A Tayside rescue charity has warned that the hit television show Game of Thrones has had an unexpected and unwelcome effect on abandoned dogs.
Perthshire Abandoned Dogs Society has cared for more than 7,700 dogs since it was established 27 years ago and has seen many trends come and go.
In recent months, it has become increasingly concerned by the plight of breeds such as huskies and malamutes — which look like the northern Inuit dogs used in the blockbuster show.
They play the part of the ‘Direwolves’ who become bodyguards to central characters in the show and have led many families to seek to buy their own.
Unfortunately, the impulse purchases have led to an increasing number of dogs being given up by owners ill-prepared to meet the needs of the demanding breeds.
There is said to have been an eightfold increase in abandonments since the show hit screens in 2011 and Games of Thrones star Peter Dinklage — who plays Tyrion Lannister — has himself been moved to urge fans to stop buying huskies.
Alison Kennedy from PADS said: “Sadly it looks like huskies are becoming the next problem dog, taking over from staffies, for rescue charities across the UK.
“They have become extremely popular because of the impact of Game of Thrones and the film series Twilight.
“The trouble with huskies and other similar breeds is that they are pack dogs, highly intelligent and easily bored.
“They require a lot of stimulation and exercise and experienced owners. That’s why they eat the sofa if they are holed-up all day. They are not lapdogs.”
Alison said that all too many would-be dog owners do not consider the breed of dog and their needs before taking them home.
As a result, an increasing number of owners are finding the dogs too much to handle and are abandoning them to the care of charities such as PADS.
“Over the past few years we have received around a dozen huskies, four malamutes and one akita,” Alison added.
“The advice from all rescue charities is that unless you are experienced with the breed and know what is entailed with giving them a proper life, then don’t buy one.
“These are very specialist dogs.”
Peter Dinklage teamed-up with PETA to urge caution when it comes to buying dogs.
The actor said: “We understand that due to the direwolves’ huge popularity, many folks are going out and buying huskies.
“Not only does this hurt all the deserving homeless dogs waiting for a chance at a good home in shelters, but shelters are also reporting that many of these huskies are being abandoned — as often happens when dogs are bought on impulse, without understanding their needs.
“Please, please, if you’re going to bring a dog into your family, make sure that you’re prepared for such a tremendous responsibility and remember to always, always, adopt from a shelter.”