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It's Confession Time

Written By: Jane Davidson RVN

I’ve had a dog and a cat that I rehomed. By rehomed, I mean that I owned them and I found them another home that wasn’t mine.

Not via dubious online adverts or anything substandard for the pet - but I found them a better home through appropriate means, as they weren’t getting the best out of life with me.


Yes, I’m a vet nurse, yes I know about welfare and the issues with rescue pets and what it’s like for pets in a shelter and I found the process of relinquishing these pets both times VERY hard, although I knew it was best… so judge me all you will as I know I made the best decision for those pets.


Now take my situation of having pets that will be happier elsewhere and put me in a situation of not being a vet nurse, of losing my home or a relationship breaking up or awful ill health. Would I have the time and knowledge and ability to find suitable homes for these pets in the timescales dictated by landlords or hospitals, as well as rescue centres or other unknown unmovable boundaries?


Because the reality is that it’s unusual to be able to turn up at a rescue centre in your (and your pet’s) hour of need and just be able to hand them over, as you give some info on names and food preferences. I’m not sure of the situation now, but I recall a time when a major dog rehoming charity had a 4 month waiting list for space… It’s not the image told to the public, and people did sometimes just tie their dogs up outside after being refused space when they turned up on spec, but thankfully that was rare.


I say thankfully, but did we ever know what happened to those dogs after the desperate owner took them away? Where did they end up? An online advert? Given away to ‘friends’? Tied up in the park for a different charity or local authority to deal with?


None of these situations are ideal, yet we see the fall out of this in vet practice frequently when the dog from the park turns up with a helpful member of the public, or when the new owner turns up with the unknown quantity of a pet they bought off the internet.


And we JUDGE! We judge that someone hasn’t made better plans, we judge that their life is so disorganised their pet is their last priority, we judge that the mechanic of life has thrown a spanner in the works.


I know as I’ve done it. I’ve been infuriated at people who tie their pets up outside a vets, or leave a cat in a basket on the doorstep in sub zero temperatures and don’t ring the doorbell. Pets are much easier to handle if we know a name and a favourite food stuff but often we’re denied that.


I’ve stopped judging, as especially living in London I know that in many situations there, but for the grace of God, go I. I’ve been lucky, I’ve worked hard, but I’ve had some lucky breaks. I haven’t faced homelessness or had to consider moving somewhere that I couldn’t take my pets. When I did rehome my cat and dog it was in a time frame that I chose – no one was making me do this.


The shaming posts on social media are what get me the most. I’m pretty sure the owner hasn’t given permission for the pet’s image to be shared with a negative story, and despite what you think, just because they have handed a pet over, or left it somewhere to be found, doesn’t mean they don’t care, or that their life isn’t affected. In fact, in the worst case scenario, has a relationship of control and abuse made them leave their pet for its own safety? Perhaps sharing the story of where and when it was dumped has put someone else’s life in danger.


I’m not here to be holier than thou – I’ve judged, I’ve mocked and I’ve moaned. It’s a natural response to the unexpected increased workload but I know one thing – I never want to be that person who feels they have been left with no choice but leave their pet with no idea what will happen to it.

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