I live in a maisonette with (non-direct) access to a big communal garden but some of the fences aren’t six foot and I couldn’t get that changed. As a result of that and the fact I had to go out of the front door and round to the garden rather than just through a back door, they basically wouldn’t let me rehome anything. According to them, even a small dog could jump a five foot fence so it wasn’t safe. And what if the dog needed the toilet in the night? I can’t just let them out of the back, and apparently saying I was willing to get dressed to take the dog out wasn’t enough. In some ways I felt penalised for the fact that I’m single and living in the South East and not able to get a mortgage on a house with a garden on a single person salary.
My parents who are in their sixties and have a massive home with a massive garden were turned down because they wanted to rehome a young dog (puppy or under a year) and they were told a puppy would be too energetic for them. I have known other people to be turned down just because they work full time, even if they work from home. Or if they will be out of the house for more than four hours a day. The other issue is I have a cat and very few dogs are considered cat friendly. If you have other pets then that limits your choice again, children under five normally means you’re a no.
A lot of rescues said that the dog could only be rehomed into houses with another dog, but I couldn’t even get one dog to start off with! A lot of rescues didn’t want someone who hadn’t had a dog (as an adult) before. A lot of dogs had significant behavioural issues that required frequent visits to the centre and specific criteria around who could rehome it.
I think the perception is that rehoming centres in the UK are crying out for people to adopt, but that didn’t seem to be the case when I was looking. I could be wrong but my perception is that the dogs that don’t have significant behaviour issues are reasonably easy to rehome to people who meet all their criteria. Some breeds are more difficult to rehome and I was literally willing to rehome any dog, but even though for example greyhounds are lazy and apparently great for apartment style living, I couldn’t have one because of the fence issue. It wasn’t enough to show them I’d researched secure paddocks I could hire locally to take the dog to to be able to run and do zoomies.
I get the theory of why they have all these criteria, because they want dogs to go to good homes and they don’t want them returned because the owners are inexperienced or misunderstood the realities of taking in a rescue, but it felt like I was endlessly jumping hoops and now amount of solutions I offered was enough.
So in the end I contacted some foreign rescues and found a rescue that were very practical and open minded. The dog I put myself forward for had lived in a shelter her entire life, so they took no issue with rehoming her to me because living in a maisonette with a five foot fence in the garden is better than continuing to live in a shelter. As long as you could show that you’d thought about and understood the challenges you may face as a result of a less than perfect situation, they were happy for you to adopt. They said that they meet so many people who would make great dog owners but get turned down by UK rescues. My dog had already come to the UK to be fostered (she’d only been here a week when I met her) so I met her and we were able to cat test her.
The first two months were hard. I took on a dog that spent the first five years of her life never living in a home, not having been properly socialised to dogs/humans and with limited life experience. In some ways she was probably more challenging to settle in than a lot of dogs I could have adopted in the UK. But we made it. The rescue were very supportive when I was struggling, I read a ton of books about dealing with anxious and reactive dogs, I saw a behaviourist. She was really fearful of the car and was sick every time we went out so I worked on that. She was scared of the cat and didn’t initially understand that she didn’t need to compete with him for my attention and resources. I took her in the garden on a long line so she could run around safely until I was confident enough that she wouldn’t do a runner. On the odd occasion that she’s been unwell I have had to take her out to the toilet in the middle of the night and it’s been fine. We go for plenty of walks, we run together, despite living in a maisonette she probably gets more exercise than some dogs that can just run directly from the house to the garden. She’s made a huge amount of progress and I’m willing to do what she needs because it was my choice to adopt her. She’s so intelligent, sweet, stubborn and goofy and it’s been so wonderful to see her personality emerge and to give her a chance at a life in the big wide world.
The reality is that if people can’t get a dog from a UK rescue then they may well get a dog from a breeder (if their criteria is less stringent, depends on the breeder) or from a puppy farm where there are absolutely no criteria, which just encourages that industry. I really wanted to rescue so I went where I could to be able to do that.
I’ve rescued abroad twice, and it’s financially feasible because the person adopting the pet pays every penny towards the relocation. The reason for adopting abroad is because UK adoption agencies are so picky about where pets go it’s beyond frustrating. We got denied twice, once because I lived alone and another because although I now lived with my partner, we had just moved in together so might break up. There’s a long list of rules they have to follow. We rescued from Cyprus, over there dogs aren’t loved and cherished like they are over here. There’s such a large wild dog problem that dogs are killed and beaten regularly. One of my adopted dogs was shot and they didn’t know whether she’d make it. It’s a different world out there for these dogs.
My dad lives in Cyprus (the North) and helps to get dogs sent over to the U.K. for rehoming. It’s a really good cause and they have a much better life in the U.K. as they’re much less likely to be poisoned. My dad has had 2 dogs over there and both have been poisoned twice. It’s heart-breaking.
Who’s poisoning dogs?
The locals do. Sometimes they just generally put poison down to keep dogs away from their animals (sheep, goats etc). However, they have been known to target specific dogs (ie throw the poison into the owner’s garden) if they don’t like the dog, say if they’re noisy or threatening their animals. One of my Dad’s dogs caught a chicken once and my Dad was absolutely terrified that the farmer was going to do this. Poisoning is horribly common in Northern Cyprus.
It happens quite a bit in Greece unfortunately because of the amount of stray animals. My mum and dad were on holiday there a few years ago and they noticed that a particular dog would have the same routine of going to the same places looking for food everyday. They asked the restaurant they went to quite a lot what would happen to him and they were informed that he would most likely be killed along with most other stray animals on the island. They decided to adopt him and he’s now been in the UK for a few years!