Put a question to Bridget Phillipson, Shadow Education Minister

My feed

to access all these features

Join our community of cat lovers on the Mumsnet Cat forum for kitten advice and help with cat behaviour.

The litter tray

Thinking about rehoming your pet? READ THIS.

33 replies

Vallhala · 30/01/2011 11:09

I often tell people on here how ill-advised it is to rehome a pet privately and why they should only do so through a rescue which will homecheck the prospective new owner and guarantee to take the pet back at any stage in the animal's life if that owner cannot keep him. Sometimes I get the idea that people don't believe me despite me citing a recent case on MN where a lady took on a dog avertised by a stranger in her local paper which within the space of a weekend had bitten her neighbour's child and was put to sleep as a result.

Maybe this will change minds.

OP posts:
Maelstrom · 30/01/2011 11:17

Valhalla, I would love to have my dogs rehomed by a rescue place, that would check they go to responsible owners and to an environment that can match their needs, I would like to be able to explain, for the next owner benefit, that my cute little dog becomes a rather destructive gremlin if you allow him to sleep on beds, that the other one is allergic to glutten, and that one needs to be left alone while the other one thrives in constant attention. That one was mistreated by children in its previous house and therefore have a short fuse for unsupervised toddlers, or that the other one can be carried around as a teddy bear and that he would actually enjoy it.

Unfortunately, I think that when and if I finally need to rehome them via a rescue place, the only thing I could do would be to tie them to a post outside the rescue centre before dusk. Mumsnet is full of posts where persons say they have contacted every rescue place available just to be told they have no space to receive their pets so I am not surprised rehoming continues to be done privately, with dire consequences sometimes.

Vallhala · 30/01/2011 11:57

It's true that rescue space is bloody hard to find, Maelstrom - and I should know, it's what I do for a huge part of my spare time.

For the seeker I would advise that they:

  1. Search far further from home, including breed and crossbreed rescue where appropriate, than most people bother to.

2. Make application to rescue AS FAR AHEAD AS POSSIBLE (appreciate that this can't always be done but most times it can and folk put it off).

3. Make the pet as "desirable" and trouble free to rescue as possible - ensure he is neutered/vaccinated before approaching rescue.

4. Be prepared to offer to fund his stay in rescue and/or his neutering and vaccination where possible.

5. Be prepared to take him to rescue or find a driver to do so.

6. Seek out rescue with a no-kill policy and make contact with rescue via such websites as DogPages, BigGSD (not JUST for GSDs) and various other groups.

IME there are far more rescues out there than people know of, plus independent rescuers like me. However, yes we are struggling.

Another good bit of advice to stop rescue being overrun is to educate peopleabout the foolishness and cruelty of buying from a breeder when so many pound dogs are being killed each week for want of homes. If rescue didn't need to find space for these dogs they would have more room for dogs like your own, heaven forbid you should need it.

A stray in a pound has just 7 days there before the law says he may be put to sleep - and so many pounds DO kill after 7 days because they don't get paid by their councils to care for the dogs beyond that. A dog handed into the pound by his owner may be killed immediately he is signed over - here he will cost the pound from day one so he has a high chance of dying. That's why rescue goes in and gives as many of these dogs as possible a chance of life.

A lot of it is down to who you know - not necessarily in terms of the old pals network but in terms of knowing where the small rescues are and who the independent rescuers like me are. For example, there is Pro Dogs Direct in London, who have scores of dogs awaiting homes. However because they tend to keep their dogs in the family home and assess from there rather than use kennels and so have no visable premises many people are unaware of their existance. Likewise rescues which work via foster homes.

Rescue's job would be made easier if we had more help too. This could be in one of many ways:

Dog walking
Donating blankets, towels, sheets and duvets
Donating money (NOT to the RSPCA though, find an independent NO KILL rescue where the money goes on the dogs)
Dog socialisaton
Donating shreeded paper and newspaper
Offering help with admin
Kennel cleaning
Offering help on a stall at a fete or car
Offering help with transporting a dog from, say, old owner to rescue or pound to rescue. (Certain requirements and safety measures here of course, no-one expects a person to just jump in willy nilly without support and advice)
Donating goods for a fete/carboot, be that old books or home made dog biscuits
Offering rescue your old freezer or dishwasher before you put it on Freecycle...

the list is endless and all these directly help the dogs and save the rescue owners, who (speaking here of the independent ones) generally run the rescue with no paid help, their precious few resources, not least TIME.

Help IS out there although by feck we're struggling. Casting your net wide and asking people such as those on BigGSD and DogPages is the best way to start.
OP posts:
Maelstrom · 30/01/2011 13:36

Valhalla, there are a lot of irresponsible people who take a dog without checking whether they can afford the time and money to keep it. Those people would dispose of the dog as easily as they took them.

People who care about their dogs, and have to rehome them suddenly, don't have the time to wait, check, travel and do networking to find a place for the dogs. Many rehomed dogs are left after their owners die, are taken ill, loose their homes, or simply are experiencing a rather bad time on their lives. Hardly the time to plan ahead and do all the suggested stuff.

So, I agree with you, dogs should be rehomed via rescue centres, but I wouldn't be so hard on people who don't use them, because many of them might have been left without a choice.

Incidentally, I wanted to get my dogs from the local RSPCA but was told they won't give dogs to foreigners, and walked to the door, we offered for them to check our home, told them we were experienced dog owners, to no avail. We were not even allowed to have a look at the dogs.. So... is not that easy, is it? I had the resources to contact a breeder, travel for several hours, and get a fluffy and tested pedigree puppy who I still call my first born. If I had been in a less fortunate financial situation I would have been happy to give a home to a stray dog that followed me from the park (after careful checking and displaying of posters to try to find their rightful owners)

Vallhala · 30/01/2011 13:48

Maelstrom, as I said, you don't need to tell me - I deal with it every day of my life. There are those who have to rehome suddenly, I agree and said as much, but there are many who in my personal experience will put it off til the last minute.

As for the RSPCA, don't go there... literally and metaphorically! They're almost universally hated by independent rescuers and with good reason too.

The only time I can see need for reservation in rehoming to a "foreigner" (how bloody rude of them btw!) is the same as rehoming to a member of the British armed forces - when that person is very likely to leave the country because either the pet will be unwanted once again or will be taken to another country outside of the rescue's ability to help him or take him back should he need it. This is a policy held by many decent rescues and is a worthy one.

OP posts:
Maelstrom · 30/01/2011 13:57

I would agree with that policy, if the rescue place is prepared to listen and realise that those "foreigners" are actually British citizens with a funny accent but very much settled since years before in the area.

Unfortunately, my local bigotted rescue was not one of those.

But I rest my case, we are in agreement.

Vallhala · 30/01/2011 14:17

You're not alone - I'm a British citizen with a "funny accent" too... comes of being a working class South Londoner who was educated outside of the state comprehensive system! :o

OP posts:
NoSoapInADirtyWar · 30/01/2011 14:23

Val - please can you explain why RSPCA are not liked among the rescuing community?? I ask out of sheer curiosity. Smile I got my cat from there about 7 years ago but my dog who I brought home more recently was from an animal rescue place.

NoSoapInADirtyWar · 30/01/2011 14:26

Just read that link on the op (didn't read it first as I thought it would be the dog rehomed and passed onto a back yard breeder who they managed to get back home only for the dog to die of poisoning Sad )

Having read the link I can't believe they passed their sick dog onto someone they bumped into in the nieghbourhood, not knowing his surname or address! Shock Hmm

Poor poor dog. Sad

Vallhala · 30/01/2011 15:34

The RSPCA told us that these living conditions were acceptable for Lulu and Bruno, who was old and very ill. I can show you more examples like this.

The RSPCA then threatened to spend donor's money on taking legal action against German Shepherd Dog Rescue for using their trademarked name - because GSDR had publicised the organisation's lack of care and failure to uphold the law in respect of these dogs.

The RSPCA have £119 MILLION pounds in the bank at the last audit, but about 9 months ago announced that they will no longer take in unwanted dogs from the public... leaving more in pounds to die, more thrown onto the street, more private rehomes like the one which went so badly wrong in the OP and independent rescue to pick up the pieces.

The RSPCA killed ten German Shepherds with a captive bolt gun despite having already been told by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons that it is wholly unacceptable and unnecessary to kill dogs in this way and despite knowing that this is deemed inhumane and unacceptable by the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA). When I last made enquiries of them the RSPCA had killed 65 dogs in this manner in less than 12 months. In law there is no need for even a license to use a captive bolt gun. Any idiot can use one.

The RSPCA are known to claim legal powers which they do not have and to use their police-like uniforms and titles such as "Inspector" to intimidate. They in fact have no greater legal power than you or I. They are not under obligation to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and pointedly refuse to do so voluntarily, despite calls for this.

The RSPCA recently went forcibly into Rosedene dog pound, which is one of the rare ones which tries to get it's dogs into the safety of homes and rescue. After a very short period of time there they killed three dogs on site, claiming that they were aggressive and unhomeable. I and many others have pictures of these dogs being walked and fussed by Rosedene staff, many of which see staff in a potentially vulnerable position, at face level to the dogs, kneeling and soforth. Rosedene's staff are adamant that these dogs were not aggressive but still the RSPCA killed them and took away more than 50 other dogs, including to RSPCA complexes which at their own admission had no spaces... so what dogs died there to make room for the Rosedene ones?

The RSPCA kills (at their last published audit) well over one in every three dogs which enter it's doors. That's on top of those killed outside by RSPCA "inspectors", who not only have no Police qualifications but also have no veterinary qualifications either. In 2008 they killed 22 dogs and 33 cats per day in their "rescue shelters".

The RSPCA state that they kill any animal of "unknown origin" after just 7 days in their premises.

This might give you food for thought.

OP posts:
NoSoapInADirtyWar · 30/01/2011 15:44

Sad That is awful, I'm glad I asked though, as I would rather be aware than live in ignorance. RSPCA will never get a penny from me ever again (ds usually likes to put a penny in the dog in supermarkets, not anymore he won't be).

Peachy · 30/01/2011 16:15

I too dislike the RSPCA for different reasons- we found a dog locally, but could not care for him as our lease bas any dog from even entering our home. So we telephoned them and they said they would not come out and if we were not prepared to take a 'tiny risk' (in a small Welsh village there's no such thing with neighbours...) we wopuld have to let him go again Shock. 'We don't do dogs', they said- call the pound. pound ahd shut hours before (9 - 5).

As it was Landlady let us have him in for a night and his family appeared and he was very happily taken home.

Again, my sister is Vet Nurse 9actually sat her Vet Dentist exams this morning so hoping she now is promoted...) and has very many other reasons to dislike them.

TheMonster · 30/01/2011 16:20

It's a shame there aren't more decent rescue centres.
I know of people who have rehomed without the use of a rescue centre because they know they wouldn't have been accepted by the centre. A lot of these situations end in tears, just like the story you have cited.

Peachy · 30/01/2011 16:25

People shoud also be aware when tlaking about a wider range of pets that they can buy from a store like pets at home and have a pet rescue gusrantee- we rehomed a gerbil from them just this week, many of their stores now have adoption centres in and if anyone plans to buy a rabbit or other small animal I would absolutely advocate having a look see.

CountessVonKnackerstein · 30/01/2011 16:28

Sorry to butt in Valhalla but can you recommend a rescue centre in the North East? I have some freecycle type stuff, I never thought of donating.

1Catherine1 · 30/01/2011 16:46

I didn't know that about the RSPCA, honestly it seems almost unbelievable that an organisation set up to prevent cruelty to animals is behaving in this way.

I must admit though I find rescue centres are unbelievably difficult to rescue from. I wanted a cat 2 years ago, I already had one cat, lived in a nice 2 bed house, with a large garden well away from a main road or a train line. I work full time as did my partner but we worked opposite shifts meaning the house was never empty for more than 2 or 3 hours a day.

We weren't suitable to re-home to. Why? Because we live in rented accommodation (or so I was told, maybe it was because my OH is a foreigner Confused). Instead I ended up paying £350 for an 18 month old cat that my OH fell in love with when we visited the breeder. The woman was a bad breeder, I saw that immediately and wanted to leave without that cat but the cat looked at my OH and he swears that she was begging him not to leave her there. We spent months nurturing her back to good health and it has taken over a year for her to trust me (she had an immediate bond with my OH) and come for cuddles. She is still wary of strangers. Comparing photos of her then and now you wouldn't know it was the same cat - she is now so happy, healthy, playful, spoilt and loved. Yet according to cats protection we weren't good enough to provide a home for one of their cats. It really is no wonder they are always so full.

In saying this though, I know I would probably go via a rescue agency if forced to rehouse my girls but I would rather keep them with me rather until a new home could be found. My fear of rehousing my eldest girl is that if I didn't go through cats protection she could end up getting put down once the new owners realized the full extent of her ongoing medical costs. I doubt anyone else would take on these costs (last year she cost me over £1000, this year I'm predicting a minimum of £500).

Considering the lengths I go to to ensure the well-being of my cats I really was deeply insulted by cats protection when they didn't think I was suitable, so much so that I will probably never try to rescue from a rescue centre again.

Vallhala · 30/01/2011 17:04

Peachy, this is a combination of the RSPCA not taking in strays and fairly recent legislation which has handed all stray dog matters (except for dogs which come under the Dangerous Dogs Act) from the Police to local authorities. This meant that anyone finding a stray had to take him to/call out the council... and the majority of councils don't have an out of hours dog warden service. So, the choice to the finder is to take the dog to the sole allocated reception point - usually a dog pound, could be the other side of your county of course and generally not open 24/7 itself - keep the dog until office hours and the dog warden was back at work, or throw the dog back onto the streets. Your story isn't the first time I've heard of the RSPCA or council telling a person to put the dog back into the street. Angry

In a nutshell:

  1. Funds allocated for this changeover AND to cover 3 years of the obligation were less than an official Met Police audit reported to have been spent TEN YEARS EARLIER to cover ONE year of an already established service, where kennels were already in place and the police were obliged to take in any stray, 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

2. These funds weren't ringfenced so could (and largely have been) spent on completely different things and not on dog welfare/stray collection/stray care. After 2011 this will not be paid out at all.

3. Councils MUST by law have a person who is responsible for stray dogs although he need not be known as a dog warden - his duties might be split between that another occupation. Pest Controller is the most common. Councils resent having to provide this service and generally spend the minimum on it.

4. There is no obligation whatsoever upon a local council to provide an out of hours dog warden service although it is required to provide an "acceptance point" BuT ONLY "where practicable".

Bluntly, what happened to you is a result of a combination of the RSPCA's lack of care and the Labour party's bright idea to change legislation... a complete fuck-up all round.

This is why I was furious about the lad who got attacked by a Shar Pei over Christmas. His council gave a press release saying that the family should have called their dog warden, who is specially trained to deal with dogs blah blah blah... but they didn't tell the family or the public in that press release that there was NO SUCH SERVICE over Christmas, weekends, bank holidays or between 5.30 (4.30 on Fridays) and the start of office hours during the week.

I know because suspecting that this was the case I emailed the head of that council's environmental health department and checked with them! Angry
OP posts:
Vallhala · 30/01/2011 17:12

Countess, depends where you are but I have a soft spot for Farplace Animal Rescue in Stanhope, Weardale - I know the area and have met the owner. I'd also say Bob at Northern Staffordshire Bull Terrier Rescue - Bob's lovely.

Off the top of my head there is also NESSR - North East Springer Spaniel Rescue and German Shepherd Rescue North East or North West.

Catherine, normally rescue will require to see a copy of a tenancy agreement stating that pets are allowed or a (checkable) letter from your landlord confirming this. Obviously if you own your own home proof of this or a mortgage document would be required.

Very odd behaviour on the part of Cats Protection and not flaming helpful in the least. :(

OP posts:
TitsalinaBumSquash · 30/01/2011 17:13

Vallhala I contacted a local (RSPCA based) animal shelter a while ago and offered to volunteer, they said the only thing I could do was to walk the dogs but it had to be before 8.30am and I couldn't do it becuase of school runs.

I ALWAYS donate any old towels and bedding to them but wish I could do more.
They wont let me rehome a dog as my ds2 is under 6.
I am great with admin and I can drive and could do things like Gardening, cleaning. I would foster if they would let me to.

I am in West Sussex, could you suggest a way I could help, most of the time I am being turned down and asked for money instead which I just can't afford.

Vallhala · 30/01/2011 17:15
OP posts:
Peachy · 30/01/2011 17:39

Catherine our RSPCA will only rehome to people who can produce a lease with a clause showing pet ownership permitted. I don;t get from them anyway (I take the cats nobody else will touch LOL- usually via avets) but they wanted us to jump through costly hoops to prove our LL had okayed a pet rodent (which they ahd but drawing up an entire new contract was chargeable and RSPCA said letter not OK)....

so pets at home adoption it was then

Vallhala · 30/01/2011 17:40

Titsalina, I'd tell the RSPCA to stuff it and try instead another rescue. Wink

Dobermans In Need 01243 542545 (Sussex) work via foster homes and are excellent. Contact there is Valerie MacDonald. Allsorts Dog Rescue is Brighton based, never dealt with them personally but know people who have.

I'd also look at the Retired Greyhound Trust personally, and ask them if they have any need of help.

Wracking my brains for others within sensible reach of your area... I know lots in the general South area, Surrey, Kent, Hamps, but yours is causing me brain-ache! I've put out an ask for recommendations which I hope will help.

OP posts:
pinkhebe · 30/01/2011 20:36

My friend is also looking for a mid size rescue dog in East sussex (brighton based) so any ideas welcome Grin

Vallhala · 30/01/2011 20:50

pink These are a few of the dogs currently at Allsorts Rescue near Brighton

I don't know the rescue personally and advise that if your friend approaches them he/she ensures that the rescue homechecks, assesses, vaccinates, neuters, microchips, offers ongoing support and will take the dog back at any time if the owner cannot keep him.

PS - Brutus the GSD X Lab is gorgeous! :)

OP posts:
Vallhala · 30/01/2011 20:54

A clever lady I know has just reminded me too of Carla Lane's rescue in West Sussex. HERE

OP posts:
Spanky100 · 30/01/2011 21:10

I just want to point here that when one of my cats had kittens I sold them privately, well, not so much 'sold', they only went for a fiver.
I knew exactly where my kittens were going and knew they were going to good homes. I still occasionally check up on them now.

I once adopted a rescue dog who i was assured was safe with children.
Said dog was a gift from satan.
Extremely child aggressive, food possessive, not housebroken, disobedient, the list goes on....

While there are people who sell privately who are totally irresponsible and either thinking of the pound signs or just don't care, some of us do care.

I didn't want my kittens in rescue because i was scared that they might get put down if they didn't find a home, would miss their home comforts and i wouldn't know who they were being homed with.

Not every rescue are saintly figures who thoroughly vet each animal.
There are good rescues and there are bad rescues.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.