London: Britain risks losing its reputation as a nation of dog lovers due to fickle owners, poor training and an appalling new trend in dumping puppies, charities say.
TV vet, author and animal welfare campaigner Marc Abraham said impulse buying of dogs, fuelled by unscrupulous internet dealers and bad practices in puppy farming, is leading to a rapid rise in cruelty cases while a legislation enacted in 1951 to protect animals is "a total mess".
"We're getting worse as a nation of supposed animal lovers. Puppies are so easy to get hold of that they have become disposable. You can just dump them when you have had enough, and rescue centres up and down the country are bursting at the seams," he said.
Mistreatment, and poor care and diet, leave dogs with behavioural problems, and rescue centres then struggle to find new homes for them, he was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
"So we have this huge demand that the breeders can't cope with, rescue centres overwhelmed and these big battery farms spewing out more," said Abraham, who has set up PupAid, a campaign for better controls and licensing in the puppy trade.
His comments came after the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) said last week that increasing ignorance among people buying dogs ? five million did no research before taking on an animal and were largely unaware of the specific needs of the breed ? was leading to more aggressive dogs.
The number of court cases involving attacks has risen by 62 per cent year on year after a toughening of laws making owners directly responsible, but with eight postal workers attacked each day and more than 7,000 hospital admissions last year from dog bites, the problem is serious, the report said.
The charity believes that the level of canine aggression is down to the owners and caused by poor dog socialisation and training, as well as animals not being properly exercised.
The PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) report found nearly 250,000 dogs are acting viciously towards people each week, and more than 600,000 dogs are showing aggression towards other pets.
Vicki Larkham of the PDSA said: "Millions of dogs aren't getting off-the-lead exercise outside their home or garden for 10 minutes or more on a daily basis.
Close to a quarter of a million dogs never go for walks on their lead for 10 minutes or more at all. Boredom and inactivity often contribute to anxiety and destructive behaviour.
"A properly trained and socialised dog is less likely to act aggressively as it grows up. It's up to every owner to make sure this happens," Larkham said.