Animal shelters and advocates are blaming the wildly popular HBO series "Game of Thrones" for sparking a sad trend: The number of abandoned Huskies and German Shepherds has soared, as fans pursue their own version of pet "dire wolves" featured in the show.
What are the details?
The dire wolves in "Game of Thrones" are played by a cast of Husky-German Shepherd crossbreeds called Northern Inuits, and an actual arctic wolf, according to National Geographic. The real-life animals' appearance on screen shows them doubled in actual size using special effects, in order to depict the stature of the now-extinct dire wolf.
But fans the world over are apparently leaving behind their own dire wolf lookalikes after discovering the amount of attention and care these large breeds require.
KOVR-TV reported that the number of Huskies left at animal shelters in the United States has increased eight-fold since the show launched in 2011. According to The Sun, the U.K. has experienced the same trend, with its largest dog rescue reporting a 420 percent increase in "breeds such as Akitas, Alaskan Malamutes, Somoyeds, and Siberian Huskies" since "Game of Thrones" first hit screens.
Shelter officials say it's impossible to not associate the influx of wolf-like breeds with "Game of Thrones."
Barbara Swanda, vice president of the Delaware Valley Siberian Husky Rescue told National Geographic, "If they have any identification when they come in, they're often coming in with the names" of dire wolves on the show: Ghost, Grey Wind, Lady, Nymeria, Shaggydog, and Summer."
While "Game of Thrones" is in its final season, animal advocates fear the rise of wolf-looking dogs being cast aside will continue for the near future, as breeders have ramped up operations amid increased demand.
Fans looking for their own dire wolf are encouraged to first do their research, and then consider rescuing a dog from a shelter.