Amid Coronavirus Plague, Lonely Big Dogs Remain Stuck in Adoption Shelters

Despite pet adoption being on the rise amid COVID-19, Israelis have shown a clear preference for smaller dogs, leaving shelters overflowing with larger dogs. (photo credit: SPCA ISRAEL)

Pet adoption in Israel saw a considerable rise during the coronavirus pandemic, with more people wanting to adopt cats or dogs as they were forced to spend more time at home. However, despite this, adoption of big dogs has stalled, and Israel’s shelters and rescues are filled with larger canines looking for a new home.

While adoption of smaller dogs skyrocketed, the shelters are now empty of them. According to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Israel, the big dogs can be heard howling in their cages.

“I say this with complete confidence: You won’t find any more small dogs in shelters and rescues across the country,” SPCA Israel spokesperson Gadi Whitner said in an emailed statement to The Jerusalem Post.

According to the SPCA, much of the preference towards smaller dogs is due to a misconception that big dogs need houses and yards, and cannot function in apartments.

The result of this misunderstanding has not only resulted in big dogs being left in shelters, it has also contributed to illegal puppy mills to meet demand for smaller dogs. These mills often operate in remote villages and keep the dogs in poor conditions in confined spaces, which has resulted in starvation and other acute medical problems.

In recent months, the Agriculture Ministry has begun cracking down on these facilities, raiding many of them and rescuing dogs.

Moreover, the phenomenon of animal theft in Israel is also on the rise, a devastating situation for both pets and their owners, many of whom regard them as members of the family. Dogs are the most likely to be stolen due to the ease in stealing them if they are tied up outside a shop or left in a garden. They are sometimes used for dog-fighting, either as bait or to participate in the fights, a cruel and illegal sport that unfortunately is also a money-maker because participants bet on them.

But despite this belief, raising a big dog in a small apartment is very feasible with the right training.

SHIMI COHEN is a dog trainer and founder of the Dog Look center for dog training. He has helped numerous families adapt to having a big dog at home.

“Raising a big dog in an apartment is doable if you teach it proper behavior for the home and if you help it spend its energy on walks,” he said in a statement. “This is true of any home, big or small. Even a dog that lives in a house with a yard needs to visit new places, get a change of scenery and atmosphere, fulfill its curiosity and need for exploration, train to respond to commands, etc.”

Indeed, dogs are known to be very adaptable to new situations.

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SOURCE: Jerusalem Post, Aaron Reich