Blue Cross Finding Adoption Families For Abandoned Puppy’s This Christmas
Though nobody knows where Edith came from, it’s a safe bet that she is one of the thousands of dogs abandoned by careless or overwhelmed owners in Britain every year. Some of these animals – of which there were more than 47,000 last year – are dumped in parks, left to fend for themselves until the council or concerned members of the public pick them up. Others are given directly to rehoming charities like Blue Cross.
One of three organisations selected for this year’s Telegraph Christmas Appeal, Blue Cross takes in hundreds of abandoned dogs every month, but it’s an issue which gains particular attention in the winter.
The adage about dogs and Christmas remains true, yet some have now noticed an increase in dogs given up before the festivities begin – possibly to alleviate responsibility, or perhaps to make room for a new, cuter puppy under the tree. Earlier this month, the charity Dog’s Trustrevealed they’d taken 3,989 calls from owners wishing to give up their pets in November – a figure that’s risen by more than a third from the same period in 2015.
“It could be that people are moving house, or an owner has died or fallen ill and become unable to care for the pet,” Mandy Jones, Director of Rehoming at Blue Cross, explains. “We try never to judge people that come to us, because the last thing we want is people to feel embarrassed and resort to dumping their animal anonymously. We want people to know we’re here to help,” she says.
Blue Cross currently cares for over 40,000 sick, injured and homeless pets a year – a number they hope will reach 70,000 by 2020 – depending almost exclusively on donations from the public (unlike many animal charities, Blue Cross receives no government funding). The animals in their charge receive vaccinations, a legally-required microchip (if necessary) and a few good meals before they appeal for new owners – including through the creation of a quirky, personal online profile – after two weeks’ rest in the kennels.
“We’re now increasingly seeing little handbag breeds [being abandoned] – pugs, French bulldogs, Chihuahuas,” Jones says. “Those types are fashionable and easily bought through unregulated puppy sales on the internet. The small toy breeds are especially vulnerable on the streets – it’s a real problem.”
Typically, it takes around a month for dogs to find owners, all of whom are heavily vetted to make sure they’re right for the animal.
David Worship, 49, is one who passed the test. The events manager and his wife, Lynda, who live in Essex, registered with Blue Cross over a year ago; two weeks ago, they fell in love with a newborn black and white mongrel bitch advertised at the charity’s centre in Southampton.
“She’d been dumped in a garden along with three brothers and sisters,” he says. “I’m assuming somebody bred them to sell and didn’t manage to, which is such a shame.” Naming her Dora, after Dora the Explorer (“because she’s been on a few adventures”), the Worships intend to give the puppy all the care she’s been missing out on.
“It really doesn’t matter to us where a dog comes from and Dora is a wonderful little thing – a ball of energy. We’re walking her 5km a day at the moment, and she’s really loving it.”
Another new owner, Catherine Seatherton, 43, has given a home to two five-week-old Staffordshire bull terrier puppies found underfed in a box in Torbay, Devon. Originally intending to pick up one dog Seatherton, who works for a cider company, and her 11-year-old son couldn’t bring themselves to part the brothers, who they’ve named Gizmo and Rafiki.
“When we saw them we just had to take both. We know it’ll be hard work, but it would have been so sad to leave one at the shelter,” Seatherton says. “The work Blue Cross does is vital, and it’d be nice if more people came to them rather than looking for pedigree breeds.”
Back in Kimpton, Cruttenden is optimistic that the four little Christmas-themed whippets won’t be lonely for long.
“On Christmas day they’ll be eight weeks old and ready to have their jabs,” Cruttenden says, cheerfully. “This weekend we’ll be starting to appeal for owners to come and help them. It shouldn’t take long, I hope. Just look at them. They’re beautiful little things – and besides, they deserve somewhere nice.”
Forward By Jennifer Rice Of Sugarsoil