New dog owners being asked to sign ‘rescue’ pledge

We have all heard the motto “a dog is for life, not just for Christmas”, but in reality some rescue pets are being rejected by their new owners within days of adoption – in one case within hours.

Furever friends founder Andrea Newton. Picture: Contributed

Now those hoping to adopt their own furry best friend are being asked to sign a pledge of commitment.

The call comes from a rescue charity after a number of dogs were returned by new owners for “reasons so daft you could not make them up”.

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A lurcher called Dudley was given up after a couple of days because he was “boring”, according to the charity, while another animal made it just 15 miles from the rescue centre before being returned because it “wouldn’t sit nicely in 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 doesn’t like them.

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 news after being abandoned at Ayr rail 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 for potential owners but in recent months volunteers have seen an increasing number of animals returned 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 taking on a pet.

“Sometimes dogs are returned to rescue through perceived behavioural issues,” said Ms Newton.

“These can be brought about by either unrealistic expectations or lack of understanding, or a combination of both.

“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 in to its new home, and that doesn’t happen overnight.”