Adopting cats or dogs and buying from breeders
We’re sure you’re familiar with the Dog’s Trust slogan, “A Dog is for Life, not just for Christmas” which celebrates its 40th birthday this year, but if you’re ready to fetch a new furry bundle of joy, we want to help you get your purrfect pet.
Whether its your first or 50thpet, there are always certain questions to ask yourself or whoever will be owned by the adorable animal beforehand:
- Do you have the time to give your little cutie the attention it deserves, and can you commit to be a pet pawrent for up to 20 years (longer if you’re lucky!)?
- Can your new companion comfortably cohabit with any existing pets you have (we’re living proof that cats and dogs can get on – just check these two best friends, Smudge the dog and Boo the cat, hanging out together on our Instagram)
- Can you afford it if your pet develops a health condition, or needs multiple trips to the (whisper it) V-E-T?
Getting ready to give a new home to a hound or kitty cat is an exciting time as you start planning what toys you’ll get them and researching how you’ll socialise your puppy or how to feed your kitten. But the most important decision is where you’ll find your new furbaby. Before you reply to that ad on Facebook or Gumtree, we’d like to recommend you consider adopting from an animal shelter.
Why should you adopt and not shop?
The hashtag #adoptdontshop is another great campaign from Dog’s Trust (we think they must have some clever cats and persuasive pups on their marketing team!) that we totally support. Animal shelters across the UK are almost always operating at full capacity with so many residents desperate to find their furever home.
How many animals are in shelters?
- The RSPCA rescued and collected 114,584 animals in 2017.
- Dog’s Trust have 1,700 dogs in their care daily and reported over 47,000 pooches abandoned in 2017.
- The RSPCA rescue 30,000 cats a year.
Why do cats and dogs end up in shelters?
Whilst some may have accidentally got lost after escaping without being microchipped, unfortunately, a lot of cats and dogs are abandoned.
The RSPCA finds that the number of cats being rehomed in June drops by hundreds but the number needing a new furever family rises steeply.
There is a rise in pets being given to shelters in the summer when owners want to go on holiday and are unable to find a pet sitter.
In the six months since Christmas, the puppies and kitties given as presents have grown from adorable angels and entered the pet equivalent of the terrible twos in toddlers. They have got bigger and may be exhibiting signs of inadequate training.
There is also an increase of dogs being dumped in the run up to Christmas, as people abandon their elderly dogs to replace them with puppies.
Other pets were abandoned because of behaviour that given time and a trip to the vets could have been solved, such as a cat going to the toilet out of the litter tray who stops the unwanted behaviour once she’s been treated for a urinary tract infection or diabetes.
Across the Battersea Cats and Dogs Home branches, the average length of stay for a dog to endure is 38 days, and 22 days for a cat. For others this can be much, much longer.
Hidden treasures waiting in shelters
Adopting a new best friend from the RSPCA or other reputable animal shelter guarantees they will be spayed or neutered, dewormed, treated for fleas, and any medical conditions will have been identified so they can explain them to you.
Everybody’s circumstances are different, and you don’t need acres of land and to be home 24-7 to be an amazing owner. This is the beauty of adopting from a shelter; the staff and volunteers know each animal’s individual quirks and can help you choose a pet to fit right in to your lifestyle. For example, someone in a top floor flat might long for a kitty but worry about not being able to let her out in a garden. Purrhaps a cat with a disability, which they adapt to really well, would make the ideal flatmate who just needs cosy cushions and cuddles rather than to chase chickens on a farm.
A new pet doesn’t have to mean new in age. There’s another gem in animal shelters that too often gets overlooked: senior kittizens and old age pensioners’! Thought you couldn’t have a dog because you’d struggle with long walks? Fear not, as you can find an elderly dog who perfectly matches your pace, so you can keep him healthy while he raises your fitness too with manageable daily strolls.
Older animals still have the wonderful character that make kittens and puppies so appealing but have moved past the teething stages that some people might worry about, such as their never-ending energy and needing to be trained to use the litter tray or go outside.
Take the time to find your perfect match
All Dogs Matter know that just like online dating, you’re searching for your soul mate when choosing a pooch. They match prospective pet pawrents based on their list of preferences, showing them dogs who can fill that gap in their hearts and families, and meaning it’s less likely there will be problems down the line. All Dogs Matter have a rehoming questionnaire on their website that ensures you won’t get collared with any unwelcome surprises. The questions range from the age and size you’re interested in to whether you’re prepared to help your dog with training classes if necessary.
Some animals have had a ruffer life than others, and you may want to rescue an animal who will need space, quiet, and gradual introduction of affection before they come out of their shell. You might be more comfortable with a friendly furball who’s in the shelter because her owners can no longer take care of her and is ready to fit right in to a big, boisterous family.
The staff and volunteers at shelters befriend the animals under their care and can work with you to find the furbaby of your dreams. There are endless different cattitudes and pawsonalities in the shelter hoping for their furever home. To help you choose, you can ask questions like:
- How did they end up in the shelter?
- Would they get on with my children/budgie/horse/drum kit?
- Do they need medicine or a special diet?
- What sort of home and family do you think they need?
RSPCA staff and volunteers are specially trained to assess each individual animal and shower them with kitty cuddles and pooch pampering sessions, all aimed at growing their confidence and restoring their sparkle. They will work with the animals for weeks or even months and the RSPCA work closely with established animal behaviouralists to ensure they have the best chance at happiness.
Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn knows first-hand how rewarding it can be to give an animal a second chance in life. He said, “Many have had very tough pasts, and some have never experienced life as part of a loving family, which is incredibly sad. Of course, taking on any animal is a huge responsibility and potential owners must have the time, commitment and resources available to provide for the needs of a pet. We would never encourage impulsive rehoming, however, anyone thinking of getting a pet is very welcome to come along to our centres to meet our fantastic animals for themselves.”
Buying from a breeder
Sometimes you fall in love with a breed and have your heart set on raising the cat or dog from infancy, wanting to train it yourself and that’s ok. There are steps you can take to ensure you are using a reputable, licensed breeder who has ensured the health and safety of your future pooch or feline.
There have been horrible instances of people breeding animals without a licence who have treated the poor little critters very badly. The RSPCA have done fantastic work to close down illegal puppy farms, running a three-year campaign called Scrap the Puppy Trade to bring in stricter licensing for breeders. In October 2018 the government passed new legislations which mean:
- Puppies must be seen with their mum before they are sold.
- Sales must be completed in person and not online.
- Licenced sellers can’t deal with puppies and kittens younger than eight weeks old.
- All adverts, including online, are regulated, showing the seller’s licence number, country of origin, and country of residence of the pet for sale.
- A new star rating allows people to rate breeders and pet shops on their animal welfare standards.
These new regulations accompany the government’s commitment to ban third party sales of kittens and puppies, as inspired by Lucy’s Law. Lucy was a King Charles Cocker Spaniel whose terrible early life in the puppy farm system inspired her adopted mother, Lisa Garner, to campaign for her and others like her. You can read about Lucy and her incredible legacy here.
Choosing a good breeder
A good breeder will never avoid or refuse to answer your questions. They will also ask you about yourself and your home environment, as they care deeply about the furbabies they’ve raised being happy with their new family. Questions you should ask the breeder include:
- Can I meet my future pet’s parents? Do they have any genetic conditions?
- What is the health like of the litter? Have they been dewormed, deflead, and spayed or neutered?
- Can I see certificates of their health?
- What socialisation have they had?
- Does the breeder have references from previous buyers?
- Are they weaned? What are they eating and how often?
- When can I take mine home?
You should be able to visit the kittens or puppies in their current home, but you shouldn’t be allowed to take them back with you before they are eight to ten weeks old. When you visit the breeder, you should check that the animals in their care look healthy, with no protruding bones, skin irritation, runny eyes and noses, or extremely sleepy behaviour. Watch to see if the furbabies are happy to see the breeder and how they play together. Dirty kennels or crates are also a warning sign – these should be well maintained and clean, with enough space, food, and drinking water available. Always check to make sure the breeder is licensed and walk away if not, then inform the RSPCA.
Be extra careful with online ads
Buying an animal online is not all it’s cracked pup to be. Scammers take advantage of the internet and animal lovers by advertising litters that don’t exist, taking people’s money, and then disappearing. This is obviously heart-breaking and a financial blow. They often trick unsuspecting customers by using the same fake photo in lots of different places.
87% of the calls the RSPCA receives about illegal breeders’ puppy farms are to do with online adverts. They advise everyone to beware of adverts that:
- Use phrases about the latest trends in pets like “teacup” and “miniature.”
- Include statements saying a puppy or kitten younger than four to six weeks old has been vaccinated (vaccinations should not be done this early.)
- Use an image you recognise from a different advert.
Let's meet some of the cats and dogs in need of a loving forever home
Affectionate Benji is a playful puppy who loves to be fussed over and run around. He's looking for a forever home where he can be trained to be a daring dog. He's not the biggest fan of cats, but is happy around other dogs and children.
Ivy is ready to get festive in her new home. She's looking for someone who can look after her as she suffers from Calicivirus - its more than manageable with simple medication added to her food and bi monthly steroids. She was recently fostered but her foster had a tragic accident and is on life support so she's in urgent need of a home. She is the perfect lap cat and loves to give kitty kisses.
Gorgeous Marble is on a special appeal. He was rescued underweight and suffering from skin problems. He'd love to retire in a comfy home and is looking for a companion who will take him on short walks. He's a gorgeous pooch that's toilet trained and gets on well with both cats and dogs.
Popeye is a 6 year old cutie who came to the shelter as a stray. Sadly he's had one eye removed but is fit and healthy looking for an experienced cat owner who will shower him with chin tickles.
We'd like to give a round of appaws to the fantastic work animal charities do to take care of these precious pooches and courageous kitties. Did you adopt your perfect pets from a shelter? Are you inspired to visit your local animal charity and change a cat's life of make a dog's dreams come true? Let us know in the comments!