Last night (Monday 2 August) the BBC aired a Panorama documentary which highlighted the high number of dogs being put to sleep in the UK each year by various animal welfare charities and organisations.
While many of these dogs are considered too aggressive to rehome, many more are physically and mentally healthy but are put to sleep because they cannot be found new homes.
The Scottish SPCA did not feature in this documentary. However, having been contacted by concerned supporters and members of the public, we wish to stress that we do not put any healthy animals to sleep.
Animals are only put to sleep in our care if the veterinary advice is they are so ill or in such pain that the kindest decision is to end their suffering or if they are so dangerously aggressive that they could not be rehomed safely.
We believe this is what our supporters and the Scottish public expect of us.
The documentary rightfully exposed the huge pressures placed on animal welfare charities and organisations by irresponsible pet ownership and over-breeding.
These pressures are felt by us all.
Our animal rescue and rehoming centres are always full of unwanted and abandoned animals. Like almost every animal welfare charity, we are taking in more Staffordshire bull terriers and similar crossbreeds than ever before. The issue of staffies being dumped because they are by nature a gentle breed and don't live up to their 'hard man' image is UK-wide. Another pressure is the large number of unwanted rabbits and ferrets continually coming into our care.
When we take these animals in, if they are healthy they remain with us until we can find them new homes. Chance (pictured), a five-year-old staffie at our Dunbartonshire & West of Scotland Animal Rescue & Rehoming Centre, is a good example. He's been with us for 16 months and will stay with us until we can find him a new owner.
In many ways we have also purposefully and proactively added to the pressures on our services by taking on more inspectors and ambulance drivers than ever before not only to tackle animal cruelty but also to help expand our free Prevention through Education programme we run for Scottish primary schools. Education and the prevention of cruelty is at the very heart of our work and we hope to have a positive impact on the next generations of animal carers.
We have also been increasing the capacities of our centres across Scotland over the last few years and, subject to the finalisation of planning permission, we hope to open a new animal rescue and rehoming centre in Aberdeenshire and a new wildlife rescue centre in Clackmannanshire next year. We also set aside a six-figure fund each year specifically to lease private kennels should we run out of space.
This all comes at a cost and given we are a charity that receives no government or lottery funding we rely on public support and donations to continue our vital work.
It is Scottish SPCA policy that we will always use the donations we receive to ensure that no healthy animal in our care is put to sleep. This is a policy we are proud of and will continue to pursue.
You can view many of our animals looking for new homes here >