Potential dog owners are being put off rehoming dogs due to perceived “overly strict” adoption policies enforced by animal welfare charities.
Rehoming centres such as Dogs Trust currently require prospective dog owners to fill out application forms to assess whether or not their lifestyles would be a match for a pet.
Users of the TeamDogs Facebook page argued that requirements are too strict and deter potential owners from even attempting to adopt rescue dogs.
One user, Tina Harris, said: “In many cases, if you live in a flat ground floor with a communal garden and people have dogs they won’t consider you suitable even though you can give the dog a good home, time and attention.”
Another Facebook user, Sue Hibbs, commented: “Adopting is too difficult. There are so many rules. One of which is your working hours.”
In response, the Dogs Trust said it welcomes all rehoming applications but deals with adoption on a case-by-case basis depending on the individual needs of the dog.
It has a few ‘ hard and fast rules,’ for example it won’t rehome a dog to live in an outdoor-only environment, or an unneutered dog to a household with an existing unneutered dog. It also won’t rehome to any household containing a person who has an unspent conviction for offences relating to animals.
The charity revealed it will consider dog lovers with a variety of working patterns if they can prove the animal’s needs will be met. Dogs Trust’s rehoming policy requires prospective owners not to leave their dog for extended periods of time in order to protect the mental and physical health of the animal, and insists dogs have access to a suitable outside space for exercise. If the home doesn’t have a garden, the dog must be given regular opportunities for toilet breaks.
Adam Clowes, operations director at Dogs Trust, said: “Every dog is different and has specific requirements for their forever home; our job is to ensure they are matched with someone who can give them everything they need to thrive long term.
“Welcoming a rescue dog into your life and buying a puppy from a breeder are two different experiences. We have dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds in our care, some of which may not have had the best start to life, which is why our experts work hard to rehabilitate them behaviourally to set them up for life in a home.
“Demand for dogs has been at an all-time high during the pandemic, and we’ve experienced a huge increase in people looking to rehome from us and seen many of our dogs find their forever homes.
“Some of our canine residents receive hundreds of applications from potential new owners and we’re still being inundated with enquiries from the dog loving public to adopt from us.
“We pride ourselves on our thorough behaviour and veterinary assessments that help us match each dog to the right person and our decisions are always informed by these. For example, some of our dogs may need to be adopted to homes where they are the only pet or with someone who can offer that little bit of extra time to continue their training.
“Making the choice to welcome a dog into your life can be emotional and people often have their hearts set on specific dogs. We understand how disappointing it can be when a specific dog might not be suitable for your lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be the perfect one for you in the future.
“We would ask people looking to rehome a dog to be patient, as the unprecedented demand for dogs may mean you have to wait a little longer to find the right dog for you.”
The RSPCA requires prospective owners to complete a “Perfect Match” application. Working full-time doesn’t necessarily rule prospective owners out. The charity advises that dogs shouldn’t be left for more than four hours at a time but says this doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of dog walkers and dog sitters.
Whether or not a garden is essential depends on the dog and the environment it requires, whether it’s housetrained and whether the potential owner is able and willing to take the dog outside regularly throughout the day.
The charity has debunked some other adoption myths here.
An RSPCA spokesperson said: “We would always urge anyone who is looking to buy or adopt to thoroughly do their research before bringing a pet home to make sure they can care for that animal for the rest of their lives.
“We’d also encourage prospective owners to consider adopting a rescue animal rather than buying their new pet. While it may be easy to find animals on the internet or even spend hundreds on an expensive breeder, you could risk heartache or huge vet’s bills if you don’t do your homework. Adopting also means that you’ll feel good for doing good – giving an animal a second chance at life in a loving home.
TeamDogs is a community for dog lovers who want to get the most out of their relationship with their best pal.
“Adopting from the RSPCA means that your animal will be healthy, neutered, vaccinated and microchipped and we can also pass on details of their behaviour and veterinary treatment so you have a fuller picture of your new pet.
“Many of the animals in our care have had a tough time, so it’s very important that their next home is the right home and a home for life. However, we do not have a blanket policy on rehoming so every match is made on a case-by-case basis.
“As many of the animals in our care have been victims of cruelty, neglect or suffering they often require a period of rehabilitation before they are ready to be rehomed. During this time, our staff will look at their temperament and their reactions to people, other
animals, and the general environment so that we can start to identify the type of owner each animal will need. We want to rehome animals as quickly as possible but we must take into account the needs of every individual animal to match them with the right owner.
“We ask anyone who is thinking of rehoming from us to fill in an application form so that we can get information about you and your lifestyle and help choose the right pet for you. Sometimes it just takes a little time to find the perfect match but we work very hard to find the animals in our care loving homes.”