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My experience of trying to rescue a dog in the UK

Prior to COVID-19, we agreed that it was unfair to get a dog as it would be home alone for the majority of the working week. This was the only factor stopping us from getting a dog in the past.

However, like many people, our work lives have changed significantly due to COVID-19. With this comes increased flexibility, which the companies we work for have said will continue. Moving forward, this means that both my partner and I will be able to work remotely, with at least one of us at home each day. This means that we are now in a position to get a dog!

We really wanted to rescue a dog rather than get a puppy. In April, we started looking at the websites of well-known national dog rescue centres. We kept seeing the same message ‘All our centres are closed due to COVID-19’. Even at the end of June, the majority of shelters are still closed and therefore not rehoming any animals. We were open about the type of dog we wanted – we just couldn’t even get in the door to see any that we had viewed online.

As we continued our search, we came across a limited number of rescue centres that had sensibly adapted their rehoming process to enable them to continue finding new homes for their dogs, and other pets, during the pandemic. However, as only a very limited number of rescue centres were operating this way, it meant that demand outstripped supply; dogs were being rehomed faster than they became available.

We immediately completed application forms for all the rescue centres we could find who were still rehoming pets. The forms were lengthy, which I expected of course, but I was very surprised to find that very few of the rescue centres used online forms. In addition, many of the websites I visited were incredibly hard to navigate and it took ages to find the relevant information. Some were so frustrating that I abandoned the website altogether. I then started to follow the rescues centres on Facebook, as the information proved to be more up to date.

After spending a lot of time completing the application forms and emailing them to the various shelters, I was surprised that I didn’t receive a response to most of them. However, the shelters inevitably had limited staff available to answer the phone and respond to queries when they are only open for a couple of hours a day at the moment.

Given the challenges that we were facing, and making minimal progress, in May we started to look for a puppy. We were astonished to find that breeders had increased their prices considerably and told us this was because of increased demand. After reading about puppy farms, the last thing we wanted to do was buy a puppy online. 

By now, we were getting close to the point of giving up on the whole idea. But then we saw a nice dog on Facebook being advertised by a charity that brings dogs to the UK from Spain. We sent off an application immediately and were fortunate to be successful in securing Lara, our newest member of the family! Perseverance and prompt application paid off in the end and we will be picking her up in a few weeks! We’re getting very excited now and are busy preparing for Lara’s arrival – lots of shopping!

Guest blog by Anna Scott

Any opinions expressed within the blog are those of the author

Support Naturewatch Foundation's campaign, asking the websites Gumtree, Pets4Homes and Preloved not to host adverts for puppies or kittens during a pandemic...

'Don't sell puppies in a pandemic'