Pick of the news

Could animal charities do more to rehome abandoned pets?

The recent news that more people feel unable to care for their pets and are handing them into animal charity shelters is very sad. Animal charities blame the surge in cases on the recession with pet owners simply being unable to care for their pets. Crystal has travelled all round Europe?

But I also wonder if animal charities could do a little more to rehome them in the first place?

I speak from bitter experience because a number of years ago I was turned down by the Cats Protection League for not being a suitable cat owner. Despite offering to take in a disabled or elderly pet cat, I was told quite plainly I would never get any cat. The reason was I live off a main road. The fact my back garden measures a quarter of an acre and is fully fenced meant nothing. That both my husband and I work from home was also not going to get us our longed-for pet – we did not even merit a home visit.

At the time I was shocked and upset. Surely there must be some cat – even one that had medical problems and had to remain in the house – that would be suitable? After all, I’d read in my local paper only a few weeks ago that the charity was choc full with cats. Were they really saying these cats were better off in a cage with little attention than being cherished with us?

As myself, my husband and our three adult children all wanted a cat, I therefore went and did what many other people no doubt do. I went out and bought a cat. The result was Crystal (pictured) who has been with us now for eight years. As I sit typing this, she is where she loves to be – curled up beside me in her pampered element as there is nothing she likes more than hearing me tapping on the computer keyboard. Later, she will accompany me to my lap to watch TV. When we go on holiday she comes with us (yes everywhere and she’s travelled on planes, cars, buses …).

Our nearby main road has never been an issue. I have to say here that Crystal is an Exotic breed and perhaps going out hunting has been bred out of her, but unless it is the summer and one of us is outside, she doesn’t choose to go out (she will literally sniff the air in the winter and turn tail on the back doorstep, heading wheeking with horror for her favourite place by the radiator) However, she does go out by herself as often as she wishes (including when we go abroad when she goes out straightaway in every villa).

I am sure though people also turn in pedigrees that need to go to homes as ‘house cats’ – I still can’t believe that when we tried to adopt a pet there was honestly not one cat that would have been happy in our not small house? As the breeder we got Crystal from said about her – she is a breed known to become particularly attached to their owners – “I can’t think of a more perfect home for that cat than being in an adult home where she is never left on her own.” Indeed, a month after we got Crystal, so delighted was she with how Crystal was, that she offered us another cat (which we declined as by then Crystal was used to her position in the household as ‘the only adored one.’)

Of course charities are responsible for rehoming animals in good homes – and of course they must ensure the pets they rehome are not going to be neglected or put in danger. But my point is, few homes will be perfect, and if charities are still being this pedantic over who adopts these abandoned animals, then I’m really not surprised their homes are bursting to capacity.

The problem is that someone wanting a pet IS going to go elsewhere to get one. This gives business to unscrupulous breeders who cut corners to meet demand and supply animals (more animals which we don’t need if there are so many needing homes already) with medical problems. So that business is encouraged to thrive, while a potentially loving home is denied to yet another cat or dog.

Sadly some of these animals turned in by their owners end up being put down. Recently an owner came to us to sell their story about how they put their dog up for rehoming with a well-known charity. They had in the recession been forced to move to from their big house to a smaller flat and felt it was unfair on their dog not to have a garden. Less than 48 hours later and traumatised by the fact they’d given him up, they realised they’d made a terrible mistake. They went back to the home only to find he had already been put to sleep. The reason given was ‘food possession’ but the fact this dog had only ever been in a one-dog household had seemingly not been taken into consideration. They were absolutely shocked as this charity had promised they would not put their dog down and if he could not be rehomed, then they would ring and tell them.

According to the reports, for every one person inquiring about adopting a cat, there are ten people calling to give up a cat or report a stray. I can only hope that one person is not sent packing as I was.

Have you had difficulty adopting a cat or dog? Or perhaps you have had a very good experience? Tell us about it below…

Alison Smith-Squire

Alison Smith-Squire is a writer, journalist and media agent selling exclusive real life stories to newspapers, magazines and TV. She owns the sell my story website Featureworld.co.uk, which was set up to help ordinary people sell their stories to the press.

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