DENVER — "Game of Thrones" fans who wanted to own something like the near-mythical "Dire Wolves" on the series are now abandoning Huskies in record numbers.
"People have actually asked me if we have any Dire Wolves. That doesn't exist." said Maren Gibson with the Arctic Breeds Rescue, which rescues Huskies, Malamutes and other northern breeds in Utah and Colorado. "They have no real knowledge of the breed."
Now, many of those dogs are being found on the street or abandoned in shelters.
"We've said amongst ourselves, 'What is going on with all these lost Huskies?'" said Stephanie Weber, who helps run the Facebook group Lost and Found Dogs of Colorado.
Weber said they have recently seen a surge in found Huskies that no one is looking for.
"So, it seems sort of like maybe they are not just getting loose," said Weber. "Maybe someone is turning them loose, getting rid of them."
At the Dumb Friends League Shelter in Aurora, there has also been a significant increase in the number of Huskies and Malamutes. The shelter has seen a 25 percent increase in the last fiscal year, compared to only a 2.5 percent increase the year before.
Some are strays, but almost half of them have been surrendered by their owners.
"The reasons people are giving when they are surrendering the dogs are time and space, which means they don't have enough time for the dog, they don't have enough space for the dog," said Maia Brusseau, a spokeswoman with the Dumb Friends League. "If you want to adopt this type of dog, you need to make sure it's right for your lifestyle."
The high-energy breed can be a challenge for many owners.
"Northern breeds are difficult," said Weber, who is fostering a Husky mix. "They're stubborn. They're runners. They're escape artists, They're chewers. They're very vocal. They have high energy and need a lot of exercise. They're great dogs if you're willing to make your life fit around them."
Weber said too many people choose pets as an extension of the favorite show or movie and not based on what is the best fit for their family.
"When '101 Dalmatians' came out, everyone wanted a Dalmatian. It happens with every trend like that. but 15 years is a long time to live with not the right dog," said Weber.
She recommends volunteering at a wolf rescue if you want to see something like a Dire Wolf or fostering the breed before you decide to adopt.