Alternatives to giving up your pet

This is a good article that offers ways around surrending pets. If you know someone thinking about giving up their dog, talk them through the points in this post.

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Walter the Wonder Dog!

As a change of pace, this blog post is a feature about my own experience in adopting a dog from a rescue shelter. I adopted my dog Walter (great name hey?) from Monika’s Rescue, a not for profit organisation that rescues dogs on death row. You can find more info about the shelter in my posts below!

Before I adopted Walter, I went through about a four month planning process. My family tragically lost our beloved border collie Bonnie unexpectedly due to a suspected tick that Vets failed to find. It was a heart breaking time, I had grown up with Bonnie and she is and always will be one of my first childhood memories. I will never forget the awful site of seeing her shaved head to toe and lying on the floor wagging her tail, trying so hard to get up but being unable to move due to the paralysis.

Anyway, it took me over two years to mourn the loss of Bonnie, before I considered adopting another furry friend.

I never considered ‘buying’ a puppy, because I didn’t like how pet stores treated their puppies. No animal should be kept in a glass container. I didn’t know about puppy factories, but I knew that there were sooooo many dogs waiting for loving homes in rescue shelters and this seemed like the obvious choice.

Of course, I sat down several times with my family, discussing the choice to get a dog. We had to consider;

A. That we were all mentally prepared to take on another dog

B. How many hours we are home per day. As I am a full time Uni student and have a part time job, my mum works 4 days a week and my brother is still at school, it was clear we couldn’t adopt a puppy or a dog with high needs because we wouldn’t be home enough to give it the care it needed. We decided that a 2+ year old dog would be suited to our lifestyle

C. That all our fences were up to scratch

D. That we could afford the monetary expenses of a dog

E. That we were willing to make sure the dog got plenty of exercise, walks and socialisation

F. That we had places or knew people who could look after the dog if we went away

G. That we knew a local Vet

H. That we had a water/food bowl, lead, doggy poo bags, bed, toys, treats, food ready to go

These are all the questions anyone considering a dog needs to ask themselves. This took my family a total of four months to consider. There is no rush to adopt a dog. The right one will be waiting for you.

After considering all these things, we went online and saw the dogs that were up for adoption. We selected a few that we liked, and emailed the shelter. They set up a date for us to come and visit and get to know the dogs.

I was initially overwhelmed by the sheer number of dogs that the shelter had. It was so depressing seeing how many poor dogs were homeless. I wanted to take them all home, but of course that wasn’t possible.

We were able to meet and take all the dogs we liked online for a walk and play. Unfortunately, not all of them were quite right for us. One of the workers suggested we take Walter and Pansey, two Foxy X’s for a walk as they were a bit timid but both exceptionally loving. We fell in love with both of them right away. We sat down with Walter and he immediately came into our arms for cuddles and kisses and love. He was a quiet, sweet, loving dog who we later found out had been mistreated by his previous owners who abandoned him. Pansey was also one of our favourites, but unfortunately we couldn’t afford two dogs.
After many tears and debating over taking the both of them, we adopted Walter. He has been apart of the family for five years now and we all love him unconditionally. He’s the family member with the most character, and is so loving to anyone he meets.

I urge anyone thinking about adopting a dog, to consider all the things I mentioned earlier. Once you’re commited, adopting a dog from a rescue shelter will not only change a dogs life, but also change yours for the better in oh so many ways.

Here’s Walter putting on his best smiling face for a family photo! Yes he is wearing a bow tie, it was my 21st party.
(He totally photobombed for the photo, wanting to be the centre of attention)

photo-4

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How much is that Doggie in the Window? A lot.

Dogs are at least a ten year commitment, costing owners upwards of $1,000 per year, and that’s if no major veterinary issues occur.

Families need to think about veterinary costs, the daily commitment to training and exercising pets and boarding fees when they go on holidays.

The RSPCA receives a peak in homeless dogs following the holiday season because familiess have not properly thought through these decisions to purchase a puppy at Christmas time.

They state;

“Five months after Christmas, cute kittens and puppies are delinquent ‘teenagers’ requiring obedience training, socialisation, exercise and care. This becomes all too hard for some families who haven’t thought through this commitment.”

We need to make sure people think through the decision to welcome a dog into their home. A dog is a family member and life-long commitment that is comparable to adopting a child. They need love, attention, exercise,  time and costs for their food and grooming and vet expenses.

If you or someone you know, are thinking about getting a dog, why rush to have one by Christmas? If you were welcoming a new adopted child into your home, would you rush your decision making to have them in your home for Christmas? I’m guessing no.

“Dogs and cats can live for eighteen years – some marriages don’t last that long, people change jobs and some move overseas. New pet owners should be sure they can include their pets in their intended activities and lifestyle changes”

Deciding to get a puppy is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Please help us make people realise and understand this so that less dogs are homeless after Christmas.

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6 types of people who shouldn’t get dogs

This is a great article by someone who sees dogs being abandoned firsthand at a shelter. If you think you’re one of these people, you need to seriously reconsider your desire to buy or adopt a dog at christmas.

Doggerel

Being friends Pyrrha and our friend.

In all of my reading and all of my hours spent volunteering at the SPCA, I think one of the main lessons I’ve learned about dogs is this: Many people should not get a dog.

That sounds like an extreme statement. Let me qualify it.

The more I learn about dogs, the more I take them seriously. I used to think dogs were easy pets to have. Just grab a puppy anywhere, bring it home, and it’s your best friend for life! Turns out it’s not that simple. Dogs are complex animals who require a great deal of love, attention, and training. Temple Grandin’s book Animals Make Us Human even made me seriously question whether I should get a dog. Her recommendations for dog ownership are somewhat extreme in this modern age. Grandin seems to wish that all dogs could roam free around the neighborhood, like…

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Whose responsibility is it to stop people buying puppies at Christmas?

We’ve established that buying puppies at Christmas time needs to be stopped. And to stop this we need to change the perception that a dog is a commodity, or a toy to be ‘bought’. But whose responsibility is it to change this social perception?
The aim of this campaign is to create awareness of the severity of this issue, and to reach people who might be thinking about buying a puppy as a christmas present. We also aim to encourage others passionate about this issue to become our voices in everyday life and to discourage people they know who might be thinking about buying a dog at christmas.
Whilst this is a starting point, it is only that, a start.
We believe that in order to change public perception of dogs as gifts, an integrated marketing, advertising and public relations campaign needs to run. The RSPCA and Animals Australia preach #adoptdontshop, but there hasn’t been as much emphasis on the specific problem of purchasing puppies at christmas. We believe these organisations need to jump on board our band wagon and develop campaigns to target this issue.
These organisations have a large audience following and authority. We believe they need to create Television advertisments and run these on social media as well.
We believe that people need to know just how much owning a dog costs. They need to know the consequences of pet ownership, and also need to realise that dogs are at least a 15-year commitment. Therefore, education is key. We need to inform people, and to do this, facts need to be given to people over a number of different media platforms.
Out-of-home campaigning in Westfield centres for examples, is a great idea. By setting up stalls near pet stores, shoppers approaching pet stores would be stopped and asked to fill out a questionnaire, asking them if they were suitable candidates for dog ownership. By encouraging conversation, and handing out pamphlets with statistics and facts, people would be inclined to re-think their decision to impulsively buy a dog at Christmas time.
We believe that people need to know more about rescue shelters and Australia’s overbreeding epidemic. Advertisements promoting adopting this christmas at rescue centres needs to take place.
To make shoppers aware that puppies in 95% of pet stores come from puppy factories, we propose that legislation needs to be introduced that requires all pet stores to display on the front windows, WHERE the puppies they are selling come from. There is a lot of successful campaigning at the moment against puppy factories, but people still need to be able to make the link between pet stores and puppy factories.
At the end of the day, we all need to work together to talk about this issue. What do you think? What do you think needs to be done?

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Rescue Centres To Adopt From In Sydney

If you want more information about pet ownership and adoption, there are a number of rescue shelters in Sydney that are more than happy to answer calls or queries about adopting a dog into your home. All of the centres are not-for-profit organisations that care for their dogs, microchip them, heartworm test and vaccinate their dogs. Most dogs are desexed (if needed) and then wait for loving homes to adopt them. Here is a list of some of the rescue and adoption centres where you can adopt your new family member!

  1.  Your local RSPCA. The RSPCA website lets you see the dogs available for adoption in your local area, by postcode. https://www.rspcansw.org.au/adopt
  2. Monika’s Doggie Rescue: one of Sydney’s most established rescue shelters that rescue’s dogs on death row at pounds.

    “Dogs rescued from the pound are microchipped, heartworm tested and vaccinated by a veterinarian, who also gives them a basic health check and provides us with an estimate of their age. The dogs are desexed (if required) and given any additional veterinary treatment to return them to good health. All of the rescued dogs are then cared for, awaiting adoption into a permanent loving home. Once the dogs have completed 8-10 days quarantine (so we can observe them for any illnesses they may have picked up) they stay at our shelter, Doggiewood at Ingleside in the northern beaches of Sydney or can be placed into a foster home. We have over 200 dogs up for adoption. They are all featured on this site. Over a year we save about 500 dogs” http://www.doggierescue.com/

  3. Paws, who also rescue animals who are on death row in pounds http://www.paws.com.au/
  4. Pet Rescue;  The organisation have a very detailed and large selection of dogs looking for loving homes. Currently there are over 8000 animals up for adoption. Last month, the organisation rehomed 5086 animals. http://www.petrescue.com.au/
  5. Animal Adoption Agency; This organisation, run by a Sydney-based couple, devote their lives to taking in animals and finding them happy new homes. The following link shows the dogs up for adoption; http://www.animaladoption.com.au/dogs-for-adoption
  6. The Sutherland Shire Animal Shelter; The Sutherland Shire Council Animal Shelter is operated in partnership with the City of Sydney Council. The shelter houses dogs and cats that have been found stray or abandoned or have been seized. If animals cannot be returned to their owners, the shelter seeks new homes for them. You can find out more information by clicking on this link; http://www.sutherlandshire.nsw.gov.au/My_Place/Animals/Animal_Shelter

There are lots more adoption centres and organisations in Sydney, however the ones we have listed here are perhaps the most reputable and well established. If you know any other rescue shelters, we would love to hear about them in the comments!

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Five images to remind you why to never impulsively buy a dog

All my last posts have been slabs of arguments and text and I thank each and everyone of you for reading them. Though it has all been extremely relevant to our cause, today I thought I’d create something a little different, and post a number of images that represent the core themes of this campaign.

1. Dogs are life-long companions. They are a minimum 15-year commitment. People should NOT impulsively buy a puppy at christmas time without thinking this through. People move houses, get married, get divorced, have children etc and need to consider whether they can house a dog through these circumstances.

dog image

2.   Dogs are NOT a toy or an object to be ‘bought’ as a gift. If you can’t handle the responsibilites of an adolescent dog and think it’s ok to ‘dispose’ of a dog to a rescue shelter, then buy a stuffed toy instead. You’ll be saving yourself money and more importantly, you’ll be keeping more dogs alive.

sad dog

3. If you impulsively buy a puppy from a pet store, there is a 95% chance that you will be supporting a puppy factory.

dead dog

4. If you dispose of a dog shortly after Christmas, you will be adding to Australia’s overbreeding epidemic. Every hour across Australia, 23 dogs are euthanised simply because resuce shelters are overcrowded. Dogs are being put down because some people don’t think through the consequences of pet ownership before buying a dog.

Animal Rescue Centres Feel The Strain After Christmas Pets Are Abandoned

5. To finish, here are a few depressing poems:

disposable dog

puppy to use

If you know anyone thinking about buying a dog for Christmas, show them these images. We need to stop people impulsively buying puppies this Christmas so that less dogs are homeless and euthanised in the months after Christmas.

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Puppies as rewards?

Today I went shopping with a couple of friends at Hornsby Westfield and happened to walk past the pet store ‘Pampered Petz’. Walking past the store, I watched several passersby stop to gaze in and drool over the ‘cuteness’ of the puppies in the windows. I heard them ‘aww’ and listened to them talk about wanting to buy one of the puppies. What shocked me though was listening to one girl (probably about 15)  say to her friends, “My parents said that if I do well in my yearlies, I can get a puppy!” I should clarify that by ‘yearlies’ I presume the girl meant her yearly school report/exams.

There are so so soooo many problems with this statement. The focus of this campaign has been trying to stop buying puppies as christmas presents. Ultimately, we should be trying to stop puppies being bought as a present FULLSTOP.

An animal is not an object to be given as a gift. They are not a toy, and not a prize. They are life-long companions that require a lot of time, money and love. They are a family member.

One wouldn’t say, “My parents said if I do well in my exams, I can get a new brother”.  So it should not be acceptable to think of dogs in the same way.

Thinking through the consequences of this situation explains this even more clearly. If that 15 year old girl does well in her exams, she will be ‘rewarded’ with  a puppy. If she buys said puppy from a pet store, there is a 95% chance that she will be supporting puppy factoring, yet she will have no idea she is doing so.

I believe parents are an audience that need targeting. We need to change the social perception of a puppy as a ‘gift’ or ‘reward’. They are life-long companions, and welcoming one into your home requires a lot of careful consideration and planning. If you want to encourage your child to do well in school, offer them a stuffed toy or buy them a book encouraging responsible pet ownership. Do NOT tempt them with buying a puppy and most definitely do NOT buy a puppy as a reward. To change this perception, we need to have this conversation with as many people as possible. Many voices are better than one. Together we can bring about change.

While we’re on the topic of my experience with this pet store, I should also mention that there was no information displayed about where the puppies they were selling came from. I later went on the store’s Facebook page, which has received a number of posts and reviews asking where their puppies come from. The company has blantantly ignored these and hasn’t responded. Says it all really, doesn’t it?

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Should you buy a dog instead of having a baby?

You might be asking how this topic relates to stopping puppies being bought as christmas presents. And I don’t blame you. However, research shows that one of the reasons puppies are impulsively bought at Christmas time is that some young women substitute having a baby, for having a puppy. The Christmas period encourages family time and gift giving, and the cute puppy in the window of pet stores is often enough to persuade a woman thinking of having a baby to ‘test’ out her mothering skills on a puppy. We should note that this is ONE of the reasons SOME puppies are impulsively bought at Christmas. Furthermore, some women buy a puppy instead of having a baby at many other times of the year. We base these arguments on evidence provided in the following Jezebel article.

I stumbled across this hilarious, yet very serious article on Jezebel; a blog aimed at women’s interests. The article was titled “Do Not Buy A Dog Instead Of Having A Baby” and can be read here; http://jezebel.com/do-not-buy-a-dog-instead-of-having-a-baby-1562275425

Whilst I agree with some of the ideas expressed in the article, relating to the welfare of the puppies bought, we do not completely agree that adopting a dog to be in preparation for having a baby is necessarily a bad thing. If the puppy is going to be loved and nurtured in a loving environment, this is something that needs praising. The issue arises when a human baby does eventually come along, leaving the dog to become neglected and too much for the young family to deal with. However, again this is a large generalisation and doesn’t necessarily happen in every case. To prevent this from happening, anyone thinking of welcoming a dog into their home needs to consider the animal as a long-term commitment. Dogs are at least a 15 year commitment, and they shouldn’t be seen as a ‘trial run’ for a baby, but as a first baby.

The article opens with;

“Some might see this possible thing that might be happening as a sign of female empowerment. Ignore that biological clock and stave off the seriousness of parenting until the time is right! But what about the dogs? The utter lack of seriousness with which many people – whether they’re young and female or not young and female – treat bringing a pet into their lives is astounding. This is a living thing. You will have to care for it until it dies. It is not something to play around with because you’re lonely or want to “try out” what it’s like to worry about something other than yourself.”

We agree with the following statements in the article that highlight just how much work adopting a dog involves. The problem with sociey’s perception of dogs is that people see them as not requiring the same levels of responsibility as that of a human child. I believe this is due to the commodification of puppies in pet shops, and the view that a dog is an object to be ‘bought’.

“They are not something to fuck around with. We have bred domesticated animals to require our help and yet many people do not treat that responsibility seriously enough. In some ways, buying a dog is more serious than having a baby. At some point, the baby will grow up to be a human and be able to feed itself. Your dog will never be able to feed itself according to the parameters of the life your ancestors decided it should have.”

“At least there exists some semblance of a societal understanding that babies are a lot of work. But dogs and cats are still treated as though they’re a great, low-key, low-cost replacement for a child which, if I was a dog or a cat, I would find deeply offensive. “I am a dog,” I would think to myself (or bark, in my dog-language that my human owner/equal would not understand). “Love me for me. I am not for practice.”

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it is ok for dogs to be bought as a ‘trial run’ for parenting?

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Dog-related presents to buy RATHER than a dog

As we have outlined extensively in our other posts, buying a dog as a christmas present is a very big no-no. Dogs are life-long companions that are at least a 15 year commitment and require a lot of money, time and resources much like any other child in family. They are not a temporary thrill or toy to be ‘bought’.

If you’re thinking about welcoming a dog into your home, we suggest you read our blog post about “The things you need to know before you adopt a dog”. We encourage you to sit down with your loved ones and critically think about some of the questions we ask. If after thinking through these questions you are confident that you have the time, resources and money to look after a dog, do NOT rush to have the dog by Christmas. The adoption process can take a matter of weeks. You’ll need to research adoption centres, and visit adoption centres to find your potential furry friend.

In the mean time, we’ve compiled a list of christmas present ideas to help welcome the arrival of your future pet;

1. A lead, bed, water bowl, food bowl, puppy toys to chew, puppy treats, puppy shampoo, jackets, accessories, brushes

2. Purchasing a gift certificate from a rescue shelter to give to your loved one

3. You can also give a Pet Promise Certificate that reminds children of the responsibilities they would be commiting to when adopting a dog

4. One fun idea is a ‘Pet IOU,’ wrapped as a gift, that can be given with books, videos, stuffed toys, and more to help children learn about all that it takes to care for a pet and to start narrowing down the choices for a dog

This way parents and children can work toward the idea of pet ownership together and can decide what sort of pet would be ideal for the whole family.

If somebody has already expressed a very clear intention to adopt a pet in the near future, you might take them to a shelter and pay for part or all of the adoption fee. Some shelters also sell adoption certificates for use as gifts.

But if you’re not absolutely sure, you should let someone choose their own time and place to adopt, and knit them a scarf instead.

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