bunn (bunn) wrote,

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Rescue dogs and dog locations.

 I started adding this to my previous post but it got long so I gave it its own spot. 

There are people that grump about rescue dogs coming into the UK from Ireland. Why, they ask, should we import dogs when thousands are put to sleep in the UK every year because nobody wants them?

I think there are several things that viewpoint misses:

1) When it comes to sighthounds, you just can't separate Ireland from the UK. Huge numbers of greyhounds are bred in Ireland specifically to feed the demand of British racetracks. Many of the ones that show talent (like Mollydog before she was injured) are sent to the UK, as Molls was -  leaving Ireland a legacy of all the ones that aren't up to scratch. Their lives and deaths are pretty grim.

2) The scale of the Irish dog overpopulation problem, considered against their total human population size, is much bigger than ours. Theirs is a huge number problem. 

3) We do have a number problem too (too many people breeding dogs, not  enough homes), but it's more about logistics and location than you'd think, when you see the headlines about 8,000 unwanted dogs put to sleep every year.

When you have 8000 unwanted dogs, and 8,000 people who are keen to adopt a dog, things add up a lot less neatly than you'd hope.

Most people can't take in *any* dog - they have a specific niche that the dog needs to fit into - for example, maybe it will need to be able to happily spend several hours alone each day on weekdays, or not eat the cat, or be able to come along to antiques fairs and sit politely in a basket, or get on with dear Aunty Maude's terrible terrierist.

Quite often they will narrow that niche down still further with their own preferences and tastes, which again is fair enough. If you are a big-shaggy-dog person, then your desire to share your home with a tiny yappy bugeyed dog is likely to be small, and vice versa.

Then, you have location.  The North East of the UK has a major dog overpopulation problem.  I reckon about half the calls the Oldies Club gets about dogs needing a rescue place are from Tyneside: rescues there are swamped.     The Southwest is the opposite : I think we've had 4 calls from Cornwall in the last 4 years: two of those we were able to take the dog into foster as we have plenty of spare homes in the area and the dogs were well assessed, well trained and easy to place, one was rehomed privately, and the last is still on the waiting list.      But people from Cornwall don't go to Tyneside to get a dog.  Generally, people expect to be able to get a dog within about 50 miles of their home, and if they can't find one that they like, they will wait till one comes along that suits them, even though hundreds of  'not right' dogs will be put to sleep in the interim.   Which is, of course, not their fault.

(The Cornwall waiting list one made me laugh afterwards: we get so many calls from people who can't afford to keep their dogs, and very often get dogs come in that have not seen a vet in years, with all sorts of horrible issues that could have been sorted with relatively cheap care and a little extra time.  The Cornwall lady in contrast, is spending 40 quid a month on specialist grooming for her dog, and along with the top quality food, regular vet checks, etc etc,  she's really struggling financially to cope so needs to find him a home that can keep him in the clearly rather superior style to which he is accustomed...) 

But what that ends up at, is that 8,000 unwanted dogs will not fit into 8,000 homes. What's more, of the (say) 5,000 homes that won't take any of the 8,000,  many of them will be excellent owners who are really keen to give a great home to a dog - as long as it is the right dog.  

If you don't let them adopt the 'right' rescue dog, then they won't adopt the 'wrong one'.  People who want Yorkies do not adopt staffie crosses instead. They are more likely to wait till they can get the dog they want, go to a dubious breeder, or even worse, buy from the small ads, thinking they are buying from someone who has bred their pet, when actually they are buying from a disguised puppy farm.  

And buying from anything but very careful responsible breeders definitely DOES make the problem worse, as it encourages the breeder to produce more and more litters, because there is a market for the pups.  Some of those puppies will, inevitably end up in rescues at some point -unless the breeder is the kind that really will provide lifetime backup. 

 If the 'right dog' is stuck in a filthy death row cage in Ireland, then moving him to the excellent home in the UK means that a neutered existing dog gets a home, and with a bit of luck, a breeder selling puppies of dubious provenance will lose a sale. 
Tags: dogs, rescue

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