We have all heard the motto ‘a dog is for life, not just for Christmas’, but in reality some poor pets are being rejected by well-intentioned owners after just a few minutes.
Now animal lovers are being asked to sign a pledge of commitment before taking on a new family pet.
The call comes from a dog rescue charity after a number of mutts were returned by their new owners for “reasons so daft you could not make them up”.
A lurcher called Dudley, who found himself looking for a new home when his original carer became terminally ill, was taken back to kennels after just a couple of days because he was “boring”.
Another unsuspecting animal got only 15 miles from the rescue centre before being brought back because it would not sit nicely in the boot of the car.
Others have been shunned for failing to fall asleep directly after a walk, for helping themselves to food left within reach or because an existing pet does not like them.
The dogs don’t need letting down more than they already have beenAndrea Newton, founder of charity Finding Furever Homes
The problem of people having a last-minute change of heart was brought to the fore earlier this year when a shar-pei crossbreed named Kai hit the headlines after being abandoned at Ayr railway station with a suitcase of his belongings.
Finding Furever Homes, which takes in and rehomes dogs throughout the country, is launching the Rescue Ready campaign to highlight the need for potential owners to give serious thought to the implications of adopting a pet and not to give up on them at the first sign of difficulty.
Charity founder Andrea Newton said the organisation already operates a comprehensive screening process which potential owners must go through before being allowed to adopt a dog.
But in recent months volunteers have seen an increasing number of animals returned very quickly and for trivial reasons.
Now they are concerned the problem will get worse as many people’s New Year resolutions include a life change such as exercising more or taking on a pet - which often leads to dog ownership.
Over the years we have seen dogs come and go and occasionally go out and come back again, and it really isn’t fair on them,” Ms Newton said.
“Ninety nine per cent of the time dogs are returned as the new family were not ‘Rescue Ready’ - it had nothing to do with the dog.
“Like all reputable dog rescue charities, we have a comprehensive adoption process and for us this includes a home visit before potential adopters are even invited to kennels to meet a dog.
“But it is always difficult as people sometimes let their hearts rule their heads, and despite what they tell us they are not always practical and then panic and just think ‘Oh, give it back.’
“From now on we are going to be asking everyone who gets in touch to make a pledge to being rescue ready.
“That means not only making sure they are ready before they get the dog but that they are prepared to put in the hard work to help the animal settle into its new home and that doesn’t happen overnight.”
She believes many people, despite being fully informed by the rescue centre, just don’t understand that any animal will need time to adjust to a new home.
“The first few days are critical in the rehoming process and it is time people realised the story from the dog’s perspective,” she added.
“Please do not think about trying to adopt if you are not prepared to go out of your way to make it work. The dogs don’t need letting down more than they already have been.
“Sometimes dogs are returned to rescue through perceived behavioural issues.
“These can be brought about by either unrealistic expectations or lack of understanding or a combination of both.”