A dog rescue charity has revealed the UK is suffering its biggest animal welfare crisis in history.
West Yorkshire Dog Rescue, which operates in Huddersfield, has revealed it has had to shut its doors to any more dogs and many other similar charities are closing down due to being swamped with unwanted dogs and no money to deal with those they do take in emergencies.
Now Kathy Trout, trustee, company secretary and finance director at West Yorkshire Dog Rescue, has put out an urgent appeal for more fosterers, donations from the public and corporate sponsors.
All the dogs are initially fostered in homes before they go to new owners, saving them having to face the trauma of going into kennels, and the charity has been rehoming around 250 dogs a year.
Kathy said the problem goes back to the pandemic lockdowns when far too many people bought dogs without thinking about the long-term consequences and the situation has been worsened by the financial crisis. West Yorkshire Dog Rescue has been getting 40 requests a month from people wanting their dogs rehomed.
She also said the mass media coverage of the new XL Bully legislation means dog rescue services which helps thousands more pets are struggling to get any publicity.
“At the moment it’s a miserable existence for us and the rescue world cannot get air time for this situation due to the deafening XL Bully hoo-ha,” said Kathy. “All of the big major rescues and all the many thousands of small animal rescues are full to overload.
“In 20 years West Yorkshire Dog Rescue has never faced the current financial challenge, just about scraping through each month. If it goes on like this we’ll be facing bankruptcy.
“We are now having to refuse around 40 rehome requests a month. Since the pandemic we lost eight fosters and now only have three so we can’t provide an adequate service to the public because we have little accommodation for dogs.
“Every day more than 30 people phone to ask ‘can you help me.’ Almost never do people ever say ‘can we help you.’ Large public donations and legacies go to the Dogs Trust, RSPCA and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. People don’t think of us yet we do the same tremendous work.”
The many reasons people want their dogs rehoming includes poor mental health, jobs with long hours away from home, relationship breakdowns, failing physical health, dogs suddenly showing aggression, inability to afford them and, sadly, an owner’s death.
Kathy also revealed that many dogs were bought during the pandemic by people who either didn’t know how to look after them properly or train them.
She said: “In the UK enormous numbers of puppies were bred in the pandemic to satisfy the public’s demand for dogs in addition to a large increase in the number of imported dogs but many now realise they don’t want them long-term and we have seen a huge increase in the number of dogs being given up by owners.
“Most puppies born after 2020 have severe behaviour problems due to a lack of socialisation in lockdowns and people adopting dogs for something to entertain them despite knowing nothing about dogs. We have honestly in 20 years running this rescue never seen so many dogs that are biting people due to bad handling by inexperienced owners.”
The problem is there are now far fewer people wanting to adopt dogs which means far less money for the charity from adoption donations – money that’s vital to keep the service running.
That’s exacerbated by fewer donations from the public due to the financial crisis and an increase in vets bills due to a rise in the cost of drugs worldwide.
Kathy added: “In an attempt to control costs many rescues are closing their doors to incoming dogs, including us, or worse, declaring themselves bankrupt and closing down.”
West Yorkshire Dog Rescue is taking cost cutting measures including closing charity shops and reducing vet bills by refusing to take unneutered dogs unless people handing in the dogs pay for the operation.
But Kathy warned this was having a terrible impact on the dogs.
“There is a large increase in the numbers of dogs being abandoned because when owners can’t keep them and there are no rescue spaces, they just dump them,” she said.
“There is also a huge year on year rise in cruelty and neglect with people taking out frustrations on their dogs and beating them, never walking them and never taking them to the vets.”
Yet, despite all this Kathy tries to remain optimistic.
“I’ve got the best job, I cannot give it up,” she said. “Despite overwork, tiredness and worries about the dogs I get an addictive reward when a disadvantaged, displaced dog goes to a fabulous home. It’s like winning the Lottery.
“We somehow manage to find fabulous owners and maintain an ongoing relationship so we keep in touch with the dogs. That perfect match between people and dogs is priceless.”
People who can help by fostering dogs for the charity or making affordable monthly donations should go to the charity’s website where further fostering information and a donate button are found.
There are a number of huge benefits becoming a corporate sponsor such as publicity via the charity’s Facebook page which has 43,000 followers.
Contact Kathy on 07711 617148 for more information and for more on the charity and to see the latest dogs needing homes go to https://www.westyorkshiredogrescue.co.uk/
Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.