New research shows abandoned pets finding new homes is on the rise

The number of people who claim they would get their pet from a rehoming centre is on the increase, according to new research.

When asked where they would get their next pet from, nearly half if people said a rehoming centre or animal shelter, whilst only one in ten said family or friends, and just 13% said breeder.

But, the research, carried out by Vets4Pets revealed there are still some misconceptions about pets in rehoming centres, with many people admitting they wouldn’t rehome a pet as it might have pre-existing issues.

Just over a third said they think the pet would have potential behavioural problems, whilst 27% said being unsure of the pet’s medical history would be a concern.

Dr Huw Stacey, vet and director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “Getting a new pet is a big decision, and one not to be taken lightly, so it is understanding that people may have apprehensions about rehoming a pet in case they have pre-existing issues.

While the most common reasons for people having to bring their dog or cat to a rescue centre are due to changes in their circumstances, such as moving house or ill health, many are simply abandoned, mistreated or have not been properly cared for by their previous owners. This can have a direct impact on the pet’s health or behaviour. Some pets may become nervous around people, causing them to act out in aggression, whilst others may have contracted medical conditions if they have come from abroad or a puppy farm.”

However, there is a lot of support available within centres to help pets with their health and behaviour, as well as steps owners can take to ensure their pet settles easily into their new home.”

According to the research, one in five people admitted they wouldn’t adopt a pet from a rehoming centre, as they would be worried that it wouldn’t settle in at home.

Dr Stacey added: “Our pets need environments that are designed and maintained to suit them physically, emotionally and behaviourally. Bringing a new pet home for the first time can be really exciting for us but can be very daunting experience for the animal, causing challenging behaviours as a result.

It is therefore important to make the process as relaxed as possible, as this will help them settle easier and prevent any fear and anxiety from developing. Asking the rehoming centre what your pet has been eating and what their favourite toys or blankets are means you can have all this ready for them in a quiet, safe space for when they come home. Anything that smells and feels familiar will be reassuring and help them settle.”

Rehoming centres will advise you on which pets will suit you best, and then vets are there to help you through all the next steps, not just with healthcare, but with behaviour too.

Rescue centres such as Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, which has been partnered with Vets4Pets since 2017 to support people and their pets, is now facing the growing challenge or more people buying pets online or via social media.

“More people now want the quick ‘one-stop shop’ solution for getting a pet; they want a new pet and so want it to arrive quickly and easily just through one click online”, continued Dr Stacey.

“This is risky, as although there can be legitimate puppies sold through websites, many can come from puppy farms or are legally imported from abroad. If the pet doesn’t have any paperwork, the breeder can’t show you the mother or answer specific questions, they have multiple breeds on offer and requesting to meet you in a neutral location like a car park, all are signs that should raise suspicion.

“We are now seeing more often that the owners then bring these pets bought online home, only to discover that the dog or cat has health or behavioural issues, from being born in poor conditions, that they cannot cope with.”

In recent years, Battersea has seen an increase in pets made popular by social media influencers or TV shows, like Game of Thrones, such as huskies, French Bulldogs and pugs, being brought into them to be put up for adoption.

In 2015, Battersea performed seven surgeries on brachycephalic (flat face) dogs to improve their breathing. Three years later in 2018, the world-famous shelter had to operate a staggering 62 times on the condition.

Dr Stacey explained: “Huskies may look like cuddly teddy bears but are very independent by nature and need a lot of exercise, whilst French bulldogs and pugs can have inherited health problems including being flat-faced, which require a higher level of care than many owners anticipate.

This is why potential owners really need to properly consider if they are able to care for a pet, then research into the right breed that suits their lifestyle. Honesty is the best policy, so knowing what you can offer a pet and being honest about that with the rescue centre is really important.”

If you visit your local rescue to rehome a dog or cat, you’ll get a full picture of your new pet and will have to go through a stringent adoption process, to really ensure the pet and potential new owner’s personalities match.

Each dog and cat will also receive a full vet check before going home and, as part of our partnership with Battersea, every dog or cat rehomed from there goes home with the offer of a free Vac4Life package helping their new owners give them the very best healthcare.

Ali Taylor, Battersea’s Head of Canine Behaviour, said: “Unfortunately some people still have misconceptions about rescue dogs and cats, believing them to have lots of behavioural issues that will come out once they get them home.

In fact, if you visit your local rescue to rehome a dog or cat, you’ll get a full picture of your new pet as it will have had a full medical and behaviour assessment. You’ll also be supported by our staff after you’ve rehomed, something you most probably won’t get from buying a pet online.”

Dr Stacey concluded: “Many of the pets in rehoming centres have had a hard start to life and so we mustn’t underestimate the value of being able to give a pet in need a second chance in a safe and loving forever home.

There are huge amount of doubts and worries you can have around a new pet, so if you are ever unsure about settling them into their new life, vets and nurses are there to support you and offer advice on, not just vaccinations and lumps and bumps, but behaviour and training too, all to ensure your pet is as happy and healthy as possible.”