Most people are familiar with the “Adopt, don’t Shop” campaign, but for those of you who aren’t it’s basically this: go to your local rescue and adopt one of the great furries there, rather than going to a breeder or store to buy (shop) your new pet. Unfortunately, rescue centres are filling up rapidly with the post-Christmas pets that aren’t wanted any longer, despite adverts and campaigns urging folk not to acquire pets around the festive period.
Rescue centres often receive animals that come to them in poor conditions, either from not getting enough to eat on the streets, injuries, neglect or deliberate cruelty. At this point, the animals come to us to receive all manner of treatment including injections, worming, flea treatment, and wound care. All this work happens behind the scenes, so when you see an animal at a rescue centre up for rehoming you can be sure that they are in good health generally. Don’t dismiss the older furries out of hand either; not every home is suited to an excitable youngster.
Older cats and dogs can bring a lot of pleasure to a home; they’re steadier generally as they’ve got more life experience, and tend to be a bit more laid back. For those who don’t want to walk miles and miles every day, perhaps because of time constraints or health issues, an older dog that doesn’t want to pound the pavement relentlessly is a great option. Consider too, that just as with us humans, lifespans differ wildly, so it doesn’t mean that a younger adoptee will be with you longer than its older counterpart.
Whilst it is well known that cats and dogs can have behavioural problems when they arrive in rescue centres, staff at these facilities do an awful lot of work to help their charges overcome these issues. Animal behaviourists get involved too, making sure that each rescue resident is not only ready to be rehomed, but that they are rehomed in the place where their needs will be best met.
Unscrupulous breeders and puppy farms put animal welfare at the bottom of their priority list, and I’m being generous in assuming that they even give a single thought at all to the poor creatures they bring into the world. I’m sure you’ve heard horror stories of puppies and kittens being taken away from their mums far too soon, leading to malnourishment and behavioural issues later down the line in their lives such as separation anxiety.
Through the love and dedication of animal welfare staff, this damage can be undone and the fur-baby placed in a fantastic “furever“ home. Let’s not be coy about the animals’ role in all this either; I am constantly amazed by abandoned, abused and neglected furries’ capacity not only to trust, but to love, people again. I think it speaks volumes about their inherent character, to wipe the slate clean and bring happiness and unconditional love to another household with their new humans.
So, considering the negative things your new fur-baby may already have experienced in their young or old life, what can you do to make their new beginning the very best it can be? The most important thing is to let them dictate the pace. They may spend days getting to know literally every square inch of their new home and garden; do it with them, so that it can be a bonding experience. Draw their attention to things you want them to notice, like the part of the garden that you want them to use for toileting for example.
Scent marking is important for cats and dogs, and both species like to scratch as a means to communicate their presence. Dogs tend to use their hind legs and scratch the soil out in the garden, whereas cats will scratch a wider variety of surfaces both indoors and outdoors. A good quality scratch post can save a lot of your furniture and upholstery from this potential damage, as well as keeping kitty happy :-).
Establish routines and clear boundaries. Ambiguity can cause anxiety and unnecessary stress for your new pet, so start as you mean to go on; for example, don’t let them go on furniture at first if it isn’t something you’re going to continue. Take time to appreciate the vast change that your new furry family member is going through; we all like some extra reassurance don’t we, when we go into a new situation? Well it’s no different for your cat or dog, so be on hand to give them some extra fuss and attention if they seek it. Conversely, give them that bit of space if they seem to need it.
Now, having been a bit of a Negative Norman, I just want to say that there are also some incredible breeders out there too. I would estimate about 70% of our clients at SLVC buy their pets from breeders and these animals are in great shape, with their initial worming, flea and (more often than not) their first vaccinations done. It must be incredibly hard for these dedicated breeders in the face of some criticism that unfairly comes their way, but they don’t grumble; they keep their heads down and keep producing quality dogs for purpose, whether that’s working dogs or reliable family pets whose genetic history can be traced.
Hopefully your New Year has got off to a great start, so why not give that option to a furry that is most in need of a second chance? If you need any help with getting in touch with local rescues, we know plenty here at SLVC! Get in touch with a team member and we’ll do our best to help. The most important thing though is that wherever you’ve got your new pet from, to love them, cherish them, and look after their health needs. We’ll look forward to seeing your new furry family member when you bring them in for a check-up – and sneak in a quick cuddle too !
Until next time; stay safe, stay well, and be happy 🙂