Thanks to everyone who read, and commented on, my previous posts, which told of our experiences with dog re-homing. Before I continue the adventures of the Mad dog woman for 2013, I wanted to have one last say on the matter.
Through our interaction with two rescue centres (Boxer Rescue Service (Southern) and The Dog's Trust) and several comments on my blog and on Twitter, it seems that re-homing a dog is not an easy thing to do. Whilst we completely understand the need for rescue centres to properly 'vet' prospective dog guardians, we do feel that the system is unnecessarily long-winded, time-consuming and frankly a pain the neck. Sadly, I don't think we will ever go to a rescue centre again.
In the case of Boxer Rescue, we never even got near the kennels, so we don't know how many dogs are waiting to be re-homed. We do know that they only re-homed 28 dogs in the year to the end of March 2011. They have over £50,000 in the bank, and they claim that it costs £1,100 to re-home a Boxer dog (from their accounts submitted to The Charities Commission). Boxer Rescue Service (Southern) are a breed rescue service, recommended by The Kennel Club. I have written to The Kennel Club expressing our concerns about the organisation. From the documents submitted to The Charities Commission, one can see that the organisation received funding from The Kennel Club, for the kennelling of rescue dogs. That is, much of their income comes from the number of dogs housed, and NOT from the number of dogs re-homed. Certainly, this service appears to be motivated to kennel dogs and not find suitable homes for them, in direct contradiction of their stated manifesto.
And from what we saw at The Dog's Trust, we believe this is true of that organisation too. The kennels in Shoreham are really lovely. Bright and warm, with arm chairs and blankets. Perfectly designed for tugging at the heart strings for more donations. For here's the rub. They are centrally funded, from public donations, based on the number of dogs they can house at any one time (approximately 60 at Shoreham). If they are not maximally occupied, they take vans of dogs from the Republic of Ireland. I don't agree with this practice.
I don't doubt that the people and organisations discussed here are committed to the animals in their care. We met some lovely people who clearly had a close bond with the dogs. What they lacked was a common-sense approach to re-homing, to making it a streamlined process for dogs and families.
I heard a radio debate this week which added another side to this debate. That of breeder-bashing. I do not support puppy farming. I do advocate neutering. But I cannot join in with pedigree breeder-bashing. We have been interviewed each time we reserved a puppy, to ensure our suitability. We have met both parents in the home, and seen all the puppies in the litter.
Getting a new furry friend is a wonderful addition to every family. Having a dog brings many benefits; companionship, exercise and unconditional love. Rescue centres would do well to remember that they are there to bring dogs and families together.