Multimedia package: Animal Homelessness.

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Animal Homelessness in the UK
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Animal homelessness is a huge issue in the UK.  Based on survey findings, Dogs Trust estimated that in 2013, there were over 111,000 stray dogs in the UK. While this is shocking, Celia Hammond Animal Trust has estimated that there are at least 2 million stray cats on UK streets. To make matters worse, animal shelters in the UK put thousands of animals to sleep every year, because there are too many animals needing homes, and not enough people willing to adopt them. Pledges to try and stop this cycle include an online PETA petition, which aims to support and raise awareness of birth control for animals, so that so many lives needn’t be lost.
People who are passionately helping towards this cause include Andrea Parkin of Animal Krackers, an animal rescue charity in Sunderland.
Speaking about her passion, Andrea said: “I’ve always had animals in my life, and I’ve always done a lot of fundraising and charity work. So, when the opportunity came along to establish somewhere in Sunderland where animals could be looked after, we jumped into the deep end.”
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The charity, which was established in 2002, has re-homed hundreds of animals, and aims to advance the education of the public in terms of animal welfare in general.
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However, the issue of limited spaces, funds, and fosterers is always looming in the horizon.  Many animal lovers believe that “adopt, don’t buy” is the way forward, and that every time someone purchases an animal in a shop, or from a breeder, a rescue animal effectively loses its second chance at life.
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Lynne Ebdale, of Sunderland animal rescue charity Pawz For Thought, agrees with PETA’s ‘buying animals is killing animals’ campaign. She said: “This kind of breeding has got to stop. Facebook, Gumtree. I think in the industry it’s called Scumtree, because it is full of animals and it is horrific.” Lynne often receives calls from people who have bought dogs or other animals from Gumtree, Facebook, or other such places, found out they were aggressive or unsociable, and called her asking if she can help. She has had to turn these animals away because they would not be able to be rehomed.
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Andrea agreed with Lynne. She said: “I just think it’s not the right way to go about it. It’s not a commodity; it is not like buying a bike or a new television. It is a living creature, and I don’t like the idea of animals being sold on Gumtree.”
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Because there are many irresponsible people out there, from owners to breeders, it can mean that lots of animals get abandoned. From unwanted kittens at Christmas, to a couple splitting up and sending their pet dog to a shelter. Sometimes, people drive up to shelters and dump the animals there; selfishly assuming the shelter will be able to take the animal on regardless of all circumstances. Lynne said: “This is why we don’t advertise the main place we look after the animals. It’s too much when people dump their animals here. We only advertise the charity shop, but people still leave animals there, too.”
Over the recent festive period, people have dumped kittens, and a baby rabbit at Pawz For Thought.
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Again, some people dump the animals in the streets, where feral colonies of animals, particularly cats, exist. These stray animals are often feral, so even if they are rescued, it is very unlikely they will ever be able to have the normal, loving home they need, especially if they happen to be a medium – large dog.
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 However, an example of a previously feral dog that anyone but Andrea and her companions at Animal Krackers would have instantly labeled a lost cause is Zena. She stayed at Ferryfarm Kennels with the other Animal Krackers rescue dogs, and has progressed rapidly: from hostile and nervous, to loving and curious. She is currently being fostered, and hopefully has found her forever home.
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Yet not all animals are given a chance to have a better life. Many of the animals sold in pet shops come from puppy and kitten mills, and are often extremely ill because of the conditions of the dark, dirty place they have been kept in. They may not have seen sunlight in years, and probably suffer in awful ways after being trapped inside a small cage. This is certainly not to say that all breeders are horribly irresponsible, but the reality is that around 100,000 dogs, and thousands more cats end up in shelters every year; and out of those, only a few are ever adopted. There is an animal overpopulation crisis, and awareness about this needs to be spread.
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Animal rescue charity video:
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Animal rescue charity slideshow:
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