From Chihuahuas to French Bulldogs: More designer dog breeds than ever need homes at rescue centre

Chihuahuas, Cockapoos, Shar Peis and French Bulldogs are among the designer dog breeds in need of a new home.

Staff at the RSPCA’s Eau Brink’s rehoming centre say that the cost of living crisis has had an effect on the number of animals, especially dogs, coming into their care.

Now, they are calling out for new volunteers to join their team in the three shops they run across West Norfolk, where 70% of their income comes from.

The RSPCA Eau Brink Centre
The RSPCA Eau Brink Centre

Less than 5% of the centre’s income comes from the RSPCA head office itself.

Currently, 13 dogs are waiting for new owners in the Eau Brink centre.

The centre, based in Tilney All Saints, is managed by Carl Saunders who said they have seen a surge in dog breeds they wouldn’t normally see in their care before.

Branch manager Carl Saunders
Branch manager Carl Saunders

“There has been a massive upturn in people needing to rehome their dogs, I’ve never seen it like this,” said Carl.

“There’s no pattern to animals coming in like there was before.”

He went on to explain that the centre has recently seen the likes of Chihuahuas, French Bulldogs, Shar Peis and Cockapoos come into their care.

Open day at the Eau Brink RSPCA Rehoming Centre in 2022
Open day at the Eau Brink RSPCA Rehoming Centre in 2022

“Five Chihuahuas came in from one household at Christmas time, all of them have now been rehomed,” added Carl.

So far in 2023, 72 animals from Eau Brink have been adopted, which Carl says is a “good start” to the year.

In the past five years, over 2,000 animals have been rehomed, with almost 1,000 of them being dogs, making them the most successful kennel in East Anglia.

Darla and her puppies who came into the centre and have since been rehomed
Darla and her puppies who came into the centre and have since been rehomed

They say that the centre has faced difficulty with the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“People’s pets were a great lifeline during lockdown,” said Carl.

He went on to explain that there was a rise in people adopting pets during the pandemic due to them spending more time at home.

Simon is a puppy who was born at Eau Brink a few years ago
Simon is a puppy who was born at Eau Brink a few years ago

“You’ve got to remember that the only times we could go out was to go food shopping, essential journeys, or to walk the dog.”

During the pandemic, just five dogs were up for adoption in the Eau Brink centre.

Carl explained: “In lockdown, people weren’t getting vet bills because vets were only open for emergencies, they weren’t even open for vaccinations.

RSPCA logo
RSPCA logo

“Illnesses of animals stored up during Covid and caused bigger vet bills later on.”

In 2023, the centre has seen many animals coming into their care with ongoing health problems and in need of specialist care, which can be costly.

Eau Brink also have a lot of Lurchers that come in need of a new home.

Carl said: “Our area has one of the highest UK hare populations in the country which leads to more Lurchers coming into care.”

He has urged people to do their research before adopting an animal and not to buy from puppy farms, as it only encourages them to continue breeding.

Carl said: “People are taking on dogs that they don’t understand, people don’t do their research on things.

“Don’t buy from puppy farms – the more people buy, the more it perpetuates it.”

Carl wants to add to their hard-working team of volunteers, whether it be by dog walking, cat cuddling or giving up a few hours to take on a shift at one of the charity shops on Lynn’s New Conduit Street or Greevegate in Hunstanton.

Staff at Eau Brink are urging people to continue supporting these charity shops, which solely sells donations from the public and is reliant on volunteers to keep running.

“Every penny that gets taken in these shops comes straight here. We still need to be getting donations in the back door,” said Carl.

The charity also has a specialist bookshop on Norfolk Street in Lynn, which is also reliant on donations.

Later this year, the store will under go a refurbishment, with a grand opening to be expected some time in 2023.

Carl thanked people for their continuous support of the centre.

“If it wasn’t for the people of West Norfolk, we wouldn’t be here. If it wasn’t for the shops, volunteers, people rehoming animals, we couldn’t do what we do.”

Could you be a volunteer?

Have you thought about volunteering with the RSPCA? There are a number of ways that you can do so.

Dog walkers and cat cuddlers are always needed, or take up a three hour shift in one of the shops.

If you’re interested, fill out a form on the centre’s website.

Coming up for 2023:

  • Eau Brink’s first open day since before Covid hit, the date for which will soon be announced. Make sure to follow West Norfolk RSPCA on social media to find out the date
  • Annual dog walk coming up in Sandringham on June 25 at 10am
  • Funding is needed to fit out an electric ambulance which was fundraised for last year, so that it can be used for multiple animals at a time
  • Crowd-funding is taking place for solar panels for the Eau Brink centre, with the help of funding from West Norfolk Council

I’m looking for a home…

Syke, 24 months, French Bulldog:

Skye is one of the pups that are looking for a home
Skye is one of the pups that are looking for a home

Skye came into the centre in a poorly state from the stray service. She had alopecia across her body, overgrown claws, she also had an ulcerated eye along with entropion (rubbing of the eyelashes on the eyeball).

She has been placed in a foster home where it has been discovered that she gets on with dogs similar to her size and enjoys having lots of cuddles.

However, she doesn’t enjoy the company of small children. She will ideally need to live in a home where any children are aged 10+ years and dog savvy.

Luca, approx three years, Shar Pei:

Luca has been in Eau Brink's care since August
Luca has been in Eau Brink’s care since August

When Luca first came to the centre, he was extremely timid, which is a normal trait for his breed however was made worse by the fact he had entropion in both eyes.

Unfortunately this resulted in an ulcer which has meant he has lost his eye.

Since this has happened, staff have seen a significant change in him – he is happier and has grown in confidence.

Luca would be more suited to live in a family with older children.

Jessie, 12 years old, Staffie cross:

Jessie is friendly to everyone she meets
Jessie is friendly to everyone she meets

Jessie has been described as a golden oldie who’s friendly to everyone she meets.

She has come into the centre from a home where she was very much loved by her owners, however due to their ill health they didn’t feel they were giving her the attention and time she required.

Jessie is a very, very sweet girlie who will be looking for a home where someone is there the majority of the day to give her that attention she so desperately loves.

Bonnie, 4 years old, Greyhound:

Bonnie is an ex racer who is now retired and looking for her forever home
Bonnie is an ex racer who is now retired and looking for her forever home

Bonnie is an ex-racer who has recently retired and is now looking for her forever home. She is a very loving girl who has quite an energetic side too.

She likes to zoom around a spacious garden and sleep for several hours and is happy going on two 20-minute walks a day.

It is possible that she may be able to live with other dogs.