A DOG charity has been forced to change its rules following an increase in the number of possibly aggressive dogs being brought to their doors.

Stokenchurch Dog Rescue has now said it will only take those dogs which they feel they can rehome safely.

Chairman Joyce Marriott said: "One operational change we've had to introduce is that we can no longer take in all dogs that are brought to our gate - only those that we feel we can rehome safely."

She added: "Sadly this is a result of an increasing number of unsuitable dogs - by temperament and/or breed type - being brought for re-homing. It's now a legal requirement that for certain cross-breeds, the police must come and check such dogs to ensure we're not falling foul of requirements under the recently revised Dangerous Dogs Act.

"Namely, we're not allowed to re-home any dog deemed to be of a dangerous breed or any part of such breeds."

Last year the charity took in 530 dogs and rehomed 519 of them. Unlike some dog rescue centres, it has a policy to never put healthy dogs to sleep. There were an average of 44 dogs a month in the kennels.

Mrs Marriott said: "Society's relationship with dogs has markedly changed over the past 50 years" and added "designer dogs, status dogs, dogs used as weapons and dog fighting is as prevalent now as it was in the dark ages."

Much publicised dog attacks were due to irresponsible ownership, she said, and added: "If that were not bad enough, more puppy farms are being licensed and a recent report showed that one in five of all such pups will die before they reach six months, 50 per cent develop behavioural problems and more than one in ten will have serious health issues.

"Yet, thousands of these poor pups are advertised daily online and rescue centres like ours are bearing the brunt of this despicable trade."

Mrs Marriott was speaking at the charity's AGM, which heard the charity's work had been boosted by legacies, grants and regular fund raising to continue dog welfare and improvements.

There is a need for more members, legacies, donations and other help for SDR to keep going. More helpers are needed for jumble sales and street collections. Contact 01494 482695.