Last week’s guest blog from Belgium reminded me that our desire to have pets are universal, but so are the problems.
In November 2003 I was fortunate enough to attend a conference on the Humane Management of Dogs and Cats presented by WSPA and FECAVA in Athens.
The one striking thing I learnt there is that animal rescue centres all have the same problems, whether they are in Europe, America or South Africa – we all have common problems: Never enough space, when to let them go, not enough money, huge vet bills, to name but a few.
After the conference I spent a few days in London and was introduced to Battersea Dogs Home (they later became Battersea Dogs and Cats Home) where I was received with open arms and shown round.
For those of you that don’t know Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, apart from Paul O’Grady’s TV program, they are the oldest animal rescue centre in the world having been established in 1860!
It was interesting that even with all those years’ experience, we still found common problems!
Then most difficult dogs to rehome for us in South Africa, was Staffordshire Terriers, guess what? Battersea had the same problem.
Staffies are notoriously difficult for a number of reasons: They tend not to like cats; They can be escape artists; When left alone they can be destructive; They easily suffer from kennel stress; They don’t always play nice with other dogs they did not grow up with. Exactly the same reasons Battersea found them difficult to rehome.
We even had the same problems with cats – adult and senior cats found it difficult to find new homes. Everyone wants a kitten.
Incidentally, I did notice that domestic cats in London were huge. When I pointed this out to the staff, they disagreed with me, saying that they were normal size. Yep, normal for lion cubs, not house cats! I returned a couple of months later with the chairman of the organisation I was involved with and the cattery staff told me that after my comments, they did a bit of investigation and found that indeed London house cats were up to one-third larger than the world-wide average. They thought that this was due to generations of cats growing up in flats or small spaces leading very sedentary lives.
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home did find solutions for a lot of problems and were more than happy to share them with us and I am very grateful to all the staff there, but we still sit with the same big common problem when to comes to pets – Uneducated humans.
We still have a long way to go before people start treating their pets like sentient beings with feelings.