Ali Schofield noses around the world of rescue dogs

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For me, and presumably a fair few of you, since there are 8.5 million pet dogs currently chasing balls, rolling in mud and lying on sofas farting in the UK, every day is a wet nose day. But officially, Wetnose Day was the first of this month. Dog-loving celebrities wore black noses and money was raised for hundreds of small rescue charities.

If just one in 10 people who intended buying a dog next year were to adopt one from a shelter, the shelters would be empty by Christmas. That’s it – doggy homelessness solved.

I don’t know why that fact surprised me so much. Most of the people I know with dogs didn’t get them from a rescue. I was hesitant to write this because they’re all Good People. They, we, have all heard of Battersea Dog’s Home, the RSPCA, the Dog’s Trust; there’s primetime TV programmes about them all, all the time.

Everyone considering a pet dog realises that they could rehome one. Really, any breed they like, too. This year Battersea has taken in three times more French bulldogs, a squash-nosed breed so popular the Kennel Club predicts they will soon overtake the labrador as the UK’s top dog. I don’t mean to sound glib, but if you were dead set on a Frenchie it might be cheaper and more humane to rescue one that has already undergone the surgery many need to help them breathe at the charity’s expense.

But when I suggested a friend adopt a dog rather than buy from the breeder she’d chosen – no, I don’t get a lot of party invites – she argued that a shelter probably wouldn’t let her since she works full time. She’s right – some shelters probably wouldn’t. Perhaps in making sure we recognise that a dog’s not just for Christmas and all that, charities have risked laying it on a bit thick and turned some people off. Because they still get a dog anyway – that bit doesn’t change.

To blame the charities for the problem is a prime dick move though. Speaking of which, last year The Sun ran an exposé into the “charities killing thousands of healthy dogs”. They found that over the course of a year Battersea had euthanised 1,200 animals, the RSPCA 1,676 and the Blue Cross 525. With an average of 280 animals abandoned daily, I’m amazed it’s not more. Really, where did you think they were putting all these perfectly healthy dogs that no one wants? If we choose a dog specifically bred for us then we must accept that at least one in a shelter will die as a result.

The Queen presumably accepts this. She’s patron of the RSPCA but her two corgis and two dorgis (it’s what you call dachshund-corgi crosses, apparently) are all bred from the same family line. With ambassadors like that, who needs enemies, eh, Rover?

Rather than just donating money, perhaps Wetnose Day should make us reflect on this perfectly solvable problem. Every two hours in the UK a stray dog is put down. And as the wet nose of one who came dangerously close rests on my knee as I write this, I can assure you they deserve to live much more than a puppy who’s still only a sparkle in its future breeder’s eye.

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Interact: Responses to Ali Schofield noses around the world of rescue dogs

  • Steve Adams
    25 Oct 2017 12:17
    Hi Lai & thanks for responding. re: assumes those dogs wouldn't be bred Huge assumption, I think that would more likely take a couple of years to impact (not that I know!). & re: I'd have to investigate further in that case Yes. I think it would have been wise to do that rather than make such assumptions. The headline...: Thousands of commercially bred dogs destroyed due to owners favouring rescue dogs isn't as rosy as your cosy: It's easy to solve the problem of unwanted dogs. Adopt them! one. Any reason not to do the research required? Is it just a commercial constraint (freelance journalist with a number of words to fill and a limited budget for research?)
  • Ali Schofield
    25 Oct 2017 11:41
    Hi Steve, thanks for your comment (and nudge on Twitter - a good idea). The stat assumes those dogs wouldn't be bred. Most breeders have waiting lists of buyers so that, if demand reduced, the puppies wouldn't be produced. I guess the unplanned puppies factor would depend on how many of these would have become strays, shelter dogs or gone to willing owners, and whether those owners planned to buy a dog anyway. I'd have to investigate further in that case, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't make a dint - after all, we're talking about just one in ten of the people planning on buying a dog. A hopeful, very achievable aim!
  • Steve Adams
    25 Oct 2017 07:50
    What would happen to all the dogs they would otherwise have acquired through some other means? e.g. Assuming: In this next 6-12 month period - all of those non-shelter pups would still be bred (planned or unplanned). - the number of people getting a dog is constant So if people who are getting a new dog simply switch where they get them from.... surely that just shifts the surplus pups to other "suppliers". Or am I missing something?

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