It is often not known by dog lovers that many thousands of dogs are suffering needlessly - and the huge expense in a 'merry go round' of sad lives
Breeders, from council estates, greyhound tracks, multiple occupancy kennels and pet shops, run a business with a small amount of capital outlay, yet puppies can sell for £1,000 each, especially if a pedigree features in a popular children's film or is a winner at Crufts or is seen with a popular celebrity.
Many might have an ideal coat for dragging a heavy sled over the Arctic icefloes and some can run 100 miles a day herding sheep on the cold and windy moors, but these are not suited to life in a small urban home. Whether Dalmation, Saluki, Red Setter or Malamute, many breeds are practically untrainable and, if let off the lead, are likely to run away and possibly cause a road accident. Most large breeds need a collossal amount of exercise, especially when they are in their prime - from the age of 18 months to 9 years.
Many 'high fashion' dogs are nothing more than fashion accessories. The pug and other flat-faced dogs, suffer from breathing difficulties (long noses are required to keep the animal cool in hot weather), some dogs get eye infections, joint dysplasias, the list is endless. Many dogs are uninsurable due to constant, in-bredding type illnesses. Some breeds are high maintenance and need to be always in 'training mode', some even require an experienced dog owner and few dogs can be left for more than a few hours each day. During the present recession, more and more dogs are ending up in animal shelters and untold numbers are euthansed (hopefully by qualified vets in a painless and compassionate manner).
The costs of sheltering dogs awaiting rehoming are up due and donations are down due to the recession. Shelters have small, medium and large dogs. Ex-racing greyhounds make elegant and quiet pets and only require two 20 minute walks per day. Greyhounds are one of the few large breeds that can be homed with flat owners who do not have access to a garden.
Dogs are pack animals. They enjoy human company immensely. Being alone in a cage during their short lives, when they love to run, jump and play, is heartbreakingly sad. Many dogs wait 12 months or more for an owner. Dog lovers and rehomers are struggling to raise awareness and money to help unwanted dogs be properly maintained in shelters until their find caring owners. This is precious money that could be used for other hard pressed charities. There are many reasons for a dog's homelessness: an elderly owner has been admitted into a care home, a dog has been replaced by a new baby, someone has a new job requiring long working hours, a puppy has had some accidents and is seen as "too much trouble".
The advantages of homing an abandoned dog are numerous:
A homeless dog finds a warm home, good food, exercise and a loving owner;
Most adult dogs have been house-trained and the puppy-pooing stage is over;
Interbreeding problems that develop in adulthood can often be detected;
When neutered, no further dogs will be bred, thereby ending the cycle of 'too many dogs and not enough good owners';
Walking a dog is good exercise;
People stop and talk to dog owners, walking a dog is a social activity where new friends can be made;
A dog is a charming companion and provides a welcome and is sensitive to their owner's needs. Most dogs, even little ones, bark to deter opportunistic thieves.
If you would like to help: Shelters need bedding, dental sticks, training treats, free publicity, donations for heating, feeding and veterinary costs
If you know of someone thinking of buying a puppy, please do plenty of research on any difficulties which might occur. The temperament of the dog needs to fit into the family energy, space and financial considerations. There are responsibilities. Dogs cannot be left alone for more than a few hours, need regular exercise and also require expensive vet care to maintain good health. If you or someone you know is considering purchasing a dog, please request think of adopting a dog without a home.
The RSPCA, Blue Cross and Dogs Trust are responsible UK dog rehoming centres which provide health and behaviour checks, inoculations, neutering and microchipping and often a home check to ensure a suitable dog finds their most suitable owner.
Article by Wendy Stokes, a volunteer and dog rehomer: www.wendystokes.co.uk