Pets left homelessPosted on: 26 March 2008 by 50connect editorial
Pets risk being abandoned when relationships fail or circumstances change - and older divorcees could be helping drive up the numbers.
Relationship breakdown is the chief cause of dogs and cats being given up by their owners. As couples over 50 now account for the highest growth divorce rate group (ONS), maybe it's time for silver splitters to consider how they will ensure that their pets aren't the ones who pay the highest price.
Post Christmas is a busy period for animal charities caring for abandoned pets and trying to find new homes for them. There are many pet adoption centres across the UK and a high percentage of the animals in their care have been handed over following a failed relationship resulting in a broken home.
Some animals are brought in for their own safety - when violent owners have turned on their pet as a way of hurting their partner.
Pets are also used as pawns in divorce proceedings or simply abandoned when couples can’t agree on custody. In some cases, one partner has left their pet with the charity to spite the other.
Following the sale of the marital home, owners may find themselves in flats unsuitable for dogs or with an unsympathetic landlord meaning that they’ve had to give up their companion.
Some owners might have to take a full-time job or make other life changes that are incompatible with keeping their pet.
Steve Broomfield, the Blue Cross’s regional manager South, says, “During a relationship breakdown, what to do with the family pet can be the last thing on an owners mind. As pets often become the silent victims of a broken home,
"The Blue Cross urges owners to spare a thought for their pet’s needs during this difficult time.
"If people find they are unable to cope, we would encourage them to take their pet along to an animal adoption centre, rather than abandon it.”
The Blue Cross is also urging expectant parents to include their family pet in the preparations for the arrival of a baby, as many animals are unnecessarily given up when a baby arrives.
Many new parents worry about the hygiene and safety implications of having a pet and a new baby in the same house, other worry that it will be too time consuming caring for both.
Sadly, loyal family pets are often given to animal rehoming centres, and yet, with the correct information, parents can make sure pets and babies can happily co-exist.
The Blue Cross head of animal behaviour, Julie Bedford says, “The key to keeping your family pet after the arrival of a baby is preparation.
"There are simple techniques that keep your baby safe, and your pet feeling loved, resulting in keeping a pet which a growing child can bond and have a unique relationship with."
With many people left distraught feeling they have no choice but to rehome their pet after a baby is born The Blue Cross has produced a leaflet entitled Your dog and your new baby which aims to show new parents how to include their pet in the family changes, and successfully keep the animals with the family.
The new leaflet gives advice on things to do before and after the birth so pets feel calm and accepting, and parents can relax knowing their baby can have their full attention.
Tips on safety, training and hygiene are all included for comprehensive advice on how to have pets and babies can live in harmony.
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