Barking Blondes: Animal rescue charities, red tape and dog walking on Hampstead Heath
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 94.9FMTagged in: animal rescue charities, Annette Crosby, Battersea Dogs Home, dogs, hampstead heath, Judi Dench, pet care, The Dogs Trust, The National Canine Defence League, Wetnose Awards
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