Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Alternatives to Surrender

As pet lovers, we hope that our animals will be with us for their whole lives. All going well, that’s what usually happens. But there may come a time when you are faced with a difficult situation – perhaps the loss of a job or stable living situation, a family breakup, or illness. This can lead to many difficult decisions as you try to work out the best outcome for yourself, your family, and your pets.

What do you do in this situation? You don’t want to surrender your pets unless it’s absolutely the last resort. Sometimes, it’s the only option – see our previous blog post on surrendering animals. But there are steps you can take to ensure that your furry friends can stay with you, and it’s a great idea to think about these before anything happens.

Our main tip - plan ahead! We constantly see adverts telling us to plan for the future. We are urged to consider car and house insurance, life insurance, funeral insurance, and income protection insurance. We write wills to ensure that our families are taken care of. We appoint guardians for our children so that they will be looked after if the worst happens.

But some events can be more difficult to plan for. What would happen if your family broke down and you had to find somewhere else to live at short notice, with your pets in tow? It really can happen to anyone at any time, no matter how unlikely it may seem right now. Unfortunately, this is not something we can take out insurance for!

At Moving Paws Inc we recommend that you speak to family and friends to see who would be willing to step up and care for your animals in an emergency. Most of us know some fellow animal lovers who may be able to help short or long term. It’s a great idea to discuss this possibility with anyone who may be willing to help. Social media can be a great platform to reach out to like-minded friends.

Family breakdowns can be very problematic for pet owners. The stress of trying to find accommodation at short notice is hard enough, and pet-friendly rentals are uncommon in Australia. This situation will also put a stress on finances – and this can force some difficult decisions.
What would happen if you became unwell or were admitted to hospital? You may need someone to feed your pets for a day or two, or to provide full time care for weeks or months. This means that a trusted person will need to know who they can contact to get to your pets. It is helpful if they also know what your pets eat and when, along with any special needs.

Moving Paws Inc has a holiday care program that can assist with short term care at a reasonable cost (and the proceeds go towards the care of our rescue pets). Our network of carers can host your dogs in a loving home environment if you know you will be spending time in hospital. More information is available on our website.

Sometimes, when pet owners pass away, their families are unable or unwilling to look after the animals left behind. In our experience, this is a very
common reason for pets to be surrendered to pounds and rescue groups. Please don’t assume that someone will take on your pets – again, it’s a great idea to discuss this with your family and have an emergency carer lined up just in case. In the event that your family or friends are unable to care for your pets, please ask them to contact Moving Paws Inc for advice and rehoming options. You can even include our details in your will to ensure that your furry friends are taken care of.

Some organisations encourage pet owners to carry a card in their wallets with details of any pets at home, and contact information for someone who can take care of them. This is a great idea. There is no guarantee that this card will be found or followed, but it may help to ensure your animals are looked after.

Behavioural issues are another common cause for surrenders. This can be difficult to handle, especially if your dog’s behaviour changes and he or she picks up bad habits or becomes stressed. Help is available in many forms – veterinarians can offer guidance, and there are numerous books and websites available with dog training tips. If the behaviour is very challenging, a professional trainer may be able to restore the balance.

Moving Paws Inc is a responsible pet rescue organisation, and we ask potential adopters to answer questions to confirm what arrangements they have made for the care of their pets if their circumstances change. Some responders answer this question with a response that “nothing will happen”, and this shows that they do not have any backup plan in place. We believe that this is a vitally important question to ask adopters, for all the reasons outlined above. If you are adopting a dog from us (or anyone else), please think about how you would answer.

We encourage you to discuss these contingencies with your loved ones. It makes so much sense to have a back-up plan for your pets. Perhaps you have a close friend or relative who is a cat or dog lover (or both!), who may be willing to take over care if you are unable to.

Thank you for reading! Please share our blog, browse our website, and check out Moving Paws Inc on Facebook and Instagram.

Regards, Debbie - Founder - Moving Paws Inc.

This blog post sponsored by Bluehound Content Studio

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Social Media

Social media can be a wonderful thing. It is fantastic as a platform to promote pet adoptions, rescue organisations, and lost and found animals. Social networks such as Facebook and Instagram bring together many netizens with common interests, and many thousands of rescue pets have found new homes through pet rescue pages.

Many not-for-profit organisations, such as Moving Paws Inc, have embraced this relatively new media format to do a lot of good for animals. Our Facebook page has helped us to promote adoptions and find homes for many needy dogs. Where else could we advertise an unlimited number of adoptable pets at no cost? This means that we can use our limited financial resources for the good of the dogs. We also use social media to get the word out that we can save lives by taking on pets that have nowhere else to go.

Rescue organisations also use social media as an important educational tool. We can share information about pet health, diet, and behavioural issues, and how to improve these. Vast amounts of information can be found in seconds, which is a big advantage over traditional media such as books and magazines. We hope that we have helped pet owners to keep their dogs happy and healthy.

But social media can have a negative side. We love the fact that many users are passionate about animal welfare; but well-meaning supporters sometimes post detrimental comments without a full understanding of the situation. Whether it’s someone asking for takers to rehome a pet, or adopters reaching the conclusion that things aren’t working out and returning a pet to us – these scenarios can attract some negative responses. It’s important to remember that there are often many complex reasons behind this decision. For more on this topic, see our previous blog on surrendering pets http://mphqdiary.blogspot.com.au/p/surrende.html.

It’s often not possible for us to go into the full reasons behind a particular situation, and we ask our supporters to understand this.

We realise that not every home is suitable for every pet. This is why we (and other responsible organisations) offer a trial period, during which the dog can be returned. It’s important to remember that this is 100% for the benefit of the dog. We do offer full support to all of our adopters during and after the trial period to ensure that they are set up for success wherever possible. With love and dedication (and work), many problems can be overcome. But, occasionally - despite everyone’s best efforts - it would be detrimental for the dog to remain in an unsuitable home and he or she is far better off returning to foster care so that a more appropriate home can be found. When this happens, the rescue agency has the benefit of more information about the pet’s behaviour and individual needs that will help ensure that the perfect home can be found.

It is far preferable for a pet to be returned to the same rescue organisation than it is for him or her to end up at a pound, or having to start from scratch with a different rescue group. We ask our online supporters to understand this and avoid making negative statements about adopters or surrendering owners. The last thing that we want is to put people off approaching us to either adopt or surrender a pet. We prefer to operate in a judgement-free environment where the pets’ wellbeing is the primary focus.

We really do appreciate all of our online friends - and with your help, we can make the world a better place for animals. We at Moving Paws are ordinary people doing our best to make the world a better place, and so are all of our adopters. Healthy discussion is welcome – ill-informed criticism is not. It can hurt, and it forces us to spend more of our limited time moderating comments instead of helping dogs.

People who ‘adopt – don’t shop’ are always helping animals, even if some adoptions don’t work out the first time. Returning a dog during the trial period may be the only mature solution, and the best outcome for the dog – and that is what’s important! Judgemental comments are usually based on limited information. Please understand that one day, you may find yourself in a difficult unforeseen situation, and ask how you would feel if you read these comments made about you?

We love our supporters, and we know that you share our love and dedication for the dogs we rehome. But please – think before you comment!

Thank you for reading! Please share our blog, browse our website, and check out Moving Paws Inc on Facebook and Instagram.

Regards, Debbie - Founder - Moving Paws Inc.

This blog post sponsored by Bluehound Content Studio

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Surrendering Your Pets

Let’s talk about a ‘taboo’ subject – surrendering your pets.

We believe that dogs are for life; and if you’re reading this website, you probably do too. The idea of surrendering your beloved pet to a shelter horrifies you!

In an ideal world, this would always be a black and white issue. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and sometimes dogs are surrendered to shelters or rescue organisations to be re homed. 

Who would do that?
Why do people give away their pets?

The answers are many and varied.

Firstly, situations do change. While some pet owners may be guilty of a lack of foresight and/or poor planning, many people are affected by unforeseen and sudden changes. As rescuers, we need to empathise with and understand the people as well as the dogs.

At Moving Paws Inc, many of the dogs that we rehome come from elderly owners who are no longer able to care for them. Their humans may have become unwell or moved into a retirement home where they are unable to take their much-loved pets. This can be a very sad situation for pets and people. Worse still, the owners may have passed away; and family members are unable or unwilling to take on their animals.

Another common reason for surrender is separation and divorce. One or both partners can suddenly go from living in a secure household to looking for accommodation at very short notice - with children and pets in tow. Landlords are not often known for being pet-friendly. Large dogs and multiple pets can pose a particular problem for house hunters. Sometimes, there’s a happy ending for all; but sometimes it’s just not possible to work things out in the available time frame. It’s a brave decision to put your pet’s welfare ahead of your own attachment.

Housing issues are another frequent cause of pets being given up. A secure lease can become insecure after a change in landlord or the loss of a job. Anyone who has rented will know that pet-friendly rentals are increasingly rare. Of course, we would love to see more flexible options for pet accommodation, including rental properties and at shelters for the homeless and victims of domestic violence.

Children and babies can lead to pets being rehomed. While many dogs are great with children, and can be perfectly safe with supervised play time, one snap can be enough to create doubts. Not everyone has the resources to consult a behavioural expert to resolve the situation. Even with help, the family and dog may have lost confidence in one another.

Lastly, there can be situations where a pet is just not suited to its family and vice versa. This can be the case with newly adopted dogs. All dogs are individuals and they may have fears or quirks that need to be dealt with. Despite everyone’s best efforts, the pet may need to be taken out of the situation and rehomed in a more suitable environment for his or her needs. Factors can include incompatibility between the dog and family’s energy levels, work commitments, or housing arrangements. Together, these can lead to the dog and family both being unhappy.

Rehabilitation can be a complex issue. A dog can behave differently in the foster care environment compared to the adoptive family’s home. The challenges can sometimes turn out to be much greater than first thought. Responsible rescuers offer ongoing support to their adopters and strive to overcome challenges. It takes courage (from all sides) to admit that a placement is not working out and that a dog may be better placed with another family.

Dogs are adaptable to new situations. Naturally, there may be some distress early on as they adjust to their new environment. With the right family, and love and support, they will flourish.
Very few people give up their pets on a whim. The decision is reached after serious soul-searching and it is sometimes the only mature option. It is often a very distressing time for the owners who may feel that they have let their much-loved pets down.

The bottom line is that, sometimes, the decision to surrender a pet to a responsible organisation can be the most selfless and compassionate one.

As the saying goes – it’s impossible to judge others unless you have walked a mile in their shoes. One day, you may find yourself faced with a very difficult decision too.

It is best to approach this situation in a cooperative and understanding way. For example, it is extremely useful for a rescue organisation to be able to obtain a full and honest history of the pet they are rehoming, in order to set them up for success in their new home. This includes medical history and any behavioural issues that may need to be addressed. This knowledge gives the dog the best chance of being rehomed with the right family for their needs.

Dogs do adjust, they don’t hold grudges, they don’t judge, and they don’t look back. Pet rescuers are most effective when we have the same attitude.

Thank you for reading! Please share our blog, browse our website and check out Moving Paws Inc on Facebook and instagram

Regards, Debbie - Founder - Moving Paws Inc.

This blog post sponsored by Bluehound Content Studio