THAT all too familiar phrase `a dog is for life, not just for Christmas' appears to be sadly going astray in Huddersfield and throughout West Yorkshire.
According to Huddersfield's Marina Kennels, the current number of stray dogs is reaching epidemic proportions and the situation is being blamed on the post-Christmas throw out of unwanted animals.
Janet Worrell, who owns Marina says the situation in 2005 is the worst she has ever seen and her kennels is struggling to cope with the ever-increasing number of strays found on the street of towns across the region.
She said: "As a kennels we take in dogs from the Huddersfield area and far beyond. Many of our animals come from Leeds, Bradford, Halifax etc. This is the worst post-Christmas situation I have seen."
Janet believes the problem is the perennial one of buying a dog or puppy as a Christmas present without thinking the decision through.
Once the novelty of walking their dog has worn off and owners realise that a pet is a big commitment as it may, for example, need costly veterinary treatment from time to time, their chosen option is to dump the animal.
"At the moment we are doing improvements at Marina Kennels to make our facilities for the dogs better with bigger kennels.
"Unfortunately however we haven't room to extend the number of kennels and our usual limit is 70 dogs at any one time.
She said recently on some days, because of the current situation, there have been almost 100 dogs needing shelter at Marina.
"Thankfully we do get help from dog rescue centres up and down the country who can take some dogs off our hands, and, of course, we do rehome many of them.
"At the moment however we are absolutely inundated with young dogs and puppies.
"Just the other day a dog came in and a couple of days later gave birth to five pups. Then we had another dog brought in from Todmorden who presented us with another litter of pups.
"Luckily we seem to be finding homes for many of these and several people have put deposits on the puppies which need to stay with the mother for a few weeks longer.
"We have everything here at the moment - from a Great Dane to a Jack Russell. We also seem to be getting a lot of pedigree dogs in as strays which would have cost someone a lot of money to buy.
"If people get a dog and find they can't cope, either with the financial side or with the responsibility, take steps to rehome the animal. Don't just throw it out onto the street!"
Janet said that one day last week Marina managed to rehome 26 dogs in one day. The day after, the kennel was full, back up to full capacity once more.
"This really is one of the worst times I have ever known."
According to national dog charities, thousands of stray dogs are looking for a new home every day and the situation is getting steadily worse.
If you think that you can help, and that as far as you are concerned a dog really is for life and not just for Christmas, then call Marina on 01484 426407 between 10am and 4pm.