UP to 30 dogs were facing death row across East Lancashire today and face being put to sleep unless new homes can be found for them.

Kennel bosses expressed concern that the deepening foot and mouth crisis had stopped people rehoming animals and said they were having to put down an increasing number of healthy dogs.

Kathy Dewhurst, proprietor of the Glencoe boarding kennels, Oswaldtwistle, is currently looking after seven stray dogs with room for nine more and fears they will all die if people do not come forward with homes.

She said: "We are putting more dogs to sleep than usual. Nothing at all is moving. We used to have a lot of people coming up at weekends and a few during the day but this week absolutely nobody has been.

"I think people are worried about the foot and mouth and restrictions on walking a dog at the moment.

Animals are normally only allowed to stay at the kennels for one week but Kathy said the situation had become so desperate since the foot and mouth crisis started she had decided to keep one dog on at her own expense.

Lucky Sophie, the two-year-old German Shepherd, won over the hearts of kennel workers after she was found wandering the streets of Chorley more than a week ago.

Today she was given a second chance in the hope a new owner will come forward with the home she so desperately needs.

Georgina Allen, stray dog coordinator at Aspin Valley Kennels, in Oswaldtwistle, is looking after 13 dogs but urged people not to worry about spreading foot and mouth because they were taking proper precautions. She said: "I think people are worried about doing the wrong thing but that is stopping people coming we would urge them not to be worried because we have got disinfectant at the gate and footpaths around the kennels."

The RSPCA at Huncoat has also fallen victim to foot and mouth after the owners were handed a 'Form D' by government officials which restricts the movement of animals on and off the premises.

The ruling means no animals can be taken in or rehomed and no visitors are allowed on the property.

Manager Jeanette Ainscough, said it was the worst crisis she had ever known and appealed to the public to make cash donations to keep the centre running.

She said: "I've never been so concerned about anything before. This has affected us unbelievably. We are living in hope and hopefully if there are no more outbreaks we might be able to get back to normal.

"We are having to watch our funds because we can't rehome and the number of animals we have is costing us money. We have even had to cancel our annual open day on May 6."

The centre has 42 dogs and 33 cats that are all looking for new homes, as well as a selection of rabbits and ferrets that can not be rehomed because they are sharing a stable yard with three sheep - which are constantly being monitored for signs of the killer disease.

A spokesman for the East Lancashire Pet Search said: "It's soul destroying at the moment. We have been desperately trying and making phone call after phone call to rehome between 20 and 30 dogs.

"There are so many lovely animals being put to sleep but there are so many people out there who aren't aware that they are up for rehoming.

"People only know about the big animal sanctuaries which have had to close because of where they are and now think they can't look for a pet."

If you think you can offer an animal a home, contact Kathy on 01254 261446 or Georgina on 01254 233702. Cheques can be sent to the RSPCA at Holter House Farm, Enfield Road, Huncoat.