Two brilliant rescue organisations came under severe criticism recently. The amazing Blue Cross were attacked through social media about a specific case involving a dog given up to their care. Battersea Dogs Home, much-loved hosts of the Paul O’Grady show ‘For the Love of Dogs’, have now been reported as putting many of the dogs in their centre to sleep. The truth is, they state, that they are overwhelmed with unwanted dogs that are increasingly placed there with behaviour or serious health issues.
It is time we dog owners took responsibility for the reality of having a dog as part of the family. Many of us would not dream of rehoming our beloved pets. However, life holds many surprises and it can be a comfort to know that should the worst happen, our dog might find a new family.
This is where the fantasy ends.
In truth, the love of dogs can lead us to think that we will mould them to our lifestyle, or train them to suit, regardless of the dog’s breed, health, temperament or household structure. I often get asked for advice, by prospective owners wanting a puppy. Frequently they have already made the decision, but my no-nonsense approach is usually to take a view of their situation. For about 9 out of 10 prospective owners I would probably advise them not to get a dog at all. They work all day, or have an already overstretched life, limited funds, or a very small or rented home. Owners with dogs experiencing health or behaviour problems frequently tell me they were not expecting all these issues, the expense, the lack of sleep, the stress of care.
Can we prevent such disastrous results? We certainly can.
The good news is that we have voices, unlike our dogs. Speak out to make sure that as a dog owner you are telling the truth about all the down sides of having a dog. You can let people know that owning a dog is for life, the dog will need proper training and care. The dog will need insurance. The dog might not fit the life we want it to lead. Our lives might change and our dogs may not be able to change along with it. We have to be their supporters and advocates if things are to change.
Secondly, we can speak out against people deciding to breed from their own dog. Unless you plan to keep them all, please do not breed! If evidence is needed about the overpopulation, a simple Google search will show the vast numbers of dogs put to sleep every day. Let’s not add to this problem.
We are a great group of dog owners. Locally I could not wish for better, owners who take their pups to my classes, build up their skills and are prepared for everything that being a dog parent brings.
I feel sad to start the New Year with such a message, but we can turn it into one of hope. Let’s ring the changes in our own community.