A RESCUE centre near Taunton is urging dog lovers to give unwanted strays a second chance after being inundated with mistreated and abandoned pets.

Staff at St Giles Kennels, who founded the charity Dogs 4 Adoption, have seen a sharp increase in the number of strays brought in to the centre this year, which accepts around 90% of all rescue dogs in Somerset.

Vanessa Linell, owner of the family-run business based in Wrantage, said she has been shocked by the poor condition of the animals, which have been found in the streets, on wastelands and even tied up in woods.

“The numbers are increasing and we are having dogs arrive in worse and worse condition and they are not traceable,” she said.

“We have had dogs come in with cigarette burns, ones that are dreadfully thin, have severe skin conditions and ear infections.

“We have had them come in with their jaws injured, probably from being used for badger baiting, and even one with marks from a cable tie which was around its muzzle and they will never go.

“Now obviously with the financial climate, dogs are drafted out as strays but it is all avoidable.

“There is help for people, there really is no excuse.”

Unlike other rescue centres, St Giles Kennels never turns a dog away, but last year over half of the dogs that were brought in were not reclaimed.

As a result staff have seen a 21% increase in the number of dogs coming in from the Taunton Deane area this year, with the least hailing from West Somerset where numbers are at their lowest.

The increase follows a dip in the number of strays reported to Taunton Deane Council from 2011 to 2012.

A survey by the Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, has revealed that a third of the population would not rehome a rescue dog.

A spokesperson from the trust said they are keen to dispel the myth that stray dogs are an unknown quantity.

He added: “Dogs Trust’s 2012 Stray Dog Survey represents depressing news for the West Country’s dogs with the total number of strays remaining at high levels.”

Vanessa, who is urging people to consider a rescue, said: “When you are thinking about getting a dog come down and see us and get a rescue dog. We are inundated and we have some lovely dogs.”

If you could give a dog a good home or are interested in fostering a dog call 01823-490333 or visit the charity's website here.