Brexit and the pandemic are stopping rescue dogs from being rehomed - here's how to help

by Hayley O'Keeffe

An animal charity has warned of the precarious position it is facing thanks to the threat of a no deal Brexit and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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NoToDogMeat is a grassroots charity with a turnover of around £40,000 a year. All of the money raised goes into campaigning for change, and rescuing animals in countries that still have a dog and cat meat trade.

The charity currently has around 450 dogs at one of its shelters in China. The shelters are run by Chinese campaigners who want to make a change in their country.

But, real change with regards to pets is ongoing, and many dogs were abandoned by their owners in the country due to fears that they might spread coronavirus.

Larger dogs are struggling to find new homes

NoToDogMeat has managed to rehome a small number of smaller dogs, but larger pets struggle to find homes in the densely populated country.

This means that the charity traditionally looks to animal lovers abroad to find homes for the dogs, and after a strict process of health checks and vaccinations, they travel to other countries to live happier lives.

NoToDogMeat is based in the UK, and many supporters are keen to rehome pets and help the charity, which amasses huge vets and food bills every year to care properly for the shelter animals.

But, due to the pandemic, and now issues over travelling within Europe due to Brexit, it now faces a bleak and uncertain future.

NoToDogMeat CEO Julia de Cadenet, said, “There is a height restriction for keeping dogs in China of 35cms so all of the larger dogs have to find homes overseas.

“First this year all of our challenges were in China as they locked down and people were abandoning their pets.

“But for months China has been open now, but the new problem is we in the UK can not go there as our visas were cancelled and there is only a limited number of flights.

“The pandemic has also affected people’s ability to fundraise for us, and we have more animals in the shelters now than ever before.

“Before, when the dogs were brought to the UK, they had to travel into a European country with a chaperone, and then we could drive them back to the UK. Some new owners liked to travel to Paris or the Netherlands to meet their new dog off the plane.

“But now Brexit will end freedom of movement, and this creates restrictions that will make it even harder and more expensive to bring the animals over.

“We have always been creative, but we don’t have the millions that other animal charities have, we just rely on hardworking volunteers and supporters, issues like this will be affecting other charities too."

How to help

NoToDogMeat is appealing to members of the public to help them, by organising fundraisers to raise money for the good cause.

Julia said, “There are still lots of things that people can do to help us raise money to help keep our shelter dogs healthy and happy.

“Recently we had a team that took part in the virtual London Marathon, and we are appealing for anyone out there who wants to set themselves a charity challenge to consider doing it for NoToDogMeat. We really are a grassroots charity, and every penny raised goes towards helping in the animals.”