Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is appealing to the public to choose to rehome a rescue dog or cat as it reveals a growing number of people are turning their backs on homeless animals – and logging onto the internet to find a new pet instead.
In the UK, a new dog for sale advert is created online every two minutes, while a new cat for sale ad is created every four minutes.
Battersea’s unwanted and abandoned dogs and cats are struggling to find new owners as they compete with the many animals for sale on poorly regulated websites and social media.
Battersea’s deputy chief executive, Peter Laurie, said: “Our dog rehoming has been declining for years – last year we rehomed eight percent fewer dogs than 2016.
“Now we are seeing similar trends for cats too. We were rehoming growing numbers of cats until last year when numbers fell 16 percent, as we and most animal charities struggle to compete with the mammoth platform of online sales.
“You can buy a pet with the click of a mouse, often with no idea if you’re going to get the same animal as the cute photograph that caught your eye and with no real idea of its background or personality.
“It’s animal rescues that then pick up the pieces. In the first three months of this year alone, we’ve taken in more than 100 dogs bought online, whose owners can no longer care for them, often due to veterinary problems or behavioural issues they didn’t know they had.”
Battersea hopes its new awareness-raising campaign, launching tomorrow (5 April), will show the public the unconditional love and care given to each and every dog and cat that comes through its doors to get them ready for a new home.
They are backed by broadcaster Sue Perkins, who owns rescue Staffordshire Bull Terrier Tig and provides the voiceover for Battersea’s new TV advert.
Sue said: “Getting Tig is certainly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’d urge anyone considering adding a dog or cat to their family to adopt one from somewhere like Battersea.
“Buying online is so risky – you don’t know what you’re getting and you could be fuelling an irresponsible breeder. What lies beneath some of these adverts is truly heart-breaking. When it comes to pets, rescue is definitely best.”
Peter Laurie added: “We’re certainly not saying that everyone selling pets online is doing so irresponsibly and many websites are actively taking steps to improve in this area, but too many irresponsible breeders are benefiting from the system.
“It’s time to give rescue animals a much bigger platform – there’s nothing as rewarding as giving a dog or cat in need a second chance in life. At Battersea, we’ll spend as long as it takes to get to know our animals so we can give their new owners a realistic and full picture of their new pet. You’ll go home with a new best friend and the comfort of knowing it’s the right fit for your family.”