1 To rehabilitate abandoned dogs with special needs.
Many abandoned dogs do not get a second chance at life because they need veterinary care for an extended period of time, or they are acutely ill and unclaimed. With 60 to 80% of a rehoming shelter’s budget being spent on veterinary fees, we can free up resources to find more homes for dogs which are waiting. We aim to give every dog we can a chance at a happy life with positive welfare experiences, no matter what its circumstances and background.
Importantly, we include behavioural pathology as a veterinary issue. Most behaviour ‘problems’ are due to management error: the dog’s needs are not met. Behaviour problems can be treated, often using a combination of medicine and behaviour modification therapy. We know that virtually every dog can have its quality of life sustainably improved, no matter what its circumstances. Veterinarians aren’t always as good as we should be at behavioural medicine- read about it here.
We aim to limit the potential stress of kennelling and maximise exercise, socialisation and environmental enrichment. We have the expertise to balance a dog’s mental and physical health requirements with biosecurity.
2 To contribute to public education about canine welfare.
Square Pegs recognises human nature is imperfect, and that there’s a long way to go in educating ourselves about dogs. We want to demonstrate that although most behaviour ‘problems’ can be treated, prevention is far better. Canine behavioural disorders are a leading cause of death in dogs, and the most common reason for relinquishment.
We encourage better canine welfare through living examples of dogs’ needs and behaviour. We campaign for improvement or enforcement of existing welfare legislation, better regulation of breeding and the licensing of animal shelters. We work towards a culture in which our canine companions are treated as well as any family member deserves.
We are in favour of a guardianship model of dog-keeping, not one where dogs are property by law.
Through the rehabilitation of damaged dogs we will show the value of using evidence-based methods such as ethical matrices, standardised quality of life assessment scales and validated temperament assessment protocols. [Read about temperament assessment here].
3 To forge links between animal and human well being.
The dogs we help are precious examples of how much quality of life can be improved in even the most unpromising of situations. We aim to show how evidence-based veterinary medicine, including behavioural medicine, can combine with compassion to great effect in dogs and show us an awful lot about ourselves too. Human-animal studies is an important emerging discipline.
We want to demonstrate the therapeutic benefits to both species through mindful human interactions with dogs.