The dogs without a home for Christmas

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All looking for homes after multiple Christmases in rescue centres: (L-R) Buster, Lilly, Freddie, Lara, Bess and Monty.

Each year scores of rescued dogs spend Christmas in care after failing to find a new home and each year rescue centres receive a new influx of unwanted canine gifts. Here are some of the animals that have spent the longest time waiting for a new home.

Bess the collie cross: 8th Christmas in care

Image source, Last Chance Animal Rescue
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Bess the Collie cross at Last Chance Animal Rescue in Kent

This nine-year-old girl has been through the wars.

Reared on a farm, at five months old she was hit by a 4x4 when she ran into a lane, and had four pins placed in her neck.

Luckily she recovered from the trauma, but then her owner lost his job and home.

She was bounced around different foster families so much that she developed wariness of strangers, and other dogs.

Finally, she was brought to Kent's Last Chance Animal Rescue centre. Jen Mansfield, the rescue centre's manager, said she needs nothing short of "utter devotion" from new owners.

Devotion can be hard to find though.

Forty years ago, the Dogs Trust coined the phrase "A dog is for life, not just for Christmas". However, last January it received nearly 5,000 calls from people asking to bring in their dogs.

The RSPCA had 1,268 calls on Boxing Day alone last year for unwanted pets.

Adam Levy, regional manager for the Dogs Trust, said: "Even on Christmas Day itself we have dogs brought to us from people who have received them as presents and don't want them.

"Once the initial Christmas sparkle has worn off and people realise the huge commitment it takes to own a dog, they come into our care.

"It's heart-breaking for us."

Buster the boxer-cross: 8th Christmas in care

Image source, Last Chance Animal Rescue
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Buster the Boxer-cross has been at the Last Chance Animal Rescue for eight years

Nine-year-old Buster has spent the past eight years in the Kent rescue centre.

Ms Mansfield said he was a "loving boy who craves affection and cuddles" but, like any big and bouncy boxer, he can get a bit overexcited.

Being in a rescue centre almost his entire life has made him nervous of new people and other dogs. However, says Ms Mansfield, "once he trusts you he will be your best friend".

Lilly the crossbreed: 6th Christmas in care

Image source, The Dog's Trust
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Lilly the crossbreed with her carer Charlotte Freer at The Dog's Trust in Shropshire

Seven-year-old Lilly was rescued in 2013 in Shrewsbury when her previous owners' marriage broke up.

Her carer Charlotte Freer said Lilly was very playful, "adores going on walks and car rides and is happy to meet other dogs".

She is also particularly receptive to training when ham or cheese treats are involved.

Lilly gets nervous around new people so Ms Freer and the team want to see her in a peaceful home.

Freddie the collie cross English bulldog: 4th Christmas in care

Image source, Holbrook Animal Rescue
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Freddie the collie cross English bulldog at Holbrook Animal Rescue, Horsham

An unusual cross-breed, five-year-old Fred was brought to the Dogs Trust's Kent centre as a six-month-old pup when it was discovered a group of boys were harbouring him in a youth centre.

Laura Santini, owner of Holbrook Animal Rescue, said: "Freddie is an extremely intelligent dog. He loves adults, children and other dogs - so much so he is often very sad when one here gets homed.

"He's so joyful, but the collie in him makes him a handful so he would really need an active home, or life on a farm where he'd have a job to do."

Lara the Staffordshire bull terrier: 3rd Christmas in care

Image source, Dog's trust
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Lara the Staffordshire bull terrier from the Dogs Trust in Devon

Ten-year-old Lara is the princess of the Dogs Trust centre in Ilfracombe, north Devon - so much so she even gets tucked into bed every night.

A change in her previous owner's circumstances saw her handed over, but this gentle fuss-pot is desperate to be loved again.

One of her canine carers, Phil Hammond, said: "She adores people. She's a real sweetie. She builds a very strong bond, and will be your best friend."

Monty the English pointer: 3rd Christmas in care

Image source, Dog's Trust
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Monty the English Pointer at the Dogs Trust, Essex

Six-year-old Monty is a favourite with staff at the Basildon centre, as he loves to play, is housetrained and knows basic commands.

He was found as a stray, so is naturally wary of new people, and it may take him some time to settle in a new home.

All charities carry similar messages - do not get a dog without fully appreciating the commitment involved, and if a dog is the right choice for you, consider rehoming one first.

A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said: "While it can be tempting to get a pet from a pet shop or from a breeder, we would urge everyone to first think about giving a rescue a chance. It's so rewarding to give an unwanted or previously mistreated animal a second chance at a happy life.

"Our animals are loud, quiet, fluffy, big, small, or even three-legged. They come with a personality ready-made, a past that's unique to them and a lot of love to give."