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Barking Blondes: Animal rescue charities, red tape and dog walking on Hampstead Heath

Joanne Good and Anna Webb

barking blondes 225x300 Barking Blondes: Animal rescue charities, red tape and dog walking on Hampstead HeathWe spent a harrowing Friday judging the nominations for The Wetnose Animal Rescue Awards. It’s difficult to write about animal rescue charities without sounding saccharine and sentimental.

But there we were, alongside an impressive panel, in a groovy refurbished warehouse in Shoreditch, a plate of sandwiches from Pret and a pile of tissues. The aim of this event is to recognize and raise funds for rescue centres and to help with their vet and food bills.

Last year’s awards was a real eye opener not least because of the number of A-list celebrities who took days off and lent their support by quietly attending the function. Judi Dench in the middle of a promotional tour, along with other stars of stage and screen, would have put a tabloid desk into a frenzy.

Unlike most award ceremonies, animals have no agenda. The actress Annette Crosby, speaking on behalf of her own greyhound charity, said; “Of all the award ceremonies I have attended in my career, this has the most resonance”.

There are no precise figures as to how many animals go into rescue homes on a daily basis but the numbers are increasing. In the past decade there has been a massive rise in the number of small charities, set up to ease the strain of the growing problem.

Why are so many animals being discarded? Is it down to a double dip recession or our “throw away” lifestyles and living conditions? No animal deserves this treatment and it’s thanks to the truly altruistic volunteers who run these charities that there is hope for the discarded.

One concern regularly raised is that rescuing animals has become far more difficult. The Dogs Trust and Battersea Cats and Dogs Home do a great job, but the bigger the charity, the longer the red tape. Re-homing a dog these days for example, involves a lot of form filling, home visits by staff and lengthy interviews. And so it should as this guarantees you will be a responsible owner. However, what are the consequences?

Thirty years ago, when dog ownership was far less popular than it is today, strict  ’regulations’ didn’t exist. You simply arrived at a charity such as The  National Canine Defence League, and providing you met the criteria on the day, you could walk home with your chosen dog. Now it can take months. Some argue that this red tape is restricting re-homing potential or worse intimidating people. It may well be the reason so many enthusiastic pet owners are being driven to the internet which can often rely on puppy farming for supply and demand.

The Wetnose Awards is truly inspirational as it credits the smaller set-ups and the tireless work they do by rescuing animals. Not just dogs but horses, rabbits, furry creatures and reptiles. On the flip side, there is a documentary on BBC 2 at 9pm tomorrow based on people walking their dogs on Hampstead Heath.

The producer was a guest on our radio show on Thursday. She confessed to not having been a particular dog fan up until she took on this commission. When asked what was the legacy of this documentary? What had she learned about dogs and people through filming it? She said it had to be what the dogs were fulfilling in their owners’ lives. It was obvious to her, that by being present through all the chapters of pain, grief, misery, joy and happiness of the human plight, they had somehow rescued the person. Tail wagging the dog, springs to mind.

Barking at the Moon is on every Thursday from 10pm to midnight on BBC London 94.9FM

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  • 5brian5

    Hi Ladies; First of all, I’d like to say, that the picture of the four of you is gorgeous! I’m always impressed to hear that the U.K. has much more stringent adoption rules as opposed to the Detroit metro area. Its as obvious as looking out my kitchen window here in the suburbs, and seeing as many as four cats in the green space. I assume parents give in to their children, adopt a pet, then realize that its like adopting a child, then turn them loose to fend for themselves. In the inner city, there are abandoned dogs and cats running everywhere. On at least two occasions, I have seen on local television news, of horse owners in surrounding cities, with horses that were being starved, because the owners couldn’t afford to feed them. The horses looked like skelatins. Luckily, laws have changed here with regards to severe punishments for such irresponsible and heartless persons. I know you can now receive years in prison for such behaviour. There are however, some amazing and careing people, that help neglected animals. I believe it was yesterday, I noticed that one of our local truck dealerships donated a brand new Toyota Tundra pick-up truck to help the rescue organization with transportation needs. On another occasion, there was a pigeon in my yard which couldn’t fly. I called animal rescue (humane society) and they had someone at my door within the hour to give the bird medical assistance. I was really impressed! I believe, that depressed economy or not, animal welfare is finially on the front burner. Excellent blog as always! Thank-you! Brian (Detroit)xxxx

  • debbie

    It is true a lot of dogs are classed as agressive. I love all dogs but i think all dogs should be muzzled when they are off the lead, there could be no dog attacks then and i could walk my small dogs and not have to worry. Love the show. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/MrHappySW11 MrReasons2BCheerful

    Natasha you hit the nail on the head. Certainly there needs to be regulation of the puppy farms that churn out hundreds of pets most with some congenital deformity because they have been so interbred in order to satiate those who want to own whatever happens to be the fashionable breed of the day. Last month it was teapot dogs; this month, however, they are becoming the latest victims of the adoption game, as “little Frou-Frou” is handed in by some bored girl, purely because this dog doesn’t match her new Burburry’s Psorum handbag
    My Welshie is a rescue dog and because he was already neutered and chipped, he came with all his documents and history of why this beautiful pedigree animal could land up on the adoption list.
    I was very grateful for he home visit, as I live in a flat. The person who came round to check me out explained that there were many reasons why a prospective adoptor might not be selected.
    Therefore if it is necessary to neuter the animal, so be it! At least it will stop 4 or 5 pups being taken down the river…

  • Gizwiz

    As much as I deplore Puppy farming and any other type of irresponsible breeding I can also vouch for the fact that sadly, all rescues are not equal. I would always recommend people adopt from smaller rescues as many larger ones purely want to make money and simply do not always have the best interests of the animals in mind. Recently my mothers elderly neighbour was found dead and it was a well known fact that she had left her entire estate to a well known rescue in return for them looking after her 8 year old golden retriever. The rescue collected the dog and put him to sleep within a few hours. Despite a few joint problems he was otherwise healthy and good-natured and his medication had even been reduced by his vet a few weeks before this tragic incident. He had spent about 5 days laying by the side of dead owner with no food or water and was rewarded for his loyalty (not to mention the
    rescue centre receiving a sizeable estate) by receiving a lethal injection. The rescue centre in question was Woodgreen in Cambridgeshire – and it’s not the first appalling incident I have had personal experience of with that rescue..

  • Gizwiz

    As
    much as I deplore Puppy farming and any other type of irresponsible breeding I
    can also vouch for the fact that sadly, all rescues are not equal. I would
    always recommend people adopt from smaller rescues as many larger ones purely
    want to make money and simply do not always have the best interests of the
    animals in mind. Recently my mother’s elderly neighbour was found dead and it
    was a well known fact that she had left her entire estate to a well known
    rescue in return for them looking after her 8 year old golden retriever. The
    rescue collected the dog and put him to sleep within a few hours. Despite a few
    joint problems he was otherwise healthy and good-natured and his medication had
    even been reduced by his vet a few weeks before this tragic incident. He had
    spent about 5 days laying by the side of dead owner with no food or water and
    was rewarded for his loyalty (not to mention the rescue centre receiving a
    sizeable estate) by receiving a lethal injection. The rescue centre in question
    was Woodgreen in Cambridgeshire – and it’s not the first appalling incident I
    have had personal experience of with that rescue.

  • Gizwiz

    As
    much as I deplore Puppy farming and any other type of irresponsible breeding I
    can also vouch for the fact that sadly, all rescues are not equal. I would
    always recommend people adopt from smaller rescues as many larger ones purely
    want to make money and simply do not always have the best interests of the
    animals in mind. Recently my mother’s elderly neighbour was found dead and it
    was a well known fact that she had left her entire estate to a well known
    rescue in return for them looking after her 8 year old golden retriever. The
    rescue collected the dog and put him to sleep within a few hours. Despite a few
    joint problems he was otherwise healthy and good-natured and his medication had
    even been reduced by his vet a few weeks before this tragic incident. He had
    spent about 5 days laying by the side of dead owner with no food or water and
    was rewarded for his loyalty (not to mention the rescue centre receiving a
    sizeable estate) by receiving a lethal injection. The rescue centre in question
    was Woodgreen in Cambridgeshire – and it’s not the first appalling incident I
    have had personal experience of with that rescue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sebastien.manrique.5 Sebastien Manrique

    very timely article. thank you.


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