Jerome Flynn, the British actor who plays the swashbuckling Ser Bronn, says fans of the show are creating an animal welfare nightmare by wanting their own “direwolves” and buying huskies they cannot handle. It means innocent dogs are being abandoned and ending up in dog pounds under the threat of death sentences. With the last series of the long-running saga expected to attract more than a billion viewers this weekend, the actor and dedicated animal welfare champion is backing a new campaign to urge the show’s fans not to buy huskies or other animals on impulse.
In a video for PETA released on YouTube, Flynn explains: “If you’re a fan of the show you are also likely to be a fan of the direwolves. Sadly, their popularity has sparked an alarming trend.
"More and more huskies are being bred and bought because of their resemblance to direwolves. I am here today to urge you not to give into this temptation.”
Earlier this week, British animal welfare charities reported how they had seen a surge of “wolf look-a-like” breeds such as huskies, akitas and malamuts coming into their rescue centres because of the Game of Thrones phenomenon.
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Dogs Trust says it has witnessed a massive 420 percent rise in the "wolf" breeds coming through its doors since the HBO epic first hit screens nine years ago.
Jerome Flynn coming out fighting for 'dire wolf' pets (Image: HBO)
It is easy to see how any dog lover cannot be enthralled by the size and power of the loyal direwolves devoted to the Stark dynasty.
Each of the Stark heirs has had one of the huge beasts as a bodyguard, but the animals have taken a terrible toll in the battles and brutal intrigue that have unfurled during seven previous series. Only two survive: Jon Snow’s faithful Ghost and Arya Stark’s Nymeria.
French bulldogs have become the UK's top dogs over the past decade but more need rescuing (Image: GETTY) RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said today: “We know that the breeds of dog coming into our care often reflect the trends in dog ownership in the wider world and, at the moment, it doesn’t get more trendy than ‘designer’ dogs like French bulldogs and dachshunds.
Similar fates have fallen upon their real-life counterparts.
Flynn tells the camera: “While people may have good intentions, acquiring dogs on a whim has dire consequences.
Direwolves as they appear in PETA video (Image: HBO/PETA)
Innocent huskies are being bought by fans who cannot handle the breed (Image: PETA)
"Animal shelters around the world are reporting a surge in the number of abandoned huskies because the casual acquirer, drawn to the dog's appearance, failed to take into consideration the amount of time, patience, and money required to care for these animals properly.
“With shelters already bursting at the seams with homeless animals, more of these huskies, like so many wonderful dogs, will have to be euthanised because there are simply too many of them and too few homes.”
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While leading British canine charity, Dogs Trust vows never to put a healthy dog to sleep, it agrees with the message that Game of Thrones fans must not be beguiled by the fantasy creatures.
Dogs Trust’s operations director Adam Clowes warned: “Since the start of Game of Thrones we have seen a huge increase in the popularity of wolf look-a-like dogs, but we urge owners to remember a dog is for life, not just the duration of a TV series.”
Jerome Flynn's plea in PETA appeal (Image: PETA)
Since the start of Game of Thrones wolf look-a-like dogs have become popular (Image: PETA)
With 28 Akitas, Malamutes and huskies currently being looked after across the charity’s 21 rescue centres, the operations director continued: “They are beautiful, large, powerful dogs and they make loyal companions but as they were originally bred for more physical past-times, such as pulling sledges in cold climates and hunting, they need a lot of physical and mental stimulation every day and not all owners are able to provide that.
Adorable Hockney weighed less than a bag of sugar when he was found in a field (Image: Dogs Trust) Hockney needed urgent veterinary care when he was found (Image: Dogs Trust) Emma Cooper, assistant manager at Dogs Trust Leeds who is helping to care for Hockney, said: “Puppies of this age shouldn’t be away from their mother, let alone left to fend for themselves in a field.
“We love looking after these dogs and owners have done the right thing bringing them to us so we can find them their forever homes.
"However, with the end of the series, we really hope we see fewer of them coming to us in the future.”
It is a sentiment shared by Flynn who tells the camera: “If you have carefully considered bringing a four-legged companion into your family, you can save a life by adopting a dog – or preferably two so they can keep each other company – from your local animal shelter.”
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