Pets are comforting companions. They encourage us to remain healthy and act as great stress relievers. Animals are endearing creatures; and often their company is what prevents intense loneliness for some. They’re loving and protective playmates for kids, and trusted guards in any sign of danger or vulnerability.
So, it’s not hard to understand why pets are such a welcome addition to the homes of so many, often being gifted as adorable surprises to excited and welcoming arms. The peak in Covid-19 saw a spike in pet adoptions and purchases, with a large part of the world confined to their own spaces and company.
Not Always a Happy Ending
However, these stories don’t always have happy endings. Many times pets are given up for adoption, or even abandoned, due to a range of reasons. According to Four Paws international, the top reasons include:
- A lack of research into what taking care of pets entails, and not realising how much time and commitment it takes to properly care for them. Implementing raw food diets, for example, are better for dogs as they produce less plaque. Regular brushing, exercise and dental and medical checkups are also essential in maintaining your pet’s overall health.
- Changed life situations such as a shift in family dynamic, sudden illness or inability to care for them, change from remote to full-time office employment or a move to accommodation that isn’t animal-friendly leave people with no choice but to give up their pets.
- Changes in financial situations, leaving people unable to afford the additional costs.
- Buying animals instead of adopting abandoned pets only adds to the problem.
Alarmingly, among the reasons are boredom or disinterest in owning a pet, illness or old age in the animal – deeming them a liability to the owner, or loss in profitability where a pet was kept for reasons such as breeding or sports and can no longer serve their intended purpose.
While some of these reasons could be seen as out of the owner’s control, many of them are entirely unavoidable; results of negligence and in some cases, cruelty. Animal activists stress the need for proper research before deciding to adopt a pet, and realising from the outset that it’s a lifelong commitment.
There are options available that would grant the animal their happy ever after, but they still face a considerable amount of trauma as a result of being separated from an owner they’d looked to as their carer. Additionally, while some animals are rehomed, many of them remain abandoned, left to fend for themselves unless they are fortunate enough to be discovered and temporarily homed by animal shelters and organisations, in the hopes of finding them a loving forever home.
One such organisation is Ridgeback Rehab.
Started in 2013 by Hayley Nel and based in Johannesburg, its founding was inspired by there being no registered shelter for South Africa’s national dog; the Rhodesian Ridgeback. The dogs come from an array of situations: emigration, relocation, retirement or death of owners, behavioural issues, indifference, and strays. Occasionally, they do receive puppy milled dogs, and dogs abandoned on property.
With no constant access to outside funding, Hayley relies heavily on the generosity of the public, constantly needing to request donations just to stay afloat, especially with rising costs.
Adoption rates are erratic. Large dogs are always harder to home than small breeds, as their requirements are greater. This year has seen a sharp decline in applications and, by default, adoptions.
Our Boys, Basil and Morgan
The organisation is especially close to one of our directors, Dr Mark Bowes and his family, who recently adopted a ridgeback named Basil. This was only a short while before they sadly had to say goodbye to their beautiful hound Morgan,also a ridgeback, due to illness.
We choose to remember Morgan by encouraging better care of animals and reaching out to organisations like Ridgeback Rehab to assist wherever possible.
According to Hayley, she started with high hopes of it becoming a community project, but it ended up being a “24/7, unpaid position”. They have housed close to 700 dogs over the last 9 years, and would greatly appreciate any assistance in the form of donations, foster care, administrative and social media help.
Reach Hayley at 082 358 4337 or email@example.com if you’d like to assist.