I am firstly going to apologise to anyone who might’ve been offended by my rant yesterday. But I used to volunteer at a dog rescue and boarding kennels and know the heartache dogs suffer when mistreated or abandoned by uncaring owners. Then to watch the programme and find that not much had really changed and dogs were still suffering...well, I got very upset.
Anyway, moving on - I must say that all the staff at the kennels I volunteered at are the best (in the world) I think; I’m genuinely honoured to count them, as well as another volunteer there, as my friends.
There are two rescues running from the boarding kennels – although the last I heard there were only six actual boarding kennels left such is the amount of dogs (as well as cats) needing space as owners no longer want them, or can no longer afford to keep them. The first rescue is a general ‘waifs and strays’ which takes in cats and dogs of all shapes, sizes, ages and varieties. In fact it’s actually called Cheadle Animal Welfare Waifs and Strays.
The second is a Rottweiler rescue; indeed it was called ‘Rottie Rescue’. The first had an abundance of Staffordshire Bull Terriers and the second, obviously, Rotties. Now, I am sick and tired of the media making these breeds, particularly the Staffys, sound like bloodthirsty, children eating monsters; they’re not. I was with these dogs for over a year and the rescuers from both groups would not rehome any dog that was dangerous or unsafe.
Rottweilers are actually completely soppy and very loving dogs, certainly all the ones I’ve met have been; likewise with the Staffys. Yes, of course there are bad ones – usually brought about by bad owners – but they’re only as prevalent as any other ‘vicious’ dog in any breed. Basically, if you treat even a Labrador badly enough it will turn vicious; wouldn’t you if you were mistreated and starved, or dumped to fend for yourself in the streets?
The Rottie Rescue is incredibly knowledgeable about the breed; likewise the ladies who run the other, more generalised, rescue are as knowledgeable about their charges – though, because there are many breeds available, in a more generalised way.
The problem is these aren’t the only rescues filled to bursting with both cats and dogs. Animal rescues all over the country are reporting much higher than average intakes for the time of year; and that’s another thing, there is no ‘slack period’ anymore. No time of the year when things quieten down for a while and give both current animals and staff a chance to get a home and catch their breath respectively.
Now, as I’ve said, I used to volunteer at the first two rescues I’ve mentioned until sickness forced me to stop (though I fully intend to return as soon as I'm able, or hopefully find another way to help). I know that the staff treat all the animals in their care as well as if they’re their own pets. Volunteers too are devoted to the dogs and many, if they can, foster so that it frees spaces up for more of these waifs and strays.
Obviously if someone has a pet dog or cat they just can’t afford to look after anymore or circumstances change and they can’t keep them, then donating them to a rescue such as these is the very best thing they can do for their one time best friends. The rescues I know that are local to me (and ones I’ve mentioned) are all ‘no kill’ shelters (as the Americans like to call them). They never put a healthy dog (or cat) to sleep.
Indeed they do all they can medically for the animals to ensure they have as good a life as possible; and these are the rescues any responsible owner needs to find to help them. Another two are the Dogs Trust and Blue Cross – which are huge concerns right across the UK, and who also have 'no kill' policies.
The owners who aren’t this responsible or caring of their pets, simply dump them somewhere – if they’re lucky, someone finds them and brings them in; or even the dog catcher will ask if they can be taken (in my personal experience with the local rescues I know at least).
Otherwise they might get knocked down, injured or sick; a domesticated household pet is no Cujo – no pet dog, used to a warm home, hearth and full belly, is going to turn into a wild wolf once they find themselves on the street. Likewise a cat, used to the best spot in front of the fire and a saucer of (cat) milk, is not going to suddenly become a consummate killer and feral feline once their owner kicks them out. They will fare extremely badly before either starvation, sickness or accidents finally kill them.
So, if you want a dog – go to a rescue; okay, they might not have a ton of super cute little puppies and kittens (though sometimes even they come in), but they do have dogs and cats from young to older, all looking for someone to love them.
Pedigrees that are there are usually not show dogs; and so are not inbred like so many others can be. Some dogs of course are either Heinz 57 (any number of mixes and combinations of breeds) or what’s known these days as a ‘first cross’ – my dog is such a combination; he’s an Akita crossed with a German Shepherd and the funniest, most loving and the very best dog in the world (as far as I’m concerned anyway).
If you want a dog, or a cat, then go to a rescue......please. These ladies, gentlemen and hoards of willing volunteers (both mentioned here, and across the country) are drowning under the weight of dogs and cats that are no longer wanted, pets that are abandoned or, the most heartbreaking of all, much loved best friends that are wanted but can’t, for a multitude of different reasons, be kept.
Please think carefully before rushing to buy a puppy or kitten – seriously do. There are so many older animals, some months and others years, out there needing new homes, new people and new families to love them, that don't get chosen just because they're not cute little babies anymore.
I am thinking not only of my dog, but one I used to walk called Teddy. He was a Staffy crossed with.....well, something. Boxer is the best guess. He is my friend and I love him dearly; the most heartbreaking of all is that whenever I manage to get to the kennels to say hello to everyone, he knows it’s me and goes mad.........it breaks my heart every single time and even now, as I type this, I’m getting choked up.
But it was my daughter who wanted a dog immediately after her spaniel died of cancer. So we got our Akita cross – he’s a wonderful dog; but we can’t afford another one. So I will just go on going to see my four legged friend when I can and pray that one day he gets a home of his own too.
So; go along to your local rescues – if you live in Staffordshire in England look up the two I’ve mentioned. The staff at the kennels are friendly and helpful, the lady who runs the Rottie Rescue is really nice as are the ladies who run the Waifs and Strays; the dogs (and cats) they look after are well loved and extremely well looked after.
Rescues in the UK, and around the world, are all that keeps these poor animals from ending their lives in fear, terror and pain. Without them tens of thousands of dogs and cats – even horses, guinea pigs, rabbits, etc – would be left to roam; ignored, starving, mistreated and abandoned in just about every country around the globe. Thousands more would be with families who could no longer keep them, but loved them too much to turn them out and so had no choice but to have them put to sleep.
For once we should show that we’re not the monsters we appear to be; for once we should help something that needs us, rather than going for the cute factor. Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder - and an animal that pulls at your heartstrings doesn’t have to be the very youngest and cutest; older ones too can love you just as much and be as gorgeous.
Besides the rescues are a hell of a lot cheaper to adopt from than spending hundreds, sometimes thousands, on a pedigree puppy (or kitten). So you're not only being kind to the animals and helping the rescues; you're also saving your bank manager from a heart attack.
Adopt from a shelter, a rescue, whatever you want to call them; find that best friend you’ve always wanted, give them that second chance they're so desperate for; you will never regret it.........
This is Simi, thanks for reading......