I have the opportunity to write as I am currently supervising a television advert for a popular pet supermarket featuring a variety of dogs,cats, rabbits, hamsters even a gecko and supervising mostly involves trying not to get in the way.
The opportunity to meet a diverse group of pet owners has highlighted for me the value of owning a pet particularly during the past year when we have had our freedom curtailed by Covid-19. Many of the animals featuring in the advert have been purchased in the past year to help children and adults cope with the isolation of the pandemic.
The children benefit from their pet’s company and learn the responsibility involved with their care whether that be the necessity to carry poo bags or the inconvenience of crickets active through the night which have to be moved to another room to enable sleep.
Animals provide immense benefits to our mental health and well being, providing they aren’t keeping us awake at night and an estimated 3 million new pets have been purchased in the last year. Of course where there is unprecedented demand there are also profits to be made and the unscrupulous have profiteered and criminals have seen an opportunity for easy money, with alarming stories of thefts and smuggling.
The charity has been very quiet and for much of the past year we have been essentially closed in order to safeguard the welfare of our volunteers and we haven’t yet seen a surge of ‘lockdown’ Labradors that have become unruly or outgrown their cute phase coming into the rescue but we are concerned that this may become the case as restrictions lift and owners return to their workplaces; although I also anticipate that those who have purchased pups for inflated prices may be reluctant to ask the charity to find their dog a good home and instead attempt to re-sell their young adult dog via the internet.
The charity can’t really start purchasing dogs to ensure they go to a good home although we do keep an eye on dogs placed on petsales websites for figures under £250 so we can advise owners of their responsibilities.
We have no shortage of excellent homes and the co- ordinators never cease to amaze me in finding good homes for the challenging cases which are now increasingly the majority of our work. Troubled dogs with little socialization or training and those with complex medical or surgical problems. Plenty of potential homes and few if any dogs to place can cause frustration for those hoping to find a rescue but the charity is here for the dogs that need help and not as a cheap source of pets.
I am anxious that the role of a breed rescue may not be as familiar as perhaps it has been in the past and so with the help of our new head of communications Roz Parkinson we are campaigning to raise awareness of what we can do to help.
We have managed some newspaper articles and we have messages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram which I would be grateful if you would Like and Share which Bonnie Wiles tells me is how we improve our ‘reach’.
Joy Carney has re-energized our website to increase SEO which Roz tells me is Search Engine Optimisation and not Senile,Elderly and Old and we shall have an email newsletter, (don’t worry it won’t replace the Link) but will enable us to keep everyone up to date with the charity on a more regular basis so do please sign up if you are able.
“What else can I do to help Richard?”
We really want to make sure that anyone who needs us knows about us and I believe that many owners faced with finding a new home for their dog for whatever reason may consult their veterinary practice.
Whilst vets like myself who are ‘long in the tooth’ are familiar with the breed rescue network there are now many new practices with many young and perhaps non-uk staff who may not be so.
I have written a letter and I think it would be most likely to be read if you pop it into your local practice next time you are there with your dogs.
When the vet says “is there anything else I can help you with?” you can hand them a copy of the letter and say something like “ just in case anyone asks you about rehoming a Labrador we are here to help.
To download the letter click here
…and there is one other thing you can do for me. When you are out walking please if you can, be brave, smile at strangers when they ask about your dog, have a quick chat, everyone has been struggling and everyone has stuff in their lives to deal with and your smile, a quick chat and a waggy tail may well make a difficult day a little bit easier for someone.