Fans across the country can’t get enough of Game of Thrones, but the show has sparked an alarming trend — an increased demand for huskies because of their physical similarities to direwolves.
Adoring viewers are buying the dogs from pet stores and breeders (often naming them after their favorite characters), then — after realizing how much work and commitment are required to care for them — dumping them at shelters already bursting at the seams with homeless dogs. Now, series star Peter Dinklage is teaming up with PETA to remind fans that dogs should be acquired only as family members and need to be looked after for a lifetime, and he’s urging those who are serious about expanding their family to adopt, never buy.
“Please, to all of Game of Thrones’ many wonderful fans, we understand that due to the direwolves’ huge popularity, many folks are going out and buying huskies,” Dinklage says. “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.”
Two breed-specific rescue groups in Northern California have seen their numbers double over the last two years, and the U.K. has reported similar statistics since the show premiered in 2011.
PETA — whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” — notes that this isn’t the first time that a popular TV show or movie has led to an increased demand for the animals seen on screen. 101 Dalmatians, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Legally Blonde, and Men in Black all caused massive spikes in sales of the featured dog breeds, and many of these dogs were later abandoned at shelters by their ill-prepared guardians.
More than 6 million dogs and cats end up in animal shelters every year, and half of them are euthanized because there simply aren’t enough homes for them. PETA encourages everyone to adopt and never buy from breeders or pet stores, which contribute to the overpopulation crisis.