What a sad situation reported recently by Bruce Forsyth’s Vets Get Scanning site about a Berkshire cat that went missing last November.
Apparently, in January this year, about 2 months after the cat disappeared from his home in Hungerford, the owners heard from their microchip database company Anibase that he had been found safe around 50 miles away!
Delight, however, quickly changed to despair when they also heard that the people who had found him were applying for a change of ownership and did not want to give him back. The microchip company cannot give out their contact information due to the Data Protection Act and, to date, the police seem to be less than interested in resolving this issue.
Hopefully, that will change, and the cat will eventually be returned to his owners but, particularly with microchipping soon to become compulsory for dogs, clearly there are some further changes required somewhere to ensure that once a chipped pet has been identified as not being with the owners to whom he is registered, there is a sensible process in place to get him back home.
This is a sad case because, obviously, the people who have found this cat and have taken him in and cared for him when he needed it, have also become fond of him. However, his original owners love him too and they have already suffered not only his loss but also to have the joy of hearing he was found taken away from them by the shock of learning they cannot get him back.
A petition has been set up to ask for action to review the laws with regards to scanning and re-registration of pets so, if you agree things need to change, please add your name to those who have already signed: ePetition on Compulsory Microchip Scanning Laws
Another year is almost over and, as we head into 2014, I find myself wondering how many more ‘found’ dogs I am going to be posting in the coming months, many of which, I suspect, will not be claimed because they were actually dumped rather than lost.
‘Please tell your readers there is a better way,’ is a comment I often see and, of course, no one should ever feel they have no other option than to abandon a pet. Indeed, most of us cannot contemplate any reason that could ever make us even consider doing such a dreadful thing. Yet, still, it happens, and not always because the owners are thoroughly despicable human beings.
You would be surprised at the number of emails we get from people who truly feel that they can no longer keep their cats and/or dogs and who also feel they have tried everything and have nowhere left to turn. There are all sorts of reasons why this happens and I think we need to look beyond merely criticising these owners to see what can be done to stop it from happening in the first place.
For me, this needs to start with ensuring people really understand the commitment they are making when they take on a pet, particularly a dog. This needs to include appreciating the financial requirements as well as the time and effort involved for anything up to 16+ years, no matter what! Some of us might not like the idea of having to ‘prove’ we are going to be responsible owners before we are allowed to have a pet but, maybe it’s at least something worth considering?
As a nation, we all also need to become a lot more responsible about how we breed dogs and cats. Although some cats do live wild in the UK, in the main, most dogs and cats rely completely on us in order to survive and only exist because we choose to breed them. In which case, it is totally our responsibility to ensure that we do not breed an excess to requirement, and no one should ever see breeding and selling puppies and kittens as a way to make a ‘quick profit’.
To everyone who works so hard to rescue abandoned pets, fight extreme cruelty, stop puppy and kitten farming and educate owners and potential owners about their responsibilities – ‘thank you’ and may 2014 prove to be a year for change for the better.
Happy New Year one and all!
Getting a dog can be such a wonderful and exciting experience but it’s also a huge responsibility too, and the pressures on us to get it right have never been greater.
The sad results of getting it wrong can be found up and down the country in our dog pounds and rescue centres, which is why Dogs Trust recently launched their campaign to ask everyone to really stop and think before committing to the lifelong care of a dog: Press Paws for Dogs Trust
No wonder. There is an awful lot to think about, for example:
- Should you get a puppy or an older dog?
- Should you go to a breeder or save a dog in a rescue centre?
- If you want to get a puppy from a breeder, how do you choose a breeder who is trustworthy?
- What size, breed and energy of dog is right for you and your family?
- What should you feed your dog? Is raw better than proprietary dog foods?
- How do you properly socialise your puppy/dog?
- Do you need a crate and, if so, what size is right and how do you crate train your dog?
- What else will you need in the way of equipment?
- What’s the best way to house train your puppy?
- How long can your dog/puppy be left alone?
- How much exercise does your dog need?
- When should you start training and what does your dog need to learn?
- Do you need insurance? How do you choose what’s best for you?
- What will happen when you go on holiday?
- How do you know when your dog is sick?
- What are your legal obligations?
- What is it all going to cost and what will happen if your circumstances change?
Not only does the list seems endless but the advice does to. Everyone, it seems, has their opinion about what you should and should not do, sometimes making it even harder to know where to start.
I’ve had dogs pretty much all my life and when I got Kodi as a pup 7 years ago, I was pretty sure I knew everything I needed to know. However, even with all my past experience, with hindsight I now know I still made a few mistakes along the way. Little wonder first time dog owners so often get themselves in a mess!
Which is why we think the idea of going to classes to learn all about getting the right dog for you, as well as discovering just what is going to be involved in taking care of him/her BEFORE you commit yourself is such a good idea: Dog Trouble Consultations – Getting A Dog
If you or someone you know is thinking about getting a dog soon, please, please make sure you/they have considered what is involved very carefully and that you take the trouble to learn everything you can first – no dog deserves to become someone’s ‘mistake’.
but, for how long…?
Last year more than 112,000 stray and abandoned dogs were picked up by Local Authorities across the UK. While it’s good to know that there is somewhere safe lost dogs can be taken and cared for, what many people don’t realise is that local authorities are only obliged to keep a stray dog for just 7 days. If a dog is not claimed by its owner within that time the dog becomes the property of the council and will either be re-homed or, in some cases, may even be PTS.
7 days is not long, which is why it is vital that, should you lose your dog, you contact your local authority dog warden service as soon as possible. Of course, if your dog is microchipped, and the records are up-to-date, it is likely the local authority will be able to contact you fairly quickly but, microchips can fail, and name tags can come off, so even that is not a 100% guarantee.
Thankfully, many rescue centres will take dogs from council pounds for rehoming if they are not reclaimed, and there are also charities such as Safe and Sound specifically set up to save unclaimed strays by working to secure rescue placements with established rehoming centres, as well as arranging the transportation of dogs from pounds to places of safety.
To rescue an unclaimed dog from a pound and transport it to a rescue centre requires lots of planning as well as volunteers to provide transport. Sometimes temporary boarding in private kennels is necessary too, and stray dogs may have medical expenses to meet as well. Without the money raised by their fundraisers, none of the work Safe and Sound do would be possible. If you think you could help, please check out their fundraising ideas or maybe consider becoming a fosterer or part of their volunteer transport network team: Click here for details
You had better be on the look out for more than just a ‘teddy bear’s picnic’. For some time now, we have been made aware of the potential dangers of something dubbed Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI). According to the Animal Heath Trust, cases of this mysterious illness are normally seen between August and November and can cause dogs to become very ill, very quickly after being walked in woodland. The most common signs are sickness, diarrhoea and lethargy. If you suspect your dog is showing signs of SCI then please contact your vet immediately as, untreated, this illness can lead to death. Although researchers are confident that they are homing in on the causes of this illness much more needs to be done before a definitive answer is found.
As if this were not worrying enough, just the other day we were made aware of the heartbreaking story of a 4 year old dog that died last week after being poisoned on a woodland walk in a working forest near Petersfield. Her distraught owners were horrified to learn that she had most likely been poisoned with bait which, according to the forestry commission, had deliberately been left out for grey squirrels – something that, apparently, is perfectly legal and can be quite common in certain woodland across the UK between March and August: Grey squirrel damage control with Warfarin
Although this document makes it clear the poison used should be mixed with wheat and placed in special hoppers designed to keep other animals ‘safe’, we have since heard of another dog who died the same way so, obviously, these hoppers are not as good as they need to be in some cases! Personally, I am against leaving out poisons like this for any reason because, so often, we seem to end up doing more damage than intended. However, given that, at the moment anyway, there appears to be nothing to stop this horrible practice, obviously this in now another thing dog owners need to add to the list of dangers to watch out for when walking our dogs between March and November. Let’s hope our dogs are still safe from December to February, apart from accidentally falling through a frozen pond, that is…
By the way, We also heard over the weekend of a new case of a dog dying of kidney failure after a walk in the New Forest near Linwood. A local vet believes the cause to be the same as whatever killed several dogs earlier this year in that area. Take care, everyone!
There have been several articles in the press recently about the bacteria our pets carry and, for once, the news has been good rather than bad, with research indicating that homes with dogs in, for example, also seem to have kids with less allergies: Dogs bring bacteria in homes and that’s a good thing
We also know that stroking cats and dogs can lower the blood pressure and make us feel more positive while several studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious outbursts if there is an animal in the home. Even heart attack patients who have pets appear to survive longer than those without, while many pet owners often have less signs of heart disease, including lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than non-owners.
Particularly for anyone who lives alone, pets are also a wonderful source of loyal companionship too and, in some cases, can even be great matchmakers when owners meet and strike up conversations about their pets!
In fact, according to WebMD, if you’re counting, there are as many as 27 ways in which pets can improve our health, from ensuring we take some exercise to acting as therapy pets:27 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health.
Just how many medicines do you know that can claim to do all that, and without any negative side-effects either?