton and South Derbyshire dug out their uniforms and headed back to school after the six-week school holidays.
And although many parents will be pleased that their bundle of joys are returning to full-time education, one dogs trust has noticed an alarming trend when it comes to pet dogs and summer holidays – and a Burton rescue centre has spoken out about the issue.
Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, has identified an upsetting pattern which sees some families hand their dogs into rescue centres as soon as their children go back to school.
Last year, at the start of the new school year on September 5, the charity recorded one of the highest number of calls on any one day. Dogs Trust were asked to take in 220 dogs; double the number of calls the charity usually receives from struggling dog owners on an average day.
Angie Whitehurst, a trustee and volunteer at Burton’s RSPCA branch, has spoken out about the commitments which come with adopting or buying a pet.
The 58-year-old said: “All I can say is a dog is for life, not just for Christmas… and that includes the school holidays. I do a lot of home visits with dogs and cats and they are a long-term commitment, not short-term.
“People need to really think carefully when they want to buy a dog or a cat and all the costs and responsibility that comes with it. That includes vet bills, food, taking your dog on holiday and everything else that comes with owning a pet.”
With some owners giving up their dogs due to the return to the working routine and juggling the school run after the summer holidays, Dogs Trust is encouraging owners to bring their dogs to training classes, to help overcome any issues.
Sadly, the welfare charity is also seeing instances of dogs being given up because they have been bought to entertain the children over the summer and are no longer needed when the new school year begins.
Maria Wickes, head of Dogs Trust Dog School, said: “Sadly it does seem to be a recurring trend that we see more dogs handed into us as soon as children go back to school. In many cases dogs are not equipped to deal with this change in routine and may start displaying undesirable behaviour.
“We hope that anyone struggling to control their dog’s behaviour after the summer holidays will consider giving them up a last resort and instead send them ‘Bark to School’ and sign up for training classes.
“In extreme cases we are finding people even buy dogs simply to keep their children occupied during the holidays. Gus, a nine-month-old cockapoo, was handed into us because his owners bought him to entertain the children during the summer holidays and then passed him to us for rehoming when the kids weren’t around during the day anymore.
“While the majority of dog owners regard their dogs as valued family members, it appears some may be using dogs as four-legged nannies over the holidays and disregarding them come September.
“We hope people will remember that a dog is for life and carefully consider this lifetime commitment before purchasing a dog.”