Since 2020 the rise in popularity of adopting a foreign rescue dog has risen dramatically, every week I get increasing numbers of inquires from new owners struggling with their new rescue dog. The over riding theme being that they weren’t prepared for the Behaviour Problems such reactivity to dogs, being scared of humans, a lot of barking and separation stress. Then there are things like walking on a lead, listening skills and recall all of which are generally lacking.
In 2019 Figures from the Animal and Plant Health Agency showed a total of 44,563 dogs were legally brought into the UK from overseas. In total, 19,487 – or 44% – came from Romania.
But why are we bringing so many dogs over here?
In Romania dogs use to be a part of the family in the countryside and more rural areas, however when these families slowly left the countryside for the cities and bigger towns they left their dogs behind. Meaning hundreds of dogs living on the streets, breeding and creating even more unwanted dogs.
Its not all bad as these guy learned to adapt and survive on the streets, creating street dog traits that have become encoded in their DNA and past on to each new litter. These dogs naturally avoid humans, bark first, hide in bad weather and are very use to doing what they want.
In short as dogs they were doing alright, maybe not by our British standards but they were and are surviving.
The government rounds up the dogs to put in shelters, these places are generally kill shelters as dogs have little chance of being re-homed. This is where charities and rescue organizations come in, they take the dogs away from these awful places and put up for adoption abroad.
The problems start to arise when some of these so called ‘charities’ re-home dogs while having no experience about dogs behavior, training, understanding of the stress a dog goes through moving home or being transported. These dogs are NEVER fully assessed apart from seeing how they interact with dogs in the charity shelter and how they interact with the staff.
The most they do is take a nice photo, a vague history of the dog and post them up for adoption on Facebook. I have rarely seen cases where a charity has provided information to new adopters about what to do when they get the dog, how to handle the first day, week and month.
None that I am aware of offer any sort of follow up service, to check in within the first month or so of the adoption and few offer a support service when problems do arise.
Imagine being excited when your new dog arrives, hes described a small collie size and he turns out to be a pointer sized dog with growing still to do or being told you’re getting a 6 month old pup and ending up with a dog who is at least 2 handed over to you?
No one gives the dogs back, because we care too much and that’s what the poorly managed charities and rescue organizations count on. You wanted the dog so you keep the dog.
Then being told your dog is friendly to humans and dogs, only to find out he is lead reactive because he has never been put on a lead on lead before, now he is frustrated he can’t do what he wants.
The dog hates men and is scared of strangers, yet according to the charity he was fine with the kennel staff… Think about it he is going to be fine with the people that bring him food, let him outside and let him do what he wants.
Its rare that these dogs will have been inside an actual home, so most find them truly scary. If you get a UK dog from a UK charity for example more often then not they have mock-up living room set up so they can see how the dog is around furniture in a home setting.
“A Defra spokesman who spoke to Metro Newspaper urged potential dog owners to rehome via reputable UK-based organisations.
He added: ‘The UK has some of the highest animal health and welfare standards in the world and we are committed to making sure the nation’s much-loved pets get the right start in life – so we urge any prospective owners to consider rehoming from a reputable UK organisation”.
This means doing your homework on who it is you’re adopting from consider these questions to ask yourself and the charity-
Is it a team of people both in the UK and Romania or is it 1 person with a laptop in the UK who communicates via email to a random shelter they’ve never visited.
Who is accessing the dogs up for adoption? Does someone who works for the charity speaking English assess the dogs or do they rely on the opinions of the shelter staff?
How are the dogs transported? Does the charity outsource the service to a man with a van or do they have their own staff travel with the dogs?
How do you get your dog? are they just handed over in the dead of night or do you get them from a foster home?
Any charity or rescue organization worth anything will have a rescue back up plan in place – this what happens should you be unable to take the dog ie you becoming ill or a change in your personal circumstances. What happens if the dog isn’t suitable for your home.
A rescue back up plan is for the LIFE of the dog they should be there when you need them to ensure the welfare of the dog is always a priority.
Really think about what you are doing and as easy as it is to do, don’t set your heart on a cute photo. Do your research on the charity you choose to use and ask all the questions you can.
Ultimately at the more there is no fool-proof that will guarantee you a perfect dog, because just like humans dogs are individuals. But there is plenty you can do avoid the stress of an adoption gone bad.
If you are bringing a dog into your life its going to be for several years, so its down to you to ensure you do your homework to ensure the dog you get is right for you and vise versa.