A puppy dumped in a bin during freezing temperatures, dogs left to starve and pups scarred by cigarette burns are some of the shocking cases of neglect witnessed by Sheffield dog wardens.
Cruel owners have abandoned their pets because they were old, in summer to avoid paying boarding kennel fees, or shortly after Christmas when the novelty of a puppy as a present has worn off.
Naomi Johnson, one of Sheffield Council’s two dog control officers covering 18 postcodes, has even adopted two animals herself that were left emaciated or dangerously ill, and nursed them back to full health.
The 26-year-old, of Handsworth, said: “I have cried in anger to be honest, even though I am quite hardened to it - it is an emotional job.
“We’ve had dogs that come in with what look like cigarette burns, or scars because they have been used as bait dogs.
“The Christmas before last, when it was really cold, somebody had put a Rottweiler puppy, about eight weeks old, in a blue recycling bin and left him there.
“I took him straight to the vet but there was nothing we could do for him.
“Not so long ago I found another puppy who was so ill we couldn’t save her either.
“I don’t understand why people do it, and I never will.”
The council team finds around 1,100 dogs a year - of which 40 per cent are reunited with their owners and 40 per cent are adopted by new families from the kennels on Spring Street on the edge of the city centre.
But around 10 per cent do have to be put down, either because of health problems on the recommendation of a vet, or because they are too aggressive to be kept as pets safely.
Since April this year 143 dogs have been reclaimed, 72 have been adopted, 67 have gone to rescue centres, and five have had to be put to sleep for health reasons.
Another 10 were put down as they were prohibited breeds such as pitbull terriers.
Nick Chaplin, environment protection manager for the council, said: “We have two peak periods - Christmas and summer - the latter because people want to go on holiday but don’t want to pay boarding fees.
“There are a lot of dogs in around February time, when Christmas presents have started to grow up.
“We have a vet who assesses the dogs and, if there is any sign of suffering, the vet will make recommendations as to what treatment should be given.
“There are times when a dog’s health is too far gone and we do put down around 10 per cent.
“The vet will make the final decision.”