Posted 6 months ago ago
Written by Emily Chudy, PA
Throughout the pandemic, Brits have turned to furry friends to help them cope with all of the upheaval and uncertainty, with the Telegraph estimating that the UK dog population has risen by at least 10 percent under lockdown.
However, Dogs Trust estimates that an extra 40,000 dogs are likely to be given up for re-homing this year, and they’ve shared on Twitter some of the heart-breaking calls they’ve received from people who can no longer care for their pets.
For a dog's wellbeing, happiness and health, it is important that any new home found for them becomes a “forever” home, since being moved between new owners several times can lead to anxiety and emotional changes. So while you might have all the fairy tale feelings urging you to adopt, it’s vital for both you, and for your pet-to-be, to go into the process with your eyes open to how much is involved.
Here is everything you need to know before adopting a new four-legged friend in the UK:
How much will it cost?
Adoption fees vary from shelter to shelter, but as a rough guide of how much to budget for, Battersea Dogs and Cats said its re-homing fee is £175 for dogs aged over six months, £250 for puppies under six months, and £320 for a pair of dogs.
Included in this cost is microchipping, initial vaccinations, flea and worming treatment, neutering, a collar, ID tag and lead, a starter pack of food, and four weeks' pet insurance cover.
Affordability will most likely be discussed with you ahead of adoption to ensure that you can provide the food, vet care, and insurance that your pet will need, so that you're fully aware of and prepared for the financial costs of dog ownership.
The RSPCA assures potential dog owners that there is no reason that a person on benefits cannot adopt a dog, so long as the animal's needs are met.
The vetting process
For most shelters, this process will involve you filling in an application form, then receiving a home visit to determine if you have the space and lifestyle for a dog, and discussing your new pet and its needs. You will have to provide ID, and if you live in rented accommodation, you'll have to show proof that you are allowed to have a dog in the building.
During the Covid-19 pandemic these visits have been carried out virtually.
Dogs Trust said: “We'll arrange a virtual meeting online to find out more about you, your lifestyle, and the home you can offer one of our dogs. We'll talk through everything we'd normally discuss in person, including about how a dog will fit into your life in the long term, as restrictions are lifted.
“For dogs who will thrive straight away in a new home, we'll bring them to meet you in your garden or an outdoor space. We'll spend some time with you and your dog, from a safe distance, to make sure it's a great match.”
Dogs Trust explained that some dogs will need to meet you a few times to get to know you before they are adopted, particularly nervous animals. As Dogs Trust is unable to do this during the pandemic, they can register your interest and arrange an appointment to meet these dogs when restrictions ease.
What if I have children?
Shelter dogs will be assessed to determine their ideal home, and it will say on a dog's profile if they will be comfortable in a home with young or older children.
The RSPCA said: “Animals who have been adequately socialised with children may be fine with a young, excitable and impulsive (supervised) child, while other animals who are more nervous and less socialised to children may benefit from an older or calmer child.”
What breed is right for me?
Choosing a breed is an important part of the adoption procedure, and most shelters will be able to give you some advice, based on your home and lifestyle.
It's best to do a little research before you start looking – for example an exercise-loving Border Collie may not be suitable for a small London flat, and a little Chihuahua may be overwhelmed and exhausted if you're expecting to bring it with you on long walks in the countryside.
Try asking an experienced friend or a vet what breed might suit you and your home, noting exercise needs, what type of space you have and how secure it is (some dogs can jump 5ft fences!), and even things like shedding and grooming.
Wood Green – as seen on Channel 4's The Dog House – has a questionnaire on its website to help you work out what pet might be right for you.
How long will it take?
Every situation and shelter is different, with some dogs ready to settle straight into a home, and others who may be nervous or traumatised needing a little longer to get to know their new family first.
Dogs Trust says the average time from enquiring about an adoption to taking your pet home is eight days.
The RSPCA says home visits are normally carried out within 7 to 10 days for applicants willing to take the animal home as soon as they have been cleared.
What if I get turned down?
You may be rejected for a dog adoption if your home is not right, or you are an unsuitable match for the pup you have your heart set on, but this doesn't mean that you can never be matched with a pet from the same shelter.
Dogs Trust said: “We re-home to all different types of homes, from houses to narrowboats. It really depends on the needs of the individual dog.
“We will be honest if we don't feel you are eligible to adopt a particular dog. Please don't take this personally. We know how disappointing it can be to hear a dog won't be coming home with you, but our experts will have made the decision knowing the dog's needs and what's best for them.
“This doesn't mean we won't have another dog in the future that could suit your family.”
Dogs Trust explained that working hours, regular holidays, or other commitments could impact on your ability to be approved for a particular dog as their needs are paramount.