Pups dumped at Christmas find their forever homes
Four unwanted puppies left without a home after Christmas have all found new homes after a Belfast Telegraph appeal.
The two cocker spaniels and two border collie pups, all aged around seven weeks, were handed in to the Mid Ulster Rehoming Centre for Dogs in Cookstown after Christmas.
One has found a home in Castlederg, two in Bangor, and the fourth with another family.
"So far we've had no others handed in, thankfully," said shelter owner Colleen Cunningham. "There were loads of people on the phone looking for them, loads of people ringing after reading about them in the Belfast Telegraph and seeing it on our Facebook page.
"It's a nice outcome, and to see people are waiting till after Christmas, people who genuinely want a dog, and they're not going to line some puppy farmer's pocket. Usually in January and February we get inundated with dogs coming in."
At Almost Home Animal Rescue in Moira, Co Down, Buddy the 12-week-old collie was handed in on New Year's Eve.
Karen Mathews from the rescue centre said the family couldn't cope.
"The family realised they couldn't keep him, he was going to be too big a puppy for what they wanted," she said.
"He's a nippy wee pup and they have a two-year-old child and another dog already, which was part of the problem."
The centre also received a number of unwanted dogs in the weeks running up to Christmas - including whippet pups Aston and Martin, who arrived after being cruelly abandoned in a backpack.
"They were on sale on Facebook for £25 each, and the mum was given to us as well in an awful condition," explained Karen. "A young fella was living in a block of flats, he had two people round for a drink with two pups in a rucksack and the mum.
"They left their coats, the pups in the bag and their mum and said they were away to the off licence, but never came back.
"The young guy wanted rid of them that night, so we went and picked them up."
Brynn the lurcher pup was handed in by his owners with a leg in such terrible condition vets feared he would lose it. Now, with a healthy diet, his leg has straightened.
The sanctuary also took on eight collie-cross pups, who were abandoned in a cardboard box at the start of December.
The staff affectionately named them all Santa's Little Helpers, and now all but one have been rehomed.
Emma Martin, from the Dogs Trust in Ballymena, said Bill the collie pup is still looking for a home after he was handed in with his brother Ben on Friday, December 29.
"He was a little stray," said Emma.
"We focus on older dogs at the moment as it's usually six weeks after Christmas when we get dogs back, with kids back at school."
Emma says the older dogs in desperate need of a home include Rusty, a six-year-old Jack Russell, Molly, a nine-year-old Bassett hound, and Wizard, a five-year-old terrier cross.
The Doghouse Sanctuary in Banbridge said far more dogs were abandoned in the summer months.
"People don't want to pay kennel fees, kids are fed up with the dog, it's no longer cute and fluffy, but running round tearing up the garden," a spokesman said.
"It's even worse with autumn weather.
"Kids' promises die a death when the Xbox comes out on a rainy day."
Shaun McIntyre from the Benvardin animal sanctuary in Ballymoney said Christmas pets needed time to adjust to their new surroudings and urged owners to be patient.
"Bringing a new cat or dog into the home at Christmas with so many visitors can be stressful for the animals," he said.
"The poor animal doesn't know who its owners are.
"The message we would put out at this time of year if you have a pup is 'persevere'.
"It's only the first week of January, and the animal doesn't just settle into a new way of life overnight."