Abused and neglected, Battersea’s new arrivals show the consequences of irresponsible ownership

03 NOVEMBER 2016

Terrified and in pain, Zara the puppy was a sorry sight when she was brought to us last month. Abused by her owner, she had a broken leg and a serious wound to her ear.

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Our expert veterinary staff are giving the three-month-old German Shepherd round-the-clock care and fortunately she is responding well to treatment. Despite her dreadful injuries, Zara’s trusting nature means she has formed bonds with her carers and shown herself to have a friendly and inquisitive nature.

She is just one of the sad stories that we have taken in over the last two months, we have seen the number of calls from people looking to rehome their dogs soar to 3,186 – almost double last year’s figures for September and October.

The reasons behind these calls vary - many are due to changes of circumstance such as house moves or evictions, and sometimes sad and dangerous situations such as domestic abuse where the animal may become a target for violence. 

Others are because the owners took on their dog without fully thinking it through, sometimes buying them online or from a so-called breeder and quickly realising they cannot cope with the responsibility of a pet. 

Tragic cases like Zara's

Battersea’s Intake Manager, Steven Craddock, said: “While working at Battersea is hugely rewarding, it can be devastating too – especially when we see tragic cases like Zara’s. All too often, animals come through Battersea’s doors with serious injuries sustained through neglect, cruelty and ignorance. Some have come from puppy farms and have never been properly socialised; others have been used for repeated breeding and are left with shocking health problems as a result.

“In September and October this year, we’ve seen a huge spike in enquiries from people wishing to rehome their dogs and while they’re doing the right thing by bringing their pets in to us so we can find them a new home, it’s heartbreaking to see the state that some of these dogs arrive in.”

Spread the message of responsible ownership

While anybody wishing to rehome a dog or cat from us will always be carefully assessed and then matched with a suitable animal where possible, we are still putting in work further afield to ensure the message of responsible ownership is spread far and wide.

Our Community Engagement teams hold workshops in prisons, schools and communities across London to educate people on what it means to take on a pet and to discuss the serious animal welfare issues we deal with on a daily basis, including backstreet breeding, animal cruelty and neglect, and puppy farming.

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