Rescue centres are full of animals who deserve their fur-ever homes, and yet the public still insists on spending lots of money on fancy breeds. Lockdown hasn’t helped; incredibly, more than three million pets were bought in the UK in the last year.
As people now return to work, it is a sad fact that a percentage of those animals will also be given up for rehoming, meaning that the pressure is on for rescue centres like Little Irchester’s Animals in Need (AIN). Sammy Jones found out more…
‘Adopt, don’t shop.’ It’s a widely used mantra, and yet the British public still haven’t got the message and continue to splash silly amounts of money on ‘to order’ pedigrees, while rescue centres are filled with pooches and puddy-tats begging for a second chance at life.
It is overstretched animal centres like Animals in Need that take the brunt. During lockdown, the charity was able to take in animals, but unable to rehome. Their premises were bursting with fur babies desperately seeking new families.
Now, with lockdown lifted, the process of matching up rescues with rescuers is under way.
“We have reviewed our process slightly,” said AIN’s Sally Smith, “It enables us to comply with the restrictions which remain in place, but at the same time we hope will work to get the animals the best homes possible.”
Potential adopters make an initial acquaintance online where they can check on animals available and find out more about their personalities.
Emails of interest get passed to team members who then look into suitability and ask more questions; if deemed to be a good match, they are invited in to talk more about the process and at that stage they have the chance to greet their potential new fur-baby.
“Home checks are always carried out, which gives us the opportunity to make sure that where they will be living is perfect for their needs,” Sally said, “All adoptions are subject to a successful home check and minimum fee, which goes some way to covering the cost of the vet work the animals will have while in our care.”
Everyone loves a perfect little puppy, a fluffy little bunny or a cute kitten but the reality is that they grow up and they can live for a long time; if you choose a dog or a cat, you need to bear in mind that the animal could be in your life for 20 years.
And it’s very true that although they will be a part of your life, you are that animal’s whole life – and with that comes expense.
“It is really important to encourage people to look at the costs involved long-term as there will certainly be vets bills alongside the expected good quality food and bedding needs, and so on.
“We also stress that it is not advisable to adopt animals for children as we are fully aware that interest soon wanes and unless parents are prepared to be responsible for the care of the animals, they will end up bringing unwanted pets back, which is traumatic for the animal which has done nothing wrong.”
In an effort to minimise distress, Animals in Need offers rescue back-up for the lifetime of all the animals it re-homes; if things don’t turn out as hoped for, they can be returned: “It’s not ideal but we understand that sometimes situations arise that cannot be remedied.”
But if you have a nippy terrier, a troublesome tom cat or a slippery critter, the charity is there to offer guidance.
“We can always offer advice on behaviour, minor ailments and so on,” said Sally, who has worked with AIN for 12 years, “In the case of dogs, we offer a free session with a behaviourist which we hope gives people the reassurance that they can ask for guidance if needed.”
Like rescue centres across the country and around the world, Animals in Need always has kennels bursting with animals who have been failed by owners; bought on a whim as a puppy then, when the novelty wears off, discarded like an outdated piece of furniture.
These dogs deserve a second chance – please don’t be swayed by the breed; let the animal’s personality connect with you.
“There are so many animals in centres and living as strays all over the world – we should make sure that they have homes before increasing the population which simply compounds the problem.
“Many animals are homeless through no fault of their own and they deserve a chance of a loving home but if people won’t consider them, they will spend their lives in rescue centres, or even worse, fending for themselves.
“There is often the argument that you know what you are buying from a breeder – time and again this is disproved when people end up with poorly animals or they are not as they had expected they would be from the descriptions given.”
Essentially, people need to think smart – but all too often they show that they aren’t fit to be a parent to a fur baby!
“We often have people asking to adopt totally unsuitable animals for their home situation, purely based on the fact they are a pedigree or look cute in their photo. It is important that people understand the needs and personalities of specific breeds before going ahead. There is no point, for example, of someone trying to adopt an ex-racing greyhound if they have cats or rabbits in their home. Or a husky being rehomed when the family is out of the house for long hours, as they become destructive when bored.”
But the same thought should be given whatever the animal: there is way more to pet ownership than simply shelter, food and water.
“A single rabbit cannot just be confined to a hutch by themselves – they need a companion and plenty of ground space to allow them to hop, kick and binky as well as enrichment areas and toys to keep them busy.
“We can advise them of the requirements they need to meet and the commitment it will involve for the lifetime of the animal.”
At any one time the AIN kennels can house as many as 40 dogs and the cattery can hold an equal number of felines. But there are other ‘guests’ who are less usual.
“We currently have a snake that was found straying and hasn’t been claimed yet. We never know what is going to come through the gates and are prepared for any eventuality. We successfully rehome hundreds of animals each year – anything from Giant African Land Snails to Great Danes – and anything inbetween!”
And the passion of the volunteers is key to this successful ‘safe house.’
“It can be heartbreaking when an animal arrives in a neglected state, fearful and wary of everyone and everything. But the reward of seeing them blossom and find a lovely family to take care of them is worth its weight in gold,” added Sally, whose passion for the place also sees her in the role of a trustee for the charity.
“We would like nothing better than to have empty catteries and kennels but sadly that is never likely to be a reality. So we will continue to give every living creature the best possible chance of living a long, happy and healthy life, which means we are reliant on people opening their hearts and their homes to an animal that has found its way into the rescue system…”
> For more information visit www.animals-in-need.org