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Woof-Woof Stuff:

Musings of a professional dog walker & pet sitter

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Gimme Shelter

Image courtesy of Vee Bee @
Shelters, sanctuaries and rescue centres are chockful of dogs desperate for good homes. Some will be animals seized by the RSCPA from abusive owners, but many are just the unfortunate result of owners finding themselves in a position where they can no longer offer the level of care and companionship that’s necessary for the physical and mental wellbeing of their much-loved pets.

I, for one, would much rather an individual was honest enough to stand up and just say “I can’t give him/her a happy home/life any more” rather than trudging on and allowing the dog to suffer. Unquestionably, the initial separation from the owner and time spent in a shelter are hugely traumatic experiences for any dog but at least in this situation there’s hope; whereas denial of a reduced ability to provide adequate care only condemns the poor dog to a continued life of misery.

This should be the message that shelters send out. They should be saying “We know taking care of a dog is a huge responsibility that requires both time and money, so if you’re at a place where one, the other, or both are in short supply and it’s to the detriment of your dog’s wellbeing, please think about giving him/her a chance in another home”. They won’t of course, and understandably so, because it would fall on them to take temporary ownership and, unfortunately, their finances and resources are limited. Much as they’d like to see all dogs currently living in unsuitable conditions given new homes, they’re not going to start encouraging an influx of new canine residents when their facilities are probably close to maximum capacity, if not already there.

Whilst no owner takes on a dog with the thought that one day they might have to give them up, my feeling is that there should be some serious examination of personal circumstances before committing to give a dog a home, in the same way perhaps that couples would assess their own ability to provide for children before deciding to embark on parenthood. Shelters generally employ quite strict screening processes, often insisting on paying home visits to new, would-be owners before permitting them to take any animal from their care. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of many breeders, for whom a customer is a fast track to profit - it’s simply not in their financial interest to ask too many questions.

There are definitely more scrupulous breeders out there who will want to assess prospective owners before agreeing to a sale and I urge anyone looking to buy a dog to do some thorough investigation of their own before choosing from whom to buy. Ideally, no one would buy dogs from breeders while the shelters are brimming with abandoned ones but people often come with a clear idea of a certain breed or pedigree they prefer and mistakenly think that a shelter isn’t likely to have a dog that fits their specifications. The truth is that shelters are home to a multitude of breeds of all ages, shapes and sizes and often one visit is enough to see plans to buy a dog abandoned, and an abandoned dog given a new forever home. 



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