A DOG rescue charity has warned that an increase in the number of dogs being abandoned over Christmas could see the kennels being filled to capacity.

Ryedale Dog Rescue is expecting to have almost double the number of dogs they usually care for throughout the year – bringing their total to more than 20.

The charity said that over Christmas it had seen a significant increase in cases where people had abandoned their pets or asked animal shelters to take them as they could not cope with a dog, particularly over the festive season.

“Christmas is such a lovely time of year for many people, but the reality is that for a lot of dogs it is probably the worst time of year,” said Rosie Stephenson, trustee and dog co-ordinator for Ryedale Dog Rescue.

“The council pounds are usually very full of abandoned and unwanted dogs which, come the New Year, will all be desperate for places in rescue centres.

“We also saw an increase in the number of people wanting to or having to give up their dogs in December, so adding to the strays. It’s a major problem.”

Rosie said that people have often been given puppies as presents over summer or Christmas and quickly realise they cannot cope once it gets bigger.

After abandoned dogs have spent seven days in the council pound, they are sent to a rescue home or put down by a vet if there is no place for them.

Ryedale Dog Rescue, which is run entirely by trustees and about 20 volunteers, and has to fundraise a minimum of £36,000 to £38,000 per year, neuters all dogs and carries out home visits before re-homing a rescue dog.

But due to the fact that these checks cannot be carried out over Christmas and New Year, Rosie said she is expecting to see an increase in the number of dogs in their kennels.

She said: “Usually we have about 12 or 14, but I expect we will have well into the 20s now.

“I was once told that you rescue a dog for its quality of life, not just to keep it alive.

“Your heart does often rule your head and some days you have to remember that you can’t save the world, but if you save one dog, then you have saved its world.”