Why “Handbag Dogs” Are Filling Shelters

The idea of a tiny dog poking its head our of your purse while you tote it around may sound cute, but this trend is connected to a horrible reality: the increased abandonment of small dog breeds. As more and more people realize that smaller size doesn't mean smaller responsibility, these “purse dogs” are the ones paying the price. The Blue Cross Rehoming Centre serving the United Kingdom reported a 120 percent increase of small breeds filling its shelters from 2010 to 2015. Some of the top breeds being abandoned include the Yorkshire terrier, the Chihuahua, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, the bichon frise and the shih tzu. Many people seem to see these little dogs more as fashion accessories than animals, often underestimating the amount of care they need. Celebrities including Paris Hilton, Simon Cowell and Britney Spears have popularized the idea of carrying tiny dogs around town, often in a tote bag or purse. Whether or not these celebrities are responsible pet owners, they have inspired waves of not-so-responsible fans to follow their lead.

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Unfortunately, many of these new dog owners get bored with their “purse dog.” Others realize that they underestimated how much exercise and care their pooch needs as well as how expensive a dog can be. On top of that, many breeders have been jumping on the “handbag dog” bandwagon to make some extra cash. Although some of these dogs find good homes, many others end up in shelters.

A big part of the problem is that people are buying these dogs on impulse. Blue Cross reports that 38 percent of people they surveyed said they spent more time researching their next phone than researching dog breeds, and almost one third said they spent less than a week researching. Eighteen percent admitted that their dogs were complete impulse buys. Just as with any other dog, adopting or buying a small dog is a long-term commitment. Anyone who isn't ready to look after a canine friend for life shouldn't even think of buying a “purse dog,” but this trend shows no signs of stopping. Thankfully, organizations such as Blue Cross are doing their best to educate the masses and find homes for the unwanted pups. If you want to do your part to help dogs and other animals in need, click here to learn how.

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