Dogs have been the talk of the office over the past few months ever since Holly picked up her little pup Louie. Our furry four-legged pals bring people so much joy and happiness, and it’s no surprise that they’re often regarded as ‘Man’s Best Friend’.
That’s why it’s so difficult to understand the vile treatment that some dogs are subjected to. Although times have changed, cruelty, neglect and abandonment still happen to dogs everywhere including here in Perthshire which is a troubling thought. The one saving grace that these poor animals do have though is a charity which has their welfare at the top of their agenda, and that rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes these poor dogs.
Perthshire Abandoned Dogs Society (PADS) was established back in 1985 by Sylvia Hales and since then, the charity has helped to rehome close to 8,000 dogs in the region that have been abandoned, neglected or can no longer be looked after by their owners. The charity came to be when Sylvia and other dog-lovers in the area were shocked by the conditions in the local pound, after Sylvia’s dog ended up there having gone missing. The charity has helped to rehome close to 8,000 dogs in the region that have been abandoned, neglected or can no longer be looked after by their owners.
The charity was initially called Perth Dog Aid before becoming PADS, and they moved to their current premises on the outskirts of Perth near Forteviot back in 1990. Since then, it’s become one of Perthshire’s most adored and supported charities, and they’ve been appointed by Perth and Kinross Council to take over the care of strays for the statutory period of seven days, meaning that the pound was closed for good!
After the seven day period, the dogs become PADS residents and the fantastic team start to help rehabilitate the animals and look for a loving home for them. When I went out and spent an afternoon with the PADS team, their care and devotion to helping each and every dog that comes to them is evident from the second you arrive.
I was met by assistant manager, Joanna High, and she told me all about the different circumstances that lead to dogs arriving at the kennels while she grabbed a bag to pick up a little 'gift' that one of the four-legged residents had left near the path.
“When the centre first opened, we received a lot more strays than we do now. Education around dogs was poor back then but I think that has definitely improved. People are a lot more caring about their dogs now and understand that it’s a big commitment to have one.
“It’s probably about an 80/20 percent split now. 80% of our dogs will come from owners who, for whatever reason, can no longer cope or look after them. The other 20% are abandoned or neglected strays that are reported by the public and picked up by the council’s dog wardens or animal welfare officers.”
Just as we were chatting, one of the team came outside with Tizzy – a German Shepherd crossed with a Border Collie – who was about to be taken out for a walk. “Tizzy is quite an anxious wee thing,” Joanna told me, “she was alone a lot in her previous owner’s house and she’s very timid. So we take her out for a walk quite a lot to get her used to things like traffic, other dogs and such.”
PADS has had 76 dogs come to the centre this year that have been picked up by the wardens and welfare officers, although Joanna did tell me that the majority of them are claimed by their owners after being separated on walks, or having escaped from the garden. The other dogs that arrive here are often brought by their owners who can no longer look after them due to things like ill health, starting a new family, or other commitments. It’s something that Joanna is glad happens, and PADS are grateful to the owners who do bring their dogs to be rehomed after deciding they can no longer look after the animal themselves.
“We would never judge anyone who comes to us and asks us to take their dog. A lot of our dogs are brought to us directly by their owners because they can no longer look after them or give them the attention the dogs need. The fact that they decide to bring the dog here is awesome because it means that they’re looking out for the dog’s welfare which is the most important thing.
“A lot of the dogs that come here tend to be quite young, and are maybe just too much work for people with young families or who have hectic work schedules. If they’re younger, they’re generally more appealing for adoption which makes it easier for us to find them a new family.
“One of the dogs we have just now though is a ten-year-old Staffie and unfortunately his owner died. As he’s a Staffie, people have preconceived ideas about the breed and because he’s ten, the chances are we’ll probably struggle to rehome him.”
The rehoming process is handled by the PADS team and Joanna says that the breed of the dog matters when it comes to finding new owners. Although sometimes potential owners will come to the centre and see a dog they’d like, it’s up to the discretion of PADS to decide whether it’s the right fit for both parties.
“Labs and Collies are always popular so when breeds like that come in to the centre, it’s quite easy to find them a new home. It’s dogs like Staffies that can be a bit more difficult to find owners for because of the preconceived ideas people have about them which I think is unfair.
“We have dogs here that have never had the right love and attention from previous owners which can make them very anxious. Dogs like that really need experienced dog owners who can put in the time required to make them more confident, so we wouldn’t let the dog go to first time owners. People can look on the website at the pictures and think, ‘oh she’s gorgeous I want her’ but the reality is some dogs because of their past are really difficult and there are some that will need very experienced owners who can put in the time not someone who’s looking for a ready and trained pet.
“I wouldn’t be doing my job right if we just gave the dogs away to anyone. If we did that, lots of the dogs would just end up back here, even more confused and damaged. So, we need to be quite strict and we’ll only let a dog go to be rehomed if we think it’s the right fit for everyone.”
Many people only go to PADS when it comes to getting a new dog, which shows you just how well established the charity has become over the years. One of the best things about the job for Joanna is receiving updates from happy owners and dogs, and she also loves it when the dogs come back to PADS for holidays – with the centre having a boarding wing when the owners head off on holiday.
“It’s amazing hearing from the owners and getting an update on how the ex-PADS dogs are doing. Our goal is to find every one of the dogs a new loving family so when we see pictures, letters and even postcards of the dogs on their holidays it’s really lovely.
“We’ve also got a boarding wing and a license to have 12 ‘holiday dogs’ – who are ex-PADS residents whose new owners are away for a holiday so they come to us to stay. It’s great for everyone because we can catch up with the owners and see how well the dogs are doing, and the dogs love it here. It’s familiar surroundings for them to stay and they know the staff and the routine!” It’s amazing hearing from the owners and getting an update on how the ex-PADS dogs are doing. When we see pictures, letters and even postcards of the dogs on their holidays it’s really lovely.
The cost of running the kennels has risen and it’s now costing PADS between £80,000 and £90,000 per year. They rely on the kindness, donations and fundraising of the local community to keep going, and they are also currently trying to raise money to make some changes to the area where the dogs go for their breakfast every morning.
“We have an area out the back which was put up 27 years ago when the centre was first built and the dogs go out there in the mornings. It’s a bit old and tired, and we want the bars to be vertical only rather than horizontal because it’s safer for the dogs.
“We’re fundraising to have it all replaced but the costs are very high – quotes so far have been upwards of £25,000 so there’s lots of fundraising to be done!
“The public are great though and raise money wherever they can. We also get a lot of food donations too, so we’re never short of some grub for our residents!”
The PADS team usually put the dogs available for rehoming on their website but it’s always better to go out and meet the dogs yourself and to discuss the different characteristics and requirements with the staff. Opening times are short for the benefit of the dogs, but they are open seven days a week.
For more information on how you can donate or fundraise for PADS, or if you’d be keen to give a home to one of their dogs, call the team on 01764 684491 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The kennels are open to the public from 13:00 – 15:00 on weekdays, and 13:00 – 15:30 on weekends.
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