A New Pandemic: Spaniel Surrenders

Spaniel Welfare South Africa shared the top 5 reasons why owners surrender their pet spaniels to their organisation, and what they recommend to prevent this.

As a Welfare and Rescue organisation, we at Spaniel Welfare South Africa have heard every reason under the sun when it comes to why owners are surrendering their spaniels.

People fall in love with the image of that perfect Spaniel pup. Let’s face it, there is none cuter than a Spaniel pup! However, all pups grow into adult dogs. Thankfully most owners are so in love with their dogs that looks don’t matter, but there are still a few out there that dump the adult to get another pup.

It’s so easy to fall for a puppy, however very few people take the time to research the breed, to make sure the breed is a good fit for their lifestyle, to assess if they will be able to handle the nature of the breed for the next ten to fifteen years, to consider if other breed of dog is a more suitable companion. There are many factors that should be taken into consideration before getting a pet.

South Africa has always been a tough welfare market, the economy (especially in the last year), culture and expectations of dogs has flooded all organisations to the point of bursting.

A wise animal warrior once told me “Don’t ask why, take the dog and give it shelter, food and love otherwise it will be dumped on a street corner in 10 minutes”. So that’s exactly what we do, especially now that the illegal yet profitable “trend” of dog fighting has hit our shores and people think it’s a get rich quick scheme.

We have found that the main reasons for surrendering a spaniel tend to be:

1. Economic :

This has always been a huge issue in South Africa, and now Covid-19 has created another pandemic: unwanted pets. Owners are suddenly unable to cover the cost of caring for an animal, or they need to downgrade to smaller homes that do not allow pets.

We urge all who are considering buying or adopting a spaniel to thoroughly and objectively consider if there will be enough funds available to properly care for the animal for the duration of its lifespan, with sufficient savings to draw from should the family fall on hard times.

Costs of responsible spaniel ownership include:

  • Routine care such as a good quality dog food, appropriate shelter in a pet-friendly home, sterilisation, vaccinations, deworming, tick & flea control, proper socialisation and basic obedience training.

  • Emergencies such as injuries and illnesses requiring veterinary care and medicines.

  • Behavioural problems, like anxiety or aggression, needing professional assistance from an Animal Behaviourist.

  • Challenges associated with aging, for example, arthritis, which may require services provided by an Animal Physiotherapist, or, for example, blindness which may need changes to the family home to keep the dog safe.

2. Age:

With age, spaniels incur higher medical expenses and require more intense care, so some owners find it easier to “dump” the dog and let the Rescue/Welfare Organisation pay for treatments and care for the dog, while the owner gets a newer healthier version! This causes the dog severe anxiety from losing their home and family, and it places tremendous strain on the welfare organisation which is likely already battling to find funding and volunteers.

Families considering adopting or buying a spaniel should first research the potential health issues associated with the breed, and should then be one hundred percent committed to the dog and the cost of caring for it for the duration of its life, especially as the dog begins to age.

The dog will commit it's whole heart and entire life to it's owners, so it is only fair that the owners return the favour.

3. Arrival of a new child:

Time and time again, dogs are surrendered to rescue organisations because of human children, such as the arrival of a new baby, or grandchildren visiting, with concerns for the safety of the child around the dog. In many cases, these issues could be dealt with by careful supervision and management of the child's interaction with the dog, and in more challenging cases, can be addressed with the help of an animal behaviourist.

4. Divorce:

Spaniels get handed over to strangers because neither party wants them or can take them to the new accommodation. Divorce is extremely traumatic for all parties, but that is no excuse for the animal to suffer.

Owners could consider including a clause in the ante nuptial agreement and/or a written contract between them to state what will happen to the dog in the event of a divorce or separation; as this will help reduce stress for everyone. Other fail-safe options include an official Godparent for the dog; a trusted family-member or friend who can agree to take the animal, and/or a savings account for the dog, so that its well-being is guaranteed should the family environment change.

5. Emigration:

Currently this is a huge part of our flood of surrenders. People are leaving the country in droves and not taking their animals with them. We at Spaniel Welfare believe that your dogs are part of your family; no plans should be made without including the furries, however we are also not here to judge. We suggest that the owners try to ask trusted friends or family if they would be willing and able to take in their pets before approaching a welfare organisation. Failing that, we are happy to help screen potential families to find the perfect home.

We try to be in touch with and on good terms with all rescue organisations so that we can in turn all help one another out. This is great as it’s not always just spaniels that get handed over to us, and if we can get the other breed rescue organisation involved it takes a bit of the stress off of us. In turn we step in whenever anyone contacts us about a spaniel.

We have proven to be a professional, well organised, caring group of volunteers that have built up a great reputation in the difficult world of Animal welfare and rescue, with devoted, crazy ladies all over the country, holding our banner high in one hand and a spaniel in the other.

Information provided by Spaniel Welfare South Africa:

NPC 2016/071164/08



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Spaniel Welfare SA

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Branch Code: 255955

Account No: 62599673756

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