Give an Abandoned Dog a Home
By Angela Patmore author of Doggerel
The British public may like to think that, when they abandon their pet dogs by the hundred thousand, they go directly to some sanctuary in the sky where they get free Bonio biscuits and everything is quietly taken care of.
Dog dregs – the reality
The truth is very different. Here on earth behind the shelter walls, dogs stand in barrack blocks and zinc-lined runs, waiting and hoping, flattening their faces against the bars when they hear human footsteps. And the kennel staff who love them and cannot find them homes get the job of walking the dogs as jauntily as they can and feeding them from charitable donations, or handing them over for their last barbiturate jab - while somewhere far away sit their former owners, blithely oblivious.
The Dogs’ Trust estimate that one dog is put down in Britain every hour. Last year alone Battersea put down a third of its intake because there was simply no room for them, or because they were considered unsuitable for re-homing. 8,000 were taken in. 2,815 were destroyed, 1,931 of these healthy dogs. The RSPCA, who no longer accept abandoned dogs from the public without good reason, destroyed 533 dogs in 2009. Even some of the smaller charities were having up to one third of their dogs euthanized because nobody wants them, or because they had been unsuitably bred or unsuitably trained, or not trained at all by irresponsible and cruel owners.
The struggling sanctuaries
Everywhere in Britain, little sanctuaries struggle to survive, for shamefully animal charities receive no state aid and rely entirely on donations. Government contingency plans for dealing with the next rabies outbreak in the UK show how much we take for granted our network of waif-collecting centres and the dedication of a small band of animal-lovers fighting to make ends meet. I have visited many of the ADCH shelters listed in my book Doggerel, and many small unaffiliated shelters that are not listed. The cheerful, kind people who run them do so with little thanks or recognition, day in and day out, working like drudges, often for nothing. They are heroes in every sense and my book is dedicated to them. Why do they do it? I’ve asked them many a time. They all said the same thing.
Because the dogs are worth it.
Animal welfare work in Britain may draw on a huge reservoir of popular sentimentality, but when you actually turn on the tap, a mere trickle comes out. Only a handful of the sympathetic people do anything to help the dedicated few, yet somewhere among the homes and shelters there may be a future friend of yours, pushing his or her snout through the wire netting, thinking perhaps tomorrow you may come.
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