As dog rescue kennels face crisis, foster, save a life & transform your own

With 10 reasons to foster a dog, & a list of 40 rescues in need of foster carers

By Elizabeth Willmott Harrop

Updated 2 April 2012

AffyDog rescue centres are in crisis with too many dogs, not enough kennel spaces or permanent  onward homes, and many healthy beautiful animals being put to sleep as a result. Around 7,000 pound dogs were killed in the UK in 2011.

In the UK, the RSPCA and Dog’s Trust both have campaigns targeted at puppy-buyers, aimed at clamping down on puppies bred and sold by puppy farms and other unscrupulous breeders. A culture of consumerism allows puppies and dogs to be purchased online as easily as ordering a takeaway, and means that 1 in 5 of those purchasing a puppy, do not have the dog five years later.

Some breeds are suffering the most in the current climate of consumerism compounded by recession:

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are still being bred despite overflowing in rescues. An unwillingness by the public and even rescues to take them on, means they are being destroyed in their thousands every year in the UK.

Once Loved Dog Rescue comments: “The bad press Staffies and other bull breeds have been given has had a devastating effect. They are always the last dogs left at the pound when all the other breeds have been saved and given a rescue space.

“Many people won’t even give them a chance, but just simply believe what they read. This is one of the biggest problem facing these beautiful dogs. Public opinion needs to be changed, and fast. Too many dogs are dying un-necessarily.”

Thousands of healthy greyhounds are also killed, as they end their careers and usefulness to their owners in the greyhound racing industry*. 25,000 dogs are retired each year across the British Isles but only a fraction turn up at rescues or are officially put to sleep by vets.

Older dogs are also at increased risk as owners are unwilling or unable to pay medical costs that may be required to support a dog into old age (you can still get pet insurance for an oldie). And many elderly dogs also have elderly owners who have to reluctantly give their dogs up.

Rescues are not only crying out for funding and a change in attitudes (Rescue Don’t Breed) to help solve this crisis, but also for temporary foster places to give a rescued dog the opportunity of a sanctuary after being given up or found abandoned.

In some cases this foster place literally saves a dog’s life, as so many rescue centres are now turning away dogs and handing them over to the sad fate of being put to sleep, for example after their seven days has expired in the council pound. In February for example, Southern Lurcher Rescue had to turn away 13 dogs in a period of less than 48 hours.

*Please see the Greyhound Action website, please note this site contains disturbing images.

10 reasons to foster

1. Have a dog without the pressure of getting a 15-20 year commitment right first time. You will learn a lot with each foster dog to help inform future adoption, and may end up adopting your fosteree.

2. Become a first time dog guardian in a manageable bite-sized chunk, with fantastic foster backup from the rescue.

3. Foster to bridge the gap between your last dog having passed away and adopting again in the future.

4. Help many dogs over your lifetime, as you send each foster dog off to its forever home, and are ready to welcome your next charge.

5. Have the companionship of a foster dog when your own life circumstances make you unable to commit to a dog’s lifetime, for example if you are studying, are elderly, or have taken a sabbatical from work.

6. Experience an economical way to help a dog and have a canine family member as the rescues pay the vet bills, you will normally just pay for food. Some rescues such as the RSPCA will even pay for foster dog food, as well providing all dog accessories. 7. Help a rescue match a dog with a forever family.  Fostering could be for just a few days, but normally happens over a period of weeks or months and allows you time to really get to know a dog and to give a full portrait of its character, its likes and dislikes to the rescue which helps them enormously.

8. If you are experienced with dogs, you may be able to help the dog overcome difficult traits such as separation anxiety and fear aggression towards other dogs. Making a happier dog which is easier to rehome.

9. Dogs are a great way to provide meaning, routine, fresh air and exercise every day. And helping an animal in need simply feels really good.

10. Forget self-help books, there is nothing like a dog to teach you about living in the moment

Rescues currently looking for foster-carers

The following rescues are currently looking for dog fosterers. Could that be you?

UK rescues – dog fosterers wanted by 40 rescues

If you would like your rescue to be listed here, please contact me.

  1. Animal Samaritans London: Erith, Abbey Wood, Welling, Bexleyheath, Swanley & Belvedere
  2. Argyll Animal Aid Oban area
  3. Barnsley and District Animal Welfare (BADAW)
  4. Battersea Dogs Home Windsor, London, Kent
  5. Blue Cross Pet Fostering Service Scotland
  6. Boxer Rescue Liverpool
  7. Bristol DAWG (Dog Action Welfare Group) Greyhound and Lurcher Rescue
  8. Bullie SOS UK wide
  9. Cefni German Shepherd Rescue UK wide
  10. Dog’s Trust Freedom Project foster care service for dogs belonging to families fleeing from domestic violence. The service operates in Greater London, Hertfordshire and Yorkshire.
  11. Dog’s Trust general fostering UK wide through the various centres
  12. Doris Banham Dog Rescue UK wide
  13. East Midlands Dog Rescue
  14. Four Paws Animal Rescue South Wales
  15. Friends of the Animals RCT UK wide
  16. Greyhound Gap West Midlands
  17. Greyhound Lifeline Hampshire
  18. Hope Rescue UK wide, see their list of Dogs Needing Foster Homes
  19. Irish Retriever Rescue UK UK wide
  20. Kent Greyhound Rescue
  21. Last Chance Animal Rescue Kent
  22. Lincoln Greyhounds part of  Doris Banham Dog Rescue, Lincolnshire, South Yorkshire, & Nottinghamshire areas
  23. Many Tears Animal Rescue use foster homes across the UK
  24. Oldies Club UK wide for dogs aged 7 and over, helps rescues rehome older dogs and has own fosterers network
  25. Once Loved Dog Rescue Yeovil
  26. Pawz for Thought North East
  27. Poodles in Need urgently need fosterers in Leeds, Notts, and Derbyshire with special appeal for an 11 year old toy poodle
  28. Pound Puppy Animal Rescue Poole
  29. Pro Dogs Direct England wide
  30. Rescue Remedies Surrey
  31. RSPCA Cardiff
  32. RSPCA PetRetreat UK wide advice and pet fostering service for families fleeing domestic abuse
  33. RSPCA Lincoln
  34. Rushton Dog Rescue Dorset
  35. Ruff Luck Rescue Birmingham and West Midlands
  36. Safe and Sound finding refuge for UK pound dogs UK wide
  37. Southern Lurcher Rescue South of England
  38. Thanet Animal Group Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate and the surrounding areas
  39. We Help Any Dog South East of England
  40. West Yorkshire Dog Rescue does not use kennels and all dogs are cared for by fosterers
  41. Yorkshire Rose Dog Rescue does not use kennels and all dogs are cared for by fosterers

Rescues outside the UK – dog fosterers wanted

If you would like your rescue to be listed here, please contact me.

Read 15 Key Benefits of Adopting A Rescue Dog

Liberty & Humanity

Read 15 Key Benefits of Adopting A Rescue Dog

Above is a painting of one of my rescue dogs Cassie. Affy is the Jack Russell left – another wonderful rescue dog – pictured with my daughter when she was little. See other animal paintings in Elizabeth’s art gallery.

Splodge, Caran D'ache, Elizabeth Willmott-Harrop

Splodge, Caran D’ache, Elizabeth Willmott-Harrop

Otter watercolour, Elizabeth Willmott-Harrop

Otter watercolour, Elizabeth Willmott-Harrop

Pups, Elizabeth Willmott-Harrop

Pups, Elizabeth Willmott-Harrop