Using rescues instead of kennels by Geraldine Cove-Print
There are two periods in the year where rescue numbers increase and the kennel capacity bulges even more precariously than it does for the remaining months. Christmas is peak time for dumping your dog it seems but rather more surprising are the first two weeks of August.
A stray dog is taken to the pound and then spends a week waiting to see if his owners will reclaim him. If they do the charges for six days can vary. One of the few councils who publish their charges is Swindon, with a statutory charge and handling fees a six-night stay will cost £137. Now I may be a little cynical but a six-night stay at a reasonable boarding kennel will set you back somewhat more than this so dumping your dog on the eve of your holiday and collecting him like lost luggage on your return becomes a way of life to some.
Even more careless with their companions are those who simply turn the dog onto the streets at holiday time and forget him, it’s cheaper to buy a new dog when they get home than pay for boarding. If you have not been involved with rescue I know you would find these bald statements difficult to believe but dog wardens and rescue hear the same fairy tales over and over when an owner comes along expecting to collect their dog.
Involved in the story is usually a nameless ‘friend’ who was looking after the dog but who didn’t want to tell the owners the dog had gone missing until they came home, I think most of us recoil in horror when we consider a ‘friend’ who would be this dim about a living animal.
Sometimes there is cunning afoot as the owner waits until the seven days are over and the dog is found a placement in a rescue, then turns up as a potential new owner – they can get their own dog back at a bargain price of as little as a £50 donation!
Here’s a slight alteration to the usual holiday story; a woman took a dog she said she had found on Jaywick Beach in Essex to the local pound, and she said she was on holiday in the area at a local caravan site. The dog warden, Beverley Wallis, routinely scanned the dog and found a microchip and after some good old-fashioned detective work she discovered that the woman who had handed the dog in was, in fact, the owner. The dog had been microchipped by the woman’s husband without her knowledge! Somewhat of a surprise to find her dog back in her arms and a hefty bill from Tendring District Council just 18 hours later.
Great news from Battersea Dog and Cats Home, and for Staffordshire Bull Terriers everywhere, as it launches its ‘Staffies, they’re softer than you think’ campaign. There is lots of good, sound information on its website, doing its very best to promote the lovely dogs in their care. My knitting skills were passed to me by my mother who actually only ever knitted one item, a glove, large enough for the Hulk to use as a slipper, but even I am tempted to download the pattern and knit my very own Stafford! I can see many rescues putting their volunteers to work producing these super knitted characters in assorted colours to raise funds.
Staying with SBTs, another entry for the Dog World/Pooch & Mutt Breed Rescue of the Year, Staffordshire Bull Terrier Welfare, was formed in 1995 when it became clear that a central registered charity was needed to unify the efforts of the hardworking SBT rescues throughout the UK. The regional rescues that come under the umbrella of ‘the welfare’, as it’s affectionately known, are the South East, Leicester, North West, North East and Scotland.
A great deal of the fundraising efforts goes towards veterinary help. Old or young, Staffords seem to take the brunt of ignorant owners, perhaps because they are not a breed to complain and will often suffer harsh treatment with stoicism.
It’s a thankless task working for many rescues, when the animal is one that has been so demonised by the media it is even harder to change public perception but there is no other alternative. Letting the public see just what a fabulous companion the SBT can be is the only way to win hearts.
I really liked the question and answers section on the welfare website (www.staffordwelfare.com), it even tackles the question of the predisposition of SBT towards demodectic mange. Many of you I’m sure have witnessed the thumbprint on the young SBT’s skull hinting at a problem that if left untreated could develop into a real mess.
Browsing the pages of the Leicestershire group I came across a picture of Alfie on his sun lounger – what an adorable face, at eight years old he will have a tougher time than most in finding a home but his foster carer says he is behaving impeccably. There is nothing better than having the trust of an older dog. Good luck to Alfie in finding a new home. Membership of the welfare is just £7 a year, if you are involved with SBTs and are not a member please consider putting your hand in your pocket, it really is just the price of a couple of cups of coffee at a dog show but this £7 will actually benefit your breed.
Entries are still being encouraged for Breed Rescue of the Year and Small Rescue of the Year, you can either email your rescue’s details to me or post them to DOG WORLD. The prize is well worth winning, DOG WORLD have contributed a cash prize and there is a valuable selection of products from Pooch & Mutt who already support a number of Canine rescues in the UK.
Wet Nose Rescue, I think it’s fair to say, is not usually a source of celebrity gossip but when the star of the film Twilight, Robert Pattinson, and his girlfriend, actress Kristen Stewart decided to end their relationship and the one thing they could not agree on was who will have the dog, my ears pricked up. They had rescued the small crossbreed from a shelter in New Orleans and nursed him through parvo virus so I don’t think anyone could doubt their commitment or the strong bond between them and the dog they called Bear.
Tug of love over a dog is always dreadful, it makes no difference whether you are a public figure or not. When couples argue over a child at least the youngster has a voice, a dog just senses the change in his environment and the turmoil his previously stable pack members now feel. I’m willing to bet that a couple in this position would make an effort to stay cool and calm around any children involved but a dog will soak up all that emotion and often be assaulted with affection as the humans try and work out their future. Let’s hope Bear can be treated as less of a chattel and that this couple can mutually decide what’s best for him.