Her big amber eyes stare straight into those of the person who, perhaps, holds her future in their hands. She’s just a year old and stands on wobbly legs, one with a nasty, infected wound, the flesh necrotic. Her eyes are wide, bewilderment written all over her soft brown face.
She cannot know that to save her leg, which may not even be possible, will cost a lot of money. The exact amount is unknown as the full extent of her problems are as yet undiscovered. But it won’t be cheap.
She cannot know that the strangers who look into her innocent eyes and resolve to help her, already have a long list of dogs whose lives depend on them. Dogs with vet bills that are frightening. That in one month alone the vet bills for Hope Rescue, the organisation taking in beautiful Zira, topped £40,000. Forty thousand pounds for one month of providing essential vet treatment for dogs who have nobody else to help them.
Imagine for a few moments running a rescue and knowing you must pay a monthly vet bill of this size. That if you can’t raise the funds, the fate of the growing number of dogs needing your help becomes grossly uncertain. Imagine it for the next three seconds…
…it almost overwhelms just to imagine it, let alone face it.
Forty thousand pounds for one month of vet bills which are not optional when you run a rescue in today’s Britain. A country which is in the eye of a lethal storm ripping through rescues. Deluges of dogs land every week at the doors of rescues which are already coping with a scale of demand that’s frightening. It is not optional when your work is saving and improving dogs’ lives and making pet adoption possible. It is not optional if you wish to prevent a loss of life which you know you can if only you can pay the escalating bills.
This is rescue reality.
Rescues like Hope do a good job of absorbing the impact of a lot of choices made by people when it comes to their pets. But the nature and scale of what is happening means huge problems are present across the country’s rescue network. Each day brings big and almost unbearable challenges. With case upon case of dogs needing help. And homing but often only after extensive and costly vet care has been provided. Hard decisions are the harsh reality for many rescuers today. Decisions that are largely poorly understood, or unseen and unrecognised by the public.
Because there are only so many spaces a rescue can create to take in dogs waiting lists are growing. It’s a constant struggle to home the dogs who are ready in a climate where adoptions are also slowing up. Although, when a rescue has a ‘popular’ dog available an unsavoury scramble of applications ensues, which can easily swamp a rescue’s ability to cope.
Resilient, determined people run rescues. They face a lot of unpleasantness in their day to day and don’t last long if they’re not. But they’re human and while determination to keep their doors open for the dogs abounds, so does despair. History isn’t reassuring. During financial downturns pet owners give up their pets. This is happening now. Some simply cannot fund their dogs’ needs leading to heartbreaking decisions. Others wilfully abandon their pets, uninterested in doing the right thing. All this combined with large numbers of dogs in rescue from the explosion of new puppies bought during the pandemic lockdowns and the situation is alarming.
Rescues face great uncertainty and massive pressures from multiple sources. In the centre of the storm sit confused, worried and stressed dogs whose lives are upended. Sadly in some cases those lives will prematurely end.
This is rescue reality.
You can find a list of rescues which are members of the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes here.
A donation to help Hope Rescue can be made here.
See how the charity Schnauzerfest helps rescues with their vet bills here.