Game of Thrones fans are undoubtedly aware of the presence of “direwolves” in the wildly popular HBO series and animal shelters believe that this has led to a spike in abandoned huskies.
The direwolves in the show are mostly Northern Inuit dogs which are related to the Siberian husky breed. The furry creatures made their Game of Thrones debut in 2011 as guardians of the Stark siblings.
Angelique Miller, president of Northern California Sled Dog Rescue, told The Dodo that when it comes to abandoned huskies, they have witnessed “an increase that’s about twice what we would normally see” over the last two years.
How is the non-profit organization certain that the fantasy show is partly responsible for this?
Miller said it’s because many of the abandoned dogs have names like Sansa, Ghost, and Stark. She also recalled that during one of their adoption fairs, their huskies caught the attention of a couple and the first word that came out of the man’s mouth was “direwolves.”
Rescue coordinator Randee McQueen from the Bay Area Siberian Husky Club also echoes Miller’s sentiments. He reports that BASH has been receiving dogs between 18 months and two years old who have winter-related names.
Siberian huskies are not for everyone and Miller hopes that people who adopt them would do their research first.
“They’re so cute in the shows, so a lot of people go and buy these dogs as puppies, but they don’t do any research on the breed. This is not a breed for everybody. The breed is very active. They have a lot of energy, so they need a lot of exercise. They have an extremely high prey drive. So we will not adopt these dogs out to anyone who has any type of small animal.”
She adds that huskies are “pack animals” who want to be with dogs and humans. NorSled currently provides care to 40 dogs and the organization is struggling to find permanent homes for them.
This isn’t the first time Game of Thrones was blamed for the surge in adoption of huskies. Blue Cross, an organization that cares for abandoned pets, claims that the increasing popularity of wolf-like dogs in films (e.g. Twilight) and television programs contribute to the trend.
Even Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner took home Sansa Stark’s “direwolf.” Lady didn’t make it to the show’s second episode and Turner found out that the Northern Inuit dog, whose real-life name is Zunni, had nowhere to go after filming. The actress then volunteered to adopt Zunni and bring her to their family home in England.
[Featured Image by HBO]