Dogs being returned 'like jeans that don't fit', say Shropshire kennels worker
"It's like taking a pair of jeans that don't fit back to the shop."
Those are the words of Marty Burrell, of Hilbrae Kennels, Cold Hatton, who said the number of dogs being returned after being homed has sharply risen in the last 12 months.
It's not a local problem, but an increasingly difficult national issue with no simple solution or cause.
"Every change, every upset is having a negative effect on the dogs," Marty said.
"By the time they come to us, they have had at least one, maybe several other homes.
"We feel like we're letting them down by misjudging people. It's really frustrating."
Some dogs have been returned to the kennels after years with their owner, some who have a change in job role or a new baby.
Others spend less than a few days with their new animals before deciding to take them back to Hilbrae.
"It's not the dogs, it's people suddenly deciding they don't want the commitment," Marty said.
"It's more about what people want for themselves and their kids, not about what they can do for the dog.
"Dogs are a 10 or 15-year commitment.
"It's not something to play with while the kids are at school. It's not something that's going to blend into your life. It'll take work – they're the same as children in that way."
It's especially frustrating for the kennels because those who want short-term access to the animals are welcome to walk the dogs without adopting them.
"We've got a lot of dog walkers now and when we get people we welcome them with open arms," Marty said.
"There's people that work full time and can't for practical reasons own a dog but there's no reason they can't come and walk one of ours for the day. The dogs love it."
Thankfully there is a host of dedicated, reliable dog homers willing to take on more difficult animals with health conditions.
Marty said: "We get some lovely people who will take on old dogs, even dogs with veterinary problems. Dogs that have to have painkillers or epilepsy medicine."
Hilbrae Rescue Kennels is a charity that takes in stray and unwanted dogs. It currently has more than 70 dogs looking for new homes. The kennels can be contacted on 01952 541254.
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