Without Us Where Would They Turn?
Lindsay Fyffe-Jardine, CEO Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home
Dogs and cats are in our name, it’s what we do and it’s what gets us up in the morning. The thing about the Home, which many people don’t know about or see, is the reality of the human stories that we come across on a daily basis. The people behind the animals that we are helping. The heart-breaking calls we continued to receive during both lockdowns and every day in between and there after only sharpened our awareness of what is happening across our communities. The question rings in my head over and over again-“without us where would they turn?”. It’s this question that not only rings true for those dogs and cats who will need that second chance, but for those owners backed into a hard corner in life and don’t know where to go.
When I joined the Home, now more than five years ago, I didn’t expect to find myself part of not only an animal welfare movement but a social vulnerability one. I am proud that my wonderfully dedicated team are able to offer hope, dignity and a second chance to people who are struggling in a difficult moment in their life. In the knowledge that the cat or dog coming to us is going to get the best care possible.
The motivation for our foodbank ‘Paws Pantry’ was exactly that, to keep pets in loving homes who had simply fallen on hard times. We love dogs and cats so much that we want them to stay where they are loved and cherished and if we can help out their loving owner through something difficult then we’ll be there. During the height of both lockdown’s this need became more and more apparent, with an increase in demand by 140%. With 47 satellite foodbank locations across the East of Scotland already, and with more than 1000 dogs and cats supported to stay in loving homes, the Home finds itself pushing forward its mission into new frontiers and sectors. Why this is so important is that the Home is part of a tapestry of organisations who provide support to people in need, on a journey to recovery. We’re one stop along the way to getting that help and we’re trusted as one of the many outreach contact points they draw support from. While I find it hard to reconcile the challenges that people were going through before the pandemic, only to be made more acutely difficult in these current circumstances, I am aware that part of their recovery and wellbeing may lie in their dog or cat being by their side. I know myself what my own pets have done for me in those isolated and difficult moments.
To conclude, I am often asked “does it not upset you seeing their sad faces in the kennel and cattery pens?” The honest answer is no, because I see the love, care and attention that goes into each of our dogs and cats and it makes my heart swell with pride. The ones who keep me up at night are the ones we receive the phone calls about who haven’t yet reached us and the ones who no one knows is suffering. Those stories are all too common at the Home. But when a dog or cat comes to our care there is a person leaving our Home, perhaps more bereft and in crisis than before, because they are leaving their beloved pet behind. That is a hurt and an indignity that I hope with our outreach services and future planned programmes we can help reduce.