Dozens of local rescue dogs are ending up at the pound, and some are having to be euthanised, owing to a critical shortage of people willing to adopt or foster them.
Byron Dog Rescue says the situation is reaching crisis point, with the number of dogs being given up by their owners increasing dramatically, while adoption and fostering rates dwindle.
‘We haven’t experienced anything like this in 17 years,’ the Rescue and Adoptions Coordinator of Byron Dog Rescue (formerly CAWI), Shell Dennison, says.
‘When I first started in this job we would see maybe one dog a week being surrendered (given up for adoption), now it’s up to seven dogs a week.’
‘So there’s all these dogs coming in, but seemingly less of a willingness within the community to adopt or foster them.
The pounds are turning people away
‘Even the pounds are turning people away in some cases, so you’re ending up with perfectly happy, healthy dogs being euthanised. That’s pretty heartbreaking.’
Ms Dennison says that the situation is part of a broader nationwide trend, but it appears to be particularly pronounced in the Byron Shire and the Northern Rivers.
There are a number of different contributing factors, she says.
‘The floods were a big factor because people lost their homes and, in some cases, moved into new places that didn’t allow pets,’ she says.
‘But there’s also been a broader demographic shift over the past few years. People who’ve moved into the area have a lot more money and they’re spending $5,000 on the fashionable dog of the time rather than $350 on a beautiful rescue dog that needs a home.’
With dog adoption rates falling, there’s a greater need for people to provide temporary foster care for rescue dogs to keep them out of the pound until a permanent home is found.
‘I think sometimes there’s a bit of a misunderstanding about what looking after a rescue dog actually involves,’ Ms Dennison says.
‘We spend months with a dog, getting them trained and rehabilitated before we start advertising. We go to quite a lot of effort so that we can be fairly certain that when someone gets a rescue from us it won’t bounce back. We know exactly what kind of dog we’re adopting out.’
‘So really all they need is a caring home where they can get plenty of exercise, a good diet, and lots of love.’
The dozens of success stories on the Byron Dog Rescue website are testimony to how much joy the rescued fur friends bring into the lives of their new owners.
Almost always a positive story
‘We get messages from people all the time letting us know how they’re going with their rescue dogs, and it’s almost always a positive story,’ Ms Dennison says.
‘I would urge anyone who’s thinking of getting a dog, or who has thought about fostering one, to get in touch with us or one of the other local rescue dog services.
‘It won’t just make a huge difference to the dog’s life, it’ll make a big difference to your own life as well.’
For Byron Dog Rescue, call Shell Dennison on 0458 461 935 or visit byrondogrescue.org. Other local dog rescue services include: The DogFather Rescue Inc, Northern Rivers Animal Services.