The Dogs Trust: re-homing Norfolk’s pooches
- Credit: Archant
It has been 40 years since canine charity The Dogs Trust launched its most famous campaign – yet the message remains as pertinent today as it did all those years ago
A dog is for life, not just for Christmas – it’s a slogan that has become embedded in the English language.
Yet, four decades later, The Dogs Trust campaign has never been more important.
Every January, rescue centres sees a huge rise in the number of dogs arriving to be re-homed.
“There is such a temptation to buy a puppy as a Christmas present. Our slogan was launched 40 years ago and we are still finding that it isn’t getting through,” says Paige Langton, supporter relations officer for The Dogs Trust centre at Snetterton.
“A dog is a life-time commitment. You need to do your research thoroughly; which breed is suitable for your family, your environment, your lifestyle. At this time of year it is often an impulse buy and people make rash decisions. Come January we are at our busiest. We find people have had a few weeks with the dog by then and suddenly reality kicks in.”
Paige says she would encourage everyone to consider rehoming a dog rather than buying a puppy.
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But she says The Dogs Trust doesn’t allow any of its dogs to go to a new home for Christmas for the same reasons as she wouldn’t advise anyone to get a puppy.
“What people need to understand is that it really is not the best time to get a new dog – whether a puppy or an older dog. There are people coming and going, lots of noise, little routine, lots of things around to eat and chew and it is not a calm environment to introduce any dog into.
“We would still love you to come in and see if you can find your perfect dog. If you find one you love, we will book it for you and do all the checks and it will be yours. Come in, get to know it and take it for walks – you just can’t take it home for Christmas and we will keep it with us
The Dogs Trust has re-homed 406 dogs already this year at Snetterton and can look after up to 70 dogs at a time.
The centre looks after dogs of all ages and breeds but while some, in particular puppies and small dogs, get adopted quickly, there are many who aren’t so lucky.
“The average stay for most dogs is around four to six weeks. But we have some dogs we call our long-termers who, for whatever reason, can’t be re-homed. We work with all our dogs to ensure they can make good progress and overcome their issues and actually we have a lot of long-termers who do eventually get a home – often we are just waiting for the perfect person to come along.”
The Trust takes dogs from local authorities, other rescue centres and charities but around 50% come from members of the public.
“We don’t judge. Sometimes it is absolutely awful as owners are devastated,” says Paige. “They really don’t want to have to give their dogs up but circumstances mean they don’t have any other choice; but they are doing the right thing bringing their dogs to us.
“Dogs also come in as part of our Canine Care Card scheme. If the owner passes away, if they have registered with the scheme it means we will take their dog automatically and hopefully find them another loving home.”
The centre has incredible facilities, with indoor and outdoor play areas full of enrichment toys and activities and plenty of different sights, smells and sounds.
This helps dogs stay mentally and physically active and gives them the best chance of settling somewhere new.
The centre also has its own mini flat set-up which, says Paige, can really help dogs with certain behavioural issues who are not used to a home environment.
“We wanted to create something to help replicate what a dog might experience in a home, the noises and movements they might have to deal with, even simple things like the kettle or television or even the doorbell.
It can help us work with them and get over certain behaviours and anxieties.”
Paige says there is another great way to help the charity and that is to become a foster carer.
“They are vital for the work we do here, providing short-term care for dogs in most need. It could be a dog who has come to us from the Canine Care Card who has been with one owner in a cosy home for 10 years and can’t cope with the kennel environment, or perhaps a very young puppy or a dog that has had surgery and needs recuperation. People often assume they won’t qualify because maybe they have children, or dogs already, but we consider all sorts of people and are always looking for more.”