We’ve all seen the T-shirts: ‘Rescues are the Best Breed’.
Who can resist the dozens of pictures of forlorn-looking animals, on charity websites, all seeking a new home?
But adopting a rescue dog or puppy is not always as straightforward as it seems.
Many have ongoing medical or behavioural issues from ill-treatment they may have received in their previous home.
And just as in human relationships not every dog will like, or be a suitable match, for every willing new dog owner.
Wood Green, The Animals Charity, is one of the largest rehoming centres in Europe and currently features on Channel 4’s The Dog House, which shows just how much work goes into matching dogs with people.
The centre operates from a 52-acre headquarters in Cambridgeshire, where its vision is to match every pet to a loving home for life.
‘We have 3,000 registrations a week from people wanting a pet and we rehome about 700 dogs a year – so clearly there’s a disparity between the demand and how many people get a dog,’ says Tom O’Connell, Head of Customer Engagement at the charity.
‘Our aim is to match people with the right dogs – but it’s all from the dog’s perspective: what that individual dog needs in terms of accommodation, care and exercise.
Some people want an excitable breed that needs lots of exercise, others might be looking for a quiet companion. There is no one size fits all.’
At Wood Green, as with most rehoming charities, the process starts with a would-be adopter completing an online registration form answering questions such as whether there are other pets in the household, if there are children, how long owners may be out at work and whether they live in a house or a flat, and have a garden.
But ultimately the key is matching the dog’s personality with a person’s.
‘Everything is bespoke to achieve a positive match. We are not judgemental but our dogs need more support as they are often vulnerable.’
Recent figures showed that since the first lockdown in March last year, 3.2million pets have been bought or sourced in the UK.
Puppy prices have soared to over £3,000 an animal for the most popular breeds such as cockapoos – and people are prepared to pay. But Tom says there is no sign – yet – of the predicted avalanche of unwanted dogs being handed in to rehoming centres when owners return to the office.
‘We’re hoping it’s because they have invested large sums of money in these dogs and so are prepared to make the changes to their lives they need to keep the animal happy,’ he says.
(Story source: Metro)