New Dog Owners Told To Make Sure They’re ‘Rescue Ready’
Finding Furever Homes, which rescues and rehomes dogs throughout England, Wales and Scotland, is launching the campaign in order to encourage people to give serious thought to taking on a rescue dog and to not give up on them at the first opportunity.
Andrea Newton, who started and runs registered charity Finding Furever Homes (FFH), which uses kennels in Shropshire and Liverpool and places dogs in foster homes throughout England and Wales, including Bristol, Stoke on Trent and Dorset, said the charity already has a comprehensive screening process for people to go through prior to being allowed to adopt a dog.
But in recent months they have noticed people have been returning animals very quickly and for trivial reasons and they are concerned the problem will get worse as many people’s New Year resolutions include a life change such as exercising more or taking on a pet which often leads to dog ownership.
In the last six months alone, dogs have been returned to the charity under the following circumstances:
- A dog was returned to kennels after being driven just 15 miles en route to its new home, as it wouldn’t sit nicely in the boot of the car
- A dog was returned to kennels after a couple of days as his new owners said he was boring
- A lurcher was adopted midday one Saturday and returned 9am Sunday, as their existing dog didn’t like playing with him
- A boxer cross lurcher was returned to kennels after 8 weeks because she jumped up at (but not over or damaged) the garden fence twice in that period
- A German shepherd was driven five hours from kennels to its new home in Scotland. The resident dog, which it had been introduced to and got on well with at kennels, didn’t seem to want him in the house so Finding Furever Homes was expected to go and pick him up
- Dog adopted and returned a few days later as he would not go straight to sleep after walks.
- A dog was returned to kennels because after smelling freshly baked pie and finding it was just within reach he helped himself uninvited
In addition to the dogs that were actually returned, other instances highlight how quickly some people seem happy to give up on a pet they were adamant they were committed to owning.
Andrea, who lives in Chorley, Lancashire and runs the charity on a voluntary basis, said: “In other instances one new dog owner had phoned to say she would be returning her new pet the next day as it had fleas.
“But with our encouragement, she took the dog to the vet and these fleas turned out to just be fibres from the new dog bed which the lady had bought for the dog and nothing was wrong at all.”
As well as highlighting some of the more ridiculous incidences which the charity has witnessed, now FFH is asking all would-be dog owners looking to adopt from any charity to ask themselves the question ‘Am I #RescueReady?’
Andrea, said: “Over the years we have seen dogs come and go and occasionally go out and come back again and it really isn’t fair on them. Ninety nine per cent of the time dogs are returned as the new family were not “Rescue Ready” – it had nothing to do with the dog.
“Like all reputable dog rescue charities we have a comprehensive adoption process and for us this includes a home visit before potential adopters are even invited to kennels to meet a dog (or dogs). But it is always difficult as people sometimes let their hearts rule their heads and despite what they tell us they are not always practical and then panic and just think oh give it back.”
Now the charity is asking everyone who gets in touch to make a pledge that they and any other relevant family or household members are indeed ‘Rescue Ready’.”
Andrea explains, “From now on we are going to be asking everyone who gets in touch to make a pledge to being Rescue Ready. That means not only making sure they are ready before they get the dog but that they are prepared to put in the hard work to help the animal settle into its new home and that doesn’t happen overnight.”
Andrea believes for many people, despite being fully informed by the rescue, just don’t take in the fact an animal will need time to adjust to a new home.
She said: “The first few days are critical in the rehoming process and it is time people realised the story from the dog’s perspective. Please do not think about trying to adopt if you are not prepared to go out of your way to make it work. The dogs don’t need letting down more than they already have been. Sometimes dogs are returned to rescue through perceived behavioural issues. These can be brought about by either unrealistic expectations or lack of understanding or a combination of both.”
Finding Furever Homes is also sharing 10 top tips to give a dog the best possible chance of being your Furever pet, which is what every potential adopter should commit to when they first take a rescue dog into their home.
- Initially, restrict access to just certain areas of the house – a big open space after a kennel existence can be daunting and offer opportunities for things to go wrong.
- Sofas, beds and furniture is for another day – for now we are establishing boundaries and a few basic rules and that means giving the dog it’s own comfy space – bed, crate, quilt – something on the floor and where it can “be” in peace and quiet and learn that it is your house and allow it to fit into your rules.
- Keep children away from the dog for periods of time and do not let children smother the dog – it deserves time, space and respect from all family members especially the youngest ones.
- Make walks quiet, calm and on the lead – don’t let your dog run off the lead until you have built a bond and trained and tested recall in an enclosed space.
- Keep the same routine the rescue had as much as possible with times for meals and food etc. – gradually alter the times slowly to fit with your own routine
- Keep meal times quiet, calm and allow the dog to eat in peace at it’s own pace with no hassle or hindrance. Stick to the food it had at rescue and do not be tempted to feed it too many rich treats. Any change in diet should be introduced slowly.
- Be clear on the rules you intend to enforce – don’t “feel sorry for the rescue dog” and allow it all sorts of liberties that you will not allow it later. Be consistent.
- Start to leave the dog home alone for short periods and gradually build up the time it is left alone.
- Take your time. Do not ask too much of the dog. It does not know you, your expectations, your family or even why it has left the routine and security of kennels.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the rescue for help and support if you need and don’t just ignore the perceived problem and then decide to give up.
Finding Furever Homes believes being Rescue Ready is an issue which is relevant to all animal rescue charities and it is encouraging individuals and other charities and organisations to support the campaign during January 2016 on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #RescueReady.
The charity is also keen to acknowledge those people who love dogs but are sensible enough to recognise they are not in a position to take one on for whatever reason and may never be.
Andrea said: “As a charity, we do as much as we can to find appropriate adopters and offer them ongoing support, but at the end of the day people also need to be prepared to make smart decisions and put in the hard work for themselves.
“For many people that smart decision may mean accepting that as much as they love or want a dog they are really not Rescue Ready and may never be in a position to take on a dog, so we would ask them to help in another way, such as sharing our campaign via social media, making a donation or even considering volunteering in some way.”
To support the campaign during Rescue Ready month please it via Twitter using #RescueReady and consider making a donation by texting FFHX50 and the amount in pounds you wish to donate to 70070.
Andrea said “This campaign is vital as we may live in a society where we are free to change our hair colour or our new mobile phone at the drop of a hat and where we can customise everything from our car to our contact lenses but a dog is not an object that will instantly behave as you want it to and slot straight in. They cannot be picked up and dropped at will.
“It is vital people understand that and they are sure they really are Rescue Ready, as owning a dog is a privilege, not a right and it is not for everybody.”
For further information about Finding Furever Homes and to offer a dog a home please visit http://www.findingfureverhomes.org.uk/
Case Study – Harry The Lurcher – Returned Through No Fault of his own
Harry is a very calm loving 18 month old lurcher who has been returned to the charity through no fault of his own and despite a comprehensive rehoming process.
He was adopted from kennels in Shropshire in July and spent just 48 hours in his new home before being given back for being too bouncy.
Andrea said: ““Harry is quite simply the most calm and laid back dog you could ever hope to meet and to have him returned for being too bouncy just doesn’t ring true as he was given no time to settle in.
“As we tell every adopter dogs needs time and patience to settle into a new home and become their normal self and 48 hours is just not enough time. It would seem it was simply another case of the owner not being ‘rescue ready.”