Abandoned, unloved, and homeless: The pets who spent Christmas in care of rescue charities
These animals need your help.
At one time they seemed like the perfect gift – a playful puppy or a cute little kitten all wrapped up in a bow.
But this year on Christmas Day, when most people and their pets were warm and cosy inside their homes and about to tuck in to their festive feast, an 18-month-old pup was tied to a telegraph pole and left in the freezing cold.
Jack, a young Jack Russell, was left for hours just 20 yards from Benvardin Animal Rescue Kennels (Bark) in Co Antrim, with only a bowl of food for company.
Charity co-ordinator at the rescue centre, Shaun McIntyre, told the Belfast Telegraph: "Instead of just waiting until morning and phoning up and saying, 'we can't keep this dog, can you take it in?' – it was left outside."
He added: "People need to realise the importance of getting your dog microchipped but also to update the details on it if you are no longer the owner. Because if your details are linked to the dog you are legally responsible."
The dog centre has a policy of not rehoming puppies or kittens in December. They say that if anyone is "genuinely interested" in the animal they will come back again in January.
Yesterday, Causeway Coast Dog Rescue received the 228th dog to come in to the centre since the beginning of this year. Around 10 were brought in over the festive period alone.
Chairperson of the charity, Maggie Dinsdale-Bobby, was called to a house on Christmas Eve to pick up a family dog and on Boxing Day the organisation received a Yorkshire terrier that was no longer wanted.
"It's beyond a joke", Maggie said.
"It's a bit early at the minute, but this period from now until February is when the returns start and that is when the puppies come in.
"The honeymoon period for owners is over, the pets get a bit bigger and they will just go on like that."
She added: "We deal with this every day, not just at Christmas.
"Yes, it is busier over the festive period but we are taking in dogs all year round – many from extreme cases of cruelty."
And it isn't just dogs being abandoned. In the last month Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary has received six ponies.
One in particular was Tim, who was found roaming near Lady Dixon Park in Belfast with his mane and tail matted and entangled with thistles, grass and weeds.
In another case, an elderly couple found three little kittens in a Christmas present bag.
Noel, Holly and Carol are six weeks old and were found the day before Christmas Eve. They were taken to Assisi Animal Sanctuary in Newtownards.
Manager Heather Weatherup said she didn't think they were strays because they were so young and they didn't appear to be scared.
She added: "We understand people will have got pets for Christmas.
"But in order to stop owners being overwhelmed and simply giving them up, if anyone wants advice – even if they didn't get the animal from us – they should contact us and someone will be able to help."
To help rehome any of the animals featured here call:
r Assisi Animal Sanctuary 028 9181 2622
r Benvardin Animal Rescue Kennels 075 1837 0478
r Causeway Coast Dog Rescue 075 9560 2702
r Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary 028 9446 5384
r Donkey Sanctuary NI 013 9557 8222
r Rainbow Rehoming Centre 028 7181 2882
r 7th Heaven Animal Rescue Trust 028 9443 2229