Let's put the world to rights...

I'm just starting writing an article and I'd welcome a lively debate on the subject to get me thinking outside the box!
It's my perception that there has never been more good dogs put to sleep.
But is my feeling correct?
Are you on the coal face of rescue?
Are you stretched to breaking point?
Why do you think that is?
I have my theories, but I want to hear yours.
I'd like to hear your thoughts as to the real size of the problem, is it even bigger than the statistics suggest? Dogs Trust say 20 dogs a day being PTS at the moment. Are there any other stats?
Why are we in this mess and crucially what you think would get us out of it?
A breeding amnesty has been suggested, would this help?
How about a breeding tax that put money back into rescue and dog wardens?
Or something else that makes breeding have a consequence like the Puppy Contract?
Is the UK dog population at its highest ever?
And is it just some breeds that have had a population explosion?
Has dog ownership of other breeds other than so called 'status' dogs really declined?
Tell me who you are - pet owner, breeder, rescue person and what you think.
Would really like to hear some alternative theories of how we tackle to the dog problem before I write my happy (!) new year article.
Do either email me beverley@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk or post here or join us on Dogs Today facebook page.

A quick reaction to the first few posts.
If the explosion of Designer Dogs is the cause of the problem why isn't Battersea bursting at the seams with oodles of Doodles?

A further thought...
Many have commented about our throwaway buy-it-now society. But what do we think about people already on the breadline who take on a dog and then discover they cannot afford even the most basic vet bill? Is dog ownership a right or a luxury? Do you feel differently about people who have a change of circumstance after getting the dog?


Debbie Mallett said…
too many people want puppies without thinking through the long term commitment involved. Also dogs are living longer ( my 3 are 16,17 and 20) so there is not quite the turnover that there used to be. I understand there are massive waiting lists now for a place in a rescue centre and this obviously cannot continue, so perhaps a breeding tax ( or something even more restrictive)would help as a temporary measure only.
Zako Media said…
I agree totally, designer dogs, gun dogs, working dogs, guard dogs, police dogs, army dogs, even stage dogs (as I had a brief chat with a comedian who also breeds pugs himself for the stage for a known temperament), all of these demands are creating amazing opportunities for wannabe dog breeders. The Internet is making it far easier to get in touch with breeders and buyers of all standards an price pushing people away from 'proper' breeders, and onto the backyard breeders.

Soon afterwards, buyers are discovering that dog ownership is more than just a thing to decorate the hearth rug and keep the kids quiet... in fact it's very much the opposite! In desperation, or sometimes just apathy they are given up. Some getting angry that the rescues are too full to accept them! ('and they call themselves a rescue centre' one lady vented to me not so long ago. It was tough to explain the reasons WHY they couldn't accept her dog at that moment when she had already reached her own tolerance levels already) The real root of the problem is therefore capitalism... (the cause of many of the world's problems really)

Policing breeders is near impossible, but I have always thought an Animal Keepers License would be a good step forward. People would no longer be born with a right to own certain animals, they would have to earn it. This license would have to be earned like a driving licence and can lose points for anti-social behaviour, but while owned, the owner can keep as many dogs, cats, horses etc. as they can reasonably manage and afford. It will become a criminal offence to supply, loan or entrust an animal on that list to anyone without a license.

This way dog owners will be forced to learn something about the animal from places other than Disney movies and any dogs in their care have a better chance. Demand will lessen, small time 'hobby' breeders will die out. It will also help to address aggressive dogs because if a dog is being 'anti-social' and not under control (but before any injury occurs), wardens will be able to add points to the owners license in the hope the dog is removed before people get hurt. As it stands, we have to wait until a child gets mauled before police can do anything.

The only issue I can see or have had feedback on this is initial implementation. What happens to all the dogs who's owners fail to earn a license?
As a mobile dog groomer (ex vet nurse) i now also help people with dog behaviour problems - so many issues are reoccuring to me - fear aggression, pulling on lead, barking - so many of these behaviour issues are occuring due to the chemicals we are outting into our dogs these days from processed diets to over vaccinations and antibiotics,steroids etc.i notice when dogs are fed a species appropriate diet ie raw meat and bones their behaviour can change from being hyper active to calm and balanced - they are healthier and have a stronger immune system meaning less trips to a vet.
I have saved several dogs from being put to sleep because owners were about to hand them into rescue.If more owners knew of people like myself who were dedicated to personally offering advise in the home on how to make small changes which affect behaviour hugely then i know there woudl be less dogs in rescues facing certain death.
Cloverleafk9 said…
Could the population explosion be due to so called designer dogs? I see a lot of cross breeds that are sold for £100s of pounds, 10 or 20 years ago these would have been called cross or mongrel and free to a good home.

I also think that society has changed a lot in that time now people live in an instant world, it takes 5 minutes to get some food out of the freezer and put it in the microwave for dinner, we also live in a throw away society were the next thing is bigger and better and there is an instant fix for everything.

Once dogs had a central role to play in the family, everyone went out together to walk the dog and walks could last a few hours. A lot of dogs are left home alone all day, for 8 or more hours and get a short walk around the block if the weather is nice. People don't seem to realise the time and commitment it takes to raise a dog and live with it for 10 years or more.

Even the TV shows around dog training give the untrained eye the impression that a dog can be trained in a matter of minutes. Watching a long process of shaping and rewarding behaviour would not make great TV viewing. Dog owners are being promised an instant cure for whatever their dog is doing or not doing.

People just don't have the time or the commitment anymore.

Natalie Pomroy said…
Oh crikey Bev, what a question, if there was an answer we wouldn't be up to our necks and drowning in unwanted dogs right now.

It's a global problem and one that seems to be getting worse.

Our first challenge is to tackle the reluctance of many owners to have their dogs spayed or neutered, or maybe the cost is putting them off,I think nowadays it can cost between £100 and £300 to have your dog sterilised dependent on size and breed, a heck of a lot of money to find for many people. Perhaps one solution is for neutering vouchers to be made available for everyone so that that excuse becomes redudant.

Rising costs of Vet treatment is another reason that seems to be on the rise for people dumping or handing their dogs in, yes I know we all advocate Pet insurance, but in the majority of cases, you need to have the money up front and claim it back. With the average cost of a consulation being £30 + VAT and then treatment on top, my last bill for one of mine was £180 for blood work and urine test!

Then you come to the global economy, many more people are being made redundant and then finding themselves loosing their homes, trying to find Landlords who allow pets is becoming increasingly challenging and I know that many dog owners are heartbroken when it's a choice between a roof over their heads or their beloved pet.

With the lack of jobs, many of us have to take a role where maybe our hours change or we work in an office where we used to work from home, have to go full time instead of part time, our dogs are left on their own for a length of time that is deemed unacceptable in this day and age and therefore owners give up their dogs to rescue.

The rise of the internet and the sites that sell second hand goods, all of these have pet sections, just look at how many people are giving their dogs away or trying to sell their puppies to make some money (so they believe) for a holiday or Christmas.

I really don't believe there is a 'one size fits all' solution.

I had a conversation with a Rescue representative who, out of respect, shall remain nameless, we discussed this very issue and we came up with some very dramatic and probably very unpopular solutions, this would be to start from scratch, to euthanise all the dogs that are currently languishing in kennels, the one's that are assessed as aggressive, this would free up space for those who would be easier to rehome, to bring in a compulsory license scheme for ALL those breeding, and only licensed and microchipped to the breeder puppies could be legally sold, should a dog at any time of it's life be sold on or end up in rescue, the breeder would become responsible for the costs of kenneling while the rehoming process takes place.

I believe that ultimately the breeders of dogs should be made more responsible, don't get me wrong, there are some amazing one's out there who DO take their dogs back at any stage of their lives, but sadly there are more that don't.
Rosie Barclay said…
We can either keep breeding dogs as cheap throw away commodities and resort to having to put the unwanted ones down or they become a luxury item which we have to pay for. This could mean a licence to own and to breed the costs of which are passed onto the owners and would be very difficult to police. Thus costs of owning and buying a dog go up which will then encourage a black market in puppies and thus poor welfare for these.

It would be interesting to know how many "cheap" puppies are in rescue centres and how many high priced ones (ask the owners how much they paid for them?) to gain a clearer view of whether paying more money for a puppy might be more likely to prevent rehoming.
We should also find out the real reason these dogs are being re-homed and not just take for granted the three main excuses of "my sons allergic" "We are getting divorced" or "We are moving house and can't take the dog". We could charge folk more to re-home the dog rather than ask the new owner to cover the costs. If these excuses were genuine then they should only be too pleased to pay extra. But then more dogs may just be dumped at centres.

More information on qualified behaviourists to help owners if they have to re-home due to behavioural problems and perhaps some in house help in return for more exposure.

More education of new owners and more legislation of puppy breeders. A discounted neutering programme for owners who are on allowances paid for by ?

We shall just have to put folk off getting a puppy unless they can really afford it and not allow it to become some sort of human right.

Not an easy one for a Friday Beverly....

Rosie Barclay CCAB
Julie Dickson said…
By far the biggest cause of unnecessary euthanasia for all dogs is unregulated back street breeding of status dogs. Status puppies now fetch such a high price that the breeding cycle is fueling itself - people are prepared to pay hundreds of pounds for an unneutered (but badly bred!) dog because they know that can get 6 to 8 or more puppies from a litter that they can sell to the next generation of back street breeders. It's a whole micro economy! No one is interested in breed standards or welfare of the dog. Once the dog has bred 3 or 4 litters they get discarded and the lucky ones will end up in rescues who are drowning under the weight of them. This avalanche of unwanted dogs all gets mixed with some finely bred dogs who end up homeless as well.

People really must be way more selective about breeding and the reasons why they do it. The Government needs to plug the loopholes which enable 'amateur' breeders to sell litter after litter of puppies with an off the books income of thousands of pounds each year without having to register for tax. Many of them also use charitable vet clinics and claim state benefits while they coin it in on the side.
Tracy Rice said…
As a groomer I try to educate my clients on a daily basis - many just don't realise the harm they cause by buying from puppy farms or breeding from their own dog with no research, experience or testing in place. There are a multitude of things needing changed in the law to bring about change for the better, but for the moment I try to focus on education - once people begin to have some concept of what goes on behind the scenes at rescues & puppy farms most of them do begin to think. The media needs to be full of no holds barred material to challenge the 'responsible but ignorant' owners & slow the tide. Unfortunately those without a conscience will continue breeding, buying, abusing & killing until the law catches up.
more must be done on what it means to be a responsible owner, breeder and potential owner.. dogs need to be understood much more.. therefor trying to eradicate people buying dogs on a whim or by the time the dog reaches teenage hood they are not coping and dumping the dog instead. Or buying the dog they like to look off - not providing the dog what it needs and then dumping the dog as it's bored frustrated and ill understood and has developed behavioural "problems". So many dogs I see coming in to rescue or are PTS in pounds are the direct result of unknowing owners that did not take the responsibility of owning a dog seriously. The excuses are still the same: can't cope with the behaviour, having kids instead, etc…
Peoples expectations of what it's like to own a dog need to curbed! None of them are perfect, all of them need training, patience, dedication and exercise.

2. must be NEUTERING!! people must realise that not neutering there animal can also contribute to illness

3. COMPULSORY MICROCHIPPING - much more responsibility must be taken by owners and breeders and this needs to be traced. There should not be any unlicensed breeding

4. RULES ON BREEDING are currently ridiculous - I think it's something like 5 litters a year are allowed - well no wonder to many people see breeding dogs as a moneyspinning operation

5. to try and do something about the "backstreet" but also KC breeding machine!

the biggest problems as I see it that are
1. many things need a change in the law and therefor there is also a need for enforcement in my eyes people are able to get away with the mistreatment of animals to easily
2. as long as there is so much monetary value placed on dogs in particular pedigrees, there will always be demand & supply. The idea of status dogs just applying to Bull Breeds also sits wrong with me slightly as I feel many clueless dog owners get a pedigree dog for just that status! I think those who breed and sell pedigrees also have a lot to answer for, as there seems to be many pedigree dogs that are not neutered causing "accidents" / litters all the time.
(I feel more pedigree dogs in fact are not neutered compared to cross or mixed breed dogs - This would be another interesting statistic)

3. I think one of the problems as well is that figures of how many dogs each year in total in the UK are being SLAUGHTERED are difficult to get hold off - but I feel if we would have such figures I truly believe peoples attitudes might change!

There are just so many unwanted dogs, especially at the moment, and rescues are simply not able to cope, not only are their more dogs but there are also less people that want a dog - I blame this on the financial climate. On top of that many rescues are struggling as donations are not as forthcoming as they were perhaps 5 years ago.

As for dogs in rescue people must move away from the idea it's all staffs, they do have a huge problem in particular as there are to many and any pound list you get will be full off them, but unfortunately by focusing on Bull Breed alone and rescue means that actually, I feel, it's impacted many rescues adversely through this kind off press as many people know thing ALL RESCUE DOGS ARE STAFFIES which is NOT TRUE! Many dogs end up in rescue, some cross breed, some pedigrees all sorts.

Judith Broug in Rescue
Belinda said…
We don't live in a joined up society so all the people who influence animal welfare don't communicate. Instead the people who breed, Kennel Club, the people who allow puppy farming, the vets, the laws, the owners, the councils, the rescues et al carry on doing what they are doing without an overview and all coming at it from different directions. There is no cohesive approach to animal welfare in this country and we are severely lacking in our education of the dire consequences of breeding yet more animals. So many people just want to do their own thing regardless of anyone else. No man is an island and yet everyone lives as though we are.

A massive UK wide neutering campaign for both dogs and cats with vets reducing prices could really make an impact and it would at least be a start. I've worked really hard to promote early cat neutering in my area and the last two years have seen a significant drop in the number of unwanted litters.

Another problem is our lives are very changing - nobody has to put up with anything that is an incovenience to them. We are in control of our lives and we can make changes. If you're fed up with your husband you can divorce him! If your cat wees on the carpet you can dump him somewhere. If your dog is badly behaved then hand him over to a rescue. Simples!! Just move on. (It would be interesting to follow up people who have surrendered an animal to a rescue, five years later - a large % would have got another animal during that time I'm sure.) It takes guts to stay around long enough to deal with and live through the bad and upsetting consequences of our poor decision making (such as getting a dog or cat even though unsuitable) and for many people they don't feel they want to have to face up to those consequences - so it is easier to bail out early and move on.

There is no one answer nor no one cause but the lack of long term committment to anything is laying a very ugly trail behind us all.
Nicki said…
I have had horses and dogs for forty years, the cost of vetinary treatment has gone up so much. When i was young we were able to call the vet out to the field with the horses, have surgery there and then and be able to afford the treatment. Vets dont operate in the field now, the horses have to be sent away. Owning a dog now is really expensive, vetinary treatment is beyond reasonable. I blame the insurance companies, vets will charge what insurance companies will pay. Where as before vetinary treatment was affordable to people low income earners. Now it is not feasible, very few people can afford a simple appointment to the vets. I know that things are becoming more high tech but sometimes i think the treatment that is available for animals is pushing the ethical boundaries. Bringing back a dog from near death and then having to suffer months of painful treatment should not happen. You cannot explain to a dog in three months time your pain will be gone. All they know is that they are suffering. i know some people dont agree with this statment but i am sure that if a dog could talk they would agree with me.
Queenie said…
There seem to be two major problems, Status Dogs and Designer Dogs. The first seem to be bred willy nilly and abandoned or killed at a whim. The second is a fashion accessory bought by idiots who tire of dressing them up, but who influence people of low intelligence to copy them.
I don't think a dog licence would work at all. When it was last in place, only 44% of owners bought one (Defra figures). Taxing breeders is a good idea because they make a lot of money from pups. Also every breeder should sign an undertaking to have any pup back if the new home doesn't work out. Rescues should hold dog classes before allowing people to adopt for the first time. I also think Rescues are too strict with people who work, for instance, they won't let a full time worker adopt, and it takes no account of the fact that the adopter may employ a dog walker or ask a neighbour to pop in and see to the dog. I also believe that the new Dog Control Bill will make the problem of rescue dogs a lot worse, because it states that a dog 'may be dangerously out of control' which is subjective. I would consider a dog to be out of control if it attacked another for instance, but others may report a dog for simply barking at them. The key is whether a person feels threatened, or is malicious. A dog will nturally protect its property and home, but the new Bill will ensure that a burglar can obtain a destruction on your dog if he was bitten or snarled at !
I would also like to see compulsory microchipping or tattooing and the law strengthened on dogs wearing collars and tags at all times. Rescues already insist on neutering, so I think breeders should also be brought into the compulsory neutering arena, and the KC should stop insisting that dogs are intact.
I'm not sure that the stray problem has increased, but I believe cruelty certainly has, and much tougher sentencing should be in place, and enforced as a deterrent.
Isabella McBride said…
Different counties have different problems on different scales.
There is the obvious staffy epidemic, and people trying to breed pit bull types. I recently saw an advert on facebook asking for any stud dog to cover a staffy bitch, no specifications and the obvious answers such as 'I have a mastiff x you can use'. I personally think there needs to be a ban on the breeding of staffy and staffy crosses and breeding licenses. These dogs are fast becoming vermin.
People buy puppies without forward thinking. They think they have been gifted a preprogrammed puppy that requires no training will appear and should they experience a problem that a dog trainer can come free of charge and magically wave a wand over their puppy. Also basic set up for a puppy can easily cost £500.
The other illusion that people are under is that once they've created a messed up dog that someone will either give them £200 for it or a shelter will willingly take it in. I'm not so sure I agree with no kill shelters, some people need to know that they can't just dump their messed up dog for someone else to sort out.
purefinder said…
WHAT IF......
...all breeders were like this, and people only bought dogs from breeders like this?

"I am a breeder.
I spend a lifetime learning pedigrees, going over dogs, talking, and learning from those in my breed and those outside it.
I raise each litter as if I gave birth to them and spend an equal amount of time finding them loving forever homes. I only put puppies on this planet that I think will be the healthiest (mentally and physically) and nicest examples of their breed.
I support each family who chose one of my puppies and let them know they are now a part of our extended family.

I am there if one needs to come back and will aggressively pursue the return of one of my dogs if it's in the wrong place.
I support my breed in rescue and education.
I hold them when they arrive and leave this world.
I share my knowledge and socialize my dogs so that they will be the advertisement for my dedication. I don't keep track of the money and time I put in to my love of dogs, it would not be a true measure of how I feel.
The price I charge for my puppies is never profit, but investment in the next generation. I am not ashamed of who I am... I work hard at being a good dog person and encouraging others to be the same. I am a breeder and I am proud of it.
If we don't support each other - we are doomed as a fancy."

Anonymous said…
When I worked in rescue, ten years ago now, we were receiving many different types of dog including pure breeds. Most attractive dogs were rehomed quickly. Less popular, plainer dogs, like the poor little black mongrel crosses, were the ones the shelter was euthanizing. When you see what shelters are taking in now it appears most are Staffs. I’ve always believed that stopping breeding altogether, temporarily, to solve the rescue problem would be the answer but focusing on trying to stop breeding for the types of dogs shelters struggle with would be a better option. Do organisations/charities offer free or reduced neutering for Staffs? It appeared one of the main reasons people take dogs to shelters is a change of circumstance – divorce, working long hours, children, moving to an unsuitable property. None is a valid reason as far as I’m concerned but education may be the key. Many people just don’t seem to think about the 15 year commitment required, or just don’t care enough about their dog to find alternative solutions when these events occur, which is very sad. When I got my first dog at 22 with my then partner, the breeder asked what would happen to the dog if we split up (excellent question). I quickly replied he would stay with me (which he did). More questions like this - Planning to have children? Planning to move house? etc should be asked by the breeder and shelters. I also think shelters need to be looked at. Is it right to take in more dogs whilst euthanizing others that have been there awhile? Dogs Trust seem to do very well with their no kill policy. Do smaller shelters have access to behaviourists to retrain and assess? I have spoken to you before about the shelter I worked in – there were alternatives to killing dogs that were not followed up. Dogs were assessed as aggressive incorrectly and pts, fosterers were not sourced, and breed rescues were not contacted. There really seemed a reluctance to work with other organisations. I really believe shelters should be monitored more. They should have to produce statistics for intake and destroy, reasons for destruction and records of prior assessment if it is for behavioural reasons. How this would be monitored/achieved I really don’t know. You’ve asked a hard question, Beverley, and it’s even scarier when you think of how worse the situation is in other countries. I get details of dogs on death row in the US and it’s shocking. Have you considered devoting a whole issue to this, not just an article? Make every photo in that issue of a rescue dog? What about starting a campaign to raise more awareness of the issue? Vicky
Frances said…
I can think of many ways of improving the situation through regulation of breeding, buying, owning and passing on dogs - unfortunately I cannot think of any way of policing and enforcing the regulations that would that would not be circumvented by the very people and organisations that they most need to cover. So I think the only solution is education - lots and lots of education. Get responsible pet ownership onto the primary school curriculum, make it a unit in PSE in secondary schools, get it onto national television over and over again ... How many people have given up smoking (or at least hide in the garage to smoke) after pressure from their children?

But I think it is important not to overstate the case - there are far too many dogs in rescue, but there are far, far more dogs in happy homes. There are too many pups born and raised in misery in puppy farms, but also many being carefully bred and reared by knowledgeable, caring breeders, few of whom make much money out of their litters. And the mixed breed puppies from backyard ooops litters may be amongst the best dogs out there.
Karen said…
In over 2 decades of owning dogs I've seen such a difference in the dogs we see around, long gone are the days of crossbreeds from the local rescue centres and just the odd pedigree, now in my area there are designer dogs, very fasionable breeds that once you only saw at Crufts or on the Chum advert on tv, status dogs... it seems dogs have become ''fashionable'' and people that once wouldnt have bothered owning a dog now want one. I also think that the internet has made owning a dog much easier, there is no effort involved in searching for a breed online, whereas once you may have had to read books, make phone calls and travel long distances. Some designer dog breeds have been promoted as the ideal pet, so people want one, celebrities are seen with dogs and people buy into a lifestyle. We live in an increasing disposable society. People are not prepared to wait for things, they want it now and sadly many will buy a dog without a thought of how to care for it properly or even think about the long term responsibiity. In some ways we have moved forward, the days of stray dogs roaming about seem to be part of the past but in other ways we have gone backwards in regards to dog ownership. People need to stop breeding dogs full stop. There are enough dogs in this country, if people would rehome rather than buy puppies, if people stopped breeding for profit and went back to breeding dogs to further the breed then the amount of dogs needing homes would improve, but people are greedy. Many people start breeding with the best of intentions then realise what a money maker it is and lose the good intentions and just churn out litter after litter. But whilst there is a demand for pedigree breeds people will always breed them. I'd like to see a breeding amnesty but how could it be policed? Long term we need to stop seeing dogs as fashion accessories or ''must have's'' and see them as the faithful companions they are. We need to educate people that a dog is a privilege to own and not a right.
Wendy said…
It's the "I want" culture. People want a specific type of dog because of what it looks like, but don't do any research into what that dog may be like in terms of temperament, exercise needs or cost of upkeep. Once 'they' realise what owning this breed really means, they throw it away and get another. x-box or ps3?
There are a number of reasons we are closing our doors from today to all surrenders and only taking from the pound we commit. I did a presentation last week to the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes identifying the following - these may be local issues but I suspect many are national. Firstly our finances have never been so critical, this is mainly due to the significant rise in vet bills. The number of dogs coming into the pound, or being left at the vets with medical issues has spiralled out of control. Owners cannot fund vet costs in the current climate and the vets are now passing the costs onto rescues. I am seriously considering asking the RCVS to consider setting up a charitable trust like Petplan and the KC. It is high value business and some of the money should be recycled back into welfare. It could be funded through sponsorship from the drug companies, fundraising by practices and payroll giving. Ultimately the dogs coming in are often clients dogs and the money will be going back to the vets. In a 2 week period we took 3 dogs in from 3 different practices with vet bills totalling over £4k. I had to say no to a French Bulldog needing a £1200 ear canal op. This weeks pound list has 2 dogs with skin complaints and one with an ear problem, this is what we are facing EVERY week. More needs to be done to push insurance as part of responsible dog ownership.

The next issue for us is the change in RSPCA policy to not accept surrenders at their branched, only case dogs. Our local branch us one of these, and us in the same city ad the pound we commit to. The pound now takes a significant number of these dogs which in turn becomes our responsibility. Last year in Wales the RSPCA took in a total of 646 dogs, compared to the 387 we took - a stark contrast when you compare our resources. I do understand why they changed their policy but do not recall them undertaking an impact assessment to determine the affect it would have on rescues close to their centres.

Our next issue is the increasing number of rescues taking increasing numbers if Irish dogs. Again, I understand the reasons but for a co-ordinating rescue like us who relies on rescues offering spaces we simply cannot compete with the choice that Ireland offers so often miss out on the limited spaces available.

The closure of rescues we send to is another issue, one recent closure took almost 25% of the dogs we moved to rescue so this has hit us hard. Instead we need to rehome more ourselves which has an impact on our funds - we were not set up as a rehoming rescue yet we now rehome 50% of the dogs we help. Our half year accounts show an unsustainable 100% increase in vet and kennel bills against the previous half year.

The next reason is the pressures on the public sector. They are facing unprecedented cuts and animal welfare is not high on their agenda and is therefore prime for cuts. Stray dog services are being cut everywhere. They cannot fund vet bills they may have helped with previously, and are considering not vexing. Our local pound is also looming at taking on neighbouring contracts to raise income, further compounding our issues.

In 5 years of rescue I have never known it this bad and I am just so frustrated I could cry (and do frequently). There are a lot of genuine people out there who do need help to rehome their dogs and now we have to turn them away due to irresponsible .Our kennels are full of bull breeds no
one wants, the irresponsible breeding of bullbreeds has to
be tackled and any neutering campaign needs to take a
risk based approach and tackle the bull breed issue head

I wish I had the answers , somehow we need to get it formally recognised that owning a dog is a privilege that comes with a life time financial and emotional cost; it is not a right that just anyone can claim.
April C said…
The problem with any propostion is enforcement- whether it be a new dog license, 90% Income Tax on breeding,subsidised neutering,or derelict owners being put in the stocks and pelted with rotten fruit, no government is going to pay for any of it. At the moment the Rescues are picking up the slack, the public fund it through charitable donations and pay to rehome the unwanted dogs, and we all hang in by our toenails.
Unfortunately I dont think anything will be done until the police are literally shooting dumped strays in the street.
Isabel Towers said…
Some of you have suggested breeding amnesties. I know of perfectly acceptable potential owners whom the rescue organisations won't let a dog go to. The major organisations won't let a dog go to someone who doesn't have an enclosed garden. Many of you may disagree with me, but I lived in a 4th-floor flat so went to a little known kennels and got a dog. Every day I took her down several times to toilet in addition to her walk. My comeuppance was having to carry a medium-large dog up all those stairs when she was still dopey after being spayed!

She had behaviour issues, and the behaviourist I visited told me she felt certain that if she had gone to any other owner she would have been euthanised. Fortunately she's with me, and she doesn't have any major issues any more.

My second dog I got as a puppy from a breeder. I had two very young children (again a no-no from rescues in most cases). If there is no more breeding, young children will no longer be able to have dogs. Many of our childrens' friends don't have dogs and behave chaotically around them. My children have been exposed to dogs daily from their births. They know how to behave around dogs.

There was another reason I chose to get a puppy when I had two small children. How can I know, with an unknown adult dog, how hard it will bite if it's provoked? A toddler might poke it in the eye, fall on it, these things happen sometimes very quickly with little warning even if the parent is present. If this happened with my second dog, I wanted to have taught him bite inhibition (non-harmful biting) from puppyhood. Rescue centres don't test how hard a dog bites if it reacts, but rather test if it reacts at all. If a dog does an air snap it is deemed unsuitable. Well, I would rather have that dog with my children than a dog that just hasn't reacted yet and I don't know what will happen if it does.

As to the question of neutering, I would like to know whether there is a greater problem of unwanted dogs being produced in the European countries where neutering is much less common that in the UK. Does anyone know the answer to this?

I admit that I really didn't know what I was getting into with my first dog. She drove me to despair at times, but I wasn't brought up to believe animals were disposable. I worked on her problems, and she's had a very good life. She's been better off with me than being kept in kennels or put to sleep.

Lets screen potential owners on different criteria? Surely if someone is dedicated, provides enough company and exercise for their dog (even if they hire it), they are better than someone who merely has a garden? In the USA, many city dwellers keep dogs in high-rise apartments. Is this a problem?

Finally, we need more education of the public. Last year there was a very sad instance of a child being mutilated by a dog, and this was reported on the national news followed by the usual messages of don't leave children alone with dogs. A short time later there was a report in the local newspaper of a little girl who climbed into the dog's bed while her mother was in the bath upstairs. She ended up with stitches to her face, and the dog is dead. The mother said they had been given the dog a month ago by a friend, and she had no reason to think it would bite. The safety messages just don't sink into the general population, the people who we don't get at training classes.

Some organisations are happy to visit local schools on invitation to provide education. I propose that rescue and training/behaviour organisations bang on the doors of schools rather than waiting to be invited.

Lets hope that one day we really will manage to put the world to right!

Isabel Towers
Anonymous said…
I think that a lot of this problem is to do with the current economic climate, and people losing their jobs and consequentially their homes. They then find themselves unable to afford to keep the family dog, or find that Landlord's of rented properties will not accept dogs or other pets either, so leaving the owners with no option other than to put into rescue. Landlords changing their attitude would help so much, and probbly save dogs lives.

Certainly here in North East Lincolnshire, one large rescue kennel that advertises it's dogs on the internet, often have in the dogs details that the owners have had to move into rented accomadation and the Landlord won't accept pets.

I also think that a lot of what's already been said is true, and that people are also not willing to put the time into training the dog. I would certainly say that this was true with the rescue Labrador that we took on. About 12months old, and no idea of even being able to sit on command. Her behaviour was abysmal. But with love and positive training what a wonderful dog she has become.
Frances said…
I am rather concerned at the element of "breeder bashing" emerging in these comments. I believe we all need the many good breeders that are out there, who breed for health, soundness, longevity and temperament as well as type, who health test and are hugely knowledgeable about their breed and it's needs, and many of whom will travel half way across the country to pick up a dog of their breed, or partly of their breed, or just any dog, if that dog is in need. And I would include responsible Staffy breeders here - someone has to safeguard the breed through these years of being the current status dog, and act as advocates and ambassadors for the breed.

I have huge respect for the many people involved in rescuing animals, who must feel they are facing an insuperable mountain of ignorance, incompetence and fecklessness. I can understand how they must feel that things could only be better if everyone adopted from them rather than bought from breeders. But dogs are not interchangeable units - the home that is perfect for a papillon might not suit a GS mix. When the time was right for me to get a dog, I looked at my local rescues. I have cats (both rescues), so needed a dog safe with cats. Some of my neighbours have small children, others have dogs, and we share access and other common areas - more safety issues. I wanted a small dog, as I frequently stay with friends and family, and small dogs tend to be easier to accommodate than large ones. I knew I could not meet the exercise needs of a Border Collie, or Springer, and I find the terrier temperament hard work. And I did not consider myself sufficiently experienced to cope with a dog with health or behavioural issues, or an ex-breeding dog that needed help learning how to be a dog again. Unsurprisingly, the sort of dog I wanted and needed is as rare as hen's teeth in rescue, and does not tend to wait long for a home!

So I researched breeds and breeders, and bought exactly the pup I wanted, and then did so again when the time came to expand the family, and we have been very happy. Meanwhile I meet any number of people who have "rescued" dogs ("I rescued her - it was an advertisement in the paper, and the woman was divorcing and couldn't keep her. I paid £x."; "I rescued him from a pet shop - he looked so miserable it was worth the £x to take him home and make him happy"; "The man said any pups that didn't sell at the boot sale would be drowned when he got home, so I rescued this one"), all of whom look at me and my happy, healthy, sociable little dogs with an air of moral superiority, while I grit my teeth and refrain from commenting! I have also seen far too many dogs rehomed, then returned to rescue because their owners could not cope with the dog's needs, or it did not get on with the people and animals already in the home.

I really cannot see how discouraging responsible small scale breeders from breeding dogs, and thus leaving would-be buyers only the choice of puppy mills or BYBs, can possibly be good for the long term future of pet dogs. As others have said, I very much doubt that many of the dogs from these breeders end up in rescue, if only because part of the definition of "responsible" in this context is lifetime commitment to take back any dog of their breeding. I hope this does not come across as a rant - I would just like to see more emphasis put onto informed, responsible choice of type of dog, adult or puppy, breeder or rescue, and less emphasis on Rescue Good, Breeder Bad.
Anonymous said…
The disposable dog culture is one reason, as others have mentioned, and the fact that many people simply do not realise how much work a dog takes.

The high price of puppies compared to adult dogs, along with the use of dogs as 'status symbols' is another. Think of the people you know who feel their dog should have a litter because it's pedigreed/purebred and will make them money (said with an air of pride at their dog's blue blood). Same goes for the people who think of breed as the first consideration when getting a dog, and convenience as the second: people who will get a puppy mill dog over a rescue because the rescue doesn't have papers and the puppy mill owner can get them a puppy now. The same dog then becomes worthless as an adult, so it's more productive to breed a dog than to rehome an adult one.
Anonymous said…
so no comment about the decision on the Kennel Club to make funds available for the AHT to build their cancer centre which will benefit ALL animals (including man) and the dogs of the world. If you describe Dogs Today as "The ethical pet magazine ..............." surly even you must welcome and indeed celebrate this? or too stuck in the rutt of KC bashing ?
Karen Rhodes said…
Firstly, having worked in rescue for a big chunk of my life, we had a lot of dogs that were long-termers. It was a no-kill shelter and about 20% of the dogs there were probably not suitable for homing due to their history. Some had previously had 3 or 4 homes and were destructive or had bitten, yet they were absolutely fine with the kennel staff. I haven't worked there for 4 years and there are stiil some dogs there that were there when I started working at the rescue in 2004. These dogs do take up places that a perfectly homable dog may lose out to, yet you cannot suddenyl say, lets put them all to sleep. i have known dogs to be in a shelter for a couple of years and suddenly that perfect owner comes along for them. Also some of these long-term dogs actually have a better life than some pet dogs - they have a warm kennel and cosy bed, regular exercise, are played with, fed regularly on a good diet and see the vet at the mere hint of illness. I think all dogs should be microchipped, and this responsibility should be with the breeders and heavy fines for the breeder of a dog if it is not microchipped. However we have the problem of implementing this. Again it will be those breeders who should not be breeding that do not do it - the ones that don't socialise, or carry out health checks etc. There does need to be more education of dog owners, especially of new dog owners, but again how would this be implemented and how would it be paid for? Those people that are really passionate about dogs will already be reading the dog press, dog books and good internet sites, blogs etc - we need to reach those that don't. When a pedigree dog comes into a rescue, the pedigree certificate should be asked for and that breeder informed one of their dogs is in rescue and reported if necessary so that if a particular breeder has a lot of dogs going into rescue they lose their licence. Also other breeders that have bred the ancestors of the dog handed in to rescue can also be informed so they do not deal with that particular breeder again. It is difficult to say "stop breeding" for a while as some breeds will be very vulnerable and already are, and there will also be problems among the breeders of more popular dogs. I certainly do not think that anyone should be breeding whilst they still have dogs waiting for homes. There are lots of ways to reduce the number of dogs being bred or in rescue, but these ways will never stop those unscrupulous people that breed dogs or buy them without thinking. The harder we make it for people to buy decent well bred dogs, the easier it becomes for those back-yard breeders and puppy farmers and those people who want a dog for the wrong reasons.
Beverley Cuddy said…
Haven't yet had a press release from the KC! Perhaps if they were to tell us what they are doing we might be able to include a mention.
Perhaps you might like to pass that on... shakes head... and you talk about other people being stuck in a rut Anonymouse! Broken record comes to mind!
Anonymous said…
Our stats are currently that we're working from a waiting list of over 70 dogs, we've been closed to new admissions for two months now and even when some of our current dogs leave we won't be financially able to offer space to new ones.

Everyone I know in rescue is exhausted to the point of depression, but there is one left-field point that I think has to be made.

The problem is actually several times as serious as any figures show, because they can't take into account the 'hobby' rescues, or many breed rescues. We all know the hobby crew the people who move dogs around via the internet with plaintive cries to "HELP SAVE THIS SWEET ANGEL!!!!!", never seeing them, to pretty much anyone who says they want one. They then vanish when they get bored or it gets hard. There is in fact a skew towards major rehoming organisations showing figures that are well below the current state of affairs, and whilst this may sound awful (and I have to hark back to April's comment here) unless the hobbyists stop, or start submitting figures (and there are enough of them to make a significant spike in numbers), authorities won't even be seeing the tip of the iceberg and therefore the problem remains in the conciousness, yet not-quite-important enough to action.
Anonymous said…
There is still a huge stereotype surrounding rescue dogs! They bite, they are bad with children, they are poorly, always older etc etc - all an absolute load of rubbish!!! I have had rescue dogs since I was 3 years old, im 23 years old now ...and will never ever buy from a breeder ever!!! I have 4 beautiful rescue terriers, 1 from the dogs trust, 2 from a local animal shelter and 1 our new pup from a welsh dog pound - due to be put to sleep on his last day back in August! They are all happy, healthy, well trained, have never bitten or even shown signs of aggression, are socialable and very friendly including child friendly. A puppy is what you make it, rescues bring up puppies that end up in their care to class 'A' standard, they have been socialised with kids, other dogs, other pets, households in general etc which is more than can be said for quite a number of breeders. I think that neutering needs to be made cheaper we have been quoted £120 to neuter our male pup and although I will be paying for sure, some people would rather use the money on other things. I am a volunteer for the Dogs trust and can safely say it isnt just mongrels and staffy mixes that end up in their centres, more often than not, its a pedigree ive seen from nova scotia duck tolling retrivers to poodles to bichon frise's to spaniels etc etc. Ive even seen quite a number of the so called designer breeds e.g labradoodles and cockerpoos! Theres a dog in rescue suitable for every home - people shouldnt knock it till they tried it! As for breeders - they need to stop breeding for at least a few years to let the shelters recover, as for every dog brought from a breeder a shelter dog is not given a new life and in some cases is very sadly PTS! My opinion is very much - RESCUE DOGS RULE!!!! :)!
Anonymous said…
"A quick reaction to the first few posts.
If the explosion of Designer Dogs is the cause of the problem why isn't Battersea bursting at the seams with oodles of Doodles?" well perhaps thats because when they are sold for a fat profit they are call "Designer Dogs" but when they end up in the rescue kennel they are just a plain cross bred mutt, whos breeder took the cheque and ran!

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