Rehoming dogs from abroad • Why I do it

I became involved in the world of dog rescue less than two years ago when I came face to face with my first pound in Cyprus. There were around 70 dogs, some of which were puppies, some of which were elderly. Some of them were living in upturned recycling bins, a short chain securing them to their only source of shade. Other, smaller dogs, were living in huge packs inside little fenced off areas within the compound, their fur matted and dirty from sleeping on a concrete floor coated in faeces. Considering that my only impression of a dog pound was the one I’d seen in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp it was fair to say that this differed quite dramatically from what I had expected.

Since I promised the volunteers at the pound that I would help them, my role within the rescue world has gone from strength to strength. I started by establishing my Instagram account, @cyprusdogs, and later went on to be employed as Rehoming Manager for Wild at Heart Foundation. I’m proud of what I have achieved, but the question I am asked more than any other is why do I help dogs from abroad when we have dogs in the UK that need help too? Good point, why do I?

Well, firstly, the number of stray dogs left in council pounds in the UK is considerably less than that of other countries I help to rehome dogs from. In Cyprus for example, there are an estimated 170,000 stray dogs, with the vast majority of these being removed from the streets and living in pounds. In Romania, around 64,000 feral dogs actually roam the streets and have nowhere to go, whilst in the UK it is estimated that 47,000 dogs are dumped in council pounds per year. These stats are not my own, and I can’t vouch for how accurate they may or may not be, but in my own experience I have never seen a stray dog in the UK before, and I respect rescue centres for being able to offer these dogs safety and security so that they’re not on the streets. So because I can’t see them, is that what encourages me to help dogs from abroad?

JAY

Actually, no, not really. I live in the UK, so of course I want to help dogs more local to me. However I made contact (multiple times) with a number of rescue organisations back in April 2016, and I was ignored by all but one of them. I was offering them help yet just one organisation took me up on my offer. I understand they must be busy, but we have all seen the TV adverts and read the stories, surely they would welcome the involvement of willing volunteers? So, if the help is being offered for what reason is it denied? At the end of the day all I want to do is help dogs, to me it doesn’t matter where they are from so if international rescues welcome the aid, then that is where I will focus my efforts.

Another reason I am helping to rehome dogs from abroad is due to the amount of disappointed people that have found they haven’t been able to adopt a dog in the UK due to an incredibly unrealistic bar that has been set. I’ve learnt that UK shelters and organisations have turned people away due to disabilities (despite owning a dog in the past), young children, a small garden, living in a flat, living in central London, working hours, or their age, yet these people could offer some of the most compassionate homes and are more than willing to go out of their way to meet the requirements of a dog. People have felt humiliated and patronised as they have been turned away time and time again simply because they don’t fit the idealistic standard that some UK rescues desire. I completely understand that the best interests of the dog are of paramount importance, but you devise a system to monitor progress, ensure the suitability of the dog for that particular environment, and always have a back up plan in place. It works, trust me. By doing this the UK would be able to lower the number of healthy dogs that are euthanised per year and most likely generate a lot more support for their organisation rather than forcing people to look elsewhere.

‘It’s not our responsibility’ is also something that I hear a lot when I tell people I work in international rescue and it infuriates me. Wake up. Have a little compassion and see that whichever country you’re helping, you’re ensuring that a life is saved. There are 600 million strays across the globe and this is a problem essentially caused by humans. The illegal breeding industry is working on overdrive and shipping out dogs to pet stores all over the place in order to earn money. Governments sit and complain that there are too many strays but then do very little to eradicate this problem compassionately. I know full well that rehoming dogs is not solving the root of the problem, whereas neutering programmes would, but we need long term support and education in order to make sure they are effective. The longer that countries are without neutering programmes the more the dogs reproduce, resulting in the number of strays continuing to rise. In short, the more stray dogs there are in a country, the more likely they are to suffer as they overpopulate. You only have to take one dog away from uncertainty to have made a difference, even if it is solely to the dog you saved.

Since visiting countries where the stray dog population is high, I have become aware that their chances of suffering neglect are generally higher too. There can often be a different attitude towards dogs in Cyprus, Romania, Greece, Bosnia, Bulgaria (for example), and they are seen as vermin, or it is taught that they have no souls. By no means is this the outright view of the country and the population as a whole, but it is a more common perspective than in the UK. Whilst I admit that the UK is by no means free from animal cruelty, the higher the canine population the more cases of neglect, and when I say neglect I’m talking about horrific acts of senseless cruelty that are replicated over and over. It should also be noted that the UK has been working with stray animals for over 100 years and have a much more established and functioning charity sector for dogs in need, with masses of support within the country. Surely it would be better for these organisations to have a more flexible set of requirements for potential adopters in order to further influence the statistics of the number of dogs euthanised per year

If UK rescues ever reply to my emails I will willingly help them, but I definitely felt disheartened after being ignored, likely the same way in which those who could offer loving homes felt after being denied a dog. In my opinion, regardless of the country of origin every life is valuable. These dogs need homes and it is not their fault that they are without. So to answer the question, I help dogs from abroad because a life is a life.

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24 thoughts on “Rehoming dogs from abroad • Why I do it

    1. Well done Eva …my little old friend lost her soulmate Honey and was turned down by so many Rescues in UK she eventually rescued a Chug from a girl who obviously had used her to have two litters. The little pooch is only 3years old but the pair are inseparable. I have a Cyprus Pooch and have just been accepted to adopt one again from Cyprus. I have just lost a 17 year old Lhasa Apso to Rainbow Bridge again an adopted pooch. I won’t adopt from the UK after going to Cyprus and going to a Rescue Centre. Again well done Eva….if l was younger l would do anything to help the Rescues of Cyprus xx

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      1. Susan, by adopting another Cyp rescue you are helping a great deal…..we have so many poor wee souls out here. I live in Cyprus now and know it from this end. Only last Friday evening I was walking my 3 rescues, Kizmet, Charlie and Amelia, I decided to let the dogs have a longer walk than usual and went down a remote country lane, a distance from my village, that I never go down – it has a very steep slope to climb back up again and I am not as young or fit as I once was! I heard strange noises and went to investigate and found one very small pup and could hear another down a slope on a lower path. These poor wee babies were just dumped to die slowly, possibly in a carrier bag as there was one nearby. The are only 6-8 weeks and the wee boy would not have survived much longer. I have had to foster them in my shed and back patio and they are now doing very well after only 4 days of love and food. My latest dog, Amelia, has leish and was found in a terrible state – she was a foster, but I have failed in that and she is now with us forever. I so hope my wee fosters are just as lucky 😦

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  1. I admire you and totally agree and support every thing you have written. I adopted a dog from Cyprus and all I get from people is WHY? From abroad and trying to explain to them points that you have said just doesn’t make any sense to them and they look at me grin and make me feel like I’m some kind of nutter. What you are doing is absolutely marvellous. xx

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  2. So eloquent said Eve, bravo. All I can say is thank goodness you do (rehome dogs from abroad). As without your endless dedication to saving the lives of those without, Olive, our Cypriot pound hound, would not have found us, filling our world with love, laughter, loyalty, companionship & mischief !
    Thank you Eve, we will be eternally grateful.

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  3. I’m with you. It is the same Problem in Germany. I lost my loved dog 2 years ago. So I was looking for a dog from the animal shelter near me. But no one had time, all dogs are on a walk, everyone was busy. I have great respect for the work of the helper in this animal shelters, but that can not be. So I searched through the Worldwideweb and I found a dog rescue association near me. Now I own two wonderful dogs from Cyprus and I became a club member. In addition, I have a dog at home from Cyprus which is mediated through our association. Every month I make flight to cyprus and escort a couple of furry friends home to their new owners. Ok, the flight and the hotel will be payed by the Club, but it is my free time. I will do this as long as I can and your words are with me…

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  4. What a wonderful thing you are doing I totally agree dogs abroad are in much more need than dogs in the UK, this is not an overnight solution but perhaps in time we will see a difference with wonderful people like you

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  5. I also support rehoming dogs, but from North Cyprus which is not even recognised as a country by the rest of Europe which makes everything more difficult. I will say though that every dog that escapes N or S Cyprus deserves the chance of a new life. The treatment of dogs is in the main atrocious, hanging a starved dog because it killed a chicken is not uncommon……..there is a lot more believe me

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  6. Cannot agree more about the UK rescues ignoring help offers and dismissing potential adopters based on their unrealistic requirements. To adopt a dog one must be rich, young and healthy and not working. I sometimes thing these rescues love their charity rather then actual dogs! I know there are many descent ones here (I have three dogs, two of which are from UKs punds!) but still the general systems of choosing the adopter is wrong. And what is ironic, it still does not prevent big mistakes, dogs being returned or even put to sleep!
    Thank you, Eve, for doing all your work for the dogs in need, independent of the country!

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    1. I agree with you Eve and all the others. I came to you twice for my two from cyprus. First dog chance photo on facebook that no one noticed this little scrap and he had been there a long time. Then because he was so easy to adopt from your efforts. I did it again with a larger dog chance photo on instagram triggered in me the need to get a friend for the first one. Ive had the best 18 mths with a dog after being turned away from uk because i had 2 children!. 6 and 8 years at the time too. X

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  7. We complain about our country and its animal cruelty but trust me in these countries it’s far worse , they don’t have the rules and regulations that we have either so perpetrators go unpunished , I completely understand why you would do it . Even in Ireland the animal welfare system is virtually non exsistant puppy farming is rife , and dogs that are owned live chained up outside all weathers or left to roam, because they are considered too dirty to live indoors . Countries attitudes to animal welfare differ greatly all over the world and if it helps just a little towards a dire situation I am all for it ❤️

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  8. Eve, you have put in a nutshell what I have been trying to argue for a while. My beautiful boy is a rescue from Serbia, he’s the most loving, gentle, loyal dog, and it breaks my heart to think of the life he had before he came here. The animal charity who rescued him I can’t thank them enough and I know only to well the harshness and cruelty these dogs experience abroad and not every dog can be rescued, so I thank them for giving him his second chance 🙂 continue your good work Eve…

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  9. Great article! I totally agree that UK rescues set the bar too high, I have spoken to numerous people who have been refused a rescue dog and then bought a puppy! We were refused due to working hours but luckily for us it meant we adopted a beautiful Bulgarian dog from a very helpful and friendly rescue!

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  10. All animals deserve to be helped and we need more people like you in the world. I have previously had two UK Rescue dogs but now an unable to due to the rules put in place by rescues and we could provide a loving home.

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  11. What a brilliant piece of writing. Every word you write is true, I follow the charity soidog in Thailand and a dream of mine is to be able to go and volunteer for them. When I tell people that this is what I want to do they look at me as if I am crazy, why would I want to go across the world and help dogs?! Why not elephants?. I have also found that rescue centres in the UK seem too busy for me, I have emailed every sanctuary near me and I have had no reply. Lovely to know that there are like minded people out there who just want to help the dogs 🙂

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  12. I agree with everything you said especially about the neutering and spaying . Contact me and let me know how I can help . Thank you

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  13. Excellent article , this is so true . I know they probably have some but not enough maybe of a team of vets or vet assistants who are properly trained in spaying and neutering dogs and cats with anesthesia of course . Let me know if I can help . 👼

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  14. Teresa Keegan – teresaespana@hotmail.com
    I too think you are very eloquant & doin g a wonderful job and I absolutely can emphacise where you are coming from I have been ignored ,turned down for a rescue dog due to age & not have acres of land &
    deep pockets. it is so patronizing & those that lose out are the dogs ! for the same reasons I just mentioned my Daughter ( in her 50,s & living in a flat in Malvern ) had been turned down by many,
    so she adopted a dog from Hungary & few months later adopted another. She has been impressed with
    the care the Rescue took to make sure she & Her partner were matched with the dog . they were refused
    Bluntly by every single rescue approached in UK . I live in UK now but in Spain I had seven dogs & six cats ,
    rehomed many, & came to UK with 3 dogs & 3 cats they are happy, loved & cared for .
    Until there is a TOTAL BAN on breeding in the UK they will not solve the problem

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  15. Well done Eve, I really admire you, it always breaks my heart if I go to a foreign country and see all the poor neglected strays, wish I was younger and could help you.

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  16. Thank you for doing this. We rescue in South America (Brazil). We send dogs all over the world and frequently our adopters are asked this question. There is no infrastructure here for stray dogs. There are many cases of severe neglect and cruelty, The dogs here are mainly seen as vermin too. Dogs don’t have nationalities and human compassion should come without boundaries and limits. A life is a life wherever it is. Each life counts.

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  17. Well said, Eve. I adopted my first Cypriot dog, Kizmet, whilst still in the UK. I saw his photo on one of the pound’s FaceBook page and fell in love. He came to me more than 3 years ago. I, too, was asked (even by my own family) why get one from there when there are lots here in UK? You have answered it far more eloquently than I. Since then we have retired to Cyprus, bringing Kiz and our 2 cats, and adopted another rescued dog, Charlie, plus a cat, Ollie, The Stray Who Came to Stay Last May. We have been here almost 20 months now and I have fostered 3 dogs, 3 puppies, 2 cats and 2 kittens. I cried when each went to ‘happy everafter’ homes, but soon these tears became happy ones at seeing their pics in their new homes. I am now nursing a poor wee Cyprus poodle who was on her last legs, and has leishmania, but she is responding so well to love, food and medication. Things are worse out here, as you know, and I try to help with as many sponsorings, emergency help, pound dog walking etc. Sadly I have had to stop helping Romanian dog charities, but carry the word they spread so well – spay and neuter, is the way forward. One of the sanctuaries I visit several times a year gives me hope for the future; they have monthly dog walking days and the number of young Cypriot families that attend makes me feel positive about the future. Many can do more than me, some can do less – but just spreading the word, encouraging people to foster, is the way forward 🙂

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