Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is appealing to the public to choose to rehome a rescue dog or cat as it reveals a growing number of people are turning their backs on homeless animals – and logging onto the internet to find a new pet instead.
In the UK, a new dog for sale advert is created online every two minutes, while a new cat for sale ad is created every four minutes.
Battersea’s unwanted and abandoned dogs and cats are struggling to find new owners as they compete with the many animals for sale on poorly regulated websites and social media.
Battersea's Deputy Chief Executive, Peter Laurie, said: "Our dog rehoming has been declining for years – last year we rehomed 8% fewer dogs than 2016. Now we are seeing similar trends for cats too. We were rehoming growing numbers of cats until last year when numbers fell 16%, as we and most animal charities struggle to compete with the mammoth platform of online sales.
"You can buy a pet with the click of a mouse, often with no idea if you’re going to get the same animal as the cute photograph that caught your eye and with no real idea of its background or personality.
“It’s animal rescues that then pick up the pieces. In the first three months of this year alone, we've taken in more than 100 dogs bought online, whose owners can no longer care for them, often due to veterinary problems or behavioural issues they didn't know they had.”
Battersea hopes its new awareness-raising campaign, launching tomorrow (5 April), will show the public the unconditional love and care given to each and every dog and cat that comes through its doors to get them ready for a new home. They are backed by broadcaster Sue Perkins, who owns rescue Staffordshire Bull Terrier Tig and provides the voiceover for Battersea’s new TV advert.
Sue said: “Getting Tig is certainly one of the best decisions I've ever made. I'd urge anyone considering adding a dog or cat to their family to adopt one from somewhere like Battersea. Buying online is so risky - you don't know what you're getting and you could be fuelling an irresponsible breeder. What lies beneath some of these adverts is truly heart-breaking. When it comes to pets, rescue is definitely best."
Sandy, a 10-month-old Mongrel was brought to Battersea last year when her owners, who had bought her from an advert online, discovered she had serious problems with her hips and they could not afford the vet fees.
Battersea’s expert veterinary team carefully assessed and treated her before finding her the perfect home, where she’d have plenty of mental stimulation and the right amount of exercise for her condition. Her new owners were given a full assessment and sat down with our vets to talk about what Sandy’s future may hold.
Peter Laurie added: "We're certainly not saying that everyone selling pets online is doing so irresponsibly and many websites are actively taking steps to improve in this area, but too many irresponsible breeders are benefiting from the system.
“It's time to give rescue animals a much bigger platform - there's nothing as rewarding as giving a dog or cat in need a second chance in life. At Battersea, we’ll spend as long as it takes to get to know our animals so we can give their new owners a realistic and full picture of their new pet. You’ll go home with a new best friend and the comfort of knowing it’s the right fit for your family.”
To find out more about the dogs and cats waiting for a second chance at Battersea, and to learn more about the campaign, visit www.battersea.org.uk.
These dogs needed Battersea's help after they were bought from online adverts:
Ten-month-old Sandy’s previous owners had bought her from an advert on social media with no knowledge of her background or condition. It turned out she had severe hip dysplasia and her new owns could not afford the medical bills. They brought her to Battersea, where staff took her in and cared for her. Thanks to careful assessment and pain management from our veterinary team, we managed to find the right home for Sandy, where she would receive lots of mental stimulation to keep her young brain active. Her new owners were given a full assessment and sat down with our vets to talk about what Sandy’s future may hold.
This handsome two-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s owner bought him from a major selling site from an advert that said he was wonderful with children. After just a couple of days in his home, Brent became frightened and reacted badly to the children, baring his teeth, so he was brought to Battersea. Our expert behaviourists worked with Brent and found he was a wonderful and gentle dog with a sensitive side. Based on his behaviour and history, we determined the best home for him would be an adult-only household and he found a loving new home where he is flourishing.
Beautiful Labrador Magnus was bought online as a puppy. Unfortunately, his owners didn’t take into account how much work and commitment a puppy – especially an energetic breed like a Lab – needs and brought him to Battersea a few months later when they could no longer cope. An energetic, clever and responsive boy, Magnus caught the eye of Battersea’s Working Dogs team and he was rehomed to an outlet where he would live in a family home but his search skills would be used as a working dog.
Mailo, an 18-month-old Jack Russell Terrier, was bought online after his scruffy good looks caught the eye of his new owner. Unfortunately, they admitted they had not researched his breed – JRTs need plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy – and they didn’t have the time to care for him. Because of all the changes he’s been through at a young age, Mailo was a sensitive soul and Battersea Old Windsor’s staff spent a while getting to know him. He found a loving new home with a family with lots of experience of Jack Russells and their quirks.
Bandit is a Newfoundland Akita cross – two large breeds – and was advertised for free on a major selling site. He was snapped up but brought into Battersea’s Brands Hatch site the very next day after his new owners quickly realised they had taken on more than they could handle. A lovely and energetic boy, Bandit requires a special and experienced home. Battersea’s expert staff cared for Bandit for more than three months before we found the right home for him.