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Celeb craze for 'handbag' dogs sees rise in number of abandoned animals

A leading animal charity has revealed that the number of "catwalk" dogs being abandoned is growing at an alarming rate

In the last two years the Dogs Trust has seen a 44 percent rise in toy dogs being handed in to its re-homing centres.

Chihuahuas, dachshunds, pug crosses and pomeranians are favoured by celebrities such as Paris Hilton who are frequently pictured carrying them in handbags.

But members of the public who follow the trend are finding they can't cope with or afford the animals, which can cost upwards of 1,000 pounds, as they grow up.

According to the Sunday Times, in 2008, 285 small breed dogs were left at Dogs Trust centres around Britain, and last year the figure was 409.

The RSPCA said many puppy farms are raising miniature breeds in doubtful conditions.

And the Dogs Trust is so concerned about the trend for catwalk dogs among teenagers aping celebrities that it is launching a dog-care education programme for schools.

It is also launching a campaign this week called A Dog is not a Toy.

Paula Boyden, the Trust's veterinary director, expects a growing number of dogs to be abandoned as the trend fades.

"This illustrates just how dangerous any fashion that involves dogs is," the Daily Mail quoted Boyden as saying.

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