South East Wales

Dog walkers' Christmas gifts appeal for homeless pets

The group said they had been totally blown away by the number of boxes stuffed with treats donated for abandoned pets Image copyright Japhia Gough‎
Image caption The group said they had been totally blown away by the number of boxes stuffed with treats donated for abandoned pets

Hundreds of abandoned pets will be getting festive treats on Christmas Day after generous animal lovers donated more than 1,000 presents to an appeal.

In October a group of Newport dog walkers started a shoe box appeal to give gifts to rescued rabbits, cats and dogs.

Since then more than 1,000 boxes filled with everything from festive jumpers to treats and tunnels have been donated.

Dog walker Rachel Hunter said the generosity had been "overwhelming".

"We thought we were going to get about 20 boxes, but it just exploded," she said.

The group had planned to stop collecting the donations last month but will keep collecting until Christmas Day to give presents to Newport City Dogs Home, Mittens Cat Rescue, and Friends of the Animals RCT.

Image copyright Abbie Webb
Image caption Alfie with the gifts for abandoned dogs in Newport
Image copyright Cheryl Walker
Image caption Paris the cat getting ready for the gift giving to start

About 700 boxes packed with gifts for dogs, 200 for cats and 100 for rabbits will be handed out on Sunday at the shelters.

"I think deep down we are a nation of animal lovers," Ms Hunter said.

"A lot of the time we don't think about the homeless dogs, cats and rabbits, but when it is highlighted to them people all think it will be great.

"They are just kind hearted people - it has just been overwhelming."

Among the more unusual gifts donated was a jacket to help anxious dogs keep calm during fireworks and storms.

Image copyright Julie McNaughton

Ms Hunter said the team decided to extend the appeal to rabbits as they are one of the main pets bought and then abandoned after Christmas.

She said: "The children do not want it, and the adults don't care for it - it is just really sad."

Following the success of this year's campaign, the team considering becoming a registered charity to help more animals next year - including hedgehogs.

"A pet is not just for Christmas, it's for life, and these boxes will last a whole year," she said.

"This whole thing has been humbling".

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