The arrival of your rescued pet is a very exciting time for you but please keep in mind it is not likely to be exciting for your pet, it is going to be a stressful time for them and they are going to need you to be calm and level headed to help them through the transition period.
If your pet is being transported by air and you are not transporting your pet yourself or your pet is not being transported directly to your home please take with you the following items when you go to collect them:
1. Your ID
2. A copy of any paperwork you have been sent on email
3. Kitchen roll or cloths to clean up any accidents
4. Poo bags
5. Disinfectant spray
6. Small bag of treats such as pieces of chicken
9. ID Tag – please only put your contact info on the tag, never print the dog/cats name on it
10. Lead (preferably a slip lead)
Please note that it is illegal to carry an unrestrained animal in your car so you must either use a seatbelt harness or the crate that your animal has travelled in.
Keep in mind that your pet may not remember you at first, it may have been several months since they have seen you and they have spent time in kennels so may not be the same as you remember them or you may not have met them at all. Once you have collected your pet please go straight home, do not stop for a run in the park or to let them toilet. Do not have lots of new faces for them to meet, they need to come home to a quiet environment and do not need to be greeted by your extended family and friends. Remember that your pet may not have ever been inside a real home so there will be many new things for them to negotiate, televisions, household appliances etc, they may find all of these things scary.
On arrival at home let them out into the back garden and just give them time, offer them a light meal but keep in mind they will be very stressed so may not want to eat straight away. Give them time and space.
If you have other pets at home please do introductions carefully, remove all toys, treats etc that your current family pet may get upset over if a new pet comes in and tries to take them. We advise that introductions to current family pets are done on ‘neutral’ ground such as a secure field or park.
Settling In Period
Our experience has shown us that it takes between 3 and 6 weeks for these animals to start feeling truly comfortable in their new homes. In this period most of the animals behave impeccably which lulls many pet parents into a false sense of security. Please don’t be fooled! We often see that once the initial settling in period has ended the animals will start to push the limits and for this reason it is vitally important that you set the ground rules from the day they arrive. Get an established routine into place quickly and stick to it, feed them at the same time each day, walk them at the same time each day and take them to training classes. Please forget that your pet has come from a war zone or country where they have not had a good life, they are home now and do not need you to feel sorry for them, they need you to guide them and teach them about being a pet, they don’t need your sympathy.
During the first couple of weeks don’t expose them to lots of well meaning friends and family, give them time to get to know you and the family they will be living with. When the time comes for introductions to new people it needs to be on your terms and not your pets terms. We find that putting child gates around the home helps, when new people come put the pet into a room with a child gate in it to prevent them coming into the room with visitors, settle your visitors in and only then think about introducing your new pet. It is also important that all of the family that will be living with the pet get involved in the daily care, it is better that your pet bonds with all of you rather than forming a strong bond with just one family member as this can lead to protection issues later on. It is important that the whole family (adults) are involved particularly if you are heading back to work abroad, almost all of the animals that come back to us come back within the first week of the owner going back to work because their families at home simply cannot manage when they have not been involved in the care from the day of arrival.
Avoid allowing your pet to get on the furniture to sleep as this can cause resource guarding issues. Get them their own bed and don’t encourage them to sleep on yours.
We also encourage crate training. Your pet may have been a youngster when the rescue process started and will not be house trained or trained not to chew up the furniture. A crate can provide a safe area for your pet to retreat to if they feel stressed or upset, never use a crate as a punishment, make a little ‘man cave’ for them that can become their safe zone, ensure it is big enough they can have a bed, food, water and toys in there.
Your pet (particularly dogs) may not be house trained when it arrives. There may be accidents in the house but please do not get angry with your pet or resort to old fashioned methods of rubbing their nose in it. These methods do not work and only instil fear into your pet. Instead, be prepared for it, get some puppy pads and take your pet out into the garden after food and frequently and reward them for doing their business outside. House training should not take long, these animals are very intelligent and learn quickly.
If the animal you are bringing home is a dog then it may not like cats so introductions to family cats should be very well supervised. If your new pet is a cat then please note that you will need to keep your cat indoors for at least 4 weeks before you start letting it out of the house.
Your pet has had a very basic diet throughout the rescue process so keep this in mind when feeding them. Don’t overload them with rich foods, don’t feed them table scraps, a good quality dry/wet mix will be fine with some canned tuna or boiled chicken as a topper. Do not give them lots of processed treats either, they are not used to treats and will quickly get an upset stomach. Never give them raw hide treats or bones, try to keep treats to small pieces of chicken or gravy/milk bone biscuits, stick to treats that are quickly eaten and not treats that are designed to last for hours/days. Feed your new pet alone, do not crowd them with other pets or children at feeding time, put their food down and let them eat in peace. If they do not eat their food within 15 minutes then remove it and try again later, never leave food down and allow them to graze as this will cause issues later on.
It is not unusual for these animals to display signs of resource guarding. They may be protective over food, beds, toys and in some cases people and you must work hard to notice the signs and work to stop them quickly. It is natural for them to want to hang onto anything new that they get and not want to share given they have come from a place where they had nothing but you absolutely must work to reassure them and not allow resource guarding to escalate.
Remember your pet has likely not been exposed to children and if they have then it is likely it will not have been a nice experience for them. They are not used to loud children pulling them around and running around screaming. Never allow children to eat food when your pet is around, put your pet into another room or crate them when it is time for the humans to eat and likewise do not allow the children in the room when the dog eats so that they are never in a position where they snap/bite at a human over food. Please do not get the children to feed the pet or walk it, that is the grown ups job. You must ensure that your children are respectful of boundaries and the pets personal space. Putting their face in the pets face for the perfect photo is never OK, it is an invasion of personal space and will likely end in tears and your pet losing its home or its life.
We do advise that you enrol in a training class with your new pet, it is important that they can learn the basics as well as learn how to socialise nicely with other dogs.
Walking your pet
We all understand that many people want to take their dogs out to large open spaces and let them off lead to run. We absolutely will not encourage this at all. Street dogs are used to roaming free on vast areas and they NEVER truly get the idea of recall 100% of the time. Sadly we have had many experiences over the years of people allowing these dogs off lead and it ending badly. Even if you feel you can trust your dog ask yourself if you can trust other dogs that may be in the area, can you trust the children that may be in the area, can you trust the other adults in the area? If you really want your dog to have free running time then find a local area that has a fully enclosed field, tennis court or similar where you can allow them off lead without fear of them running off or encountering other people or dogs. There are many business now that will provide this service for a small fee. If there is nowhere that you can find locally then purchase a long lunge line for horses and allow your dog to have run time on that knowing that they are still safely attached to the end of the lunge line!
We also advise that you get a harness for your pet and attach a lead to both collar and harness and ensure that it wears it ID tag at all times.
Microchip and Pet Insurance
If your adopted pet is arriving and will be living in the UK War Paws will register their microchip, it will be registered in the name of the person who will not be leaving the country to work. You will be sent the registration details and it will become your responsibility to ensure that the registration information stays up to date if you move. War Paws will remain on the registration as a secondary point of contact and must not be removed.
If your pet is going to be living in a country other than the UK you will be required to register the microchip and send confirmation to War Paws.
We strongly recommend that you get your pet registered at your local vet soon after arrival and take out Pet Insurance to help with the cost of vet bills.
Unfortunately we have had cases of it not working out when the animal has arrived home with its owner so the animal has come back into our care. Whilst War Paws will gladly help with rehoming of your rescued pet we do not have our own kennel facilities in the UK/US/EU and will expect you to cover the costs of kennel fees and any vet bills that arise whilst we find your pet a new home. We are run by one employee and a team of volunteers and we simply do not have the funds to cover kennel fees.
Please also note that if you need to rehome your pet we need some time to make arrangements to get your pet into kennels or a rescue centre, we cannot simply wave a magic wand and find a space in a few hours so you may be asked to keep the animal safe for a few days whilst we find a place and we will expect you to work with us to identify a suitable place.
If you are surrendering your pet to us we will require payment of a minimum of 4 weeks kennel fees at the time of surrender if we are unable to secure a rescue space.
If your pet is sick at the time of surrender we will request that you take the pet to a vet and get appropriate treatment.
Please note that if you are surrendering your animal because it has bitten someone badly then it may not be appropriate for us to rehome the animal and you may be faced with the decision to put your animal to sleep, please do not expect to sign the animal over to us and for us to do the deed to spare your feelings.
The War Paws team will always be on hand to offer advice which could ultimately mean you are able to keep your pet so if you are struggling please call us straight away, don’t wait and hope it can get better without help and advice. There is no reason why your pet should end up in a position where it needs rehoming for behavioural reasons if you are prepared to put the work in that is needed.
If you have any concerns or worries at all you can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com