The Sunday Mail; Paul Weston; Jan 2,2011
THE arrival of new babies in family homes is causing a spike in the number of dogs being dumped at shelters, according to new research.
Animal Welfare League of Queensland statistics on dogs track a consistent trend since 2006, with 219 “new baby surrenders” compared with 75 “unwanted or unsuitable gifts”.
When league educators first noticed the trend in 2008, they launched a Pregnant Paws program, which included addressing antenatal classes and printing a guide for families.
But despite efforts to educate families to keep pets when babies arrive, 50 animals have been dropped off for that reason this year at the major Coombabah shelter on the Gold Coast. Only three dogs have been dumped because they were unwanted.
AWLQ public relations manager Gabrielle Wheaton has welcomed a Facebook campaign by dog lover Trish Anderson trying to reverse the trend.
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“There’s a range of reasons for the trend,” Ms Wheaton said. “Some can’t handle looking after a dog and a cat and a new baby. And there are still some old myths – that a cat will steal a sleeping baby’s breath or a cat will smother the baby. If they’ve had a dog for a long time and it’s their first child, sometimes owners are concerned about jealousy.” Ms Anderson, who regularly babysits her granddaughter Madisyn Imber, has written on Facebook about the positive impact of her kelpie Cody.
“He has such a beautiful nature,” she said. “With Madisyn crawling up and touching his feet – which he doesn’t like – he just curls them up under him.
“With a little bit of effort, a pet can end up being your child’s best guardian. They become part of the tribe.”