The Menagerie at home – Magic or mayhem?

dog sitting, pet sittingIn my younger days I was a devil for taking in abandoned dogs – and other pets – until our house became to resemble a small petting zoo.  “One more won’t hurt”, I would tell myself as I picked up yet another small furry, from a dismal, dusty little pet shop.

“Not another one!?” my husband would lament. “Where, on earth, are we going to put them all?!”  At one point we had four dogs of our own, plus often one other foster dog from a local rescue charity; a rabbit, several pet rats, a hamster and a cat.  Luckily, at the time I was a stay-at-home mum, so along with caring for two small children and my beloved menagerie, my days were never dull!

Thankfully, I did know my limits and would never have created problems for myself or the animals.  However, it does lead me to the question of how many dogs (or pets in general) are too many?  Holidays4Dogs considers the pros and con’s of multiple pet households and the impact it can have on individuals, society and the animals themselves.

Certainly, if we are talking about rescuing animals, charities rely heavily on people who are willing to take on either the short, or long term care of several animals at a time and this can make a huge difference to pets that are faced with being homeless (or worse).

However, taking on multiple pets of any kind is a big responsibility and it is therefore important to be realistic about your circumstances so that you don’t create a situation that becomes too much for you, or the pets in question.

How many is too many?

This is a tricky question because it depends on multiple factors such as your time, home environment, financial circumstances and of course the type of pet you are keeping – 5 or 6 rabbits in the average sized house or garden might be one thing, but 5 or 6 dogs might be quite another!

We have all heard of animal hoarders and this is when the multiple keeping of pets can result in welfare issues of the animals as well as concerns for the mental health of the owner.  While in the majority of cases animal hoarders truly believe they are saving animals and caring for them adequately, all too often the animals are kept in unsanitary conditions and confined to small spaces.

Of course, not everyone who keeps lots of animals can be classed as animal hoarders.  Hoarders of multiple pets are quite often unaware of just how many animals they have and not only do they neglect their animals, but they also tend to neglect themselves and spend most of their time isolated from the community.

Even if you have just one pet, it is always essential to consider how much time you have to spend caring for that animal and naturally, the more animals you have, the more time you will need to dedicate to their welfare.

Space is also a huge consideration, particularly if you intend to keep multiple dogs or cats.  Both need adequate space to be able to live without the risk of stress which can lead to fighting.

Cost is also another important factor because keeping lots of pets can be expensive, even when they are healthy.  The odds of having one or more animal fall ill goes up the more pets you have at any one time and veterinary fees can mount up.

The final consideration is to find out whether you are even allowed to keep multiple animals.  In privately rented or housing association properties you are very often not allowed to have pets at all, but if they are allowed you usually need to get written permission for any new pet you wish to acquire.

If you own your own home in the UK there is no legal limit on the amount of dogs or cats you are allowed to own, but if you are breeding dogs you will need a licence from your local authority (In some counties in the U.S. there is a legal limit of 3 dogs in urban areas).

In some areas of the UK (most new properties and urban housing developments) there are by-laws, covenants and house deeds that prevent owners from keeping chickens, ducks, goats, pigs or sheep in their gardens.  Even if you plan to keep a couple of chickens in the garden it is advisable to seek advice from your local council first.

If well thought out, keeping lots of pets indeed can be a magically enriching experience, especially for families with children and if the animals are fostered or rescued the benefits to their quality of life and futures can be enormous.

After living most of my younger days with a menagerie, things are very much quieter these days with just Floss the collie – I miss those days, but alas I have far less time and a lot less space, so it would not be feasible for me or the animals.

However, if you crave a pet but can’t quite commit full time, why not consider becoming a carer for Holidays4Dogs?!  Or if you have one or more dogs and are not averse to adding ‘just one more’ to the mix now and again, being a Holidays4Dogs carer could be just the ticket –  And ! You make a bit of pocket money along the way!

Find out more here or contact Holidays4Dogs on freephone 0800 2300266