Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage urges people to stop buying huskies as number abandoned soars
Game of Thrones fans have been warned to stop buying huskies after the number of abandoned animals in the UK soared eight-fold since the show began.
The dogs, which bear a strong resemblance to the ‘direwolves’ which feature in the fantasy epic, are increasingly popular with devotees of the series, but animal charities say huskies are often dumped once the novelty has worn off.
Before the show aired in 2011, the number of abandoned huskies was around 10 a year in the UK, according to figures from British charity Blue Cross, but last year the figure hit 81.
Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister in the series, teamed up with the animal charity PETA to ask fans to stop buying the animals.
"We understand that due to the direwolves' huge popularity, many folks are going out and buying huskies," he said.
"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."
It is not the first time that a popular television programme or film has sparked an increase in demand for animals featured on screen. The films 101 Dalmatians, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Legally Blonde and Men in Black, caused massive spikes in sales of dogs breeds seen on screen.
Many were later abandoned in shelters, and many have to be euthanised because they cannot find homes.
Already 29 huskies have been abandoned in the UK this year, but Blue Cross is expecting the figure to rise now a new series has begun.
"Numbers of abandoned and unwanted wolflike dogs, including huskies and malamutes, ending up at Blue Cross have been steadily rising over the past few years," said a spokesman for the charity.
"Part of the reason for the rise is down to people being drawn in by their striking looks – having spotted them on shows such as Game of Thrones - and making snap decisions to take on dogs such as Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes without thinking about how their lifestyle fits in with the breeds’ needs.
"Huskies can pull sleds across hundreds of miles of icy terrain. They are not happy with simply slobbing in front of the telly after a 10 minute plod round the block."
Blue Cross said people who are considering buying a huskie should also remember that huskies, like wolves, enjoy howling and singing which could cause a problem with neighbours.
They also have a strong chase instinct are likely to see small animals, or a neighbours cat as prey.