Let’s talk about the current trend in returning dogs after rehoming
We rarely complain as we like our social media to be a happy place – BUT this is getting out of control. The more we keep quiet the more we are condoning this new way of life. To make it clear we are not talking about dogs returned for major life changes – that is why rescue exists – we are talking about the ones who cannot say No to a dog, don’t give them boundaries (so end up with a nervous/scared dog) and WORSE those who dump them back within the first week.
Rehoming is a very serious business – it’s not a game – it’s not like online shopping where you can just stick a label on it and return it if it’s not quite what you expected or it doesn’t quite fit you perfectly. YOU – (as the human) have to put the effort into ensuring the dog settles and is happy. It is the ultimate sin to just give up. You are not just popping him into Evri drop off box – you are damaging that dog’s chances of a future rehoming.
For context and background here are a few notes:
- We are snowed under with requests to bring dogs in – usually from lurcher owners who have bought them from a breeder as a puppy, but no longer want them. They are always heartbroken and want them into rescue – only there are NO spaces in rescue – everyone is full – these are almost daily requests and they are exhausting because if we don’t help people often to say they will have the dog put to sleep (so it’s our fault) or give us a bad review. There are also so many greyhounds waiting to come into rescue – a lot living in less than desirable conditions. All rescues will agree this is the worst it has even been. Dogs are being put to sleep because there are no spaces, more people are handing dogs in and less people are rehoming (and even less sticking with the rehoming).
- We are a small volunteer team and we do not have an infinite amount of time or money to fund kennel spaces – we have to carefully manage those spaces so when a kennel is going to be empty – we arrange to bring a new dog into it – and therefore literally save a life. It really is a one in, one out situation.
- We spend around 6 volunteer hours pre rehoming on the easy dogs – more on the ticky dogs and we are more than happy to spend as much time as you need to get you the right dog. We are happy to spend as much time as possible helping the dog to settle in. We love chatting to you about rehoming and walking the dogs with you – BUT we need you to be honest with us and more importantly yourself before you start the process.
SO WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS?
Just cannot be bothered!
Two of our easiest dogs both young female brindles, have recently left their warm comfy foster homes to go into forever homes and both are being returned within a few days of the adoption. Their crime – being young dogs who won’t walk outside in the big scary world and who are not fully house trained. (although they both did both, in their foster homes) Yes, we did say returned within the week, so yes people are expecting a dog to arrive 100% perfect or they are dumped. No matter how much we go through the whole 3-3-3 rules and how much we talk about the young dogs needing to feel safe – people agree in the moment and then do a full turn around and decide it’s too much effort. These are just the latest 2 – and the reason why we have just had enough of it.
And then we always get – they need to protect their own mental health and look after their own stress levels – but those stress levels were there before you adopted the dog. If this was a one off it would be sort of OK – but it is a recurring problem and it is getting more frequent. It is incredibly disruptive to our rescue and it’s very tough on our volunteers who put so much time and effort into matching dogs with people.
Adopters need to have their expectations aligned with reality for the rehoming to work.
Do we live in a world where we view everything through a social media filter – that when reality hits and you have to put the effort in – some people can cope anymore. Are we all really living in a parallel universe where all dogs being rehomed are perfect or they will be returned – like we do with Amazon orders. Back down on planet earth, dog rehoming is difficult and can be very hard work – you will have a few tricky weeks (or even months) whilst the dog settles because he doesn’t know, trust or understand you.
We ask on the adoption form if people are prepared to work through problems – and they answer “absolutely” or “of course”. Then as soon as the dog cannot walk outside because she is anxious of her new surroundings, or she has a wee indoors – she is returned to us. It is as though they didn’t really expect any problems – and to be frank the ones they have are very minor in the grand plan of settling a dog into a new home. Or maybe they think what they are offering is so amazing, the dog will be just be so pleased he will be perfect from day 1. Or maybe people spend too much time on tiktok and have lost a grip on reality.
Where does that leave KGR? Surely you just have the dog back, it’s no big deal!
Both dogs are going back into kennels – in this cold weather and after being in foster homes. Once they leave a foster home, another dog immediately takes its place. We do not leave the space open just in case.. Then the dog due in gets its transport cancelled because we don’t have a kennel space – that dog is probably safe – but then one due into his space is not safe. When we are playing a dog version of the hokey cokey – one dog in then one dog out, in out in out out and shake it all about – dogs are dying and it’s not a game and it’s not funny.
We have just wasted very valuable volunteer time- if these adopters had not applied, these dogs could have gone to someone else and would probably still be in a home. We can only process x numbers of applications per week – so whilst we are wasting time on adopters who gave up. We have other potential adopters chasing us because we can’t proceed with their form because we have run out of volunteer time. They don’t understand we are working flat out and are really busy – not just ignoring them.
So not only are we back to square one – we now have a relinquishment to deal with, an incoming dog to cancel and some very upset owners who if we don’t sympathise with enough – will give us a bad review. Their upset is more important to them, than anything else – but in reality they have just given us a lot more work and stress.
It isn’t like returning a jumper to a store – you are returning a dog as “damaged” . A dog that was not damaged before it was rehomed to you and you have just made it so much harder for that dog to find a new home. In general, returned dogs stay in kennels a lot longer than new dogs.
There is some good news
We bring in a lot of damaged dogs – either physically or emotionally and often ones other rescues have given up on and bizarrely these aren’t the dogs being returned. It is always the almost perfect ones who are returned. We still have amazing support from a lot of people who we are just in awe of, because of the effort they have put into making the rehoming work – we have so many happy dogs out there living a fabulous life because of their humans. The majority of our dogs go out and stay out but we need to stop this current trend.