Battersea Dogs and Cats Home

* Some reports have suggested that adopting a dog has become fashionable recently, have you seen any evidence of this at Battersea?

At Battersea Dogs & Cats Home we have seen certain breeds of dogs become fashionable but sadly for the wrong reasons, as status symbols. Our thorough re-homing procedure at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home ensures that anyone adopting a dog from us is getting a dog for the right reasons and not because of fashion.

* Battersea has had some high profile visitors over the years, do you notice that interest in adoption increases after celebrities are reported to have visited?

Having celebrities re-home a dog or cat from us certainly helps raise the profile of the home but we have not noticed an increase in re-homing after a celebrity has visited.

* What do you feel should be the main considerations for anyone looking to adopt a dog from a home such as yours?

The main considerations when getting a dog from us or anywhere else, is can you make a lifelong commitment to a dog for the next 10 to 15 years. Will your lifestyle and home suit a dog and if so, which breed would be best? You need to consider the requirements for the breed you are interested in as well as the financial implications of owning a pet. Another important consideration is whether you have children or visiting children and will the dog be suitable to live with them. Also, if you have other pets you need to consider whether they will be accommodating to another one.

Some dogs from rescue centres may have behavioural issues due to the way they have been treated in the past. Battersea Dogs & Cats Home’s Behaviour Unit work with these dogs to make sure they are suitable for re-homing but they may need further work at home which the unit will advise on. Everyone who re-homes a dog or cat from us has access to our Behaviour Advice Line on 0905 020 0222 (calls cost 25p per minute from a BT landline, other networks may vary).

* Have the levels of dogs that require re-homing over recent years increased or decreased?
The number of dogs needing re-homing has not increased but the number of breeds rather than mongrels needing homes has definitely increased. For the first time in our 147 year history, the mongrel is not the most common dog we care for. That accolade belongs to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier with 1,389 coming in to us last year compared to 981 mongrels.

* What are the main reasons for dogs having to be cared for by Battersea?

Dogs come into Battersea Dogs & Cats Home from two sources, either as strays or as gifts from people who are unable or unwilling to look after them anymore. Strays may have been abandoned by their owners or they may have become lost. We try and find the dog’s owners but if we can’t and the dog isn’t reclaimed after seven days, the dog will be put through our unrivalled assessment procedure to find out what sort of home and lifestyle would most suit it. Only then will the dog be put up for re-homing. If you have lost your dog or cat, you should call our Lost Dogs & Cats Line on 0901 477 8477 (calls are charged at 60p per minute from a BT landline, other networks may vary). Dogs that are gifted in to us come for a wide variety of reasons, moving house, people becoming unable to cope with the dog; however one of the most common reasons is that the owner’s lifestyle has changed and they can’t care for the dog anymore, which is why we recommend seriously thinking long and hard about your lifestyle now and in the future and if a dog is really the ideal pet for you.

* Do you feel more could be done by the Government to reduce the amount of dogs that need to be re-homed or does responsibility lie with people who purchase the dogs in the first place?

Some sort of control would be welcomed by us but the problem is regulation, however the most important thing now is education. Responsible owners will already be doing their bit to prevent increases in unwanted dogs. However if more people took pet ownership seriously and thought long and hard about their life now and in the future and stopped and asked themselves, is my lifestyle going to allow me to care for this dog for the next ten to 15 years, then we wouldn’t have as many dogs coming in to Battersea.

* Under what circumstances would you refuse to re-home a dog with a potential new owner?

All potential owners go through a rigorous re-homing procedure which involves an in-depth interview with all the family, home visit and at times an after visit… Each case is judged individually but we would not re-home a dog to someone who was going to be out all day and leave the dog alone; someone about to move house, go on holiday or have a baby; someone with small children if the dog was unsuitable to live with small children; someone with other pets if the dog was unsuitable to live with other pets; someone who lived in rented accommodation where pets were forbidden; someone who could not make a lifelong commitment, emotionally and financially.

* Would you encourage anyone who is considering getting a dog to visit a home first before purchasing from a breeder?

We would definitely encourage people to visit a reputable rescue centre rather than buy from a breeder. Here at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home we are happy to offer advice to anyone thinking of getting a dog and due to the popularity of breeds today you can find most pedigree breeds here too. You don’t need to be ready to re-home a dog to come in and see us, but when you are we will do everything we can to find the right dog for you. Furthermore, all our dogs will have been through Battersea’s assessment procedure so you will have a clear idea of their temperament and behaviour before you take them home. There are also many breed specific rescue centres which can help in your search for a particular dog.

* Do many of the dogs in your care require a lot of rehabilitation after they have been re-homed or does much of that rehabilitation take place at Battersea?

Most of the rehabilitation takes place at Battersea. Our Behaviour Unit has expert trainers and behaviourists who will work for weeks or months with a dog to ensure it is suitable for re-homing. A dog will not be put up for sale until then. Some dogs with behaviour problems will need further training in the home, for example a dog may have separation anxiety so the time it is left alone will have to be built up gradually.

* Have you re-homed a dog over the years who has stood out amongst the rest for any particular reason?

We re-home over 5,300 dogs and cats a year so it is impossible to pick out one. We are proud of all our ex-residents whether they become working dogs (we have re-homed dogs to be used in mountain and sea rescue, police dogs, hearing dogs for deaf people, dogs for the disabled, sniffer dogs for the army and customs, pets as therapy dogs), or faithful companions to people from every walk of life.

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