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One thing I’ve learnt in rescue is that it doesn’t ever get easier. The harder you work the more you need to do, the more sacrifices you need to make. No matter how hard you work in rescue though, if people do not realise their dogs are a life long commitment, we’re always going to be inundated with dogs who people no longer want or care for. Can you imagine if people adopted a human child and then just returned them because they’re moving into a one bedroom apartment and they don’t have the room, time or money to care for them anymore. It wouldn’t or it shouldn’t happen because people know when they adopt a human child, it’s for that childs life. That’s where we are hitting a huge stumbling block with pets. They too are relying on you to care for them for their entire lifetime. They didn’t choose this life, you took them into your home, you created the life they live and are used to, how can you just toss them aside like you are cleaning out your closet. It’s not on, and its cruel.

Pet dogs make up the majority of dogs in shelters, dogs that were probably purchased on a whim at a dodgy pet shop, so the lifetime plan for the dog was never actually planned out for them from the get-go. There is a reason rescue centres take so long to process an application. They want to make sure you know what you are in for and you are committed to this life you are taking into your home. Even then we still have misses where people move and give their dogs away, even though we very clearly state that for any reason you can no longer take care of your dogs, they must go back to the rescue centre where you got them from.

On a daily basis we get calls for dogs to be rehomed, on our website there are thousands. Then there are those who are advertised “free to a good home” or given away to whoever says they will take them. Out of sight out of mind, once they’re out of your hair, you no longer care for the wellbeing of the animal that devoted his life to your family. But to be honest if you can morally just give a dog away, I doubt they had the best life to start off with.

The give-away dogs futures we can’t even bear to think about. Free to a good home and pet shops are just about the most infuriating but solvable problems for millions of animals being abused and or killed each year because people do not have the honorable character to hold up to their end of the deal when they take an animal into their homes. If people stopped buying dogs and rescued dogs instead, then we are already half way there, if those people then had the character and understanding that this sentient being who has come into their home is a 15 year commitment, then we are A-for-away. But alas, that is not how us humans behave and sadly I’m speaking here to the converted.

The list of excuses we get from people dumping their dog is endless, even when it’s a behaviour issue, that issue didn’t just magically appear. If you get a dog and don’t interact or guide the dog on how to live with your family, then how the heck do you expect it to know what to do. If you didn’t teach you human child right from wrong and how to behave in the world, send them to school to learn, they would be in the same boat as your poor dog but your dog doesn’t even get a chance to be the dog they can be because you’re off at work all day and he has zero interaction with your family and now he’s acting out. Do you see the obvious problems here? We want pets but we just don’t want to put in the effort for them, I think that kinda sucks and is very unfair of our pets and many a day I don’t think we deserve to share our planet with these beautiful creatures, never mind take them from all they know into our homes and then when the going gets tough, dump them and move on without a glance back.

There are so many excuses used when people dump their pets but the most common ones here in South Africa are people moving into complexes. When you move, it’s a pretty big cost to you so it boggles my mind when people buy or rent a property only to find out after the fact that they can’t have their dogs there. It would be my first question, in fact I wouldn’t even consider going to look at a place if my dogs could not go with me. Is it harder to find a complex that takes in dogs ? Yes but your dogs deserve you to work harder for them. There are plenty of people who are not flush with cash that take perfectly good care of their dogs, what people are saying is my lifestyle is more important than my dog’s life. I would live in a tent if that’s what it would take for me to keep my dogs. The commitment to their dogs is what’s lacking.

It should not even be an option that your dogs get rehomed purely because you’re moving. Now I know Im going to get a lot of flack that people fall on hard times and they can’t see what lies ahead financially for them. I understand that but there are people who live below the breadline taking perfectly good care of their dogs. It’s the fact that you are choosing you’re lifestyle over the dogs life that upsets me. The deadlines we get are also completely unrealistic. The day you find out you’re moving overseas is the day you should be making plans for your dogs to go with you and if you think they are not worth the financial implications then that is when you start looking for a new home for them through a reputable rescue centre. It takes months for all these plans to be made so to call a rescue centre and say you need a home for your dogs you are gong overseas next week is just ludacris 🙁 Even if you are actively looking for a home yourself. Get a rescue centre on board from the beginning to also help.

But before you add that pet to your family, please think to yourself, if everything goes awry with your current situation, what would happen to your dog?? If your pet is not in your future situation rather volunteer at a shelter or foster a pet than take on an animal that is one day going to find himself homeless and heartbroken.

By Tracy, Trainer