Chilterns Dog Rescue Society is among the many pet rescue charities expecting a surge in intake as lockdown eases.
The Kennel Club has already reported that searches for puppies doubled between February and March as the government announced restrictions. Animal charities were quick to warn against impulse buying. But, to what extent people heeded their advice only time will tell.
“We anticipate a large upsurge in intake enquiries as people return to work, experience problems due to economic downturn or just get bored with their lockdown puppy,” says Sara Muncke of Chilterns Dog Rescue.
The charity reopened the Rescue Centre in a limited capacity on Monday 15th June. A small team has been busy sorting out the dogs that still need help, as well as the very many people looking to rehome a dog at this time.
According to Muncke, the number of people applying to put their dogs into the centre is lower than would normally be expected as this time of year. Bu, that is likely to be the calm before the storm as people’s lives return to some kind of normality. This is a particularly tough time for charities, all of which have suffered a significant drop in income.
“Thank you again for the grants we have received from Petplan Charitable Trust,” adds Muncke. “With all our fund raising events and activities cancelled for the foreseeable future, the support and generosity of the Trust is very much appreciated.”
Find out how PPCT is helping Chilterns Dog Rescue, here
Assistance dogs charity, Canine Partners, is currently facing a £1 million hole in its fundraising income this year.
Like many charities, the pandemic put a stop to a host of income-generating activities. The team are currently focused on supporting their existing clients, many of whom are among the most vulnerable in their communities. Both training centres have been temporarily closed and all dogs in training have been placed with volunteer foster parents. In short, the current pandemic has impacted on every area of the charity’s operations. The longer term impact is yet to be quantified.
How canine partner Misty is providing a lifeline during lockdown
Canine Partners has been helping physically disabled people to live with all the benefits of their tailor-trained dogs for 30 years. One such person is Dominique, who lives in the West Midlands. She is 26 years old and she has multiple conditions that have a big impact on her day-to-day life. She says that having Misty has made huge positive physical changes to her life. In the past few months, Dominique has been shielding and she is not alone in describing this very scary situation as a morbid prospect. But for Dominique, it has brought back old and painful memories.
“Before coronavirus and before my partnership with Misty, having a disability and illness that can be extremely severe and paralysing meant I was, and am, very familiar with being housebound and bedbound for a prolonged period of time. Being forced into this scenario due to a global pandemic is truly unnerving.”
Sadly, in addition to exacerbating her anxiety levels, Dominique’s pain levels have also increased, having a direct impact on her general mobility.
But there is one key, fundamental difference to Dominique’s experience this time.” I have the beautiful and uplifting companionship of my canine partner, Misty.”
“Misty is my rock and a constant calming presence”
Within the first week of lockdown, Misty could definitely tell circumstances had changed and would not leave her side. “Now – she is my rock and a constant calming presence. If I begin to feel on edge or am finding it difficult to “switch off”, Misty just comes over and gives me the biggest cuddle. Physically, due to my lessened energy and heightened pain/dislocations, Misty will happily and effortlessly pass me items I have dropped, open doors for me and carry items to me that I’m having difficulty holding.”
The two of them are bonding by training and spending quality time together. Misty is busy learning new skills including emptying and filling the washing machine and searching the house for Dominique’s emergency medipack.
Dominique admits that, prior to having Misty, being housebound would have pushed her into a really negative space. “However, now, I wake up every morning with a purpose! Misty needs me, just as much as I need her!”
“Isolation is no stranger to individuals in the disabled community”
“I sincerely hope that people of the UK, and globally, learn from this isolation and global pandemic,” continues Dominique. “In particular, I hope individuals who are experiencing being in self-isolation for the first time, will remember how it feels and utilise this experience to help shape their actions and outlook going forward. Isolation is no stranger to individuals within the disabled community. We often spend years isolated – emotionally, physically and socially – and often have no one to turn to and no one who understands. Now, on a national and global level, millions of people understand what it is like to be trapped in your homes, removed from social interaction and controlled by limitations on your daily routines.
“I wholeheartedly hope that this will prove to be a turning point for those in and out of the disabled community and that this collective experience shall add to a collective empathy and understanding for individuals with disabilities – helping shape the way we actively support this community going forward.”
StreetVet, a charity that provides support to the homeless and their dogs, has been working with hostels to help make them more dog-friendly.
The charity recently wonan international Dragons Den style event to kick-start a hostel accreditation scheme.
Below is the true story of how StreetVet helped one homeless man find a home for him and his dog.
Roxy, the rottweiler cross, had been sleeping rough with Nick for several years. They were inseparable.
In March 2019 they were seen on an outreach and registered with StreetVet. In May 2019, Nick ended up in hospital after being bitten on the hand by an insect or spider, whilst sleeping rough by a river. The wound became progressively more painful and infection quickly took hold. Surgeons ended up having to amputate part of Nick’s hand to save his life.
A new homeless support hostel had recently set up locally. With the help, advice and reassurance of StreetVet they were willing to try having one person in with their dog at a time, for a few weeks at a time. We had got Roxy into a local kennels to stay safe until Nick was discharged from hospital. But as soon as Nick was out, he wanted Roxy back. He was going to sleep rough, with a huge dressing on his hand, with Roxy, while still recovering from severe infection, major surgery and extremely vulnerable to the very poor weather that had been forecast.
The StreetVet team had got to know the staff at the new hostel. The StreetVet team had got to know Nick and Roxy. Nick and Roxy were completely unknown to the hostel staff. The same day that Nick was discharged from hospital, we were able to help persuade the hostel to accept Nick and Roxy in there, providing a reference of the good character of both human and dog, whilst reassuring both parties that if Nick ended up back in hopsital, StreetVet had a plan in place to keep Roxy safe until they could be reunited. We provided a crate, some dog bedding and dog food, as well as ongoing free accessible vet care.
All went so well that weeks turned into months. Nick and Roxy lived happily under a roof together in that hostel.
Nick was admitted to hospital with a severe spinal cord infection
In September 2019, Nick became suddenly unwell. He was admitted into hospital with a severe spinal cord infection. Roxy was looked after from that day by volunteers on the StreetVet team and associated local kennels, ready to return to Nick when he was well enough. This was the main reason that Nick stayed in hospital for the duration of treatment. He knew his dog was safe, and that he would get her back again. Things became very serious, and Nick ended up remaining in hospital for over two months. The hostel they had been living in couldn’t justify keeping the room available, not knowing if, or when, Nick would be discharged. So eventually, they were forced to give up the room to another vulnerable homeless person. But as things had gone well with StreetVet support for Nick and Roxy living there, they took in someone else with a dog.
This left Nick and Roxy’s future up in the air. StreetVet were able to work with a team that were trying to find somewhere else for them to live together once discharged. Nick was finally getting better, but 2 months had passed and time was running out… Just in time, another hostel, who had heard how well StreetVet supported the other hostel, agreed to let Nick and Roxy have one of their supported accomodation rooms. The room Nick and Roxy still live happily, warmly and safely in together today, along with Nick’s girlfriend Lucy.
Breaking down barriers, solving problems and supporting hostels
The new hostel is over one year old now. Recently they contacted us to say that they had another tenant with a dog, at the same time as the other person with a dog. They’d doubled their dog policy!
The homeless charity that we worked with to get Nick and Roxy into the hostel they are currently living in together, told us that they are going to write a testimonial that may encourage other accommodation providers to allow people to move in with their dogs too.
StreetVet is breaking down barriers, solving problems and supporting hostels in ways that we hope will eventually make the awful choice between sleeping rough with their dogs, or getting hostel accommodation but never again seeing the one thing that keeps them going, a choice that people experiencing homelessness will never have to make again.
The StreetVet video was created by HelpFilm – a video production company that creates films to give charities a voice.
Find out more about how Petplan Charitable Trust is helping StreetVet, here
While the event may have been virtual, the Petplan and ADCH Animal Charity Awards 2020 were all about the hands-on dedication of those who help and care for animals.
The animal charity finalists knew they were in the running for an award but what they didn’t know was that each would receive £500 from Petplan Charitable Trust (PPCT).
The awards were hosted by actor Anthony Head who joked that he had grown whiskers especially for the event. Speaking from his home, he praised the ‘unsung heroes’ continuing to help and care for animals during ‘this hideous Covid-19 outbreak’. He also thanked Petplan customers who had made it possible for PPCT to donate over £200,000 to support animal charities during the pandemic.
Congratulations to all the animal charity finalists. The charities represented were Wood Green, Dogs Trust Glasgow, 8 Below Husky Rescue, Hope Rescue, Oak Tree Animals Rescue, National Animal Welfare Trust, Rain Rescue, Dogs on the Streets and Suffolk Owl Sanctuary.
To `live in the moment’ is all very well. Our pets seem to live that way and we tell ourselves to follow their example. However, the present moment is often a mixed bag…
As well as holding simple everyday pleasures, there can be sorrows and difficulties. Two examples are caregiver burdenand feelings of guilt.
When a pet is very frail or at an advanced stage of illness, it can sometimes be hard to manage all the care they need. There can be a lot to do–from lifting a heavy, infirm dog to keeping elderly cats `regular’, and with various cleaning tasks and food prep. The practicalities can be made more difficult if we are also caring for human dependents. The emerging field of animal hospice focuses very much on workable solutions to at-home caregiving of seriously ill or frail pets.
When you are agreeing a care plan with your vet, it’s worth going over exactly what’s’ involved. In my experience, veterinary nurses are a top resource for tips and advice about hands-on, daily care. Don’t hesitate to ask to chat with one of them if you anticipate or come across difficulties. Often, simple adjustments will make all the difference.
Other times, it may be wiser to plan for your pet’s euthanasia. Taking time to say goodbye and letting them go when they are nearing the end of their lives is better than neglecting their care. For, again: unlike us, our pets live in the present. They cannot make mental trade-offs or choose to put up with suffering for the greater good of the household. So, if a pet’s present consists of declining health and few or no pleasures and comfort, he or she almost certainly does not have `a life worth living’.
Feelings of guilt about euthanasia
Whatever the situation, many bereaved owners say they feel vaguely or very guilty about having had their pet euthanased. Possibly, a part of that could be to do with how the decision was made. Pets are family members and expecting someone to decide about their pet’s euthanasia alone seems unfair. The ABC decision toolmay help resolve that.
Wording seems important too, for guilt is different from yearning (“I miss my pet so much”), regret (“If only things had been different”) and self-doubt (“Did I do enough for her?”). With guilt, there is self-blame (“I ought to have done things differently” “I shouldn’t feel like this.”)
Self-blame is rarely fair. Sometimes, yes, we may have neglected a pet’s needs or chosen to ignore that they cannot cope with life any longer. That happens, sadly, though it is not deliberate.
More often, self-blame is likely to be unreasonable. For we would never typically judge other people so unkindly, yet we may set unrealistic standards for ourselves. Also, memory is notoriously unreliable—more a reconstruction than a playback. So, our memory of the exact circumstances of a euthanasia decision may be inaccurate or very biased against ourselves.
Kindly logic (“It’s not your fault” “Hindsight is 20:20”) may be correct, but it is not always helpful. Making fruitful sense of things often requires more, and it deserves the time that may take. At our disposal are:
Self-compassion: This lovely and humbling Buddhist tenet reminds us that we are not on our own. Feeling guilty and sad is painful, and people everywhere struggle with it. We travel in company and can learn from our respective, difficult experiences. (The website selfcompassion.org has useful information.)
Confidential support groups and helplines—run by properly trained facilitators. To share our story with people who understand and won’t judge or “fix” us is part of the reality that we are never as alone as our exhausted minds may, sometimes, say we are.
When guilt or grief feel beyond our ability to manage and resolve, it can help to talk to a professionally qualified counsellor. They have the training and insight to help us make peace with ourselves.
Author: Caroline Hewson MRCVS
Caroline is a vet and has a PhD in animal behaviour. She writes and gives talks that translate research relevant to pets’ end of life into points to keep in mind.
The Covid-19 Equine Emergency Fund has announced the award of the first seven grants totalling £20,350.
The Covid-19 fund was established by Petplan Charitable Trust and the National Equine Welfare Council with the support of World Horse Welfare to provide assistance to small charities during the pandemic,
The Fund’s committee stressed the need to provide immediate help to those organisations caring for equines whose cashflow had been most impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The committee also recognised that there is often less financial pressure on organisations over the summer months and that the full financial impact of the pandemic is yet to be felt. This could also be magnified by the uncertainty surrounding how soon volunteer support and income from events will resume. Hence, there are two further scheduled rounds closing on Friday 24th July and Friday 16th October, with the possibility of extending a further funding round in December.
Any charity wishing to apply can find the criteria and application form here
David Simpson of the Petplan Charitable Trust said, “We received a number of applications where charities were holding everything together now, but there was obviously great uncertainty as to how long their funds would last. It was good to be able to offer emergency support to those organisations that most need it now and to be in a position to provide further funding to eligible organisations who may need help in the coming months.”
StreetVet, a charity that provides support and veterinary care for the homeless and their pets, has scooped the Purina BetterWithPets prize.
Worth over £40,000, the prize will help kick-start the UK’s first accredited dog-friendly hostel scheme.
“Homeless people with pets are unfairly disadvantaged,” says StreetVet co-founder, Jade Statt. “Research suggests that only 10% of hostels say ‘yes’ to dogs. Yet admittance to a hostel is a crucial stepping-stone towards getting a homeless person back on their feet.
“You can really see the difference for people that can get into accommodation and those that can’t. A hostel gives them access to computers, help with their CV. Also, the chance to find more permanent accommodation. And, it provides a safe place for the dog they love.”
A dog is often a homeless person’s only friend and companion
Up to around 25% of homeless people have dogs which are often their only friend and companion. While many hostels won’t take pets, others that want to are not set up to do so. And, of those that do take animals, provision varies enormously, as Statt found out during her research.
“We really had our eyes opened,” she says. “Some hostels do an amazing job and you can really see the positives of having the dogs there. They benefit everyone.”
Accreditation ensures provision is standardised in each dog-friendly hostel
Statt was determined to start a scheme to encourage more hostels to accept pets and support them to do it well.
“There is a need and it has to be done in a standardised way,” she says.
This is how the idea of StreetVet Accreditation came about. The charity has developed very detailed policies that takes into account all eventualities. For example, what if the owner becomes unwell or has to go into hospital, who cares for the dog?
With the prize in the bag, the next step is to develop educational training and materials.
‘The first year is about getting the accreditation process where we want it to be,” explains Statt. “Then I would like to pilot an ambassador hostel where everything is in place.”
Find out how Petplan Charitable Trust supports StreetVet, here
Professor Hattie Syme has won the prestigious Petplan Charitable Trust Scientific Award 2020.
Syme is Professor of Small Animal Internal Medicine and Senior Clinical Tutor at the Royal Veterinary College. She leads a research programme into conditions that affect older cats, specifically hyperthyroidism and hypertension.
Among other projects, she also makes major contributions to the college’s research into Feline Chronic Kidney Disease. She currently serves on the board of the International Renal Interest Society (IRIS).
The award was announced as part of the annual Petplan Veterinary Awards. They were established to recognise the work of veterinary practices across the UK. The ceremony was held online this year owing to the coronavirus epidemic.
Every year, the Trust invites Heads of Research in the UK Veterinary Schools and the Animal Health Trust to make nominations for the Research Award. The nominations are then examined and scored by the Trust’s scientific committee.
Ted Chandler, Secretary of the Scientific Advisory Committee, said the award recognised Hattie’s “massive and outstanding research work to life-threatening conditions affecting the dog and cat”. He added: “A recipient of a number of international awards, Hattie has also been an inspired teacher leading to many other graduates embarking on research careers.”
“Of course I am thrilled to receive this award,” says Hattie Syme. “Probably what makes it most special is the nomination by my peers. It is important to emphasise though that research is a team effort. I am just one of many people (vets and nurses) working together at the RVC to try to further our understanding of the diseases that old cats get, so that we can improve their quality of life.”
Here at the Trust we really enjoy receiving updates from the charities we support. The report from Our Special Friends focused on the benefits of animal companionship and was a real heart-warmer.
Based in Suffolk, the charity supports people struggling with a range of situations, including bereavement, illness and other crises. They do this by giving people access to animal companionship. This could be anything from practical help with existing pets to pairing people up with new animal companions. Or simply brightening up someone’s day with a visit from a pet.
Since it’s formation, it has dealt with over a thousand cases. It relies entirely on donations.
“People say I’ve got my sparkle back. The dogs just make SUCH a difference.”
Part of OSF’s work involves rehoming pets whose owners can no longer care for them. A typical case is that of Daphne (right) who’d suffered from depression following the death of her beloved Cocker Spaniel two years ago. She desperately missed the company of a dog. Thanks to OSF, she was matched up with two Shih Tzus whose owner could no longer care for them due to illness. It has clearly changed her life.