The saying that a dog is for life, not just for Christmas, is hitting home for some new dog owners now that the festivities are over.
Charity Finding Furever Homes is dedicated to finding new homes and owners for dogs.
It rescues and rehomes dogs around the country and has looked after 331 dogs since it was set up around three years ago.
But Andrea Newton, who lives in Chorley and is one of the charity’s four trustees, says an increasing number of people are returning dogs soon after adopting them.
And she is encouraging people to be sure they are “rescue ready” before deciding to rehome a dog.
Andrea said: “This campaign is vital as we may live in a society where we are free to change our hair colour or our new mobile phone at the drop of a hat and where we can customise everything from our car to our contact lenses, but a dog is not an object that will instantly behave as you want it to and slot straight in. They cannot be picked up and dropped at will.
“It is vital people understand that and they are sure they really are rescue ready, as owning a dog is a privilege, not a right, and it is not for everybody.”
Andrea says there are sometimes genuine reasons why people need to return their dog.
But in the last six months, she says dogs have been taken back to the charity for reasons including:
- A dog was driven 15 miles from kennels en route to its new home and would not sit nicely in the boot of the car.
- A dog was returned to kennels after a couple of days because its new owners said it was boring.
- A new owner’s existing dog did not like playing with an adopted lurcher.
- A dog would not go straight to sleep after walks.
- A freshly-baked pie left just within reach was eaten by a dog.
Andrea said: “In other instances one new dog owner had phoned to say she would be returning her new pet the next day as it had fleas.
“But with our encouragement, she took the dog to the vet and these fleas turned out to just be fibres from the new dog bed which the lady had bought for the dog and nothing was wrong at all.”
Finding Furever Homes does try to help the new owner to find a way to keep the dog, but will take it back if necessary.
“We take the dog from them because if people have that attitude, we don’t want that dog to be with them,” Andrea said.
January has been a busy month for Finding Furever Homes, with five requests to rescue dogs in one day last week.
Andrea, who works as a HR consultant, said: “We are already seeing the post-Christmas dump of puppies.
“People get a puppy for Christmas because it’s cute and good for the kids, but in mid-January they are back to work and school and the puppy gets dumped.
“At the moment everyone is stuffed to the rafters with dogs. Everywhere in the UK is busy.”
Finding Furever Homes has a process with several stages for people to go through if they would like to adopt a dog.
It includes a phone call, a six-page questionnaire and home visit before they can even meet a dog.
Andrea believes the charity is doing all it can to find suitable dog owners.
She said: “We get a lot of criticism from people who say our rehoming process is too strict, but we won’t change it.”
Finding Furever Homes has now launched the “rescue ready” campaign to encourage people to think seriously before taking on a rescue dog and not to give up on them at the first opportunity.
Andrea said: “The overall message is that people really need to test themselves and check that they are committed to dog ownership.”
The charity encourages people considering adopting a dog to start by looking at its website www.findingfureverhomes.org.uk.