Watch as Dogs Trust reveals heartbreak of owners giving up dogs in lockdown - as it transforms life for adorable Leeds puppy

Heartbreaking real phone calls made to Dogs Trust by pet owners who have had to give up their pooches during lockdown have been revealed. The charity today launched a tear-jerking new advert featuring phonecalls made to the charity's helpline by dog owners who have been impacted by the pandemic. They include the tragic story of Leeds puppy, River.

Wednesday, 24th February 2021, 6:00 am
Meet River - a two-year-old Lurcher at Dogs Trust in Leeds who needs a new home (photo: Dogs Trust)

The charity has today released the calls as part of its Change The Tale campaign, where the Trust wants to raise awareness about how it can help those struggling to care for their dogs during lockdown.

It comes as the organisation also revealed that it has seen a 41 per cent increase in web traffic to its ‘Giving Up Your Dog’ page, indicating that more people are considering making the heartbreaking decision to part with their pet.

One dog that Dogs Trust in Leeds has helped was for is a two-year-old lurcher named River, who arrived at their facility just before Christmas in 2020, after being found straying by local authorities.

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When River first arrived at the Leeds Rehoming Centre, he was very anxious around people and wouldn’t leave the den they created for him which was always left open as a place he could to retreat when he needed space.

Thanks to the efforts of his canine carers, River’s trust in people was built again by visiting him several times a day and giving him lots of positive reinforcement.

After a while, the pooch had the confidence to go out for walks and meet other dogs at the centre.

Although he has made a huge amount of progress, staff are continuing to work with him to build his dependence and will be hoping to find him his forever home soon.

River (photo: Dogs Trust)

Amanda Sands, rehoming centre manager at Dogs Trust Leeds, said: “We don’t have much information on what happened to River prior to coming into our care but we can tell he has a very harrowing tale.

"Despite his ordeal of being abandoned and found wandering the streets, it is so wonderful to see River coming out of his shell more with a little TLC and showing us his wonderful personality.

“We know that the pandemic, and its economic repercussions, will have devastating effects on some people’s lives and their ability to care for their pets. 

"When people take on the responsibilities of dog ownership, they do so with the best intentions to care for them long-term.

"But as the calls to Dogs Trust show, in these extraordinary times circumstances can change in a heartbeat, leaving owners with incredibly tough decisions to make.  

 “It is heart-breaking to hear someone having to choose, for example, between a roof over their head, or their dog and we’d like to thank the people who made these calls for allowing us to share their story and for coming to us in their time of need. 

"Unfortunately, we believe the worst is yet to come and we expect many more calls like this as the pandemic fallout continues - and we will do all we can to help those in need of our support.” 

Dogs Trust’s UK-wide campaign describes just some of the reasons people have approached the charity for support in recent months and how a call to Dogs Trust changed the tale for these dogs and their owners. 

In one call, a lady explains the pain of having to give up her dog having lost her job and home, while other callers cite the burden of increased working hours, firm closures, house evictions and financial struggles. 

The charity provides a range of services to help keep dogs and their owners together, such as support for dog owners without a home and a unique fostering service for dog owners experiencing domestic abuse.

Dogs Trust Dog School is also providing easy to follow online videos helping dog owners tackle behaviours they are seeing as a result of lockdown that could eventually result in dogs having to be given up, such as separation anxiety.

The charity also offers the Canine Care Card, which guarantees that if an owner should pass away or become very unwell, their dog will be cared for by Dogs Trust.

 If you are struggling and need advice or support to give up your dog, or would like to donate to Dogs Trust, please visit the website.