Help us change the law for neglected animals like Eric
Shelley Phillips, our campaigns manager, tells Eric's story - a German Shepherd who has been waiting over a year for his forever home and second chance at happiness.
Just like our supporters, most of us who work at the RSPCA spend a great deal of time scouring the Find A Pet pages. It's one of our favourite lunchtime activities, in fact. We love seeing the puppy-dog eyes and the furry faces of animals being cared for by our staff and finding out their stories. Sometimes we'll do the mental gymnastics of trying to figure out whether we can take (another) animal home ourselves.
Many of these animals have been with us for months, even years, through no fault of their own. Sometimes it's the law that prevents them from finding happiness as quickly as we'd like.
Earlier this year, our campaigns team launched a brand new campaign for the animals in our care, Second Chances. It focuses on getting a better chance at a new start for animals involved in legal proceedings.
How the law is failing rescue animals
Thousands of animals come into our care every year, we took in 61,700 animals in 2019 alone. Many of these animals are rescued or signed over, and some come to us because they're involved in our investigation work, which aims to safeguard their welfare and get them the justice they deserve.
Sadly, when an animal we rescue is subject to court proceedings, we usually cannot rehome them until the case itself is completed, which can result in months or even years of uncertainty for them.
When we campaign on certain issues, we hear all kinds of stories. Some of them have happy endings, and some of them don't. For our work on Second Chances, we've seen far too many animals who have waited too long for the second chance at a new life.
Meet Eric, the neglected pup kept waiting for his forever home
One of those animals who have waited far too long, is Eric. In 2019, Eric, his seven siblings and mum Ursula were found in filthy, hazardous and distressing conditions. Eric was kept outdoors, on a urine covered floor and along with Ursula and her other pups, they didn't even have bedding. The most basic of needs and safety were not a familiar concept to Eric. That environment was the only one he knew.
Eric's been with us ever since, simply waiting for justice and the chance at a new life. It took until January 2021 for the court proceedings to complete, which meant we couldn't rehome him until now. Eric missed out on all of the "firsts" a puppy should experience with a family, and sadly was denied the chance to receive the essential early experiences to let him develop the way that most dogs do.
After far too long, we're happy that Eric can finally be rehomed.
At long last, Eric can have his second chance. He'll need a committed owner with breed experience, and he needs someone who is home a lot to take the time to slowly introduce him to and get him used to a family environment. He'll also need someone who can help build on his confidence when meeting new dogs and people as well as new experiences.
Due to his sad start in life, it takes Eric time to form a new relationship, but our team promises that "once he does, he's your best friend." He's stolen the hearts of many of our team members at Birmingham Animal Centre.
A pup at heart, Eric has buckets of energy and really enjoys learning. Staff say he loves nothing more than being tucked into bed with his favourite chew and a cuddle, and he especially loves hanging out on a comfy sofa. Eric also has a love for boxes, and can often be found rummaging through them to see what's inside!
A simple change in the law could have really changed his life
Rosie Stokes-Chaplin, an animal care assistant at our Birmingham Animal Centre says that the staff have watched Eric grow in front of their eyes and believe that he desperately needs his new home. Rosie says:
We've all had such a soft spot for Eric. We've been training him in preparation for this day, to help him adjust to the life that has been put on hold for him. He is an absolute goofball with a huge heart, and a simple change in the law could have really changed his life.
If you or someone you know could be Eric's perfect match, apply to adopt him today!
A long term kennel environment is never a replacement for a family setting
Our centres work tirelessly to make sure that all animals in our care get the love and care that they need, but a long term kennel environment is never a replacement for a family setting.
With every day, week or month that passes, an animal's mental and physical wellbeing might be at risk and can result in the requirement of a high level of expert behavioural support. This is particularly true for puppies who are at a critical stage in their development and who we're seeing increasing numbers of in our investigation work.
Although every measure is taken to care for all animals in ways that prioritise their health and wellbeing, we know that psychological welfare can be at risk when animals are spending extended periods of time in kennels and temporary accommodation and keep from the forever home that they truly deserve.
Every day is a waiting game
Every morning, animals in our care wake up to the faces of our friendly kennel staff, and every day is another day spent waiting for a second chance.
Eric has never had a birthday party in a happy home, and due to his start in life, his new family will probably have to make one up for him. He's never had a Christmas morning with a caring family, or a walk around a park. He's never even had a collar with his name on it. Eric's entire life has been in kennels. He's not even had his first chance at happiness, let alone a second.
What we're asking for and how you can help
This is why we'd like to see the UK and Welsh Governments make a change. We're asking for a change in law that would allow us to start the rehoming process for these most vulnerable animals as soon as they've recovered and are ready for a new home.