One of my goals when creating Pooches at Play was to play a role in helping to drastically reduce the numbers of pets, dogs in particular, that end up in pounds and shelters each year. After filming this week’s story with Dog Rescue Newcastle, my resolve is strengthened even further.
When filming this story, I also visited the team at the Socares Wyong Animal Facility who operate the local pound and also pet adoption, and it really broke my heart to see so many beautiful souls being dumped at the pound through no fault of their own.
I think I lasted about 5 minutes before the tears came as every one of the so called ‘aggressive breeds’ in the shelter came up to their fences wanting nothing more than human touch and scratch through the cage.
Based on commonly held misconceptions about dogs in pounds, people would assume these dogs were in there because they were aggressive, problem dogs, that had bitten or injured someone, when in fact they had done nothing more than being let down by owners who could or no longer wanted to look after them, or who simply just didn’t want them anymore and thought nothing of dumping them in overnight holding kennels all alone, confused and anxious.
It’s just heartbreaking to see the impact this has had on both the mental and physical condition of many of these dogs, who want nothing more than to be loved. Like any of us do! How long can we keep thinking it is okay for people just to go out and get a dog, or breed some puppies to make a dollar and just dump them at a pound (or even worse in bins or rubbish tips) when they can’t be sold, or they were a surprise litter than no one wanted?
It makes my blood boil to hear so many stories about irresponsible, selfish human beings treating, what should be our closest animal companions, with such little care and mercy…and it’s time things changed! Government, with the support of local councils, need to get tougher on who can own dogs. A little extreme perhaps? Not if you saw what was really going on behind the scenes. We at least need better controls and policing in place to check on the welfare of dogs, especially where local rescue groups and authorities know things aren’t quite right.
Councils and police need to get tougher on irresponsible people that aren’t de-sexing their dogs and using their dogs to raise money for their next drug fix (yes this happens, and a LOT!). You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that this lack of human decency and empathy for dogs doesn’t just stop with the dogs either.
What is just as bad, and where Pooches at Play can help, is people not thinking about the long term when deciding to get a dog, or that cute little puppy for their child. Whilst we may not be able to do a lot right now about the X*#%!-heads in society that do the wrong thing, we can help educate the general population to consider their decisions to get a dog very carefully, and where they get it from, to at least try to slow down the system of dogs ending up in pounds and shelters through bad decision making.
Raising a dog is not to be taken lightly and I can’t tell you how many times I have watched people with good intentions make terrible decisions when it comes to getting a dog . It cannot be underestimated how much of a long term commitment this is and how many people are still not considering the long term lifestyle, financial, time and emotional commitment that is required to raise a dog from puppy to adulthood.
People are still not researching or understanding the individual needs and temperaments of different breeds and what this means in terms of the exercise, mental stimulation, human company, socialisation and training that they need to keep them and others safe and happy.
Too many dogs are still ending up in shelters or pounds because of lifestyle changes such as moving house when renting, financial troubles, children coming into the family, work and travel commitments leaving them along too long which is leading to many of the behaviour problems we see today.
As a trainer, I see so many people setting their dogs up to fail and letting them down by not thinking through their decision, or not having the time or knowledge to ensure they provide them with the care and stimulation they need.
On the positive, this is something we can all do something about by sharing the articles and videos on this website and spreading the word that owning a dog (or any pet) is not a light decision to make.
There are also hundreds of thousands (it could even be millions?) of kind and dedicated volunteers working tirelessly around the country, such as those at Dog Rescue Newcastle, rescuing abandoned, neglected or abused dogs and cats, putting them into loving foster homes until their forever home can be found.
Working with local pounds, Dog Rescue Newcastle are one of many that are trying to save dogs on death row that deserve a second chance at life and a loving forever home.
PETstock is also doing great work in this area to help people and pets in need through their charity foundation, PETstock Assist.
A shout out to the local PETstock Newcastle store too that has been supporting Dog Rescue Newcastle for almost 10 years with financial and product donations including food, kennels, coats, flea & tick treatments and other items they might need.
The rest is up to us. If you are in or around Newcastle, or simply want to support a local rescue group that is doing great work, you can make a tax deductible donation to Dog Rescue Newcastle on their website. If you can’t provide financial support Dog Rescue Newcastle, like many other rescue groups, always need volunteers to help with services, transport, at events, dog trainers and grooming and of course people to become foster carers.
Becoming a foster carer can be a great way to trial having a dog without the long term commitment,whilst helping save a dog from death row, so it is a wonderful way to do a bit of good in this world…and receive so much love in return. You might even become a ‘foster fail’ which is a good thing, as it means you have found your perfect pooch soulmate and have made a considered decision based on first-hand experience to keep them.
There’s plenty of local groups around in need of this support and it’s not hard to find a local rescue group on the internet or via PetRescue.com.au if you want to be part of the solution to help drastically reduce the number of dogs and cats ending up in pounds each year like we do here at PoochesHQ!
About the Author: Lara Shannon is co-Host of Pooches at Play and has completed a Certificate III in Dog Behaviour & Training with the National Dog Trainers Federation. Lara also runs her own dog training, minding and walking business in Melbourne’s Bayside area.