Animal charity Battersea, is warning that rescue animals are being overlooked due to the public’s preoccupation with fashionable breeds.
Battersea launched a new campaign last week, “Rescue is our favourite breed”, to celebrate the inimitable characters and quirks of rescue dogs and cats. The charity is encouraging animal lovers to think about rescue animals first when it comes to finding a new pet, even if it means waiting a little longer to find their perfect companion.
It is reported that 250,000 animals are brought to rescue centres around the UK for all different reasons. Research conducted by Battersea shows that whilst 92% of people say that they believe rescuing is the right thing to do, when the time comes to get a new pet, many choose to go online and search for a specific breed instead.
In the last year, there have been on average 165,000 monthly searches online for “French Bulldogs.” A fifth of people who say they wouldn’t consider rescue say they cant get the type of breed they want from a rescue centre and 52% say animals in rescue centres often have health or behavioural problems, and don’t know their full history.
Claire Horton, Battersea’s chief executive, said: “Even though one in four dogs and cats are rescues, you’re still more likely to hear about French Bulldogs, or Labradors being the nation’s favourite pets. Our preoccupation with breed is fuelling a ruthless pet trade based on looks alone – one that can sadly put profit before animal welfare.
“Battersea is setting out to increase the visibility of rescue animals, to show they’re more common than you think, and are in homes across the nation. They’re the most rewarding, responsible choice for a pet, and we’re hoping to bring them front of mind- to get all generations of animal lovers to think rescue first.”
Battersea has now removed breed filters from its own online animal galleries, in order to encourage pet owners to be more open about rescue pets and look beyond certain breeds.
A test run by the charity shows that when visitors on the site were not given an option to filter the pets by breeds, resulted in more animal profiles being viewed and a higher percentage of them went on to apply to rehome an animal.
Rob Young, Battersea’s head of operations, said: “We know that misconceptions and preconceived notions about the traits and behaviours of certain dog and cat breeds can heavily influence people’s rehoming choices.
“By removing the option to search by breed we’re hoping that visitors to our website will be more open-minded to finding the right match. If someone is looking for an affectionate lap dog, or an energetic, playful pet, then they will find a perfect match regardless of breed.”
Battersea believe ‘Rescue Is Our Favourite Breed’ will help break down some of the misconceptions people have about rescue animals, encouraging them to see rescue as desirable and a badge of honour.
Young added: “People think rescue dogs or cats will be harder to train than a puppy or kitten, or that it’s just not as prestigious to own a pet that hasn’t come from a breeder. Well, nothing could be further from the truth.
“Ask any proud rescue owner and they will tell you that rescue pets are the best pets. They may not be perfect, but they’re worth it.”