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Our local RSPCA rung to ask if we could help with a problem that they were unable to deal with at the time. A lad had arrived with an un-castrated male Staffy that had been fighting with his other dogs. At first he said the dog was a stray but later admitted that it was his. The dog had bite marks and was underweight. He also revealed that he had two unspayed bitches and an older castrated male dog. We agreed to see the dog and if possible take it in depending on the circumstances. He arrived with a neighbour and we questioned him at length, we asked if the bitches had been in season and if this was causing the fighting between all the dogs. At first he said “No!” When pushed we found out that his Staffordshire x English Bull Terrier bitch had a litter of six 5 week old puppies (sired by said dog). He insisted that the other bitch, a Rottweiler/Mastiff mix was a friend’s dog that he was looking after and that it had not been mated. He was told that we would take the dog, a large red Staffy who was a little prickly around other dogs, if and only if he brought in the mum and pups. We needed to make sure that both ‘adults and puppies’ got neutered and found good homes. We would only help him if it would stop his use of dogs to make money and not just take a dog that he had used, was causing him problems and that he no longer wanted.
There was much heavy discussion and we mentioned that the Benefits Office would need to be informed of his extra income from selling puppies. We also informed him that breeding animals (to boost income) in council property was in breach the tenancy agreement. The neighbour said that lots of people on their Norwich estate breed their dogs and didn’t know that they were breaking any rules relating to it. Eventually it was agreed that he would bring in the mum and pups the very next morning. We contacted the RSPCA to bring them up to speed and asked that they send an inspector to check on the Rottweiler x Mastiff. They reported back and were happy that she was not in pup and advised the owner on getting her spayed. The other castrated dog was in good health. If once the Staffy bitch is spayed and they would like to adopt her back we were willing to consider it as we would rather they had neutered pets, which would avoid any further temptation to breed ‘pets for profit.’ Sadly they declined our offer even though they had protested about bringing her in because they supposedly loved her so.
Everyday FAITH and no doubt most other rescues are asked to help with unwanted Staffy and Mastiff types. We cannot fill our kennel with just these dogs but we do a lot to help them and will continue to hold money for the ‘Taking the lead’ campaign which is about neutering these types. We do quite well in rehoming many but until the Council and Social housing associations (funded by our taxes and rates) take this matter seriously and put some effort into controlling this unsavoury enterprise that stems from their properties, the problem will continue to worsen.
I am sorry I have to go back to moaning about the Councils and Housing Associations letting us down on our ‘Taking the Lead’ campaign but I will point out again that these puppies were bred on a Norwich City council housing estate, and judging from the neighbours remarks it is common place.
FAITH was left frustrated and angry after Norwich City Council dropped out of the ‘Taking the Lead’ after all our hard work. Although they have now contracted out the Dog Control Service, they are still responsible for their tenants. You can find out about ‘Taking the Lead’ on the website or in our Newsletters, issue 28 and 29. We cannot go on aimlessly try to mop up this spillage when it just continues to flow. We need to mend and stop the leak.
In 2009 F.A.I.T.H. had a plan, a plan to stop this slaughter. Unable to cope with the huge rise in the amount of Staffies coming into F.A.I.T.H. as strays via Norwich City Council (due to the indiscriminate breeding of status dogs) It was agreed that NCC (Norwich City Council) and F.A.I.T.H. were to work together on a project called “Taking the Lead”
We were to commence a programme of animal welfare education and neutering. F.A.I.T.H. was to offer free neutering for dogs of social housing, aimed specifically at Staffy types. The council would enforce the rules already in place preventing their tenants from breeding and selling dogs from their homes. There was also to be free microchipping. Although it can be said that not all status dogs are bred in social housing, it is a sad fact that the larger percentage are. Leaflets were designed, reinforcing the rules and explaining about neutering. This was without prejudice, since in the majority of social housing, unlike many private rentals, there is not a ‘No Pets’ policy. Therefore a ‘No breeding of pets’ rule does not breach anyone’s human rights since they already have a privilege often excluded to tenants that have to rent from the private sector.
Together we were going to lead the way forward in the hope that the rest of the country would follow this ’flagship’ idea. How sad then that NCC dropped the project, a programme that had once filled them with such enthusiasm.
Yes two years ago together we could have stopped this. How many lives have been and will continue to be lost until someone does something sensible.
We are still willing to do free neutering and the leaflets are waiting to go. We just need a council willing to work with us, willing to “Take the Lead”, which is not only about dogs but also about caring for all the tenants on their estates.
Fiona the Lurcher was heavily pregnant when she came to F.A.I.T.H. as a stray. We didn’t realise just how heavily pregnant she was until she started giving birth. The puppies just kept coming, and in rather orderly succession, a true production line. “Fiona that is enough”, we told her after the seventh pup. But Fiona produced a football team, luckily there was no sub, just eleven little players. Three little girls and eight boys. Fiona had been offered a new home before the pups were born and her new owners were like expectant parents, worried, excited and here the next day and every day after to see their new girls brood. Mother and puppies are now all settled in their new homes.
We’ve had many kittens again this year and when Phoebe had only one kitten, yet had been so big and was still rather tubby, we were of mixed thoughts. With many kittens to find homes for already it would be lovely if she only had the one, but this was unlikely and we worried that there could be more kittens stuck inside her. Four hours later she was at the vets for a scan and I’m pleased to say that there were no more found. Rather unusually Phoebe did have just one kitten. Good Girl!!
Consequently, when another cat, Deli, gave birth to twins a couple of weeks later, we didn’t worry - besides, two kittens is not an unusual litter and Deli’s belly was quite slight. She was eating well, a good mother and like Victoria Beckham, had regained her slender figure. Surprise!! Five days later there was another two kittens. Now that is unusual! They were pretty colours and soon found homes. We have had many kittens and sadly it is again black kittens that take longer to find new owners, some reaching six months before they are ‘lucky black cats’ with a home of their own.
Another Lurcher, Willow, also had eleven puppies a few weeks after Fiona, so we had two football teams a 12 week old Spaniel pup as a referee and a few Jack Russell pup linesmen.
As many of you will know from previous Newsletters, when the only dogs on our waiting list were Staffy types, we realised we had to do more than just rehome those we could. We had already invested thousands of pounds in to saving them, and for want of a better word, other ‘status dogs’ - Bull and Mastiff types and crosses. The numbers of these dogs being bred, sold and ending up in dog pounds and kennels across the country had reached saturation point. F.A.I.T.H. put together a programme to tackle the problem at source. Working with local Councils on our ‘Taking the Lead’ campaign, we fought for years, and still are, to bring about a sensible solution to this very sad situation.
At the same time social networking sites dealing in animals were rapidly taking hold and causing further welfare issues, one of many was to create a medium for easy buying and selling of pets and puppies, encouraging more back yard breeding. To stop prospective adopters turning to, buying from and hence creating demand, we had to rescue dogs other than just Bull types. Throughout England and Wales local rescue charities were coping with all other breeds and cross breeds, again it was only Bull types left on waiting lists or in pounds. It was only then that we looked to help dogs from further afield within our islands. In Ireland we contacted a lady, that like F.A.I.T.H. was keen to make a difference long term in animal welfare.
Ireland has many Traveller communities and not only do they trade in dogs and horses, but in older generations particularly, as in some other cultures, it is the amount of animals roaming their sites that gives them status. Our brave and resolute lady, Fiona, is respected by the Travellers and they allow her onto their sites, where she educates them on animal welfare and provides vaccinations, flea and worm treatments. She also neuters the site dogs and rehomes dogs she removes. The younger Travellers are getting the message, many of the young women will call Fiona to neuter or collect dogs, as they no longer want so many around. A great result was a few weeks ago when she got a call from a Traveller to say ‘There aren’t any dogs!” There are of course, but Fiona is certainly making in roads. Working with Fiona means that they allow us onto the sites too and we bring back the dogs that Fiona cannot find homes for.
To help her fight to amend animal welfare law in Ireland, Fiona has completed four years of work and study, and now holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Degree in Law. She had hoped this knowledge would help her quest to improve animal welfare, however knowledge is not enough and she is starting a course in Critical Argument. We wish her every success.
To continue helping Fiona and Traveller’s dogs is going to cause us even more expense as the E.U. wish to push for a lunatic rule that requires dogs to have rabies vaccinations and pet passports before travelling between our countries. Even though there has been no rabies on these islands for many decades, they want Britain to fall in line with the rest of Europe. Animals and people travel freely between Eire and Northern Ireland, as do animals and people between Scotland and England. If Scotland gains independence this unnecessary, lunatic bureaucracy should also come into play and would cost a fortune to police. This EU rule is a nonsense! While I fully understand the need for rabies vaccinations for dogs entering the UK from mainland Europe, it is ridiculous and illogical to enforce this on dogs travelling within the British Isles where we are rabies free.
F.A.I.T.H.’s first priority is with local dogs and UK, then those from further afield, we do take in some urgent cases from European countries but as has been said before, we want our work to make a difference. That is why we made a stand over the NNC Staffies and why we like to help Fiona. Only by looking at the bigger picture and striving to reduce the amount of animals being irresponsibly bred will animal welfare improve.
Cats are also a big problem in Ireland but so too are they in most counties of the UK. We cannot help Fiona with her strays as we are always bursting at the seams with cats and kittens here.
F.A.I.T.H. will be asking and campaigning for ALL rescues and organisations involved in the rehoming of cats to implement follow up checks made on ALL kittens that are rehomed before neutering age, making sure that they have had their ops. If it is found that they are still entire, they should be immediately neutered or returned to the rescue.
It is maddening that government only listen to larger organisations when they should give smaller rescues a voice. We are at the ‘grass roots’ and see the problems and solutions. However, we will continue to lobby and campaign and with your support we will make a difference.
Maisie - One of many Staffies we have helped and rehomed.
Congratulations to Fiona on graduating.
Sadly until people stop putting their needs and wants first, puppy farming will continue and expand. How many people get so upset about the treatment of dogs in Romania, or the 5 day destroy stray policy in Ireland where thousands of lovely dogs are killed - then buy themselves a puppy?! Puppy farming in Romania for export to this country has increased by 1050% already. If puppy farmers of Ireland and Wales are cruel, and there is horrific cruelty, what name can describe the Eastern European puppy exploiters and exporters!? Why are British dog lovers supporting the puppy farming industry?
The sad truth is that if people cannot get the pet dog they want immediately from a rescue centre, they will turn to the internet and buy a puppy or ex-breeding dog from a puppy farmer, hence creating demand. In general, people will buy from a dubious person or place to get the dog they want. Oh, they will moan if things go wrong, but if the dog is OK they will tell people how they rescued it from some horrid barn/shed/person etc. They have in reality added to the breeders profits, helped to ensure the miserable existence of the puppy’s parents, and perpetuated the puppy farm industry or encouraged individuals to exploit dogs.
Stop Fur Farms - Don’t buy Fur!
Stop Puppy Farms - Don’t buy a puppy!
If you’re against it - Don’t support it!
A pure bred pup from a breeder will not be cheap. The breeder will have a keen interest in the breed and limited litters of pups from their bitch or bitches, you may have to wait. There will be displays of rosettes and photos from shows and/or working trials. You will be encouraged to interact with the pups and will be asked many questions, you may be expected to allow a home check. You will know if you are buying from a person who has a genuine interest in the breed or a person with an interest in money. There are no excuses. If you are buying a posh crossbred pup, the motive in breeding them is profit. There is no bloodline, coat or type to work to, in most cases anything goes and it goes for a big profit too. But the biggest price is paid by the millions (yes millions) of dogs that are destroyed and those that exist in puppy farms or with back street breeders. Ultimately the dogs pay with their miserable lives.