A dog should be for life…

Hundreds of dogs will die this Christmas, simply because there are too many of them and not enough homes.

As a visitor to the Oldies Club website, you are probably a devoted, caring dog lover. Sadly, not all dog owners are so devoted, and some are so heartless that they find it acceptable to discard their dog. The dog may be an old, faithful friend they have owned for many years, or it may be a younger dog they have become tired of or that has ‘gone out of fashion’. They may want to get rid of it to make way for a new, novelty puppy, or they may be going on holiday and have left it too late to arrange kennelling, or indeed may never have intended to kennel the dog at all.

Discarded, straying dogs are picked up by dog wardens and usually end up in council dog pounds. At this point we need to make it clear that there is a distinction between a dog pound and a dog rescue:

  • A dog pound is a repository for unwanted dogs: a place where dogs serve their statutory 7 days (the minimum period of time a dog has to be kept alive in order for its owner to find and claim it). When the pound is full, dogs have to be put to sleep to make space for new arrivals
  • A dog rescue, provided it is a reputable one, will keep its dogs until they are rehomed. When a rescue is full, no more dogs can be taken in until one of the dogs is adopted, freeing-up a space for the next dog on the waiting list. Reputable rescues ensure that their dogs are vet-checked, neutered, vaccinated and flea- and worm-treated. They also assess the dogs in their care to ensure that they go to suitable homes, and home check prospective adopters. A reputable rescue will also provide backup so that if circumstances change and you can no longer keep your dog, they will take it back

The pound / rescue distinction is sometimes blurred as there are some rescues that have a stray contract with their local council. These organisations operate as rescues but also take in strays directly from the dog warden.

According to the Dogs Trust 2005 Survey, almost 8,000 healthy dogs were destroyed in council pounds in the UK last year. For a nation of supposed animal lovers, that is an appalling statistic.

Christmas and other holiday times are peak periods for dogs being discarded by their owners and so the number of dogs put to sleep in pounds during the holiday season is higher than at other times of the year. Not a nice thought, is it? These are dogs of all shapes and sizes, pedigrees and crossbreeds of all ages – some of them haven’t even reached adulthood.

There are a number of rescue organisations that concentrate on trying to save pound dogs (poundies). It’s a race against time – trying to find the dogs places in reputable rescues before it’s too late. If they manage to find spaces they then have to organise transport runs to move the poundies to those rescue spaces.

Poundies are often transported hundreds of miles from pound to rescue – using a chain of volunteers. The co-ordination of transport runs is a mammoth task and runs can break down because a volunteer has to drop out at the last minute or no volunteer can be found to cover a vital link. The saddest situation is where a poundie is put to sleep, even though a rescue space has been found for it, simply because a transport run can’t be arranged.

Gemma was in a pound in Yorkshire. She had served her 7 days and the pound kept her for as long as they possibly could, but she would have been put to sleep to make way for incoming dogs had she not been taken in by a rescue. She is a beautiful, sweet-natured and sociable girl and did not deserve to be on death row. She is pictured below, helping on the Oldies Club stall at a summer show.

If you want to do something to help the poundies, here are a few things you can consider:

  • Offer a home to a rescue dog: if you are looking for a dog to join your household, go to a reputable rescue. If you are looking for an oldie, consider the many dogs listed on this website. The Oldies Club’s own dogs are listed here

Note that we do not recommend that you adopt from a dog pound directly – poundies are usually unassessed and may turn out to be completely unsuitable for your family. Always go to a reputable rescue where dogs are assessed and you have the backup of the rescue in case anything goes wrong. By adopting from a rescue you are freeing up a space for a death row poundie

  • Spread the word about the number of dogs that are dying simply because there are too many of them. Encourage people to adopt a rescue dog rather than buy a puppy. Why breed or buy when others die?
  • Neuter your pets so that no accidental litters are created. More dogs created means more dogs will die
  • If you have a car, volunteer to transport dogs. Appeals for transport volunteers are listed on our Facebook page. Or you can add your details to the Oldies Club’s list of transporters by emailing oldies@oldies.org.uk
  • Could you foster? If you are an experienced dog owner and are interested in becoming an Oldies Club foster carer, email fosterrecruit@oldies.org.uk. The more foster homes we have available, the more old, homeless dogs we can take in. When our foster homes are all full and we are asked if we can take in another oldie, all we can do is add it to our waiting list. If that oldie can’t wait and has nowhere else to go, it is likely to become a poundie…