According to a survey carried out by the Dogs trust in 2018: across the UK 56,043 stray dogs were collected by local authorities, this is at its lowest point for 21 years and 15% down on the year before.
However, this may not accurately reflect the number of dogs every year who end up - if they’re lucky - in the care of rehoming charities.
This week I visited my local dog rehoming centre, Clymping Dog Sanctuary. Since 1952 this charity has worked tirelessly to house and rehome thousands of dogs, over 2,500 in the past 20 years.
The team there were wonderful and I will absolutely have to do an entire blog on the work they do but for now I’m focusing on a couple of individual stories.
The first being a litter of seven Lurcher cross puppies, they are now around 8 weeks old are infinitely better off than when they were found. All seven squeezed into a cat crate and dumped in someone’s garden in the cold and wet. They were discovered and taken to a vet, where it was apparent from their condition that if they had been left out much longer, they most likely would have died. They were all malnourished, with rickets and needed treatment for fleas and worms.
Luckily Clymping Dog Sanctuary was there to take them in and give them a safe and nurturing environment to recover and find them all their forever homes.
At the moment they are still at the sanctuary, recovering their strength and receiving medical treatment but as I discovered on my visit, despite their awful start in life, they are loving, playful and as my note book discovered enjoy chewing! They have all now thankfully been reserved and once they are well enough and have received their vaccinations, they will all have homes to go to.
We will never know what those puppies went through but as Nigel the sanctuary manager told me it was just another example of the result of reckless backyard breeding for profit.
Which in practice is unregulated and without consequences for those profiting from it. Even the few laws that exist are not enforced and with fewer and fewer dog wardens in districts, it is being left to charities like Clymping to pick up the pieces and foot the bill.
Nigel told me that in the past 15 years he has seen a huge shift in the sort of dogs that have ended up in their care. “15 years ago we looked like a staffie rescue, but now we see hardly any of the bull breeds, now it’s all Frechies, chihuahuas and pug and mixes, which as smaller dogs are more likely to get homed quicker but they often have all the same sorts of issues as the bigger dogs”
The most common reason that dogs were given up Nigel told me was due to a change in circumstance, which covers a range of events from, family break ups, moving abroad, job loss and deaths in families. All these seem like understandable reasons and often out the owners control. But what was more worrying was that the sanctuary sees a far greater increase in dogs coming to them in the winter months. When the clocks go back the kennels fill up! Could it be that in the colder, wetter weather and lack of sunlight, people don’t want to take a dog out in the dark, wet and cold and then have it tread mud through the house?
Whilst I was visiting, I also got to meet Luna and Charlie. They were brought in as their owners had separated and one felt that the other wasn’t caring for them right but was unable to keep them. They are still really young (3 and 2 respectively) and as you can see from the picture, they are super cute (they are fashionable breeds at the moment, as Nigel mentioned before) normally this would work in their favour but they also need to be homed together and do not get on with cats.
No matter how long it takes, the team at the sanctuary will never put a healthy dog down (their record for the longest resident was 14 years) they will find good forever homes for the dogs in their care but all this comes at a financial cost. It costs around £50,000 a year just to keep the sanctuary open and they rely on support from the community.
Sadly, their will be many dogs in our communities and across the UK, that will not even make it places like this. In 2018 across the UK, it is estimated that around 1,462 were put to sleep. Reasons for this could be due to injury or ill health, behaviour problems, breeds under the dangerous dogs act and some that were unclaimed with no spaces at rescues available. It’s pretty depressing and we can’t change the country all at once but there are things that all of us can do to help the rescues in our communities. Raise awareness and start conversations with our families and friends. Consider donating your time or money. Every little bit really does matter, especially to smaller charities.
I will leave some useful links below including the surveys that I quoted and information about how you can get involved.
Here are my top five films that I enjoy this spooky season. Not only are they child friendly, they’re engaging and fun for the adults too! No feeling like your brain is turning into to zombie goo, at the mercy of the children’s Tv!
So, in no particular order here they are:
1 - Hocus Pocus – I loved this film as kid and I still really enjoy it now,. You just try not to sing along with Bette Midler, “I put a spell on you!” And don’t forget the fantastic Binx; the immortal black cat who helps the heroes battle the three wicked witches. I don't think I'll ever forget seeing Binx re-inflate himself after being squashed by a truck!
2 - Coco the 2017 Pixar film is a feast for the eyes and inspired by the Mexican holiday the day of the dead. A really heart warming story with lots of music and a great message without being too in your face about it. The main character in this film is accompaned to the land of the dead by a stray dog Dante. He’s a Xolo dog which is the national dog of Mexico!
3 - Corpse Bride Tim Burtons 2005 corpse bride might not seem like an obvious family choice but with great music, a sinister villain and great visual effects by London’s Moving Picture Company, including the use of puppets it’s really enjoyable. This film also features a host of bizarre animal characters, including Scratch the skeleton dog, a sarcastic green maggot that lives inside the Corpse bride, who kind of acts like a conscience and black widow spider dress maker.
4 - Walace and Gromit the curse of the were rabbit. Utterly hilarious and loads of humour that adults will enjoy that flies straight over the heads of kids. A host of famous actors voicing this epic stop motion with more than just Gromit in that animal cast. This film is a fantastic child friendly re-imaging of the ware wolf horror story, that's entertaining even if you don't have kids!
5 - Scooby Doo. No list of family friendly Halloween films would be complete without Scooby Doo! The campy quirks are well translated into the live action outing and both films are an easy watch on a cold dark evening!
This week's blog is a little different a copy of the little press release for the new Pop-Up Shop, just to give you all a little idea on what I've been up to.
Felpham village post office is set to host a new pop up shop for local business selling pet supplies with little or no new packaging. On Thursday 8th August customers can buy a variety of pet products in reused, environmentally friendly packaging; or bring their own containers and get just the amount they want weighed out.
Consumers are increasingly aware of their environmental impact, in particular that of single use plastics. The pop-up shop by R and R Pet Services aims to provide customers with the option to purchase high quality products without all the unnecessary packaging.
R and R Pet Services wanted to be able to offer customers the flexibility to buy products with less packaging, without them having to buy in huge bulk amounts. The local business had already started to reuse plastic bottles and other packaging as a way to reduce the amount of single use plastic bags being passed on to customers. The Pop-Up shop offers customers the additional opportunity for customers to bring their own containers and buy just the amount that they want. Reducing waste and cost.
R and R Pet Services owner Rebecca said “The Post office is the perfect place to host pop-up shops for local business and creators. It’s in the heart of the village and I’m really looking forward to sharing zero waste ideas with other pet owners, as well as some homemade vegan dog treats!”
The Pop-up shop will sell loose bird seed, pet bedding and homemade dog treat as well as some home-grown forages for small pets. More information about the zero waste pet Pop-up shop can be found on the R and R Services Website: www.randrpetservices.co.uk and more details about the post office pop-up shop hire can be found on the Felpham post office facebook page.
You may remember that I contacted a few suppliers and manufactures with regards to the dog toys that they make and supply. I’ll put a link to those blog posts here:
I was relieved that I did get some responses because after a couple of days I was starting to think that I might not hear anything. But it is important to remember that these are big companies, with lots of customers and lots of emails to go through.
My first response was from Rosewood Pet Products, a company that you will see in many places, including my own, I love their range of products across most pets. It’s important for me to be clear that I’m not attacking these companies, the purpose of my open letter was to raise the question and I am pleased that they did give me a response:
Email from Rosewood
Thank you for your enquiry. For your pets’ safety, examine the toy from time to time for wear and tear and replace it when appropriate – is referring to replace the toys when necessary.
With regard to - no information about what the product is made from or how it should be disposed of – We don’t believe we legally have to declare what the product is made from or how it should be disposed of for pet toys, unless it contains batteries. However, we are looking in to doing this for future products and packaging.
Recycling symbols etc are put on some customer specific products, as per customer specific requests.
We would advise to check locally regarding recycling of the toy. Generally, a plush toy is polyester and squeaker and a vinyl toy is vinyl and squeaker.
It does seem to me that if more dog owners ask companies about what a product is made from and how it can be recycled, then they may take the intuitive to start providing that information in the first place with out all the effort having to be put in on the part of the us the consumer.
I would just also like to point out that by saying they don’t “believe” that they have to label the toy with what it is made off they are creating a back door, in case of any legal issues. Furthermore “Future products” could be next season, next year or in the next decade!
My other response was from Pet retail giant – Pets at home, which kind of says it all really:
Thank you for getting in touch with us,
In regards to the dog toys, if they are in reasonable condition and you think they can still be used by another pet, i would suggest donating it to a rescue center for pets.
If they are too damaged, I would suggest throwing them in the bin.
If you have any more questions, please let me know.
Again I was pleased to receive a response, this was through customer service, which I had to go through the websites live chat customer service in order to get an email address. I did expect to get a reply but perhaps I was expecting too much to think that Pets at Home would already have some sort of plan in the pipeline, at least to be addressing the issue.
You can be sure that this is not the end of the road and I will continue to ask questions and look for solutions. In the meantime you can help by raising the issue with other dog owners, retailers and manufactures, share this blog or even send your own open letter emails.
Think about the toys you buy, if you find a toy you like but it doesn’t say what its made of, snap a picture and share it on social media, how can we make an informed choice without the information
Tweet the company or share it on instagram. The more people who ask, the harder it will be for them to ignore. Remember, we are only asking for transparency so we can choose.
This year I came across a company called True Leaf Pet. They make Hemp based products for pets, out of British Columbia, Canada. I was quite intrigued by the different functional treats that were available for both cats and dogs, from calming to joint care.
Given the rise popularity of cannabis derived products for people I thought I would have a look at some of the potential benefits and the differences between cannabis and hemp.
Although often confused and conflated, Cannabis and Hemp are Not the same. They are part of the same plant family, relatively small, is it made up of 11 groups that overall contains around 170 different species of flowering plant (and I thought I had a big family!).
This family called, Cannabaceae, are upright or climbing plants, with one seed fruits and flowers that have no petals. This plant family also contains another commercially important plant – Hops!
Family aside, the important differences; the mind-altering substance found in cannabis, THC (the part that gets people high) is almost nonexistent in hemp, less than 0.02%.
Humans have been growing and cultivating hemp for centuries and yet few people seem to know very much about an amazing plant it is! It has a huge number of properties and applications including but not limited to: paper making, textiles, fireworks and nutrition.
Hemp production requires very little maintenance, watering or fertilizer, producing a very high yield with less input than conventional crops. So, hemp is far better for the environment.
What your dog benefits from is found in the seeds of the hemp plant. These are packed with omega 6 omega 3 fatty acids. Your dog can not produce these essential fatty acids themselves; they need to have them in their diet. These fatty acids form parts of hormones in the dog’s body that aid the process of smoothing out muscle contractions, additionally the control of swelling and even the regulation of body temperature.
By helping your dog to maintain a good supply of omega 3 and 6 hemp treats can contribute to better joint health and reduce the risk of skin problems. It’s great to know that there are treats available that can contribute to the health and well being of your pets and be environmentally positive. I haven’t started using these products yet, as my jack Russell, Ella has pancreatitis, but more on that at another time.
I have started, just one of the True Leaf Pet products at the moment, Calming support for dogs with hemp, green tea and calming herbs: lemon balm and chamomile.
They are grain free but also quite pricey, with an RRP of £4.49 for a 50g bag. It is important to remember however that this is not some “throw away treat” and it does serve a beneficial function to your pets health.
It is also worth noting that the calming treat contain chicken and turkey, so would NOT be suitable for any dogs who are sensitive to poultry. Additionally due to the high content of omega 3 and 6 content in the hemp seed that makes them so useful, the crude fat content is high and therefore may not be the right treat for some pets.
I’m looking into whether the product packet is recyclable, which would be a great win if they are!
Hello everyone, I'm back again this week on the subject of dog toys and there disposal. You may remember a few weeks ago I did a toy box de-clutter and was left with more than few old toys, that were no longer fit for purpose.
Following on from that I spent a mind numbing amount of time trying to figure out to do with the left overs; the destiny of toys after the box, left me feeling rather powerless as a consumer and frustrated that suppliers and manufactures were telling us that we should be replacing these products when they show signs of 'wear' but are deliberately leaving out a method of disposal.
Now some people I have spoken to about this have said that surely in would just go in the bin? And that is entirely my point.
Just because the toy goes out of sight into the bin to be collected at the road side and driven away doesn't mean that it has some how vanished!
It seems increasingly clear that from the manufactures and retailers point of view, once we the consumer have purchased the toy it is then our problem to deal with it's disposal.
That might sound obvious, we own the product, we bought it we should be responsible for it. The availability of a range of dog toys that are suitable and safe for our dogs may be huge but once you factor in disposal that would avoid landfill your accessible options seem to plummet.
Add to this that many of the dog toy labels that I see provide little to no information about what the toy is made from, and therefore how it can be disposed of; so it can be difficult to make an informed choice.
I wanted to get some feedback from some of the companies that supply some of these dog toys, so I sent a few emails to some different manufactures and suppliers. They went a bit like this:
Dear Pets at Home,
As a dog owner I love to buy my dogs toys to play with, whether it’s a vinyl squeaky ball, or a Benjamin bear (which is a favourite).
I see Pets at Home stores in so many places, with a huge variety of dog toys in all manner of shapes and sizes.
Everyone that I have seen carries some sort of notice or safety advice regarding supervising dogs at play and to replace a toy when worn or damaged.
Can you please clarify what Pets at home intends that I, the consumer should do with your products, once it has been deemed appropriate to replace the toy?
I have as yet been unable to find one of your products that states how it should be disposed of.
I would greatly appreciate some clarification on the matter.
As of yet I haven't heard back from any of the companies I contacted. Please feel free to copy this letter to email any companies or business that you feel could do with addressing Pet product waste. I will keep you all up to date with any replies I get on my facebook page.
So today I'm taking a little break from the dog toy series, whilst I wait to hear back from the manufactures and suppliers that I contacted.
Instead this week I've had a go at making my own bird feeders for the garden. It was a lot of fun and even though it didn't take very long you could easily make a great activity session out of it.
If your children are over 2 years you will be able to have fun getting them involved in this and then have the added bonus of seeing the birds use them.
For this particular feeder I used a jar of smooth peanut butter that needed to be used as it was approaching its end date, some toilet tubes (always so handy, they never make it to the recycling bin in our house!), some mixed wild bird seed and some string.
The method is pretty simple:
1 - Pour some seed on a plate
2 - Apply a generous and fairly even coating to the outside of the toilet roll
3 - Roll the peanut butter covered toilet roll in the seed and pat it on firmly getting a really solid coating.
4 - Thread the string through and hand it up outside for the birds.
One of the things I love most about this method is that after its all been used up, what's left over can be composted, so there's no waste.
Different birds like different kinds of seeds so try doing some with just sunflower hearts or nijer seed or even crushed peanuts.
I had hoped to get some pictures of the birds at my feeding station but alas they waited until I sat down before a mob of pigeons descended.
The key to feeding wild birds, even if you don't have a garden (I have a first floor patio) is to be consistent and to keep your feeders and drinkers clean.
I'll be posting some of my other wild bird feeding creations on my Twitter page you follow me @RandR_Pet
If you give this is try, or have any other ideas please drop them in the comments, I'd love to see them and I'll be back next Friday with another blog.
This Post is the second part of my blog from last week 'The Magic of tidying - Your Dogs Toy Box' where I went through my dogs toy box and did a full de-clutter and clean.
After going through all the toys I was left with an almost equal amount of toys that are no longer fit for purpose.
And there in lies my problem. most pet owners would probably throw a single toy that had reached it end of its usefulness in the bin, which will end up in a landfill. Truthfully ignorance would be bliss. But I know that these toys, which are a mix rope, plush and rubber will not simply biodegrade. They may brake down into smaller and smaller pieces but they will remain in the landfill for years. Knowing that made me feel really uneasy about chucking them in the bin, so into the shed the box went and so began my journey to find a way to avoid the landfill.
So far this journey has be long, tedious, often times confusing and contradictory and really frustrating! Surely it should not be so difficult to find out a way to dispose of dog toys (or any product for that matter) in a way that would mean they don't end up in a landfill?
My research began with internet searches and phone calls to suppliers and one of the UK's biggest pet retailers. During which Pets at Home kept me on hold for 15 minuets of my life before I was able to speak to someone who then called my local store; which I could have done myself if it wasn't for the fact that I wanted to know about the company as whole and not just one store..... and breathe.
Being such a large supplier of the products that I'm looking into; I thought that as a company Pets at Home might be part of, or be aware of a scheme that enabled dog owners to hand in old, damaged toys for recycling but no, not even a clue as to what I was asking.
Now let me just make clear that in this case I am talking about toys that are no longer fit purpose and are therefor not suitable or safe to be donated to charities. Pets at Home stores do have collection bins for donations of toys, food, bedding ect.
I did check out a company that I have read about before called TerraCycle. They seem to recycle or re-purpose just about anything and sure enough they have a collection scheme for pet products including toy, bowls, grooming items and even collars and leads, but there is a catch, a rather large £130.40 catch.
You see at the moment the scheme doesn't have a Sponsor company to support the cost of drop off points and collections (this is the information I was given when I called and asked them about it) so the only method currently available is to purchase one of their zero waste boxes for Pet products. Which starts at the lofty price of £130.40 for a box that measures just 20cmx25cmx46cm.
Imagine if every time you purchased a toy for your dog you also thought about the cost of eventual disposal. Maybe we should all be thinking with that mindset before we buy our pet products.
TerraCycle estimates that their small box can hold 55 units of waste, that equates to £2.37 per item to dispose it. At the moment most of us don't have the sort of money laying around plus a box that size wouldn't even hold all the items from this one de-clutter.
At the moment all this falls to you and me the consumer. It has become very clear to me that manufacturers and suppliers are taking little to no responsibility for the end stage of the products they are producing and selling.
Some of you might say, why don't you buy biodegradable toys if it's that important to you? And my answer will be "well I will NOW, but that doesn't deal with the issue that I have NOW"
My point being that it shouldn't be so difficult to avoid landfill. There are companies that make and produce biodegradable pet products and as a small retailer myself I feel I must also start to be accountable for the products I sell.
We all have the power to choose where we spend our money but it's equally true that you buy whats available, I strongly feel that suppliers need to be more transparent about and responsible for the toys they produce and sell. At the moment it seems to be the case that once you have bought it, it's your problem.
So as you may have guessed the box of old toys is still in my shed. The journey is not yet complete. Over the next few weeks, I'll be contacting retailers and suppliers to see what they have to say.
If you have any companies you think I should speak or any thought and ideas about what to do with old dog toys please comment below, or send me tweet @RandR_Pet
Like loads of people all over the world, I too have discovered the joy of tidying up with the KonMari method. Now, I haven't gone through the whole process for myself but this week I decided to apply some Marie Kondo's techniques to tackle my dogs toy box.
Like many dogs my two love toys, they like chasing them, chewing them, pulling, tugging and skinning them. My jack Russel, Ella has an obsession with balls and will make you play fetch over and over and over. Mim, my Yorkie is a dreaded stuffing eater!
They do have their favorites and will continue to play with the left over skins but it does get to the point when the box no longer contains anything that resembles what they were to begin with.
It's also a chance to give all the toys a good clean. If you can't safely clean a toy then you may want to dispose of it after it's been played with. Of course if you've read my blog before you will know that I'm not a big fan of waste and as I found during this process, trying to dispose of dog toys without them going to landfill is a challenge that most owners wouldn't tackle.
The first thing I did was to let the dogs outside so that I could put the toy box in the living room with out getting them all excited. If I had allowed the dogs to decided what toys "Sparks Joy" we would have to keep everything!
So this our dogs toy box, as you can see there are a load of them! We a have a varied selection, I also have a an empty box which I will be using to separate the toys when I'm done.
You can scroll through the photos to get an idea of my method.
After going through all the toys I took the keep pile in the box and washed all the toys and the box.
I just used hot soapy water and a scrubber (not the same one I use for the dishes!) to wash all the toys. Now I didn't have many plush toys but if you do you could put them through the washing machine (if you do this I would recommend that you put them in a wash bag).
After washing, I left them on the side to air dry. I was actually really grossed out by how clean they looked! It just goes to show how dirty they really were!
Once all the toys were dry it was just a case of putting them away.
I decided not to let the dogs have access to all the toys all of the time, using another box inside the toy box to separate them.
Now I just had to take out the box of old toys, but as I should have said at the beginning, you should probably do a quick whip round before you start shorting or may have a similar experience to me as I detail in the slide show below!
So this is definitely something that I'm going to start doing more often, it didn't really take all that long but next week I'll follow up with the fate of the discarded toys!
Please comment below if you have given this a go, I'd love them to see them!
This is something that I have wanted to talk about for some time. It comes up regularly on social media, it's often unclear about what is covered and where; and after getting through to page 6 of 16 on the guidance for legislation regarding sections 55-67 of the clean neighbourhoods and environment Act 2005 (and breathe); I’ve realised it may take more than just one blog!
So, what I’m going to talk about what offecences exactly are included in a ‘control of dogs order’. I will put links the sites I have referenced and used for the information here below if you too would like to read the guidance in its entirety (you may need some aspirin if you do!).
Now I am not a legal expert but I hope that this will give you better understanding of what the legislation actually is and how it may affect you and your dogs, or people you know. I will try to keep the legal thesaurus to a minimum but I have found the word use in the guidance very deliberate, seemingly to be broad and wide reaching and to make me feel like I know nothing of the English language!
The clean neighbourhoods and environment Act 2005 covers several different areas including: waste, litter, noise, abandoned vehicles and even abandoned trolleys to name a few. But it’s the dog parts we’re talking about and that comes in at section 55.
This describes the offences and penalties as well as the procedures and forms for making dog control orders. It’s important to mention that Dog Control Orders replace the previous system of byelaws for the control of dogs and the Dogs fouling of land Act 1996 (which has been repealed).
For today I am just going to talk about what offences are described by this legislation; I’ll do more posts covering the other sections, once my brain has had time to recover from all the legalese.
The regulation describes five offences which may be ‘prescribed’ in a dog control order. These offences are:
It might not seem like I’ve covered a lot today, but I still have 10 more page to read through of the guidance and it seemed best to brake it down into more manageable pieces.
If you have any questions about today's blog, please message me via the contact page and I’d be happy to try and help.
Useful links used for today’s article: